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The Little Shop of Opportunity

 On the main street of Mairangi Bay sits a small opportunity shop, run by the Mairangi Bay Community Church. Do not be fooled by its small exterior – walking through the door leads to a veritable treasure trove of goods. Previously owned clothing, books, crockery and toys line the shelves, and it’s hard to escape without picking out an item or two to follow you home. Catherine Murray spoke to Pat Cumming, who acts as the ‘link’ between the church and the opportunity shop, to find out a bit more about how the shop operates and the role it plays in the community.
The shop is run by a team of dedicated volunteers from the church and the community, headed by Sylvia Van der Voorst. Pat’s association with the opportunity shop began about ten years ago, although her involvement with the church stems back many many years. In questioning why the shop wasn’t open on Saturday mornings, Pat found herself with a new role which soon expanded to working other days. Saturday mornings are especially busy with customers from the Mairangi Bay Village Farmers Market streaming into the shop laden with their bags of fresh fruit and vegetables and looking for that special something extra.
The shop is now over 40 years old. “In the early days it was set up slightly different to the way it is now,” explains Pat. “People never used to be so ambitious about clothes and things, they didn’t have an excess of belongings and they wore their clothes for a long time, mending them if they needed to.”
Initially the proceeds from the shop were used for church-based needs. However, Pat and the administration team decided that apart from necessary expenses proceeds from the opportunity shop would be shared with the community. Once expenses are covered, the remaining funds go towards mission work and community grants including organisations, schools, kindergartens and individuals. Past grant recipients include the North Shore Hospital, local schools and kindergartens and promising sport talents. “It’s a gift from the community,” says Pat. The extension of the church on Maxwelton Drive is currently a priority from a financial perspective, however Pat says there is still some funds put aside for community grants.
The reach of the Mairangi Bay Community Church Opportunity Shop goes well beyond its immediate environs. At times when the shop just cannot keep up with the donated items, Pat and her team make sure they are redirected to places of need. “We have given clothes to other churches where members of the congregation have sent them back home to Fiji, to Tonga, to Samoa and the Cook Islands. By accepting the clothes at our opportunity shop in Mairangi Bay, and processing them, they are a gift to so many other people.”
At the present time the extension of the church on Maxwelton Drive is a priority for all involved. While the church originated in Devonport in 1912, it has been in Mairangi Bay since the early 1950s. Since then the congregation has grown and expansion is necessary to enable the church to continue to provide for the local community. With the excavations, foundations, drainage work and a new car park complete in Phase 1, Phase 2 is now underway with completion expected just in time for the church’s 100 year anniversary in September of this year.
Pat admits she would feel lost without the op shop, having been involved and employed with the church for all her life. “It’s great to be able to go down to the shop and do my bit, perhaps bringing home a bit of mending, washing and unpicking, all for a cause that I’m 100% behind. It gives me purpose.”
So the next time you decide to de-clutter and down-size, or have outgrown items looking for a new owner, think of the opportunities this local shop provides for the greater community, and indeed, the greater good.

Mairangi Bay Community Church Opportunity Shop – 423 Beach Road, Mairangi Bay, Open Tuesday to Friday 9.30am - 3.30pm and Saturday 9.30am -12pm, Closed Sunday and Monday.

St Peters Takapuna to host
National Boys Choir of Australia

St Peters Takapuna is to host the National Boys Choir of Australia when it tours in July of this year.
The choir is touring New Zealand for the first time and will be based in Takapuna from Sunday July 1 until Wednesday July 4.
A highlight will be a concert with Auckland Boys Choir in St Peter’s Church on Tuesday evening July 3 at 7:30pm.
The parish will be hosting the choir members during their stay.
The parish was fortunate to host the tour by St Andrew’s Cathedral School of Sydney in 2010 and this tour is also being coordinated by Rob Latimer of ACFEA.
The choir is perhaps best recognised for the Qantas television commercials in which it has sung for many years. Peter Casey, Co-Artistic Director, says it is the first time that the Choir has toured New Zealand.
"We have been all over the world on tours and for filming of advertisements for Qantas, but we have never visited one of our nearest neighbours. The choristers and staff are really looking forward to heading across the Tasman this year."
There will also be performances in Napier, Rotorua and Wellington.        
This year’s repertoire features works by Fauré, John Rutter (a patron of the Choir who wrote a new piece for the recent Royal Wedding service), three songs to poems of Walter De La Mare by Australian composer Todd McNeal and songs from the French film Les Choristes. A couple of Australian folk songs will be sung along with one or two New Zealand favourites and I Still Call Australia Home from the Qantas television commercial.
The level of commitment and self-discipline expected of the choristers that make up the treble choir is high as they are required to attend weekly or twice weekly rehearsals and regular music workshops.  This training enables boys to present challenging repertoires with music ranging from early motets through to contemporary commissioned works and fully staged children’s operas, as well as musical comedy, art songs and folk songs from many lands.
When the boys are not travelling overseas, they tour their own vast country, from far  north Queensland to Albany in south Western Australia.  Last September the Choir, based in Melbourne, travelled the east coast of Queensland from Brisbane to Cairns. Much of 1998, 2000, 2003/2004 and part of 2009 were devoted to the filming of the acclaimed ‘I Still Call Australia Home’ advertising campaigns. The ongoing relationship with Qantas has provided many opportunities and further travel for the boys both nationally and internationally.
The Choir is often called on to sing with Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Opera Australia and Victorian Opera with performances including Orff’s Carmina Burana, Mahler’s Third and Eighth Symphonies, Tobias’ Jonah’s Mission, Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust and Bach’s St Matthew Passion, Berlioz’s Te Deum and Britten’s War Requiem.
The Choir has toured internationally on fourteen occasions over its forty-eight year history, and it has been involved in major events such as the Sydney Olympics, the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, The Three Tenors Tour, André Rieu’s Australian tour and Carols by Candlelight from the Myer Music Bowl for more than two decades.

St Peter's Takapuna – 11 Killarney Street, Takapuna. Ph 550 2758.


by Channel Editorial