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Gisborne site sought for first stupa in world to see the sun

East meets West.

The spiritual leader of a Buddhist monastery in Northern India has sent two lamas (teacher monks) to Gisborne to seek a suitable site for a stupa (spiritual monument).

Pema Donyo Nyinje, head of the Palpung Sherabling Monastery in Himachal Pradesh, sent lamas Karma Dorjey and Damcho to Gisborne this week to view locations from Muriwai to Tatapouri.

They were met by Gisborne Palpung Centre members and Sonam Rinchen of the Auckland Palpung Centre.

“We're affiliated with the head monastery in Northern India,” said Mr Rinchen.

“The spiritual director requested we build a stupa in Gisborne because of its auspiciousness as the first city in the world to see the sun.

“He has specifically asked us to build a stupa here in Gisborne.

“It is important to us to find the right location. We need an elevated site and it must see the sun rising from the ocean. This will be the first stupa in the world to see the sun.”

As a place that fosters peace and harmony the stupa must be built to particular specifications and proportions.

At more than 27 metres high the structure will be the biggest stupa in Australasia.

A minimum of four acres is needed. A park-like environment will surround the building.

Mr Dorjey and Damcho will send pictures of various sites to Pema Donyo Nyinje, who also has access to Google maps and Google Earth.

“For us the stupa is spiritually significant,” said Mr Rinchen. “The stupa has a peaceful and healthy effect on the environment.

“Our spiritual director is a master of geomancy and feng shui. He will be able to see any significant features and he will lay out the site.

“Once our project is complete our intention is to gift the stupa to the Gisborne District Council for the people of Gisborne.”

Buddhist lamas (teachers) Karma Dorjey and Damcho visited Gisborne this week on a mission to find a suitable site for a stupa (spiritual monument). It would be the first stupa in the world to see the sun and Gisbonre was chosen specifically for this. The pair looked at locations from Muriwai to Tatapouri. If a suitable place is found, once completed, the stupa would be gifted to Gisborne District Council for the people of Gisborne. The pair are pictured visiting a Gisborne Bhuddist centre. Picture by Paul Rickard

  1. Lisa Daunton says:

    No thanks. Let’s leave eastern religious monuments where they belong. I don’t see how this is something to be excited about.
    Prime land…no way!!!

    1. Derek says:


      1. Effie Takao Kanuta says:

        No thanks, no need. Put the stupa inside your council chambers and you can look at it all day long . . . reduced height of course.

  2. Arthur Baker, Ruatoria says:

    A unique people in a unique place at a unique time. There is a grapple or wrestle in the realms of the spirit for spiritually significant places geographically all over the earth. We talk about spiritual monuments. Gisborne has its share already, spotted all over the place – spiritually significant to who, these realms are not respecters of persons. Though persons put them in place, they are gateways people don’t let ignorance hurt our people. As tangata whenua, why would we solicit our land (prostitute it because its the first place of the sun rise, maybe Hikurangi is up for sale). And why let my rates pay council to look after it. We are a Christian established nation.

    1. Mareana Ropata says:

      Agree with your comment. No – this is the Land of the long white cloud, Aotearoa New Zealand.

  3. Kevin Thompson says:

    This proposal to erect a Buddhist Stupa is a reflection of the compassion that exists in the worldwide Buddhist community. People should not fear Buddhism or their symbols, it is a benign, peaceful philosophy and the Buddhist doctrines are aimed at promoting peace and eliminating suffering for all. The comments thus far show a lack of understanding of this. Buddhists do not actively recruit or door knock but it is easy to research Buddhism before turning down this magnanimous gesture.

  4. S Barton says:

    A stupa is a Buddhist burial mound . . . and as such it has no daily purpose for the vast majority of our local population. I wonder why we should need such an enormous burial mound built here, particularly on the type of site they are searching for. Northern India is not known for its coastal locations or sea views, thus I wonder why it is so vital for this one to be facing the sun rising from the sea.

    At over 27m, this would be the tallest building ANYWHERE in Tāirawhiti, nearly twice the height of our town clock tower. While the dome shape may be appealing to the eye, and be set in park-like grounds, the sheer size means it will dominate the landscape. Four acres is quite a large piece of land, our Botanical Gardens is set on 12 acres, to give an idea of the size.

    While it is said it would be built and gifted to Gisborne, I suspect that all future costs would need to be met from rates income, so the grounds care, damage from weather/ vandals/ seismic activity would be our financial responsibility. One I am not in agreement with.