Wheriko Church (Anglican)
Parewanui Road, Parewanui
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 1
Private/No Public Access
15th February 1990
Date of Effect
15th February 1990
Horizons (Manawatū-Whanganui) Region
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.
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...
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.
The simple, single-skinned wooden construction
The leadlight window in the sanctuary
1900 - 1910
Church shifted to Matangirei (later known as Parewanui)
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
Re-roofed and new sanctuary built. Sanctuary window re-housed
Wooden 'single-skin' building; rimu and totara vertical boards of varying width stand in a grooved baseboard; joints are battened; roof of galvanized iron.
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
Richard Taylor - Man of Many Parts, October 6th 1973 n.p.
Removal of Cloud from Memory of Rev. Richard Taylor
Wanganui Herald,October 13, 1973 n.p.
Mead A.D. 1966, Richard Taylor - Missionary Tramper, A.H. and A.W. Reed, Wellington
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.