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United Seafarers' Mission

Tauranga Seafarers' Centre

Port of Tauranga, New Zealand

Galilee Mission

Affiliated to the International Seamen's Christian Friend Society


Bill Dowman became a Christian at the Billy Graham Crusade in Auckland in 1959. Subsequently, at home in Te Puke, he sought some means to share his new-found-faith. Being a keen fisherman and often at the wharves, he met some visiting seafarers, befriending them and looking after them.

He met up with long-time Christian Bruce Caldwell and together, along with occasional others, began taking seafarers on sightseeing trips in the Bay of Plenty and Rotorua, having them home for meals, and even hosting over-night home-stays. They provided these visitors with Bibles from the Scripture Gift Mission.

Some where in the '60s or early '70s, Fred and Ruth Haar became heavily involved in the work, which had become known as 'Galilee Mission'. They met Mr Jin Kim, Chief Officer on a ship, along with his wife Mrs San Kim, who lived at Mt Maunganui. Mr and Mrs Kim went to Australia for theological training and, on their return, commenced a mission to Korean fisherman operating from Tauranga, based in Oceania House at the port.

Formal Founding

The formal founding of today's Galilee Mission took place in 1990 when these folk met with Rev.Ray Coster of St Andrews Presbyterian Church, Mt Maunganui, and sought his assistance in forming the 'official' organisation. A mission presence was established, on a 6-month trial basis, in the Northern Roller Mills building. This lingered long past the trial period!

At a later point, Galilee Mission moved to premises just outside the Hull Road Gate. These premises were purchased by Mr & Mrs Wilson for this express purpose. Later on these premises were sold and the funds used to establish the Bay of Plenty Seafarer's Trust, overseen by Guardian Trust. This trust continues to provide funding for the work through Galilee Mission.

Oceania House

At this time, Rev Kim offered the rented premises in Oceania House to Galilee Mission, and a combined work was commenced there with the Mission to Seafarers (Anglican).

United Seafarers' Mission

In 2001, the United Seafarers' Mission came into existence, uniting the Galilee Mission with the Mission to Seamen (Anglican) and the Apostleship of the Sea (Catholic), providing an ecumenical approach to the welfare of, and hospitality to, visiting seafarers.


Galilee Mission give grateful thanks to God for Bill and Eveline Dowman, Fred and Ruth Haar, and Bruce and Olwyn Caldwell, all of whom were part of the Mount Maunganui Baptist Church.

Author's Note

It should be noted that this brief history is derived from conversations had, and documents read, by the author. It is hoped that the details are factually correct. The author was Church Treasurer at Mt Maunganui Baptist Church in the late 70s and early 80s and has clear recollections of that church's serious involvement in the establishment and financing of the original 'infomal' Galilee Mission. Incidentally, the above three 'founders' and their wives, Bill and Eveline Dowman, Bruce and Olwyn Caldwell, and Fred and Ruth Haar, were all active members of the Mount Maunganui Baptist Church at that time and the author was closely acquainted with each.

Copyright © 2015-2020 Jeff Law
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