Sunday, August 22, 2010

Two Churches on Sunday

And so we come this week to two of my favourite churches on our Churches of the North Tour back in mid June.  After a little navigation error the previous evening, on the Sunday morning we'd headed west and north to Mangamuka Bridge.  (I blogged about this here.)   As we were heading south again, along the northern edge of the Hokianga Harbour, as we rounded a bend, we caught a glimpse of a church on a hill.  We managed to pull off the road, turn around and find our way back to the side road, over a little bridge and up a hill to a large grassed area with a marae on one side and a church on the opposite side. 

The outlook was very rural, not a soul in sight (which was the norm at all the churches we visited), a small cemetry on an adjoining hill.  There was an air of wonderful serenity about the place. 

The little church was enclosed by a neat picket fence.

We figured we were at Te Karae and after a little research I found a little information about the marae but nothing about the church.  (Te marae ko Pateoro: Got its name from the sounds that echoed off the surrounding hills. Hence the name Pateoro pertaining to the echo but with the passing of time and the growth of numerous trees this echo has all but disappeared.)

Te karae te awa was a river with a large tidal flow up to te Mata bridge and landing, where boats towing barges came to unload goods to the community. The gull called karae (no longer seen in the area) used to hover above the flotsam tide line seeking small fish that swam beneath it. A daily ritual for these gulls was to gather where the freshwater met the tidal flow that ended at te Karae creek Hence the name the karae, and from that came the name Te karae.

We were becoming accustomed to the lovely timber lining of the churches in the area, the beautiful pews.  Everything about this little church told us it is used and cherished.  Not a spec of dust, not the smallest sign of neglect. 

Much later that same day we came to St Peters Church at Punguru, with the doors latched back in welcome.  This is one of four heritage churches registered with the Historic Places Trust.
The church sits up a steep drive with a good view over the little township. 

Inside, it was quite ornate in comparison to the simplicity of our earlier church.  There was a lovely mix of English and Maori cultures, the beautiful stained glass windows throwing light on to lovely maori weavings.

There was even a side altar, something we hadn't encounted on our travels.

This was the only bible we saw and there it was open at the page of the last (or next?) reading.


  1. I love this series, you really have these churches captured perfectly.

  2. I've been enjoying your tour of churches, too. To me they give an odd mix of feelings because most of them seem like a mix between different types of churches here in Sweden. How some of them are situated reminds me of many of our old countryside "Church of Sweden" churches (which was State Church for four and a half century or so until 2000) but those are usually stone buildings. Very few old wooden churches remain (most of them destroyed by fire in the past and then replaced by stone buildings). But in other ways your wooden churches also remind me of countryside "chapels" belonging to independent denominations and built around the previous turn of century. Those were usually simple wooden buildings, which rarely had bells, or stained glass windows. I'm trying to think whether I ever saw a stained glass window in a wooden chapel. I don't think I ever did. The old chapels usually embraced a very "minimalistic" style. So I find myself rather fascinated with that wall including both stained glass windows and Maori art. Thanks for showing.

  3. The St Peter's church could have been lifted right off Cape Breton Island - name and all. The wooden ceiling in the first church is beautiful - such attention to detail.

  4. I love the workmanship that went into these churches Pauline, especially the door in the last church.

    Happy days.

  5. I can't believe that I am so far behind in my Blog reading. I am really enjoying this series too and these are particularly lovely. Perhaps a tinge of the fourth of the SDSs in not seeing these for myself. But one day perhaps...


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