In the early nineteenth century, the area on the Northland East Coast around Mangawhai, Hakaru and Kaiwaka was contested by hapu of Ngapuhi, Ngai Tahuhu, Te Uri o Hau and Ngati Wai. There was a significant portage here between Mangawhai harbour on the East coast and the Kaipara Harbour at Kaiwaka. In 1825, Ngapuhi under Hongi Hika, pursuing utu for the defeat at Moremonui in 1807, killed large numbers of Ngati Whatua at the battle of Te Ika a Ranganui in 1825. However, Ngapuhi did not follow their victory by settling the land, and thus the battle and its aftermath resulted in a very substantial depopulation of the area. The Mangawhai Block of some 50,000 acres was purchased by the Crown for £1060 in 1854, as a direct response to the desire to provide land for settlement under the Waste Lands Act for the Scots immigrants from Nova Scotia, who began to arrive in New Zealand under the leadership of Rev. Norman McLeod in 1853. Although the majority of the Nova Scotians settled further north at Waipu, the land purchase at Mangawhai did proceed, and some of the Nova Scotians did take up land in this area. Hakaru became significant as a link between the east coast port of Mangawhai and the Kaipara Harbour at Kaiwaka. Many Albertland and other settlers in the Kaipara came north from Auckland to Mangawhai, then travelled overland via Hakaru to reach the Kaipara Harbour and resume the boat journey to their destinations.
The Township of Hakaru
John and Samuel Tutin received their Crown Grant on 21 January 1859, Lot 69 of 30.75 hectares (76 acres) on the eastern bank of the Hakaru Stream immediately south of the site of St Michael's church. Tutin was a licensed Anglican lay reader, and the Tutin family was to play a significant role in the life of the church at Hakaru. Another prominent settler connected with the church was John Ryan, whose Crown grant of 250 acres on 22 January 1859 was next to the Tutins. Ryan was an Irish solicitor. These and other Hakaru settlers took up land to farm, but gradually Hakaru developed as a township. In 1870 the Sarah family built an establishment referred to as the Cornish Arms Hotel, which combined the functions of butcher's shop, store, bakery and gum store as well as providing lodgings and holding a licence for a period. A post office was established at the Sarah's store in 1886, and a lock-up and court-house was built in the 1880s, with a local farmer becoming the constable.
The first St Michael's Church, Hakaru
In July 1859, George Augustus Selwyn the metropolitan Anglican Bishop of New Zealand paid £33 for Mangawhai Block Lot 70 of 13.35 hectares (33 acres). Selwyn often made land purchases in areas where he thought his church might require land. A cairn of stones immediately to the north of the present church is said to have been placed by Bishop Selwyn to mark the church site, though the original church was built a hundred metres away. According to Bishop Cowie, Bishop Selwyn built a small house on the land, which was styled 'The Parsonage'. It was lived in by the Tutin family until the death of Mr Tutin in 1872, and that of Mrs Tutin in 1882, after which the Misses Tutin were allowed by the church trustees to occupy it at a nominal rent.
The first St Michael's Church was erected by Messrs Stewart and Company, under the terms of a contract with Bishop Selwyn's Building Committee, signed on 10 August 1861. Totara trees were felled and pit sawn on the spot, then taken by Joseph Webster's bullock team to the church site. The Diocesan Building Fund contributed £15, with £45 contributed by the local settlers. The final debt on the church of £2.9s.6d was paid on 10 December 1881. The church was opened on Christmas Day 1861. As well as being used as a church, the building was also used as a Sunday School, and as a school run by the Misses Tutin. The original church remained in use as school, hall and Sunday School until 1939, when it was relocated to Hukatere, where it remains as St Michael on the Hill, Hukatere (NZHPT Record no. 3913).
The second St Michael's Church, Hakaru
As the Hakaru settlement grew, the original St Michael's church became too small for its congregation. When Bishop Cowie held an evening service in the first St Michael's in January 1882, 'the church was filled to overflowing, several persons having to stand in the porch'. In his account of a Confirmation Service on 27th March 1885, the Bishop commented that 'the little church was inconveniently crowded showing the necessity for the new church for which a fund is being collected.' In the course of his sermon at this service, the Bishop said that the best site for the new building would be that which is most accessible to a majority of the people. He also referred to the excellent order in the cemetery was kept by the agent of the Trustees, Mr S. Tutin. In early September 1885, Rev J.Haselden visited Hakaru, and attended a meeting of the congregation after the service.
