(Article by Special Correspondent)
The news is out that David Miscavige is loaning Scientology Auckland the sixteen million dollars needed to renovate their new “Ideal Org”. This will follow up the ten million that they were loaned already to buy the building. There has been some speculation as to why he might do this, since Auckland is not exactly the “crossroads of the world”. His constant companion Lou Henley-Smith is from Auckland, as is her large and almost entirely Scientologist family. So I would think that would be a factor.
Perhaps another factor is that the new Auckland “ideal org” is one of the first buildings David Miscavige announced as being purchased by an “IAS Grant” back in 2007, early on in the Ideal Org campaign.
The building has sat empty for almost seven years now, and the local Scientology spokesmen lets slip in the article below that the 10M was actually a loan- not a grant.
The article notes that according to the 2006 New Zealand Census there are 357 Scientologists in the entire country of New Zealand.
But a quick check shows that for the 2013 Census just completed, there are now only 315 Scientologists in New Zealand – a 12% drop.
By the way, commonwealth countries take their census very seriously – everyone fills one out. You don’t have to put your religion but there is no reason to hide it. The figure of 315 is likely quite representative of all the active Scientologists in the country at this time.
In the same article the Scientology spokesperson states there are 5000 Scientologists in New Zealand. So either he is lying or there are 4,700 Scientologists in New Zealand who are hiding their religious affiliation. I am not sure which is worse.
Interestingly the Auckland org was for a great many years on one of the busiest walking streets in the city, only a hundred yards from the bus station, the train station and the ferry station. They have moved now, to a much quieter location and their new building will be even quieter still. Once again, a pretty building trumps practical considerations like local foot traffic.
Scientology’s $16m statement church
The Church of Scientology of New Zealand will make a $16 million “statement” restoring and converting a heritage-listed Auckland building into its flagship church.
The local arm of the controversial religion purchased the former Whitecliffe Art College campus in 2007 for $10m borrowed interest-free from the Church of Scientology International. It is the church’s only New Zealand property.
The church, which counts actor Tom Cruise among its parishioners, said it’s nearing construction on the Grafton site that includes major seismic strengthening and a new fitout.
Church of Scientology New Zealand head Mike Ferriss told the Sunday Star-Times the cost of the restoration was $16m.
More than $3.5m had been raised mostly from the church’s 5000 local members, Ferriss said, but scientologists around the globe including expat Kiwis would contribute.
Non-members who wanted to see the building restored had also donated, he said.
The 2006 census counted 357 Kiwi scientologists; meaning each would need to donate more than $44,000 to reach the $16m target.
The church’s annual accounts for the year ending December 2012 showed donations were down more than $170,000 to $245,253.
It booked $1.18m from members in advance payments. The church had about $300,000 in the bank and owed its international office more than $8.6m, reporting a $2m deficit.
The “huge” project is estimated to take around 12 months of construction, Ferriss said.
New Zealand’s top scientologist said the condition of the building when the church purchased it was not good.
“We will save this building. There’s no question about it.”…
…Once complete the 11,000 square metre site will have more than 70 rooms dedicated to spreading Scientology’s message.
At 118,000 square feet (11,ooo sq m) it will have over 300 square feet of space for every Scientologist in New Zealand.
On the Subject of Census
The last Australian Census was completed in 2011 and showed 2169 Scientologists – a 13% drop in the number of Scientologists since the 2006 census where 2513 where reported.
Every Census information I have come across shows numbers of Scientologists slumping noticably over the last 5 or 7 years. Once again, we have to call “Liar Liar” to David Miscavige and his grandiose delusions of “straight up and vertical expansion”.