This historic Church was opened on Easter Day 1854, and is constructed from heart Matai (Matai is a New Zealand conifer, often called Black Pine). The window frames were salvaged from an earlier Church constructed in 1842 at the Otawhao Mission, and were carried by the Maori people over the Wairere track from Tauranga. The stained glass window is possibly one of the oldest in New Zealand. Unfortunately the Church was not open when we were there, and I was only able to get a glimpse of the wonderful colours as the sun was going down.

During the Waikato Land Wars St John’s became a garrison church for General Cameron’s army. While many other European buildings were burnt at this time, a Maori Chieftainess, Te Paea Potatau, placed her mana on the church and ensured its preservation. Memorials to both Maori and Pākehā soldiers are erected here.

(‘mana’ is a Maori word loosely translated as ‘power’ but with a deeper meaning relating to the stature of a person.)

Five photos.  Select any photo to enlarge…


  1. The church reminds me so much of the Lutheran church I attend on Camano Island . . . This year we are replacing the roof on the steeple – no small feat, that . . . Your photographs are always so interesting! This morning I read – “Fine photography is literature, and it should be.” ~ Walker Evans

  2. Beautiful. So sorry you could not go inside. That has happened to us over and over again when we have visited historic places.

    • thanks – and the evening sun through that window would have been spectacular. I have also heard there are footprints on the ceiling just inside the door! I’ll have to go back one day…

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