A Kiwi spot of Tudor, Anglican and Maori

Time for a snapshot of some New Zealand history and architecture.

There is a quiet little suburb of Rotorua where you can see a Tudor style Anglican church set in a historic and sacred Maori village.

Ohinemutu is the beautiful lakeside setting for St Faith’s Church & Tamatekapua Meeting House.

Ohinemutu on the banks of Lake Rotorua

Ohinemutu Village was founded about 500 years ago by the Chief Ihenga, grandson of the leader of the Arawa Canoe which came to New Zealand from Polynesia in about 1350.

The village became the settlement for the local Ngati Whakaue tribe, whose people found there an abundance of fish in the lake, and geothermal activity that could aid them with their cooking, washing and heating.

Hot pools bubble up in regular spots around the village, often just a stones throw from residents’ back doors.  

It is because of the regular geothermal activity that the graves at the church are raised above the ground.

There is now a gold coin ‘koha’ (gift) requested by visitors to Ohinemutu Maori village and visitors are asked to be respectful of the sacred areas.

Maori group outside Tamatekapua meeting house, Ohinemutu, Rotorua - Photograph taken by Herbert Deveril, ca 1870s http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=71045

The meeting-house is beautifully decorated with carvings

Paua shells are used to represent the eyes in Maori carvings and traditionally are associated with the stars or whetu, the symbolic eyes of ancestors that gaze down from the night sky

The first church of St Faiths was built in 1885 but was moved in 1910 to make way for a new and larger church built in the Tudor style which was so popular in Rotorua at the time.The church interior is richly embellished with Maori carvings, woven and painted wall hangings.

Later additions to the building include a side chapel with a window looking over the lake showing Christ, in a korowai, traditional Maori cloak, seemingly walking on waters of Lake Rotorua.

(Personally I was a little surprised when I saw this – I suppose all believers are free to depict Christ as they wish – but I’m pretty sure Jesus never came to New Zealand, although I reckon he’d have been here in a shot if he’d had the chance!)

You can see internal photographs here.

St Faith's Church, alongside a pa and a wooden, carved, Maori flagpole, photographed by Muir and Moodie in 1885 . http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=13587

Overlooking Ohinemutu, circa 1885-1901. Ohinemutu Pa, St Faith's Church and a thermal pool are visible. Photograph taken by Josiah Martin. http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=13588

St Faith's Anglican Church, Ohinemutu

A founder of St Faith's was the American, Seymour Mills Spencer (1810-98), who preached to the Arawa for more than 50 years. He often travelled with an umbrella and is depicted in a small window in the church, preaching to a group of Maori, his characteristic umbrella unfurled.

Behind St Faith’s church lies the Ohinemutu Maori soldiers memorial and graveyard.

The calm, peaceful graveyard has a beautiful lake outlook and is a fine setting and final resting place for those brave men that went to fight so far away from their homeland.

Ohinemutu War Memorial

I’ll leave you with this gorgeous photograph that I found while researching old Ohinemutu pictures, it’s called The Fourpenny Haka.

Maori boys performing a haka, Ohinemutu, Mar 1907

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3 responses to “A Kiwi spot of Tudor, Anglican and Maori”

  1. Kiwidutch says :

    History, great scenery, something new learned and a GORGEOUS final photo that made me grin from ear to ear, and say ‘aww” make for a brilliant post… love it!
    The Ohinemutu Maori soldiers memorial is just stunningly serene and it’s really beautiful that they have “pride of place” with the best eternal view rather than someone with a swanky house etc. That photo really moved me … it’s just so, so, peaceful.
    Very fitting for people laid down their lives for freedom.

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