Wheriko Church (Anglican)

Parewanui Road, Parewanui

  • Wheriko Church (Anglican).
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Helen McCracken. Date: 23/01/2002.
  • Wheriko Church (Anglican).
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Helen McCracken. Date: 23/01/2002.
  • Wheriko Church (Anglican).
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Helen McCracken. Date: 23/01/2002.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 188 Date Entered 15th February 1990 Date of Effect 15th February 1990


City/District Council

Rangitikei District


Horizons (Manawatū-Whanganui) Region

Legal description

Parewainui 24B Blk XIV Rangitoto SD


Wheriko Church is an important monument to the growth of the Anglican Church in the Rangitikei and particularly the work of the missionary Reverend Richard Taylor. It also has connections with the Ratana Church. The church, built in 1862, was the third erected at the Ngati Apa pa of Parewanui. A simple Victorian Gothic church built of pit-sawn timber, it is believed that it originally had an earth floor. It is not known who designed the building. The local community - both Maori and Pakeha - and the Wellington Diocese of the Anglican Church, funded its construction. Richard Taylor dedicated the church in December 1862, and although Taylor had initially named the church Christ's Church, sometime later the name was changed to Wheriko.

In 1897 a large flood threatened Parewanui pa. The village was relocated, and the church eventually shifted (it is not known when) to its present site and rebuilt with the addition of a sanctuary, on land gifted in perpetuity to the Anglican Church by the members of the Ratana family. One of the notable figures associated with Wheriko at the turn of the twentieth century was Mere Rikiriki, a noted healer and holy woman, who later established the Holy Ghost Mission (Haaki o te Wairua Tapu) at Parewanui. In 1912 Rikiriki prophesised that her nephew Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana would one day become a spiritual leader, and indeed he eventually was to found the Ratana Church. Mere Riririki was later buried in the churchyard at Wheriko, along with Ratana's parents Ihipera and Urukohai Ratana.

In the 1920s the growing influence of the Ratana movement drew many people away from Parewanui to Ratana pa. In 1932 repairs were undertaken to the church by the family of Pirihira Pera. This work included the repair of the sanctuary and the removal of the belfry. Further work was begun in the late 1940s/1950s, but due to the deaths of two key members of the parish who had initiated the repairs, all work on the church was stopped and the church was declared tapu. In February 1965 four Maori Anglican priests lifted the tapu on the church. The church was rededicated by Reverend Keith Elliot (then minister at Putiki) and in the presence of the Bishop of Wellington, the Right Reverend Henry Baines. Between 1980 and 1981 the church was raised and repiled with the help of the local community and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

Wheriko Church is significant because of its association with the missionary Reverend Richard Taylor. It also has significance for its association with three religious teachings: the Anglican Church, Haaki o te Wairua Tapu, and the Ratana Church.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Wheriko has considerable historical significance in terms of the intimate relationship with the missionary work of the Rev. Richard Taylor, with the growth of Anglican Christianity in the Rangitikei, and with the development of the Ratana settlement.


Wheriko Church has a considerable architectural significance as a type of construction advocated by the Ecclesiologists for timber Southern Hemisphere churches. The concept of prefabricated buildings using vertical board and batten construction originated in the 1840s, and is used in Wheriko Church. The technique of using a framed construction depending on morticed studs and timber pegs and vertical cladding fixed in grooved bottom and top plates was not a preferred form and was soon replaced by horizontal vertical boarding fixed by nails.

The vertical boarding especially for a simple church building, emphasises the verticality of the Gothic design.


For many years the church stood alone in the former settlement of Parewanui. Today there are buildings in close proximity but its design still holds it apart in the flat landscape.

Importance to Ngati Apa...


Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

Wheriko Church was designed and built in a Victorian Gothic style. It is a simple church with minimal ornamentation. The construction technique employed is rare. The wall timbers were fixed into slotted bottom and top plates, with members being locked together by wooden pegs. The building originally had an earth floor.

Notable Features

The simple, single-skinned wooden construction

The leadlight window in the sanctuary

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1862 -

1900 - 1910
Church shifted to Matangirei (later known as Parewanui)

1932 -
Stained glass windows installed. Sanctuary and steeple repaired. Belfry removed, and bell relocated on external wall near the entrance to the church.

1950 - 1960
Windows replaced and general repairs to building.

1980 - 1981
Piles replaced with help of NZ Historic Places Trust

1965 -
Re-roofed and new sanctuary built. Sanctuary window re-housed

1999 -

Construction Details

Wooden 'single-skin' building; rimu and totara vertical boards of varying width stand in a grooved baseboard; joints are battened; roof of galvanized iron.

Information Sources

Maclean, 1978

Chris Mclean, 'Research Report on Wheriko Church, Parewanui', 1978. Held on file, NZHPT, Wellington

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

Manawatu Regional Committee (NZHPT), 'Wheriko Church', 1979

Wanganui Chronicle

Wanganui Chronicle

Richard Taylor - Man of Many Parts, October 6th 1973 n.p.

Wanganui Herald

Wanganui Herald

Removal of Cloud from Memory of Rev. Richard Taylor

Wanganui Herald,October 13, 1973 n.p.

Mead, 1966

Mead A.D. 1966, Richard Taylor - Missionary Tramper, A.H. and A.W. Reed, Wellington

Other Information

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.