The photogenic Pakaraka Anglican Church of the Holy Trinity

Often they are sited in incongruous and remote locations that are difficult to access. And therein lies the point. In early days travel from one tiny settlement to the next even though they were no more than 10 kilometres apart, was so difficult that each built their own place of worship. On State Highway 1 just south of Ohaeawai, however, one of the most attractive and significant churches in the north is right beside the road. As a consequence it is much visited and photographed. The Pakaraka Anglican Church of the Holy Trinity is not as large as its name might suggest. But its architecture and the setting among oak trees are in some ways as captivating as a cathedral. Gothic Revival in style, the exterior is clad with weatherboard and the roof with unpainted timber slates. A slim, elegant steeple points like a sharpened pencil to the sky. The original tower blew down in a gale in 1946 and a replica was erected 55 years later in 2001. Inside, the church is simply decorated. Its main feature is the east window etched with tracery and broken into three lights to symbolise the Trinity. In the graveyard Maori and Pakeha are buried: Articifer EL Walker of the Cyclist Corp in WW11; David Rench veteran of El Alamein, Tobruk, Greece, Crete and Italy; a man called Happy Lemon; and Edward Hutton killed by accidental discharge of a gun. But the most outstanding memorials are dedicated to Reverend Henry Williams and his wife Marianne. Henry was a pivotal figure in the early days of missionary zeal, first setting up a mission at Pahia. In those turbulent times much of his energy was spent befriending Maori and fostering peace – a quest for which he was wrongly charged with treason by Sir Governor Grey. Henry Williams had bought land in Pakaraka and after this damaging allegation moved there to build a church and continue his work. Perhaps his most fitting tribute is that in 1867, on the day he died, two local tribes had planned a pitched battle to settle a land dispute. Such was the old man's mana that when the warriors heard the news of his demise, both sides downed weapons and left the battle site to join the mourners. Jill Malcolm is a former editor of Motorhomes Caravans & Destinations and author of the Great Kiwi Motorhome Guide.
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