Since setting up my business I have found some great stories about fascinating buildings. One of my absolute favourites is the twice-moved All Saints Church (Te Hunga Tapu Katoa), now located at Pakowhai Marae in Waituhi, 20 kilometres northwest of Gisborne.
All Saints Church was originally built in 1903 as the chapel for Te Rau Maori Theological College in Gisborne, and has since been relocated twice, once to Waerenga-a-Hika, 6km from Gisborne in 1923, and then to Waituhi, a further 2.5km away, in 1958.
The chapel was designed by renowned church architect Frederick de Jersey Clere as a ‘students chapel’ at Te Rau Maori Theological College, where the students could learn their craft in a church rather than a lecture room.
The chapel when it was at Te Rau Theological College (centre), surrounded by other Te Rau buildings, Image Ref: 37365½ , Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Interior: c1903-4, just after it opened. Image: Tairawhiti Museum, Gisborne.
After the closure of Te Rau Theological College in 1920, the chapel was moved to Waerenga-a-Hika Maori Boys School. Unfortunately the school, with the exception of the chapel, was destroyed by fire in 1937. Below you can see the scene after the fire, with the chapel in the lower left photo, filled with the goods salvaged from the fire.
Auckland Weekly News, 14 April 1937
The chapel lay unused until 1956, when it was moved again, to Pakowhai Marae, Waituhi, at which time it was renamed All Saints Church.
To get there, the church was transported over the Waipaoa River, and the historical photos below show how precarious the short journey was, when the church became bogged in the river. As the Gisborne Herald related: ‘Excitement mounted as the crossing suddenly became hazardous. With the top-heavy chapel leaning perilously as the trailer wheels sank in the soft river-bed, the contractors brought three powerful trucks and two bulldozers into action. Two steel cables snapped like string under the strain. Two trucks had to retire, damaged, but the crossing was finally made successfully, much to everybody’s relief.’ The chapel ended up spending the night beside the river, before it was hauled away to the marae the next day.
Gisborne Photo News, 8 March 1956
The church now plays a role in the life of the Pakowhai Marae, as the marae’s church. Despite its moves it has retained much of its heritage fabric and chattels, and its architectural and spiritual significance.