Church History



Edited by Bishop R.P. Mc Watt, B.A. (N.Z.)



And we are put on earth a little space That we may learn to bear the beams of love.”
 – “The Little Black Boy” from Songs of Innocence, William Blake (1757–1827)

Copyright and publisher details

First published in 2012.

Published by Papakura Anglican Parish
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Preface to the 2012 edition

When the writing of this edition of the 150-year history of the Anglican Church in the Papakura District was proposed, it was decided by the project team to essentially retain and re-publish the centenary history of 1962 authored by the Rev. Murray Mills. This he willingly agreed to with any updating or additions that might be considered appropriate. For his generosity we are very grateful.

The main changes made were in the histories of St. John’s, Drury, and St. Margaret’s, Karaka. For St. John’s, Mrs. Margaret Garnett undertook the work of modifying and updating the Rev. Mills’ work from her own research. Bishop R.P. Mc Watt, the editor, has done the same for St. Margaret’s. These two parts of our history have been placed in Section C of this 150th anniversary history. The recent history of the past fifty years of the mother church in Papakura is also the work of the editor.

When this book was proposed it was clear that most interest in it would come from the local areas in which these churches were located and for this reason it was important that human interest be given prominence. At the same time it was important to have the history as a reflection of the issues dominant in the church and society of the times. These issues have influenced the way the church serves its own community and the world beyond. It is our hope that our record shows how Christianity has been at work in the Papakura District in the past 150 years.

Table of Contents

Preface to the 2012 edition


Foreword 2012


Church life is established
The “South Road” is established

The Parochial District of Papakura
The Rev. H. Simmonds 1963–73
The Rev. D.N. Fuge 1973–82
The Rev. John Leitch 1983–2000

The Rev. Stuart Crosson 2000–05
The Rev. Dion Blundell (2006–present)
St. John’s, Drury 1862–2012
St. Margaret’s, Karaka 1954–2012

“Good and faithful servants” 1862–2012

Appendix I: Short chronology

Appendix II: Vicars and Priests-in-charge 1884–2012

Appendix III: Christ Church Wardens 1963–2012

IV Acknowledgements


Foreword 2012

When I was growing up my father worked in Papakura. Occasionally Mum would take us down to visit him and to a small boy it felt like we had gone on a long journey. Of course we travelled by car and there was the motorway at least some of the way there. Part of what made it feel long was the fact that between our home in Papatoetoe and Papakura we passed through what was then still undeveloped farm land. So we really had left one place and travelled to another.

I marvel then, when I think about the kind of journeys made by Vicesimus Lush and others in the early days of the parish’s history. On horseback or by foot, with few roads formed, they would cover many miles to ensure that the worship of God was able to occur in the growing communities of the district. Lush is a wonderful example of a faithful parish priest, convinced of the love of God and totally committed to the care of his parishioners.

More than that, Lush was a visionary. Over the last few years we have ticked off a few sesquicentenaries in what was his very widespread parish. The provision of church buildings for those fledgling communities speaks of a confidence in the gospel and its place in people’s lives. If Lush helped to offer that beginning, many more have built on it over the 150 years with laity and clergy together building up the Body of Christ and engaging in God’s mission.

The recording of a parish’s history is an important task and I am glad that the decision was taken to add to Murray Mills’ original work and create a record of this last half-century. It traces the story as the parish emerges from the heady days of post-war New Zealand life. Church attendances had tracked positively alongside population growth and many new churches were built around Auckland to provide for that growth. Society changed dramatically over those next decades and church life across the denominations declined in front of our eyes. The Churches seemed powerless to know how to respond to this situation and in many ways we experienced a loss of confidence in our identity and our purpose.

I believe that we are beginning to recapture that confidence as we discover afresh that the essence of the Church’s life is a missionary one. When Lush set off to come to his extended area of responsibility in the Franklin district, he wrote about it as his “new missionary duties”. We need to the have the same mind among ourselves. God’s work is found in the lives of the people of the communities in which the Church is placed. The Church is the collection of those people whose lives have been touched and transformed by the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ. God calls us to take that love and to engage in the needs of the wider community and make the gospel known. The leadership of successive clergy in the parish has encouraged this. It is certainly the pathway to a hopeful future for the life of the Church. But more basically, it is simply the reason that God called the Church into being.

