St Paul's Church

Te Kaha Church Road, Te Kaha

  • St Paul's Church.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Martin Jones. Date: 11/09/2003.
  • St Paul's Church.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Martin Jones.
  • St Paul's Church.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Martin Jones.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 3505 Date Entered 5th April 1984


City/District Council

Opotiki District


Bay of Plenty Region

Legal description

Te Kaha B6A Blk V Te Kaha SD


St Paul's Church is closely linked with the development of the Maori Anglican ministry in the East Cape, and Te Kaha's role as the base of an extensive Maori pastorate. The timber structure was built in 1899-1900, in the centre of the major Te Whanau-a-Apanui settlement. Te Kaha's wealth in the late nineteenth century was largely derived from communal, shore-based whaling. Members of the settlement had adopted Anglicanism in the 1830s, partly leading to Te Kaha being the location of a signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. Acceptance of Anglican ideas waned due to disaffection with colonial policies in the mid-nineteenth century, but revived by 1885, by which time the extensive Te Kaha pastorate was formed to minister to Maori communities from Torere in the west to Potaka in the east. The revival of Anglicanism along this part of the East Coast has been ascribed to the work of Reverend Wiremu Katene Paraire, deacon of Kawakawa, and occurred before interest re-emerged among Maori groups elsewhere in the Bay of Plenty.

Construction of the church reflected this renewed commitment, and was inspired largely by Hakaraia Pahewa (1869/1870?-1948), who had been appointed in 1895 as the third incumbent of the pastorate. The opening of the church in January 1900 was conducted by the vicar of Opotiki, George Maunsell (1838-1909), who came from an established missionary family. The service was attended by the future M.P., Sir Apirana Ngata (1874-1950), who was then secretary of the Young Maori Party. The associated ceremony drew a considerable number of tribal representatives from outside the immediate area, who were greeted by a haka and poi dances, and accommodated and dined in a large, purpose-built structure. Hakaraia Pahewa continued to serve the ministry of the district until 1939, having become the first Maori canon to be appointed by the Anglican Church in New Zealand in 1918. He was also an accomplished photographer, whose images of whaling and other activities were published in the Auckland Weekly News.

At the time of its opening, the Gothic Revival-style building was described as 'the largest and best-furnished native church on the East Coast' with the exception of a carved church at Gisborne. Mostly funded by the local congregation, it was erected at an initial cost of £400 by Savage Bros., with a further £50 being spent on furnishings from J. Tonson Garlick & Co. of Auckland. The church incorporated a large steepled tower at its western end, as well as a chancel, nave and vestry. It was erected by the same builders and possibly the same architect, Duncan Stirling, as a very similar structure at Raukokore. Both the Raukokere and Te Kaha churches were modelled on the Anglican church of Hiona St Stephen at Opotiki, which had been erected as a missionary structure in the 1860s. Money raised at the opening of St Paul's Church went towards the final completion of the building as well as the construction of a nearby meeting house. The church tower was a prominent landmark until it was destroyed during the Wahine Storm in 1968, when the building was also pushed off its footings. The church continues to be regularly used as a place of worship, accommodating both Anglican and Pentecostal congregations.

St Paul's Church is significant as a reflection of Maori religious feeling in the East Cape, and is a reminder of the longer association between the people of Te Kaha and the Anglican faith, which stretches back to before formal British colonisation of New Zealand. Used for religious purposes for over a century, it has played an important role in the spiritual life of the community and, as a centre for the Te Kaha pastorate, the broader East Cape region. The church is closely associated with a number of people of mana, including Hakaraia Pahewa and Sir Apirana Ngata. It is significant as one of several churches in the region that were modelled on Hiona St Stephens in Opotiki, contributing to a distinctive religious and architectural identity in the East Cape. The building reflects the wealth generated from shore-based whaling in the late nineteenth century and this industry's importance to some Maori communities. The church is part of a broader historical landscape, which includes several nearby pa sites and other places of cultural, archaeological and spiritual significance.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Savage Brothers

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1899 - 1900

1968 -
Destruction of tower

Completion Date

27th June 2007

Report Written By

Martin Jones and Shirley Arabin

Information Sources

Auckland Weekly News

Auckland Weekly News

26 January 1900, p.18

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Peter J. Lineham, 'Pahewa, Hakaraia 1869-1870?-1948', updated 7 April 2006 URL:

Otago Witness

Otago Witness

21 April 1909, p.46

Rosevear, 1960

William Rosevear, Waiapu: The Story of a Diocese, Hamilton, 1960

Vercoe, 1998

Whakahuihui Vercoe, Nga Poutokomanawa o te Hami Mihinare ki Te Rohe o Te Kaha, [Te Kaha], 1998

Other Information

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.