St Mary's Church, which was dedicated in 1926 is a memorial to the Maori soldiers of the East Coast who fell during the First World War. It is of great spiritual and historical significance to the people of Ngati Porou.
The church also commemorates the establishment of Christianity in Waiapu and the East Coast. Taumata-a-Kura of Ngati Porou had been captured in the early [1820s] by a Ngapuhi war party and taken by them in enslavement to the Bay of Islands. After several years he escaped and came under the protection of the Missionaries, by whom he was taught to read and write, and was introduced to Christianity. In 1834 he returned to Waiapu and introduced the Christian gospel to his people. It was not until after this that William Williams formally established a mission on the East Coast.
St Mary's is one of the great decorated buildings of Ngati Porou whose building was inspired and directed by Apirana T. Ngata, as part of his endeavours to restore knowledge of traditional arts and crafts and traditional values to his people. Ngata was a dynamic and revered leader of the Maori people, and especially of his Ngati Porou people, throughout the first half of the twentieth century.
The foundation stone of St Mary's was laid in 1924 and the building was dedicated in 1926.
Historical and associated iwi/hapu/whanau
The exterior of St Mary's Church is in a simple ecclesiastical style deriving from the Gothic Revival. Triangular headed windows allude to lancet windows and combine with the steeply pitched roof and gables to give the building this Gothic interpretation.
The nave has a chancel to the east, vestry to the south and porch to the west. The roof of the chancel is lower than that of the nave but is pitched at the same angle. Gable ends to the east and west elevations are decorated with timber members in line with the barge boards. The east and west ends both have one large triangular headed window, centrally located and divided into three panels by mullions. Below this window on the west facade is the porch, consisting of a gable, enclosing double doors at either end, with a lean-to between. The lean-to has three triangular headed windows. Like the windows, doors are also triangular headed.
The north and south facades have paired windows to the nave and single windows to the chancel, all with triangular heads.
In contrast to the relatively unadorned exterior, the interior is highly decorated with elaborate carvings, painted rafters and woven tukutuku panels. In the nave the kowhaiwhai patterns on the rafters do not follow the traditional pairing on each side of the ridge, although they do in the chancel. A cornice is also adorned with kowhaiwhai decoration.
The walls are decorated with tukutuku panels in eight traditional designs. The weaving was supervised by Ngata who aimed to decorate the interior with traditional designs, and did not include "modern" designs which he considered to be inappropriate for such a building.
In addition to the use of kowhaiwhai and tukutuku panels, lavish stained glass windows make an important contribution to the continuity and success of the interior.
Wood carvings are featured between tukutuku panels, above a panelled dado and above window apexes. Window frames are also carved and a full-length carved ridge pole is a very important symbolic element.
The interior is complemented by a carved communion rail, tukutuku panels to the carved altar, and a carved pulpit, gifts from the Te Arawa people.
Registration covers the entire building, its fixtures and finishes. It also includes recent modifications.
The carving and decoration of the interior.
1924 - 1926
Construction of St Mary's Church, including interior
Conservation of stained glass windows
2001 - 2002
Extensive conservation of interior
Site of Te Maniatanga o Makahuri
Concrete piles and foundation wall; timber framing with lapped weatherboards; roof of corrugated galvanised iron.
2nd February 2002
Report Written By
Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
M. P. K. Sorrenson, 'Apirana Ngata' in Claudia Orange (ed), Vol 3 1901-1920, Wellington, 1996
14 Dec 2012
Friday 13 February 1976
J A Mackay, Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z, Gisborne, 1949.
New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)
New Zealand Historic Places Trust
'St Mary's Church, State Highway 35, Tikitiki', NZHPT Buildings Classification Committee Report, Wellington, 1990
Frances Porter (ed.), Historic Buildings of New Zealand: North Island, Auckland, 1979
pp 13-22, 26-28
Poverty Bay Herald
Poverty Bay Herald
26 February 1926
Tuesday 2 March 1926
Porter, 1983 (2)
Frances Porter (ed.), Historic Buildings of New Zealand: North Island (2nd edn.), Auckland, 1983
Chris Cochran, Dean Whiting and Graham Stewart, 'St Mary's Church, Tikitiki: Conservation Plan', Wellington, 1999
This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.
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.