'The chief business was the proposed erection of a new church. The present building is too small for the congregation and while twenty years ago was looked upon as quite the 'cathedral church' of the district, it is now justly considered as behind the age. The congregation has been hard at work collecting funds, and it is hopped that a building to seat 90 adults will be erected on the exact site chosen by Bishop Selwyn many years ago. The meeting was rather prolonged, as there was some difficulty arriving at a conclusion respecting the proposed church that was satisfactory to all concerned. The sum which the vestry feel justified in spending is so small that it is very hard to erect a suitable building therewith.
The Misses Sarah and Elizabeth Tutin were the prime movers in the construction of the new church, the present St Michael's, which was built during 1886. The difficulties over finance must have been resolved, to some degree at least, because on 26 February 1886 Miss Sarah Tutin, the older sister, laid the foundation stone for the new church. A large number of people assembled to witness the interesting ceremony, which was conducted by Rev. Haselden. A document was placed in the cavity in the stone - its contents were read to those assembled, but no record survives of what it said. The stone was laid in the brick foundation of the church. Bishop Cowie, who compiled the Church Gazette, noted that 'the church will not be gone on with until the spring of the year. It is expected that it will be one of the best small churches in the diocese, and will be opened free of debt'.
Construction of the church was duly begun in the spring of 1886, built by the principal local builders at the time, Nova Scotian settlers Angus and Ken Stewart. They used undressed kauri timber from local mills and dressed timber and joinery brought in from the Kauri Timber Company, Auckland via the port of Mangawhai.
The church was consecrated on 1 April 1887 by Bishop W.G. Cowie, Bishop of Auckland. He wrote that it:
was a great day at Hakaru, and had been long looked forward to. Friends from great distances and from all directions assembled in the afternoon for the opening of S.Michael's Church, which began at three o'clock. The first part of the Evening Prayer was said by the Rev. F.Gould, who had come with the Auckland visitors; the Lessons being read by the Rev. L.L. Cubitt, minister of Whangarei, and the Rev. C.A.Tobin, deacon, assistant minister of the district. The sermon was preached by me. The singing was hearty and good, and the service generally was bright and edifying. After Evening Prayer I baptized three children, at the special request of their parents. This service began with the hymn 'In token that thou shalt not fear', led by E [Eliza, his wife]. The amount received during the day for the Building Fund, including the offerings at the service, was £22 18s. 3d. In the course of my sermon I spoke of the debt of gratitude due to 'our good sisters Sarah and Elizabeth Tutin,' for their indefatigable exertions in connection with St. Michael's. A cordial 'hear, hear,' was almost unconsciously given by a number of men standing in the porch.
An account of the opening in the Diocesan Gazette provides some additional details. The Bishop and Mrs Cowie rode from Marsden Point via the coast road through Waipu to reach Hakaru the day prior to the consecration service. The church was full to overflowing, and although extra seats were brought in, many of those present were unable to get into the building, much less find a seat. In the evening, a fund-raising concert was held in the Hakaru Hall, and the Bishop delivered an instructive lecture on the 'Extent of the British Empire'. Over £20 was raised, reducing the debt on the church building to £50, which it was hoped would be 'soon cleared off altogether'.
Local fund-raising continued, involving concerts, lectures and sales of work, as well as donations. As well as the church building, money was also raised to provide an organ, which was paid for by the time the church opened.
The church played a significant role in the worship and social life of the community. The small size of the church building continued to be a problem. This factor had led to its replacing its predecessor and had been the subject of criticism before it was built. It could not cater to the crowds at its opening, but it continued to be seen as too small in ordinary use as well. Currently displayed in the church is a glazed and framed architectural plan drawn by significant Auckland architect Edward Bartley. It is dated July 27th 1896, and shows the whole of the current church forming the nave of the proposed new building, with a substantial crossing in the place of the current chancel. A large raised pulpit and prayer desk are shown on a platform, leading to choir stalls and the organ, leading again to a new chancel with Altar and access to a new vestry. No records have been found to explain the context of this drawing, or provide any information as to whether it was ever more than a pipe dream.
