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Mr Kusilifu and his wife, Lois, originally from the Solomon Islands, came to the Palmerston-Dunback Presbyterian parish initially for a three-year term, but his appointment was extended.
During his time the parish went through a period of growth with new arrivals including OceanaGold staff from the Philippines, who were integrated into the parish. Working on the street garden in front of the Presbyterian manse had been a way for Mrs Kusilifu to contact people.
People often stopped to talk and had offered plants and even rocks for the extensive garden, she said. The Kusilifus took leave from the parish two years ago to work as lecturers for a month in a remote Bible college in Papua New Guinea, with substantial support from the Palmerston parish, including $1800 for bibles for the theological students, who had little money.
Mr Kusilifu's last service in the parish was at St James' Church, Palmerston, last Sunday. The service was followed by lunch and a farewell by the parish members.