Waikare Community Church

85 Waikare Valley Road, Waikare

  • Waikare Community Church, Waikare. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Thor Hilmarsson. Taken By: Thor Hilmarsson. Date: 24/05/2015.
  • Waikare Community Church, Waikare. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Thor Hilmarsson. Taken By: Thor Hilmarsson. Date: 24/05/2015.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 9280 Date Entered 26th June 2009


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Waikare 9, Blk XI, Russell SD, North Auckland Land District, and the church building known as Waikare Community Church thereon, and its fittings and fixtures. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information).

City/District Council

Far North District


Northland Region

Legal description

Waikare 9; Blk XI; Russell SD, North Auckland Land District

Location description

The church is located in the Waikare Valley in the Bay of Islands. Waikare is on the Eastern Russell Peninsula approximately 21 kilometres from Kawakawa and 19 kilometres from Russell. The legal description is also written 'Waikare 9, Church Site'.


The Waikare Community Church located in the Waikare Valley in the Bay of Islands District was officially opened in April 1913. The church has served the local community for the past 95 years as the primary place of religious worship within the community. Waikare community is made up of primarily Maori residents who have used and maintained a strong link with the church since it was built.

The local families consider the church a community treasure, 'He taonga tukuiho'. The entire community, which includes the Marae, Kura and Te Kohanga Reo, wholeheartedly support maintaining the church for religious devotion to retain the wairua of the valley not only for the values of the past but of the present and future generations.

The Waikare Community Church has aesthetic, architectural, historical and social significance. It is a humble wooden building set on native totara and clad with native kauri on its exterior. The interior of the church still houses five rows of wooden bench seats on either side which along with the altar are painted the same dark red as the exterior of the window frames. Certain physical characteristics such as the pointed arch windows also imply a simplified Gothic Revival aesthetic.

The area immediately around the building includes the urupa (burial ground) with a number of headstones belonging to members of the Werekake family and others closely associated with the church.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The Waikare Community Church has historical significance. Waikare Community Church has important connections with the establishment of the religious faith within the Waikare community, initially via the missionaries of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) and later the building of the church with the help of the Home Mission Executive of the Methodist Maori Mission.

Architectural Significance or Value:

The Waikare Community Church is an example of a once common religious architectural form that was typical to rural New Zealand. The architectural significance of the Waikare Community Church lies in its contribution to telling the story of the more modest examples of New Zealand's architectural history, which are often simple, yet significant.

Cultural Significance or value:

The Waikare Community Church is culturally significant to the small predominantly Maori community of Waikare. The original gift of land and consequent drive to build the church was via the efforts of local tangata whenua. It remains a significant and important part of the local Maori community where it is considered a taonga tuku iho.

Social Significance or Value:

The Waikare Community Church has social significance. The local hapu/marae and community have long recognised the significant role that the Waikare Community Church has played in the history and development of the region. Within the small predominantly Maori community of Waikare it continues to engender an environment of religious devotion, Christian values and an appreciation for hard work and commerce and the 'Pakeha way of life'. The Waikare Community Church was still used by the community until damaged in the storm. It has been and remains to date a focal point of the community spirit and identity.

Spiritual Significance or Value:

The site has considerable spiritual and symbolic value to both Maori and Pakeha, having being used continuously as a place of religious and spiritual worship. It reflects the continuity of religious devotion of the community at Waikare, embracing both Anglican and Methodist faiths. The Waikare Community Church has remained the heart of religious worship and commemoration in the district/community for over 94 years. The presence of a burial area and grave markers also adds spiritual value to the site.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:

The Waikare Community Church is a representative example of the establishment, continued use and importance of churches in small rural communities of New Zealand.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history:

Waikare Community Church is closely associated with prominent individuals in the region, including Pou Werekake, Sister Atawhai Wilcox, Henare Te Hemara and Reverend Charles Baker.

(d) The importance of the place to the tangata whenua:

The land the church is location on is not far from the local marae and was whanau land gifted by Pou Werekake for the purpose. The place has considerable significance to tangata whenua for its association with traditional religious identity and a focal point of the local community.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the place:

The construction of the Waikare Community Church was initiated and partially funded by members of the Waikare community. Waikare Community Church embodies a strong sense of communal pride and identity, reflected in its ongoing upkeep and use and also the establishment of the Waikare Community Support Group to deal with recent storm damage.

Summary of Significance or Values:

This place was assessed against, and found it to qualify under the following criteria: a, b, d, e.


It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category II historic place.


Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

The Waikare Community Church is located within the small rural community of the same name, in the Bay of Islands District. It is stated in Maori Land Court Records that local Maori Pou Werekake (Wilcox) set aside land at Waikare on the ninth day of December 1910 as a reservation for a church site, listing the administrators as the Methodist Church of New Zealand.

Waikare's initial enthusiasm for religion stemmed from the strong missionary presence of Reverend Charles Baker in the year 1840. On 10 April 1840, the missionary Reverend Charles Baker purchased land in the village of Waikare and moved there with his family. Early records of Charles Baker's journals describe some of the activities he used to participate in during 1840-1842. These are probably the earliest recorded incidents of the growing exposure and participation of the people of Waikare in religious activities. He was the first missionary to live amongst, and bring his family to the small and predominantly Maori community which strongly set the religious scene in Waikare.

This is largely significant because of the subsequent interaction between Maori and Pakeha in this religious setting and engaged the local Maori community in the growing of fruit trees, farming practices and acted as role models of the Pakeha way of life.

