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New Zealand Church Leaders Accused of Hypocrisy

1 March 2004

NEW ZEALAND – As reported by the New Zealand Herald: "Pacific Island church ministers are being accused of telling their congregations to beat gambling habits, while holding housie nights to raise funds for their parishes.

"The need for church ministers to seek fundraising alternatives to housie was one of the recommendations of a Pacific Island forum on gambling held in Porirua last September.

"But Litea Ah Hoi, a Porirua City councillor and member of the city's Samoan community, said she was aware of many churches still using housie as a form of fundraising.

"..Ms Ah Hoi, who belongs to the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa, said some parents were addicted to the point where they would forgo buying shoes for their children to play housie or poker machines.

"…Reverend Tom Etuata, of St Timothy's Presbyterian Church in Titahi Bay and a Niuean community leader, agreed that churches needed to reconsider their use of housie nights as fundraisers. His church prohibits any form of gambling.

"…'They need to have a good look at themselves. It's no good encouraging people in the pews to have a look at their gambling habits ... yet housie is another form of gambling,' he said.

"…Ms Ah Hoi said she was disappointed that not one Pacific Island group or church minister had made a submission to the council on its draft gambling venue policy."

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