The windows of the church were originally plain glass, but in the 1930s these were replaced with the current geometric patterned stained glass. The church was reblocked in 1951-2, and it may be that it was then that the brick foundation into which the foundation stone had been set in 1886 was replaced by the timber piles on which the church now rests. No record has been found of the details of that work. The church was reroofed in 1954, and it is believed that about that date the church was connected to the electrical supply, replacing the candles and kerosene lanterns used up until then. It seems likely that the small square belfry formerly on the roof ridge end above the west door was removed during the re-roofing, though again, no records of that survive.
The exterior of the church has been painted several times, in 1968 and 1980, and most recently in 2003. In 1968 the interior was painted its current pale blue, probably painting over the original oiled kauri finish. Between 1959 and 1962, the roadside fence that had enclosed the first St Michael's church was removed and a new fence erected halfway between the road and the church building, to allow cars to be parked on the front part of the site. A hedge was planted along the fenceline, and in 1980 the Wintle family provided funds to erect a memorial gateway in the fence, to commemorate the death in World War II of Frank Wintle and his comrades. They also provided funds for a new electric organ.
The centennial of the church was commemorated in 1987, with a special service conducted by the Bishop of Auckland Rt. Rev. Bishop Bruce Gilberd being held on Wednesday 1 April 1987, 100 years to the day since the dedication of the church by his predecessor the Bishop of Auckland Rt. Rev. Bishop Cowie in 1887.
The church continues in regular use for worship and life cycle events such as baptisms, weddings and funerals. Services are not now held every week, and the congregation no longer has a problem to find a seat in the church, with 40 people attending a service in November 2009 being considered a good attendance.
St Michael's Church is situated in a rural setting in Valley Road, near the Hakaru River. It has always been a rural locality, though formerly there were more houses and other buildings in the vicinity than is now the case. It is surrounded by quite a high hedge, and sits among the graves of the cemetery.
The church is a rectangular building with a gabled roof, oriented west to east, with a rectangular porch forming the main entrance at the western end. At the eastern end is a lower chancel with a window with three lights above the altar. Each light has a triangular top. On the southern side of the chancel is a small rectangular lean-to porch that serves as the vestry. Formerly rising from the central gable at the western end was a small square belfry, surmounted by a small gable, with a haloed cross motif at each end. No trace of the belfry remains.
The building is supported on ten rows of timber piles on each side, with four more for the chancel. The pile at the northwest corner is supported by a rectangular stone and three courses of bricks. The stone is engraved with the words:
ST MICHAEL'S CHURCH
On each side of the body of the church there are four triangle topped rectangular windows, with a further smaller one in the north side of the chancel. High on the western and eastern walls above the entrance porch and the chancel is a narrow triangle topped window with wooden louvres. There is a square window in the south wall of the vestry.
Three concrete steps lead to the main entrance, and there are also three concrete steps leading to the rectangular door to the vestry. The entrance door has two rectangular leaves, surmounted by a triangular panelled door head. From the porch, two-leaf timber rectangular doors give into the body of the church. A triangle topped wooden door leads from the chancel into the vestry.
The gabled sarked kauri timber ceiling is supported by exposed kauri timber beams and three trusses. The walls of the church are match lined with horizontal kauri boards. The roof sarking is painted pale yellow, while the walls are pale blue. Single electric luminaires with hemispherical shades hang from the centre of the first and third trusses on a long single wire. The electric illumination is not original to the church, which had no electricity originally. Two steel tie rods, presumably not original, cross the church for strengthening.
The body of the church has a wooden floor with a central carpeted aisle, separating two rows of timber pews. The choir and chancel is also carpeted. Three short pews and a fixed bench seat provide for choir seating. The oak font is readily moveable; when visited in November 2009, it was located in the choir near the organ. The font has a silver plaque engraved 'IN MEMORY OF THE RYAN FAMILY CHURCH PIONEERS OF THE HAKARU DISTRICT'. The organ stands by the south wall of the choir, to the west of the easternmost window.
The church has no pulpit. In November 2009 the Bishop's desk and chair were placed to the east of the organ, and a plain wooden lectern with a simple blue cloth hanging with gold tassles and plain gold cross also stood by the organ. An oak altar with three front panels and palmate tracery stood on a raised platform in the chancel.
