Failed promise: Top church leader probed into Pulela‘ā’s scandal

A church leader declared that his Tongan Church in Sydney has bought back its Aus$10 million property that was liquidated and sold, but this has proved incorrect.

The Rev Sione Pinomi has told his Free Wesleyan Church followers they have repurchased their Pulelaʻā Church property and they would return to it today Sunday 29 in their Faka-Sepitema ceremony.

The 166 Glendenning Road property in question,  was sold to the Sant Nirankari Mission (SNM) following the collapse of a disastrous venture masterminded by Rev Pinomi, leaving the church owing Westpac and a local loan company Aus$21 million.

The public officer for the new owner of the property, Mr Ajay Kataria told Kaniva News they did not know anything about the repurchasing of Pulela’a.

“I have a meeting with the Wesleyan Church Secretary General, Tevita Havea regarding that and I advised him we have no intention of selling the Pulela’a,” Mr Kataria said.

“We are using it for our religious service and there was no intention of reselling it,” he added and reiterated.

Kaniva News could not be able to obtain a comment from the Pulelaʻā leaders.

Today the Reverend Pinomi told his church followers a different story.  One of the church community pastors Rev Semisi Kava, quoted Rev Pinomi,  who according to Rev Kava, told  his followers – they almost have the purchase completed…the lawyers are still working on it (translated from Tongan).

The church’s Faka-Sepitema ceremony was today  held at the Newington College and not Pulela’a as promised by Reverend Pinomi, said Rev Kava.

The FWC Secretary General, Rev Dr Havea early this month held an inquiry into what is developing as the Pulelaʻā’s scandals.

The Reverend Kava was one of the co-ordinators of  the scandal inquiry. He said the inquiry team led by Dr Havea met with SNM leaders. The SNM leaders confirmed to the meeting they had no intention of reselling Pulelaʻā since they purchased it from the Wespac.

The Rev Kava said Dr Havea also questioned the breakaway church members at Eastwood about why they left the Pulelaʻā church community.

The responses included saying they are fed up with receiving misleading information given to them by Rev Pinomi and Rev Matafonua.

A report was sent to the Free Wesleyan Church’s head office in Tonga following the scandal inquiry and Rev Kava said it would seal the fate of the Pulelaʻā leaders.

Early this month, the Rev Sione Pinomi was also  accused of issuing three fraudulent cheques worth Aus$140,000 as donations to fundraising dinners for the Tokaikolo Church in Sydney.

The cheques increased the amount of money raised on the night to Aus$170,000.

All the cheques had bounced however and the Tokaikolo leader in Sydney, Rev ‘Otuhiva Mapapalangi went  public and  warned the Tongan communities to be wary of Rev Pinomi’s actions.

In the midst of the financial struggle church members encountered when trying to protect Pulelaʻā  from being liquidated  initially, Rev Pinomi told them he hoped a trust fund registered in the Cayman Islands, would donate Aus$10 million, documents said.

On another occasion the members celebrated after Rev Pinomi told them their debts had been paid off by the Trust.

In January 2012 however, the church went into voluntary administration and later into receivership.

The disgruntled members of the Tongan Free Wesleyan community are determined to find new church communities after the loss of Pulelaa.


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