Waimate North Church

Waimate North ChurchWaimate North was the fourth mission station formed in New Zealand, and the first attempted settlement away from the coast.

After the missionary families were settled in the homes early in 1831, Mr. Clarke started a school with an attendance of between 70 - 80 pupils.

The building was 40 x 20. It was commenced early in May and took six weeks to build by the local natives.

The first child to be baptized in the new building was Edward Blomfield Clarke (afterwards second Archdeacon of Te Waimate, on 10 July 1831.)

Waimate Church 1926So rapidly did the number of worshippers increase that within 18 months the building proved too small.

During 1834 Rev. W. Yate went to England he did succeed in his “contention” with his friends, for in the C.M.S. balance sheet for 1835 appears 1110 pound for the church. He did not return to NZ.

The Rev. W Williams succeeded Mr. Yate at Waimate and brought with him from Paihia the boarding school for the sons of missionaries, and established it in the house formerly occupied by Mr. J Hamlin, who had left for Thames in 1834.

In 1836, Mr. John Bedggood and family arrived, and before any musical instrument was provided, he led the singing at the church service, setting the tunes with a tuning fork.

In 1834, the first edition of 5000 copies of the New Testament in Māori was issued from the Mission press at Paihia.

In December 1839 Rev. W. Williams reported that the building had made steady progress and would soon be roofed in.

January 1840, Rev. W. Williams left for the East Coast, and the Rev. R. Taylor, succeeded him. Later in the same year Mr. G Clarke left to take up a position with the Government as protector of Aborigines.

So overwhelming was the increase of those who accepted Christianity at this time (from 2,000 to 35,000 in four years) that the missionaries had no hope of satisfying the demand for help coming in from all parts of the country. On 26th December 1841, the congregation was too large for the church, which seated 400, as there was over 1000 present. Daily services were held in the churchyard.

On July 29th the Bishop left Auckland on his first visitation of the North Island, including Nelson, leaving Mrs. Selwyn and Mr. Cotton at Waimate. The bishop did not reach home until January 1843. The Bishop lived in the old vicarage, and therein he established St. Johnês College.

Richard Davis, Missrs William Bollard, S Spencer and H.F. Butt, Thomas Chapman, James Hamlin, Joseph Matthews, Christopher Davies and William Colenso were all ordained Deacons, the first to receive that order in New Zealand.

Waimate Church insideThe Bishop and family left Waimate at the end of October 1844, and Rev R. Burrows was appointed, and Rev. R. Davis to Kaikohe.
1845 Waimate became headquarters of British troops from June 15th to October 6th during their operations against Hone Heke. The church following declined in its followers because of a disillusioned Māori congregation following the treaty war.
1854 Rev. R Burrows left and the Rev. R. Davis returned to Waimate and lived in the Old Vicarage.
In 1862 Rev. EB Clarke returned to his birthplace and on the death of Rev. R. Davis May 1863, took over the care of
the mission station and district. He lived at the old vicarage.

1870 the church built in 1839 required re-shingling and other repairs, and considering that it was now far too large for the
congregation, it was considered better to pull it down and build a smaller one from the same material. This was done and
the Right Rev. Bishop Cowie dedicated the present church on 19 April 1871. The church was designed by Marsden Clarke and
many of the timbers, packed with tell tale mortises and other scars, are exposed within the belfry of todayês church.
In 1873 the CMS sold off it surrounding 1,000 acres of land.

In 1878 the present fence round the churchyard made from Totara was put up.

The Sunday School was built in the 1880s.

In 1884 Archdeacon Clarke resigned as incumbent on account of his Māori Mission District being extended and he made his headquarters in Auckland. The Rev. P Walsh was appointed Vicar, which office he held for 25 years. On the death of Archdeacon Clarke in 1901, he was appointed third Archdeacon of Waimate.

Waimate Church organIn 1885 a new organ was placed in the church at a cost of 240 pound in England. It was paid for by the Clarke women holding singing nights to raise the money. It arrived in crates. (The organ was carried in and installed by the Clarke women as the men were away at war.) For three nights, they locked themselves in, piecing it together. HPT magazine in December 1985 It says: In May of this year [1985] a week-long festival was held at Waimate North... to celebrate the centenary of the installation in the [church] of an historic organ. and ...the money was raised in the 1880s by members of the family of the early missionary George Clarke. They raised the money partly by way of musical evenings in their home. and ÄThe organ was built by Bevington and Sons [England] in 1885 and installed in the church at Waimate North at a cost of 240 poundsÄ.

  • In 1897 the church steeple as shingled, and other painting repairs were done.

  • In 1900 the Venerable Archdeacon E.B. Clarke died in his 70 year.

  • In 1903 Mr. H.T. Clarke had passed on. Not only had he faithfully served this district as Lay Reader, member of Vestry and choir, and Sunday School teacher. He had been an active and generous helper in all church undertakings, but also in a wider field as Synodsman, and as member of the General synod of New Zealand, and of the C.M.S.

  • In 1908 Archdeacon Walsh resigned as Vicar, and the district came under Home Mission control, as it failed to be able to raise the stipend required. The same year until 1914 the district was under Home Mission clergy, Revs. Mortimer Jones and C. Howard.

  • In 1912 the old parsonage was offered to the district by the Māori Mission Trust Board, and was accepted by the Central Vestry and repaired.

  • It became necessary to re roof the church in 1919.

  • In 1958 the Church was re-blocked and painted inside and out, together with certain necessary repairs to the structure.

  • The church of St. John the Baptist is today only one of nine churches in the Parochial District of Waimate North. The work of keeping them in repair is a heavy burden on the parishioners, and in 1964 the steeple being in urgent need of repair. Work beyond the capacity of the Central Vestry’s finances the National Historic Places Trust came to the rescue, renewed its damaged timbers, provided new shingles and a new Cross.

  • On 17 - 18 April 1971 special celebrations were held to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the present Church.