Busi­nesses lose faith in ‘pas­tor’

Kapi-Mana News - - CONVERSATIONS - JOHN WEEKES

A self-de­clared pas­tor who ad­mits ow­ing lots of busi­nesses money says he will pay them back be­cause he wants to go to heaven.

Derek Re­nata-Grace, who shared a pic­ture of him­self and Prime Min­is­ter Bill English on a re­li­gious fel­low­ship web­site, said he could go to prison, or choose bank­ruptcy, but would rather res­ur­rect busi­ness and re­im­burse peo­ple.

He has trig­gered com­plaints across the North Is­land about meat pack sales and advertising pitches after his ad­vert and loy­alty card busi­ness Ucount­card failed to de­liver.

‘‘I owe a lot of busi­nesses money, be­cause it just didn’t take off.’’

For­mer Ucount­card cus­tomer Kate Chew, of Sushi Mon­ster in the Hutt Val­ley, said the man – also known as Derek Wil­liam Grace – vis­ited her shop to gauge in­ter­est in his mar­ket­ing plan. ‘‘He told us he had 1000 mem­bers.’’

She said the card failed, so she went to the Dis­putes Tri­bunal, which or­dered Grace’s com­pany to pay Sushi Mon­ster $387.55 by De­cem­ber 16. Ucount­card changed its name to RB2GONZ Lim­ited, or Rub­bish 2 Go, last year. This week, Chew said she was still wait­ing for pay­ment.

Ja­son Toi, at The Big Chill in Lower Hutt, said Ucount­card was paid $450 for ser­vices that never ma­te­ri­alised. Grace said the amount was $370. ‘‘We tried to get hold of him to do some­thing ... He never re­sponded,’’ Toi said. ‘‘Now ap­par­ently he’s some kind of pas­tor.’’

A Dud­ley St beauty sa­lon worker said many lo­cal firms were af­fected.

Shane Cot­ter, of Porirua, said Grace ar­rived on his doorstep in Fe­bru­ary. Cot­ter said Grace told his part­ner he was giv­ing clothes away.

‘‘She [un­der­stood] it was from Pres­by­te­rian Sup­port.’’ Cot­ter be­lieved the real aim was to di­rect peo­ple to a web­site and ap­prove au­to­matic pay­ment forms linked to a home di­rect sales busi­ness.

In Hamil­ton, Michelle Ste­wart said her part­ner Richard agreed a few years ago to buy meat packs off Grace, pay­ing $10 a week. ‘‘He didn’t even get a pork chop. So he wasn’t very happy.’’

A ‘‘group’’ of peo­ple had vis­ited homes in Te Rapa to pro­mote meat pack deals, Ste­wart said.

Grace was de­scribed as a ‘‘He­brew Fel­low­ship Pas­tor’’ on a web­site which of­fered re­li­gious stud­ies. Welling­ton Jewish Com­mu­nity Cen­tre had never heard of Grace. The Pres­by­te­rian Church said door-to-door col­lec­tions were not its style.

Grace ear­lier said he’d ad­dressed claims about the church and some­one at the Pres­by­te­ri­ans told him not to worry. He added: ‘‘Any­one can say that they’re He­brew. By ge­neal­ogy, the Poly­ne­sian peo­ple are He­brew.’’

He said one com­plainant from Porirua was ‘‘from a men­tal in­sti­tu­tion’’.

He said other peo­ple’s advertising firms could fail too. ‘‘We were sell­ing the card for $10 doorto-door. I think if I stuck with it an­other year, it might’ve worked.’’

His goal was to build up new busi­ness to re­im­burse peo­ple but said ‘‘it’s go­ing to take me a while’’.

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Derek Re­nata-Grace with Prime Min­is­ter Bill English, whose spokesman said he could not re­mem­ber this photo and did not en­dorse the pas­tor.

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