Our History

Orama has a rich history of giving people hope and vision for their future through their experiences here. It has had a common thread woven throughout it’s existence of being a place of welcome, hospitality & where people experience life-changing encounters that literally alter the course of their life’s journey. 

The valley was also originally used by local Maori for growing medicinal herbs and plants, including Mairehau whose pervasive perfume was said to permeate the valley with peace and healing.  

Pioneered by Neville and Dorothy Winger in 1963, having purchased the 800 acre farm land from the Padderson family, Orama began as a Christian conference and ministry centre. This ministry had an international impact through the many people that were transformed here and went on to pioneer movements of their own.

"Everything we do is done with the next generation in mind. Nothing is done for ourselves. Everything is done for the Lord." 

Dot Winger

A short History of Orama's Ministry

Neville Winger was a man with a big vision. His Vision saw many initiatives run out of Orama including; training programs for young people, conventions, camps, a radio station, rehabilitation centre, bible school & also the printing, publishing & distribution of books. 

Orama was known as a significant place for renewal in New Zealand especially through their Conventions & Summer Camps programs.

Then there were the YWAM days. Discipleship Training Schools were run here & later, the Elkana worship schools.

In 2004 long after Neville & Dot passed, Orama was Closed. 

In 2005, it re-opened with a new Trustboard & a new Vision, based on the spirit of the historic mission of Orama but relevant and accessible to people today.

There were New Beginnings & a partnership established with Hillary Outdoors (OPC). Summer camps & Events started to come back including; sojourn, Malachai, the gathering, Inflame worship school & inspire school of painting. Fatherheart Ministries also returned with their Inheriting the nations school and continue to be a major partner of Orama’s.

Orama Today

Today Orama’s mission is to be a place of welcome, where people find belonging and have life changing encounters with God, Others & Nature. 

Hospitality is what we do, holding space for those life-changing encounters that impact generations is who we are.

There is a natural thread of hospitality, welcome, renewal & healing that happens in this bay. The outworking of what that exactly looks like often changes with the staff on the ground and the Vision of the trustboard.

We still host Hillary Outdoors who see school loads of kids come through our place all year round having positive impact on their lives. Fatherheart Ministires has also been a big partner for us running their 3 month INS school here (Before Covid). 

Orama thrives when the place is full. Summer camps have started to make a come back and ministry school ideas are in the pipeline… watch this space.

Karaka Bay Garden’s back in the 1980’s. The one acre Garden used to produce 95% of the community’s vegetables.

The Print Shop

The Orama printshop back in the day in the back of the hall, rivalled many on the mainland. At its most productive, the print shop – along with the cassette tape department – generated a third of Orama’s annual income.

How it all began

An exert from the Orama Book ‘Orama Reflections’ by Lynne & Bob Mitchener

It is hard to say when something really begins. Outwardly, Orama began in 1962, when Neville and Dorothy Winger purchased the 800 acre hill country farm on the west coast of Great Barrier Island. But it’s real beginning was in the heart of this couple of mid-40 year olds, many years before. A life given to God’s service meant the Winger family home was always filled with people. Bedrooms, a bunk room in the garage, a caravan in the backyard were all occupied – with extra bodies often bedding down on the living room floor. Most meals were shared with one visitor or another. Having been impacted by the charismatic renewal at the time, Nev and Dot carried a message in their hearts for the church and the unchurched alike. They were already taking teams of young people on missions into isolated, rural New Zealand to tell the people of Murupara and Kaiangaroa and Meremere the ‘Good News’. And they were distributing books through their Colporteur Bookshop in Hamilton. Yet Nev & Dot wanted more. An idea kept tugging at their hearts ever since they had read the Henrietta Mears Story and met this woman of indomitable courage and faith. Henrietta was the founder of Forest Home Conference Centre, a place that greatly influenced people like Bill Bright, from Campus Crusade, and Billy Graham. Nev & Dot’s daughter, Gayle Stevens, remembers Henrietta coming to visit them in their Hamilton home and her ongoing encouragement and inspiration in Nev and Dot’s search for a conference centre. 
So, many weekends, Nev, Dot and the kids piled into the family car following a new trail to a piece of land, or an old building that just might be the place of their dreams. Up the coromandel coast they trundled, the Thames coast, Hibiscus Coast. Places like Orere Point, Kaiaua, Te Puru, Greenhithe, Pakatoa island were all spied out. Then one day, the possibility of a farm on Great Barrier Island 60 miles away from Auckland… So isolated; was it too far away? Almost everyone said so. A trip on a seaplane with the notorious Freddie Ladd, a week’s stay on the farm, some deep reflection and a few miracles, all seemed to say “this is the place, buy me”. Just a few months later, they swapped their Hamilton home and 500 pounds for an early 1900s farm house, an old jeep, some sheep & cattle, lots of gorse and ti-tree and an 800 acre coastal block. Karaka Bay, on the Northwest Coast of Great Barrier Island, a serene and beautiful horseshoe shaped bay, with sea and road access, was the place. “Dot has to be at peace with it”, Nev had always said, and she was.

Disengaging from life in Hamilton took a lot longer. Their farming know-how was a few chickens and a vegetable plot in the back yard; so Dave and Elsbeth Liddle were appointed farm managers and moved over in June 1963, with their 10 month old son Craig, to look after the place and run the farm.
Neville ran the family business of Winger Motors in Hamilton, where he and Dot had lived most of their lives, very involved in business and community life. So it was several months before they finally packed up and moved out from the rented home on the Whatawhata Road, bulging with ‘we’re off to Great Barrier’ stuff. With their two youngest children in tow, and a dream in their hearts, they ventured into a new chapter…

Orama Reflections Book

A book of love from Bob & Lynne Mitchener available to purchase from the Orama Shop.

On Key

More info on Orama & current Daily Life...