Saint Faith in New Zealand

'The Maori Church'
The Church of the Faith

Thanks to Mr Steve Cook, we are able to put online photographs of this very special church,
together with descriptive information taken from a 1969 guidebook to the church.

"In the beginning was the Word"
The beginning of Christianity in Rotorua was through the influence of the missionaries at the Bay of Islands. 
Hongi Hika, the famous Ngapuhi warrior, on his return from a successful raid in 1823 on Mokoia Island in Rotorua, carried with him slaves from the Arawa people.
These slaves were released through the influence of the missionaries; many of them returned to Rotorua taking with them the message of Christianity.
On October 30th, 1831 the first Christian service was held in Rotorua at Ohinemutu, by the Rev. Henry Williams,
assisted by Thomas Chapman, a Catechist of the Church Misionary Society. 

The first church of St. Faith built in 1885, was called the Church of the Faith, because it was the first permanent Christian church in the Rotorua area.
An earlier chapel built of raupo was included with the Mission Station constructed in 1835 by Chapman, who was appointed as the permanent missionary
after his ordination to the priesthood. These buildings were destroyed during an inter-tribal war in 1836.
In 1910 the first church was moved to make way for a new and larger one; this building was to be ornamented inside with Maori art.
The exterior was in the Tudor style of architecture, which at that time was popular in Rotorua. This church was dedicated in 1914 and consecrated in 1918.
Outside it was a statue of Queen Victoria under a carved canopy, presented to all the loyal Maori tribes of New Zealand as a token
of Queen Victoria's gratitude for their support of the Maori wars. Inside the church hang the flags carried by the Arawa loyal Maoris against the rebels in 1865.

The present St. Faith's Church
Due to the changing pattern of the work of the church in Rotorua, St. Faith's began to play another important role
in her humble history, to all who worshipped within her sacred walls. In 1965 the area of the spiritual oversight of the Ohinemutu Pastorate.was enlarged.
This increase in membership meant the enlargement of the church. The building was enlarged, still retaining the traditional Tudor style of architecture.
A new Choir-room, sacristy and chapel were added. Six carved pillars, new Tukutuku wall panels and extra carvings
were needed to complete the enlargement of the building. The church was re-dedicated in 1967.
It has become famous for its music and ministry to both races in Rotorua, and for its decorative Maori art.

Commemorative Flagpole, with the flag of St. George, commemorating the first Christian service held in 1831.
The Arawa people, excited by this important occasion, borrowed from Thomas Chapman a bed-sheet
and flew it on a pole from Pukeroa Hill above the church, where the public hospital stands.
This flagpole is also a tribute to those Maori and European missionaries who first raised the Christian flag in the district.
The first Vicar to occupy St. Faith's was Ihaia te Ahu from Ngapuhi, of whom Chapman said these words,
"He came to me in 1833 as a small boy at Kerikeri and has been with me ever since; he has been a consistent Christian since 1844".
Chapman himesle, together with his wife worked faithfully among the Maori people and were affectionately called 'Mother and Father'.

Sanctuary with the High Altar, Bishop's Chair, Choir Stalls and Pulpit
The altar frontal panels are the Patiki (flatfish) design.   This pattern without the three crosses has a proverb,
"e kore tc Patiki e hoki ki tona puehu" - "the Patiki once disturbed never returns to that place again".
With the three crosses this pattern gives the Christian meaning - once a person's life
is disturbed by conversion to Christ, he can never go back to the old ways.
The words of the Sanctus, Tapu, Tapu, Tapu, (Holy, Holy, Holy), can be seen on the top of the altar.
The stained glass window is that of the famous Holman Hunt painting, "The Light of the World".

Galilee Chapel Window. The life-size figure of Christ is sandblasted on plate glass and depicts our Lord walking on Lake Rotorua.
The cloak worn is the Korowai, the type worn by a chief and is adorned with Kiwi feathers and the border woven in Taniko (tapestry).

Galilee Chapel . The interior of the chapel is in the form of a chief's house.
The ceiling is decorated with black and white scroll, the Mangapo pare (Hammerhead shark) pattern; this design signifies dignity, prestige, agility.
On the wall is the Pataka, or the food storage house.  It is now the aumbry where the Reserved Sacrament is kept.
On each side of the Pataka are two carved figures guarding the sacrament, and over it is a figure representing God j
oined to the figures of the Son and the Holy Spirit by a spiral of life, thus forming the Blessed Trinity.
In the foreground on the right is the Lectern in the form of a Kea, the New Zealand Eagle. Note the swan on lake.

Acknowledgements and Appreciation
This booklet has been made possible through the good offices of the Right Rev. Walter H. Gray, Bishop of Connecticut, U.S.A.
Produced by the Vestry of St. Faith's, it was compiled by the Rev. Canon N. T. te Hau.
Acknowledgements are made to Mr Don Stafford, Curator Rotorua Museum, Fenwick Studios, Colin Branch Studios,
Jack Lang Photographer, Turnbull Library and Rotorua Public Relations Office.
May the contents of this booklet inspire us and help us to realise that our heritage comes to us from God,
and how much we owe to those who serve in His name.
I close this acknowledgement and appreciation with a Maori proverb:
Maori carvings engraved on glass door panel.

Booklet produced in 1969: adapted and reproduced here November 2008

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