to Mr Steve Cook, we are able to put online photographs of this very
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
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
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
An earlier chapel built of raupo was included with the Mission Station
constructed in 1835 by Chapman, who was appointed as the permanent
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.
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
A new Choir-room, sacristy and chapel were added. Six
carved pillars, new Tukutuku wall panels and extra carvings
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
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
The ceiling is decorated with black and white scroll, the Mangapo pare
(Hammerhead shark) pattern; this design signifies dignity, prestige,
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
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:
"WAIHOMA TE TANG AT A KOEEMIHI"
"LET SOMEONE ELSE ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR VIR TUE"
Maori carvings engraved on glass door panel.
Booklet produced in
1969: adapted and reproduced here November 2008