This week’s speaker was Rev Lance Lukin, previously Chaplain to the Defence Force but now in charge of the Mission to Seafarers and Chaplain to the Port of Wellington.
He began by explaining the size and cost of New Zealand’s domestic cat population, under the heading ‘how feeding your cat could be killing people’.
Our 1.4 million cats are consuming over $1Billion worth of cat food each year, apart from the damage they do to our native wildlife.
Lance went on to talk about the Mission to Seafarers, established here in 1889, the oldest charity in Wellington and once owners of a fine building in Stout Street.
Seafaring has changed dramatically over the years, but is still a dangerous and lonely occupation. Once there were many ships in the harbour and they often stayed for two weeks or more to load and unload. Seamen were thus in town for long spells and needed welfare services and support. With containerisation, ships can turn round in ten hours and the crews may not come ashore at all.
The Mission delivers personal supplies and provides Wi-fi connections while the ships are in port so the crews can contact their families.
Large vessels may have crews of 20 or so, of mixed nationalities. Officers are well paid but seamen’s wage rates are miserable and disreputable shippers may not pay their crews at all.
Lance then gave us a gruesome case study of a Filipino seaman who was lured into a low-pay long-term contract and worked under appalling conditions until he died at sea. This is all too common in an unregulated industry and can occur in New Zealand waters.
Small fishing boats are the worst offenders and Lance urged us not to buy catfood with fish in it. His talk thus turned full circle and was a sobering commentary on the treatment of desperate workers from third world countries.