Tikitiki’s Jewel – Saint Mary’s Church
Less than a 30 minute drive south on the 35 from the motel, you’ll find Saint Mary’s Church; what the locals consider to be Tikitiki’s Jewel. When you first see the church from the outside, you might think this to be just a run-of-the-mill small town church; however, once you walk through the front gate and step over the threshold into the church, you’ll discover it’s truly an amazing architectural work of art. Originally built in the mid-1920s, Saint Mary’s Church was dedicated as a beautiful WWI memorial to the Māori men from the East Coast who fought bravely and died in battle. A list with the soldiers’ names who died in battle is displayed on a memorial board inside the church.
Inside, you’ll discover more than a handful of exquisite carvings, including a beautiful ornate pulpit which was a gift from the Te Arawa people of Rotura, as well as intricately woven tukutuku panels, crafted by the local Ngati Porou weavers. Your eyes will also be drawn to a magnificent stained-glass window of two Māori soldiers looking up at Christ on the cross.
Saint Mary’s is touted as one of New Zealand’s most beautiful Māori churches. The mastermind behind the interior was Sir Apirana Ngata, who purposed himself to revive the dying arts and crafts of the natives. One of his first initiatives was Saint Mary’s Church. (There is a memorial on the east wall dedicated to Sir Apirana Ngata.) Although it has Anglican roots, the church is now considered to be multi-denominational.
St. Mary’s Church
For more information on things to do during this trip, click here.