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A rich mix of lovingly crafted taonga & art forms


The black-stained pulpit was created by the famous Te Arawa tohunga whakairo, master carver, Tene Waitere (1853 – 1931). Of Ngāti Tarawhai and Tūhourangi descent, he became the most prolific and innovative carver of his time. During his lifetime his works were used and displayed throughout New Zealand and in Australia, Germany and Britain. His work is represented in museums world-wide.


Six carved pillars that support the 1967 extensions were created in the 1960s by tohunga whakairo, master carver, Hone Taiapa. Born at Tikitiki on the East Coast in 1912, he was a graduate of the first School of Māori Arts and Crafts, Ōhinemutu, Rotorua. During his lifetime he was associated with the building of 64 wharenui including the centennial house at Waitangi. Highly respected and described as a kindly man, patient with his students, he died in 1979 aged 67.


The image of Jesus Christ knocking on a door (with no handle) is a reproduction of the art work The Light of the World created in 1853 by Pre-Raphaelite artist Holman Hunt. It becomes a centrepiece for worship, beautifully balanced by geometric tukutuku panels with the design called poutama or stairway to heaven. They bring together Māori and European art traditions in an arrangement of lovely proportions.

The tukutuku panels on the front of the altar are in the design pātiki – representing the flounder fish and the proverb ‘the patiki once disturbed never returns to that place again’. The tukutuku crosses on the front of the altar represent commitment to the Christian life, and the words Tapu Tapu Tapu - Holy, Holy, Holy, are words of the Sanctus, the ancient Eucharistic prayer.

See VISIT US  for details about the Galilee Window.


Tukutuku panels that you see lining our walls are a traditional Māori art form. Part of wall construction, they were made by creating a latticework of vertically and horizontally placed dried stalks of kākaho, the stems of toetoe grass. The panels were then lashed together and people working in pairs passed strands of kiekie, pingao or harakeke through the framework to create a range of patterns. Some of the patterns you can see on our walls are poutama, stairway to heaven, purapura whetū, stars, pātikitiki, flounder, and roimata tōroa, tears of the albatross. Today wooden slats are used to create the basic shape.


Kowhaiwhai patterns came with Māori from Polynesia. In the old world they were painted on canoe paddles, but in the modern world they have been adapted to adorn meeting houses. They depict history, for example, the tāhuhu or ridgepole often tells of tribal genealogy.  Some of the patterns you can see are mangopare, hammerhead shark, and puhoro, power and speed. They help illustrate the mana of the church.


Taniko is usually woven today using a loom, but traditionally free hanging warps were suspended between two weaving pegs. The traditional weaving material is fine muka fibre prepared from New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax) by scraping, pounding and washing. Here in St Faith’s some of the muka fibre has been dyed with an organic black dye called paru, which contrasts with natural muka. These have been finger woven to create intricate and beautiful designs.

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