Church Holds First ‘Big Camp’ at Tui Ridge Park
More than 1,000 Seventh-day Adventists from around North New Zealand (NNZ) attended the bi-annual NNZ “big camp” at the Tui Ridge Park campground for the first time last month.
BY MELODY TAN, South Pacific Division News and Adventist Review Staff
he NNZ conference has a practice of conducting big camps, a Seventh-day Adventist tradition worldwide where Adventists from around the region come together and stay on location for about a week. (In many parts of the world, such gatherings are known as camp meetings.) Previous NNZ big camps have usually been held in Auckland. A decision last year saw the location change to Tui Ridge Park, where future big camps will continue to be held.
Guest speakers for this year’s NNZ big camp, themed “Healing Streams,” included Adventist pastors Eddie Hypolite from England, Ervin Thompson from America and Graeme Loftus from Australia. Seminars on marriage, how to achieve personal success, the Bible and spiritual life, along with worship services, concerts and children’s programs were held during camp.
Over NZ $4 million (approximately $3.1 million U.S.) had been spent to redevelop Tui Ridge Park in time for the 10-day event. A new auditorium, believed to be the largest of its kind on Seventh-day Adventist campgrounds in the South Pacific, new powered tent sites, seven new cabins, a new waste water system and two kitchen, shower, toilet and laundry blocks were among the new additions.
The 420 acre (170 hectares) Tui Ridge Park has been owned by the Adventist Church since 1985 and over 150,000 people, Christians and non-Christians, have used it for activities such as outdoor education camps and as a camping location so far.
Andrew West, manager of Tui Ridge Park for the last 12 years, wants to see more community related projects offered at the campground. “The church has so many great things to offer and we think this is a great place to launch it from,” he says. “We would like to see this place offer healthy lifestyle courses and do more with broken families.”
Tui Ridge Park played a significant role in the history of the Adventist Church in the South Pacific. It was the last official meeting place for the now defunct Trans Tasman Union Conference and the first meeting place for the Adventist Church's New Zealand Pacific regional office.
Pastor Eddie Tupa’i, president of the NNZ Conference, thanked church members for their offerings, prayers and support of Tui Ridge. “It is my specific prayer that [church members] will experience Tui Ridge as a Holy Place. A ground set aside for God. A ground where we can gather as family members of the NNZ Conference to praise and worship God,” he said in the official camp booklet.
A “Forward Way Fund” was also established at the end of big camp to raise money to seal the road into Tui Ridge. “Tui Ridge is committed to being a light that shines brightly for the gospel of Jesus Christ,” says Tupa’i. “With all the new facilities now in place, it moves into a new era of ministry and mission. The possibility for reaching more people has increased many-fold. We are aiming to see a sealed road all the way in to Tui Ridge Park as soon as possible."