Waipawa Churches

As with most places we have our churches here in Waipawa.

So I’m going to give you a quick tour around our town’s churches and before I start I’m going to apologize in advance because it may appear that I’m being a little lop-sided in my writing here. The reason that St Peter’s Anglican Church has more written about it than the others is – because that’s my church and my ancestors also have worshipped there.

So I’ll start with St. Peter’s and then if you’re patient I’ll work on to my brief knowledge of the others.

St. Peters Anglican Church

Rev Edwin Wheeler of Te Aute was the first preacher in Waipawa, and in 1859 he covered the Waipawa-Waipukurau district.

In 1860 Mr Abbott gave the township 4 acres of land for a church, cemetery and vicarage

The second Church of England on site built 1877.

Later a steeple was added.

It is funny how some family legends go…

My great grandparents went to St Peters, and with them of course they took their children.

My grandfather who was then a child, and his younger brothers, were all very handy with pocket knives… and I am told that they carved their initials under the pews.

I haven’t actually got down on my hands and knees and looked under all the pews – but with their initials certainly in evidence on our back fence at home, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were there somewhere.

Another family rumor is that my grandfather’s older sister (Nan Bibby) climbed up the steeple and left her name up there!

It’s amazing that even then graffiti was a problem – but I thought a church might be spared. (And I certainly don’t want my grandfather and his siblings to be labeled as vandals)

In the 1930’s the Napier Earthquake happened. And Waipawa had its share of damage. I don’t know if the church was damaged much but at this time it was definitely enlarged and the weatherboards were covered in a ‘fake- stone’ cladding which made the church look more in the then perceived grand ‘Art Deco’ style.

Even inside the church the ‘Art Deco style can still be seen today – with a big stone High Altar, and 1930 style light shades (which need a very long, wobbly ladder to reach for dusting them).

Behind the church there is the ‘Glebe’. This is a place where the vicar would graze his horses (his means of transportation around his parish), and presumably he would walk across this paddock between the vicarage and the church.

But now-a-days the Glebe is a place where there trees are planted and there is a path where you can walk around and enjoy them. Some of the trees are planted in memory of someone who has died, and others for families within the church. It is a really pretty place and it is always open for people to walk around. And the rather grand-looking two storey house which over looks the glebe is in fact one of the old vicarages (now a private residence)

Service times above.

OK… Enough about St Peters… You’re right… Onwards to…

St Patrick’s Catholic Church

In 1871 the original Mission Church was built in Waipawa but very soon it became too small and was shifted further back onto the section to make place for a bigger church.

The second Catholic Church was built in 1880.

It was built of heart timber, with seating to accommodate 270 people, and an excellent organ.

In March 1920 fire completely destroyed the second St Patrick’s Church and Father Minogue rang out an alarm on the church bell before entering the burning building and saving the chalice.

In 1921 the church was rebuilt, and when the Napier earthquake struck in 1931 the presbytery next door sustained considerable damage, while the church remained untouched.

Service times below

St John’s Co-operating Parish

This church in Kenilworth Street has its history in two parts because today it is the centre for both Presbyterians and Methodists to worship together.

St Mark’s Methodist Church was the third church to be built in Waipawa in 1872 – and somehow it was built on the wrong section! (39 Ruataniwha Street instead of 47 Ruataniwha Street). When they moved the church just a short distance down the road it was left with serious problems of having walls out of plumb etc.

People worshipped in the church faithfully for many years and 1979 the parishioners combined with St John’s to become Waipawa’s co-operating parish

The St Mark’s building remained standing as a landmark for over one hundred years and sadly it was demolished in 1982.

St John’s Presbyterian Church was opened on Sunday, 9 March, 1884.

Personally I know very little about the history of St John’s apart from the family story about how my Great Grandmother somehow became frustrated at the vicar over at St Peters, so she up staked her family and took them directly across the road to St John’s… where they remained very happy.

St John’s today has been moved back from the road a little and it has a pretty coloured glass entrance way. The services are as shown below

Last but not least… but unfortunately the one I know the very least about – Sorry.

Jireh House.

Jireh House took over the old building right next door to St John’s in the 1990’s.

I think (and I’m not entirely sure as I have never been in the door – so please let me know if I’m wrong) that Jireh House is what I would classify a ‘happy-clappy’ church. It maybe a more evangelical type service where the music is more up beat and perhaps more relevant to young people today… OK… now I’m going to have every church complaining that they’re relevant… But I think you know what I mean… Perhaps not so tied up in tradition etc.

I’m going to stop now before I insult or upset anyone/everyone reading this.

Jireh House’s services are below