The recording of our stories is an important task. It honours those who have gone before us and allows us to learn from them as we work out the mission of God in our own time. May God’s love urge us on and renew our confidence and our vision for that task.

+Ross Bay
11th Bishop of Auckland
October 2012

Part A: 1862–1962

The first hundred years

by the Rev. M.J. Mills, M.A., L.Th.


The Right Reverend E.A. Gowing

I very gladly accede to the request to write a foreword to the history of the Parochial District of Papakura which has been written by the Reverend M.J. Mills. I have had the privilege of reading the material that has been prepared and I am confident that it will, under God, greatly help present parishioners to realise that they have entered into a goodly heritage.

Much devoted work and witness has been offered to God during the first 100 years – since the time that my illustrious predecessor Bishop Selwyn dedicated the beautiful little churches at Papakura and Drury. All this should be a cause for profound thanksgiving and thanksgiving is only genuine when it is translated into dedication.

Thus the challenge of this significant parish centenary is lives that are utterly committed to the service of our Lord and His Church. Only then will the second century which is about to begin meet the demands that the explosive growth of population brings. May the good hand of God be upon the parish of Papakura in days to come as in the days that are present.


I. Introduction

Within ten feet of the unceasing hustle and roar of the main southern highway, Papakura’s Selwyn Chapel bears striking testimony to a century of devoted worship and witness. And a few miles further south, at Drury, within a hundred yards of the same Great South Road, the white walls and wooden shingles of St. John’s Church provide another glimpse of the old world, reminding us of the continuing fellowship and service of the Anglican community through the years.

For it was in the early 1860s that the first bishop of New Zealand, Bishop Selwyn, inspired the erection of both these churches. It was part of his policy of building dignified centres of worship in newly settled districts. At this time services were being held at Wairoa (Clevedon), Wairoa Road (Ardmore) and Mauku, and preparations were being made for the erection of churches there. Naturally Papakura and Drury, as early farming settlements and strategic stopping-points on the journey from Auckland to the Waikato, were also chosen for church sites.

The two distinctive “Selwyn” churches have served their districts well ever since the early colonial period. Only in the last twenty years have the tiny buildings proved inadequate. For Papakura and Drury did not expand as rapidly as perhaps the first settlers envisaged. The story of the parish over the greater part of the century has been one of devoted pastoral work and leadership on the part of the clergy and of faithful worship and service on the part of generations of lay folk in a large and widespread, but not very wealthy, rural parish; it is the story of small, scattered bands of worshippers and workers – not only at Papakura and Drury, but at various times in its history at Wairoa (Clevedon), Papakura Valley (Alfriston), Wairoa Road (Ardmore), Weymouth, Woodside (Papatoetoe), Takanini, Ponga, Ararimu, Ramarama, Karaka, Te Hihi, Kingseat Mental Hospital and Waiau Pa.

Towards the end of the first hundred years, however, the face of the parish was altered in two ways. The first was the emergence of a vital church life at Karaka, demonstrated by the erection of the attractive brick St. Margaret’s Church in 1954.

The second was the dramatic growth of the Papakura district during the 1940s, which increased even more during the 1950s. Papakura, from a small country village, quite suddenly changed into a bustling commercial and light-industrial suburban area of 8,000 people. This led to a parallel dramatic growth in the size and strength of the Anglican family, and in the scope and variety of its fellowship and activities, tangibly expressed in the handsome well-equipped parish centre opened on 16 December 1961.

So, in 1962, the ancient and the modern stood side by side. A brief study of the history of this parochial district reinforces what architects have so ably expressed in timber and stone and concrete – that in each generation the church, the living fellowship of dedicated men and women, is seeking in its worship, its corporate life and its service to express in its own way the spirit and mind of Jesus Christ.