By 1912 Pou Werekake was the primary driving force behind the establishment of a Maori Church in the Waikare Community. It was noted that the Home Mission Executive granted the money for the roofing iron, sashes, doors, nails and paint, while the people of Waikare raised the money for the timber and labour. On 9 April 1913, approximately three years after the land was set aside, the newly constructed Waikare Church was officially opened and dedicated by the Superintendent of the Northern Maori Mission, T.G Brooke.

The subsequent ordination of Pou Werekake in 1915 brought to fruition, through his practice of religious instruction, the seed of religious devotion and hard work that was sown by Reverend Charles Baker during his time in Waikare in the year 1840. Pou Werekake was the sole owner of the land before it was vested in the Methodist Church of New Zealand as a Maori reservation. The current shareholders of the block are descendants of Pou Werekake and the values instilled by him during his time as a Maori Minister remain strongly within the Waikare community. Pou Werekake was a practicing minister up until 1930 and died in 1936.

Sister Atawhai Wilcox began her religious training in 1928 and after completion she finally returned home to Waikare in 1943 to work with the church. She took up the important legacy which was left by Pou, and local families recall her hard work in the whole district, maintaining a Methodist influence within the Waikare Community. She held fortnightly bible classes at the church throughout her years there and was responsible for bringing various ministers to Waikare Community Church to hold church services. She was awarded the Queen's Service Medal in 1984 in recognition for her services to the community. From 1960 onwards under the influence of Sister Atawhai and her brother in-law Hautika Henare Hoori, services at the church became more frequent. Services still continue on a regular basis. Sister Atawhai is the only sister recorded in the Waikare Community Church records and died in 1994.

The church plays an integral part to the community. The Waikare Community Church has serviced the local community for 94 years. It is the only place of worship accessible within the immediate area. The next closest churches are located at Russell and Taumarere, an approximate 40 kilometre round trip. The cultural environment of Waikare Community Church is very strong and active in its weekly services with most of the karakia (prayer) and himene (hymns) conducted in Te Reo Māori. Many of the people buried at the adjacent urupa (burial ground) are whanau (family) members who have had a strong affiliation with the church dating back some 90 years.

In July 2007 a freak storm ravaged Northland which saw the Waikare Community Church blown off its foundations. The building moved more than a metre, with the walls and floor separating so the upper part of the church is now leaning on an angle to the west. The building has been braced along the western wall with wooden poles. The regular church goers have formed a group called the Waikare Community Church Support Group (WCCSG), whose main objective is: 'To investigate ways and implement strategies to restore the church to its original state'. The WCCSG have commissioned an engineers report and quote along with architectural drawings and funding sources to investigate.

Physical Description

General Location:

Waikare Community Church is located within the small rural community of Waikare. The hub of the Waikare community consists of this church, a Marae, a School and several houses, mostly of inter-related whanau. The church is situated 500m along the Waikare Valley Road off the main road (Waikare Road) between Kawakawa and Russell.

Description of Site:

The Waikare Community Church sits on a small rise overlooking the Waikare Valley Road to the north and west with a relatively level ground around the church building itself. The area immediately around the building includes the urupa (burial ground) with a number of headstones. The urupa contains a number of headstones belonging to members of the Werekake family and others closely associated with the church. The Waikare Community Church's other immediate neighbours are the Te Kura o Waikare school to the east, and a private residence to the south. The church grounds are completely fenced. There are no paths or driveway.

External Appearance:

The Waikare Community Church is a single-storey, small wooden church with an approximately 50 degree gabled roof, measuring 9.3m x 6.1m, orientated along a northwest-southeast axis. The exterior of the church is clad with kauri in the vertical board and batten style, and has a corrugated iron roof.

Three identical pointed arch windows run along the southwest and northeast facades of the building, and a larger pointed arch window is centrally located on the southeast gable end. The window frames, door frame and roof are all painted a dark red, and the rest of the exterior is painted white. The roof is approximately 3.5m high at the centre, and is strengthened with two scissor trusses in addition to rafters with collar ties on a heavy top wall plate.

At the northwest end of the church is a small vestibule entry with a lowered gable roof, and a six-paned pointed arch window on the northwest face. The vestibule window has been painted green, however the previous red colour is visible though deterioration of the upper coat. There are turned wood finials at all the gable end peaks of the building, which along with the pointed arch windows imply a simplified Gothic Revival aesthetic.

The build is set on totara piles, and the vestibule is entered through a solid wooden door on the northeast side, accessible up two small wooden stairs.

Internal Description:

The church has a timber plank floor on 150 x 50 joists supported on four lines of bearers. The interior of the building is unlined, with no insulation, and the framing (which includes some cross-bracing) is visible. The lower two-thirds of the interior is painted pale blue and the upper third is painted white, however the ceiling and pitched gable end is unpainted.

The interior layout includes a central aisle with five rows wooden bench seats on either side. The bench seats and altar are both painted the same dark red of the exterior of the window frames, although the benches have lost much of their colour.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1912 - 1913
Construction of Waikare Community Church

2007 -
Damage to Waikare Community Church due to storm (July 2007)

Construction Details

Wood: kauri and totara

Completion Date

4th May 2009

Report Written By

Atareiria Heihei

Information Sources

Baker, 1986

M. Baker, Never the faint hearted: Charles Baker, pioneer missionary, 1803-1875: a biography written from his journals and letters, Waikanae, 1986 [Heritage Press]

Laurenson, 1972

G. Laurenson, Te Hahi Weteriana: three half centuries of the Methodist Maori mission, 1822-1972, Auckland, 1972 [Wesley Historical Society]

Other Information

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.