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.