I have so far been unsuccessful in my detective work to discover what is the significance of something in the next church on our tour of the churches of the Hokianga.
My work colleague and administrator of the NorthTec campus, the inimitable Ngaire has undertaken to find me the answer but until then I am taking a detour and featuring a little gem of a church right here on my doorstep. I discovered it up a sideroad when I was out looking for roads and paths last week. And then, as if in answer to a prayer, there was an article about it in a local paper on Thursday. This tiny church is one of the oldest buildings in the area, and having achieved the grand old age of 125 years, has just been registered by the Historic Places Trust.
Today as I stopped to photograph the church I heard a voice coming from the other side of the fence, an elderly man asking would I like to see inside. He came through an opening in the fence and told me more about the history of the church than had appeared in the paper.
The church was built by a small group of volunteers, none of them builders or architects. It is described as straightforward and simple, as most of the churches of the north were at the time. It is that simplicity that I love about them.
Originally it was on another site and was then moved to it's current position, on what he called drays pulled by oxen. All went well until the church got to just down the road from its destination, when one of the beasts fell, was badly injured and had to be put down. And there the church sat until the dead oxen was paid for. Christian charity went just so far.
I loved the simplicity of the inside of the church.
Members of the community still mainatain the church and the gentleman who showed me around keeps the lawns mowed and told me with some pride that it is still well used - there were 12 people at the service on 8 August! It was built as an Anglican Church but as the Anglican community dwindled it has taken on another life and now hosts interdenominational services.
My guide pointed out the original kauri shingles on the roof. When the new roof was put on, they just lay the roofing iron over the old shingles:
After chatting for some time with my guide, we discovered he had once lived at our farm. He arrived in the area to teach at the local school and went to live on the farm for "a few weeks" until he found suitable accommodation - and stayed for 17 years. The dear gentleman declined to have his photo taken but I don't need a photo to remember his kindness and lovely, gentle sense of humour.