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The Toko Toru Tapu Church is arguably the most important Maori church in New Zealand and probably the most historically significant church in the East Coast Region.
A restoration trust has been formed to help restore the church back to near its original look and feel. It is hoped that work will in September 2010.
We welcome any old photos of the church, weddings etc held there and also any stories about the church as we are currently preparing a very detailed history of the church for publication in 2013 funding permitting.
The church is associated with the earliest church mission station in Poverty Bay set up by Rev W Williams in 1839 at Kaupapa, near Manutuke.
It was on this site that the first chapel was built in January 1840. Constructed out of raupo and timber slabs, it survived a little less than two years before being destroyed by a gale in November 1842. For the next 20 years, while debate over the building of the second church delayed construction, services were held in Hamokorau, a large wharenui, at Orakaiapu Pa.
The second Toko Toru Tapu (1849-1863) was constructed on the site of the mission station and was very large for the time, at around 45 feet x 90 feet. This church was highly decorated with Maori art, some of which is currently on display at the Tairawhiti Musuem as part of the “Watersheds ’ exhibition.
This church was also pivotal in the development of tohunga whakairo (artwork / carving) due to the discussions/arguments between the reknown carver Rukupo and Rev Williams.
The third church (1888-1910).was built on the site of the current church with many of the carvings from the first church being incorporated
The current church was built in 1913 after the former church burnt down in 1910.
The church is now in much need of repair having had little done to it in the past 40 -50 years.
The trustees of the Toko Toru Tapu Manutuke Church Restoration Trust have been charged with the restoration of the church.
This will take a consi