On the southeast wall of the choir is the Roll of Honour for The Great War, and on the northeast wall the Roll of Honour for the Second World War.
In the centre of the right hand wall of the church are two marble plaques. The upper one reads:
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
ARTHUR FAULKNER RYAN
(INTERRED AT OTAHUHU)
FLORENCE MARIANNE M. SHANNON
SISTER OF THE ABOVE
(INTERRED AT WARKWORTH)
Below it the second plaque reads:
PTE ARTHUR M. SHANNON
12TH REINFORCEMENT NZER
KILLED IN ACTION AT BAPAUME
24TH AUGUST 1918 AGED 24 YEARS
'DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY'
The cemetery surrounding the church contains a number of graves, and is still in use. The Mangawhai Historical Society and Museum has prepared a booklet containing the cemetery records, including the 1985 transcriptions by the Wellsford Informal Group of the NZ Society of Genealogists.
There are two World War One War Graves, and one from the South African War. 5523 Trooper Henry Ormonde Ryan North Island Regiment was a member of the 8th Contingent who went to the war in South African in March 1902. He died of measles and pneumonia on Somes Island in Wellington Harbour on 13 August 1902.
21481 Private John Morris Bowmar, NZ Training Unit, died in military hospital in Wellington aged 21 on 9 July 1916. 21517 Private Francis Richard Linnell died of illness at Trentham Camp, Wellington on June 23rd 1916.
The cemetery includes the grave of Paval or Paul Lupis, said to have been the first Dalmatian settler to New Zealand. He died in Mangawhai in 1916.
This place includes chattels that contribute to its heritage significance and should be included in the registration.
Identification and Significance of Chattels
Roll of Honour, The Great War 1914 - 1918, gilt lettering on polished timber
The Roll contains 41 names, of which 13 have a red cross beside them, indicating those who died during the war.
Roll of Honour, 1939 - 1945 Hakaru, gilt lettering on polished timber
The Roll contains 10 names, of which that of Frank Wintle has a gilt cross beside it, indicating that he died during the war.
World War One Memorial to Pte Arthur M Shannon, polished marble and granite
10389 Private Arthur Francis Miller Shannon, a farmer, enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and sailed for Egypt in J Company of the 12th reinforcements, Wellington Infantry Battalion on 6 May 1916. He was 22. In 1918, while serving in 2 Bn. Auckland Regiment, New Zealand Expeditionary Force, he was killed in action at Bapaume, France on 24 August, 1918, aged 24. He has no known grave, but is commemorated on the New Zealand Memorial at Grevilliers, Pas de Calais, France.
Memorial plaque to members of the Ryan family
Baptismal Font, purchased in the late 1950s in memory of the Ryan family, with funds from the bequest of Mrs Butler Ryan. It was made at the Returned Services Rehabilitation League in Parnell, Auckland.
Misses Tutin organ
A pedal organ made by the Sterling Organ Co. of Derby, Connecticut, U.S.A. It was played for many years by the Tutin sisters, who organised the fundraising for its purchase in 1887.
Oak Altar and Bishop's chair and desk
The oak altar replaced the original in the 1930s, at the same time as the Bishop's desk and chair were purchased. The chair bears a maker's plate of Winks and Hall, cabinet makers of Shortland St, Auckland.
Frank Wintle Memorial gates
29185 Private Frank Wintle, was killed in the attack on Point 175 as part of the action against Sidi Rezegh in the Western Desert in Libya on 25 November 1941, aged 24. He was serving in 24 Bn. New Zealand Infantry. He has no known grave, but is commemorated on the Alamein Memorial, Egypt. The gates were erected in his memory, and that of his comrades, by the Wintle family in 1980.
December 25th Opening of first St Michael's church, Hakaru
Foundation stone laid for second St Michael's church, Hakaru
Consecration of St Michael's church, Hakaru by Bishop Cowie, Bishop of Auckland
Installation of coloured glass windows
Re-piling and re-roofing of church, installation of electric light
Kauri timber, iron roof
15th December 2009
Report Written By
W. G. Cowie, 'Our Last Year in New Zealand, 1887', London, 1988
H. Mabbett, The Rock and the Sky: The Story of Rodney County, Auckland, 1977
Maori Wars of the Nineteenth Century, Whitcombe and Tombs, Christchurch, 1910.
A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Northland Area Office
Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.