Tawa is known for its churches. Two feature at the roundabout at the centre of the town. One of those is St Christopher's, and 'leading' that flock (the Tawa-Linden Anglican Parish) is the vicar, Rev Julie Rokotakala. She has been in that role less than a year, but has played an important part there for considerably longer than that. Read on for more about Tawa's vicar.
Where were you born, Julie?
Where did you grow up?
What about college and tertiary education?
Wanganui High School, Otago University (B Sc), then studied physiotherapy (Dip Physio).
What has been your line of work over the years?
Moved to Wellington after university to become a physiotherapist at Wellington Hospital - one year in that role. Worked fulltime for one year as parish assistant & youth pastor at St Mary's Anglican, Karori. Then to St John's Theological College, Auckland for five years (B Theol, Melbourne, and M Theol, Auckland).
Came to Tawa in 1996 when ordained. Initially fulltime role as associate minister in Tawa-Linden Anglican Parish for two years. Then vicar of Karori West Anglican Church for three-and-a-half years. Back to Tawa in 2002 as associate minister. Became vicar (senior minister) in October 2008.
What about family?
Married to Aisake (Kiro) with 2 boys & 2 girls.
What are your interests/hobbies?
Love reading, but don't have enough time any more. Love to cook. If I had time, I would probably go back to designing clothes again. "I love designing and making clothes." I also
love being with people and "seeing them flourish".
How long have you lived in Tawa?
10 years all up.
What do you think is great about Tawa?
"We love being here." Love the friendliness and the community aspect, the variety that being in a multicultural situation brings, also the nearness to Porirua.
What, if anything, would improve Tawa?
If I had a dream, it would be to see more community events that involved families.
What is your favourite dessert?
Anything with lemon in it.
Favourite sports team?
The All Blacks.
I really like Brooke Fraser, I enjoy her music.
Favourite holiday destination(s) in New Zealand?
Highlights for the family have been Splash Planet (Hastings) but, for me, I did a trip up the West Coast of the South Island once - "that was amazing".
I remember my R.E. (Bible in Schools) teacher when I was 7 or 8 saying: "Do all the good you can to all the people you can for as long as you can." That has stuck with me. (It's part of a larger quote from reformer John Wesley: "Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.")
If you could meet any three people (alive or dead), who would they be?
Nelson Mandela, Moses and Mary - "what amazing lives they have had ... I have so many questions!"
What three things would you take with you if you were stuck on a desert island?
Definitely take my Bible, my husband (he'd be really useful on a desert island because he can do practical things like climb coconut trees), and a sharp knife (because I'm practical and a pragmatist).
What is one talent you would like that you do not have?
Love to be able to play the piano - always wanted to be able to do that.
What is one talent you have that you could not do without?
I think the ability to be able to talk to anyone. It means I feel comfortable in a room of preschoolers, in a room of elderly people, or amongst people who don't speak the same language as me.
What accomplishments/achievements in your life give you the most satisfaction/pride?
These are not really personal achievements as such - more divine gifts or blessings. I get a great sense of satisfaction from seeing my children do well in something they love; helping people in need; participating in the annual ANZAC Day commemorations here in Tawa as RSA Chaplain, walking alongside soldiers who have fought for our freedom and security. It's humbling, deeply moving and eternally significant - thanks guys.
What are two or three interesting things about you that local people may not know?
I got to shake Prince Edward's hand when I was at Wanganui High School.
I took a brilliant photo of Princess Diana when she visited Wanganui in 1983. "She was close enough for me to touch."
I had a long conversation with Michael Green (Anglican priest and author) on a bus in Singapore in 1990. He was very genuine.
What are three things you would like to do before you die?
I would like to visit Israel and Turkey to look at some of the ancient sites of Christian significance.
When I retire I'd like to have a second career as a fashion designer.
To live to see my grandchildren.
Compiled August 2009