19 May 2017

Samoa's Jubilee Church finally opens

9:37 am on 19 May 2017

A brand new multi-million church in Samoa finally opened this week after a series of building delays and problems financing the build.

 Jubilee Church at Malua

Photo: Tipi Autagavaia

The opening of the Jubilee Church at Malua saw hundreds of Samoa Congregational Christian Church members and special guests attend celebrations on Upolu.

After several years of construction and delays, the church opening began with formalities including the presentation of traditional gifts like expensive fine mats and monetary gifts.

Among the envelopes was close to US$400,000, or one million Samoan Tala, given from the church's women's council to mark the church opening.

RNZ International correspondent Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia said close to 1000 people attended the church service and feast to mark the occasion.

"It was fully packed and the event was attended by the Head of State Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi and his good lady, Masiofo Filifilia and the Prime Minister,Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and cabinet ministers, as well as church leaders from both overseas and here in Samoa."

Mr Autagavaia said the cost of the church's construction was close to US $6.7 million, or 17 million tala and a multi-million dollar loan from the Samoa National Provident Fund was required to help finance the build.

"It's a lot of money, I can tell you.

"But I spoke to the general secretary [of the church] before the dedication ceremony and he said well this is the fruit of the church people's labour to serve God," he said.

The church first agreed to the construction four years ago but our correspondent said its completion and official opening was supposed to have been last year.

"However in 2015, there was a lot of financial difficulty faced by the church because of the cost of construction of materials and it delayed the dedication from last year to this year and there was a lot of disappointment from within the church."

The church had contracted the Chinese company, Shanghai Construction, as its main builder, but a New Zealand company, based in Levin that manufactures laminated timber products, ended up having to design and manufacture the church roof.

Techlam spokesperson Nathan Simmons said roof beams spanning 22-metres had to be constructed to fit perfectly onto massive concrete walls that had already been put into place by another company.

"It's a growing area for us to the islands and certainly a lot of interesting projects up there and for us, each project has a lot of challenges as far as engineering and cost expectations and delivery."

He said they also needed to make sure the roof met cyclone standards.

"The design was probably the most challenging," he said.