National | Easter

South Auckland youth keep the faith

Easter is a popular holiday to spend with whānau, indulge in Easter eggs and treats.  For a group of South Auckland youth, however, the Christian festival of Easter is still very much celebrated.

It may look and sound like a rock concert, but these young worshipers are loud and proud about proclaiming their belief.

“What we do here is really relevant to youth, to young people,” says Cammy Ball (Waikato, Ngāpuhi).

“We can dance, sing and focus on what our heavenly Father has done”.

Grace Tautuhi became hooked on the energy and the gospel six years ago.

“When I first came here I liked the music, really upbeat, you can dance, and the songs were positive. The words were also about Jesus Christ,” says Tautuhi (Ngāti Porou, Ngā Puhi).

“Now I can say this is my home, my friends at church are my family”.

According to the 2013 census, the number of Māori and non-Māori affiliated with a Christian religion decreased by 48.9 percent.

“Youth won't go to church because of their peers, their circle of influence,” says Kaayden Takawe Kingi (Te Arawa, Ngāpuhi).

“They don't want to go and they also don't know who God is”.

“Youth don't grow up in families that go to church,” says Tautuhi. “These days they grow up around alcohol, going to parties, that lifestyle”.

Lead pastor of the church, Render Gathering says their numbers have doubled in less than a year after changing how services are run.

“We've actually flipped the question around to be, what do you feel you can add value in?” says Clifford Thompson.

“What are your passions, what are your desires?  And when people find that, they find it easier to build relationships, to connect because they're not trying to be something that they're not. They're really just being themselves".

“You can come here, and party with us inside,” says Ball.

They believe modern Christianity will survive.