Sailors’ Society in New Zealand has appointed Aaron Ironside as the Society’s Port Chaplain in Auckland and National Chaplain. This is a new full-time position, Aaron taking over from Major David Millar who was the Auckland port chaplain, on a part-time basis, for almost 20 years until he retired in September 2018.
The Society’s Chairman, Terry Nobbs, welcomed the appointment, noting that over 20 applications were received for the position. “The appointment is”, he said, “a major step forward both for the organisation in Auckland and for our national body. It’s a mark of our determination to better serve the merchant seafarers who carry over 95% of all our trade.” Mr Nobbs expressed his gratitude to the Sailors’ Society parent body in the UK for their support for this venture which has also received funding from other society groups in Otago and Bay of Plenty.
Sailors’ Society has over a hundred years’ history of service to seafarers in the ports of Auckland, providing chaplaincy services in a partnership at the Seafarers Centre in Quay Street, Auckland. The chaplains of the Centre visit ships in port and seek to assist with any welfare or employment difficulties, visit injured seafarers in hospital and welcome seafarers to the Centre where they can get in touch with home or simply relax away from the ship.
The Society is a faith-based non-denominational charity serving seafarers of any nationality, race, religion and background. National Secretary, Commander Larry Robbins, said that Aaron has a wide Christian experience, being a popular Christian Broadcaster and Conference speaker who has delivered over 1000 presentations, and spent 25 years on radio in New Zealand and Australia. He and his wife, Debbi, planted and pastored Harvest Christian Church for fifteen years in West Auckland, where the church baptized over 100 new Christians, and established four additional congregations.
Aaron says that he is looking forward to ministering to the 8000 or so seafarers who visit the Seafarers’ Centre in Auckland each year and to meeting them in their workplaces on the ships in port. Over the past six years, Aaron has used his Master’s Degree in Psychology to offer 2500 hours of counselling to over 300 clients and looks forward to using these skills in his new role; skills which he says will help when he meets any seafarers struggling with loneliness, depression or who are simply missing home. “We aim to be a welcoming presence”, he says, “and someone who the sailors can talk to as a friend.” Aaron’s passions include his three young adult children, supporting the Warriors League Team, and perfecting American BBQ. He loves a good laugh with friends, and was even a grand finalist in the Auckland International Comedyfest Competition in 2015.