II. Church life is established

Settlement began early in the Papakura district. In 1842 the first land purchase was made, though the first settlers did not move in until about 1847. Papakura was on an accessible arm of the Manukau Harbour and proved a good resting place on the long journey from Auckland to the Waikato. It was, at first, often a two-day journey for the heavy bullock wagons – around the head of the Tamaki River and across the many swamps and creeks. The Maori Wars hastened the construction of a road link with Auckland and we are told that at the end of 1857 it had been metalled by the troops as far as Drury, and a daily coach service begun.

There were opportunities for trade with the Maori people along the Kerikeri Stream (two miles east of the township) and along the shores of the Manukau. But it was a very uncertain living that the farmers eked out of the heavy bush, swamp and old kauri forest remains of the Papakura flats. Despite enterprising efforts like flour milling, flax dressing, tobacco production, tomato and chutney canning, many settlers in the late 1860s sold their sections and went off to try their luck in the gold discoveries at Thames and the Coromandel. Kauri gum digging and timber cutting augmented the settlers’ incomes in hard times.

It was among such settlers, in their nikau and raupo shacks, or later in their houses built of split palings or pit sawn timber, that the church began its work.

Unfortunately, no records survive of the earliest days of the Papakura church, or even the names of those instrumental in building the “Selwyn” church. We know Bishop Selwyn was its inspirer and that the Willis family were amongst the chief promoters – notably Mr. Robert Willis who had arrived in late 1847 and had opened the first store in a raupo whare in 1853. The Diocesan Almanac 1860–4 lists those who helped in the erection of the little church, and those who subscribed to its total cost of £403.3.2.

There are no diocesan or parish records of the completion or the opening of the church but on 6 August 1862 we read in the Daily Southern Cross that, “The new Church at Papakura is being completed.”

The following advertisement appeared daily in the same newspaper from Monday 29 September till Saturday 4 October:

“Papakura Episcopalian Church.

Opening Service

The Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of New Zealand will hold Divine Service in the newly erected Church, Papakura, on Sunday, October 5th at 11 o’clock a.m.”

The wooden portions of the present Selwyn Chapel reflect the quality of early workmanship. The little church is one of the best examples of “Selwyn” architecture – the attempt to express in the wooden materials of the young colony the religious spirit of ancient English churches. The chapel, oriented towards the east, has the typical wooden-shingled roof, with its unnecessarily high pitch (originally designed to deflect northern hemisphere snow falls).

The vertical weatherboards with battens, the narrow windows, the traditional, well-proportioned cruciform transepts and the heavy, originally unpainted cross-beams are typical of the style. The settlers must have rejoiced that in so different a setting the dignity and atmosphere of the old world had been so successfully recaptured.

Early services

It was one of Bishop Selwyn’s constant concerns that settlers in outlying districts should receive the attention of the church. At first the Church of England services in the district were under the general supervision of the Rev. Vicesimus Lush, M.A., Vicar of Howick from 1850 onwards. The first definite reference to Papakura in his diary is on 28 June 1860:

“Last Sunday, being the last of the month, I had to go to my newly appointed sphere of duty in the Papakura flats.”

So he began monthly visits to these distant parts of his parish, trudging through rough bush tracks on horseback. From Mr. Lush we learn that, though the church was opened in October 1862, it was not completely finished. On 21 November he wrote:

“Papakura church is unfinished in the interior; there are no chancel rails, no communion Table – no chairs – no stools to kneel on. This morning I went up to the Church and took the necessary dimensions for I shall not rest till I have fitted the Chancel into a more decent state than it is, – the same may be said of the churches at Drury and at Mauku.”

Not until May 1866 did he manage to persuade the Papakura churchwardens to order a Communion Table to be made for £3.10.0 by a Mr. Castledine at Drury. Also he mentions the assistance of the first chemist at Papakura, a Mr. Fallewell (sic) who taught at the Presbyterian school. He “brought his own Harmonium into our church and led the Psalmody – for which I was obliged for up to that time we had no singing through the want of someone to start and lead the singing.”

The opening of the Papakura Church coincided with the growing excitement of Maori disturbances. Mr. Lush describes his approach to Papakura in August 1863, when Papakura was on the northernmost fringes of the fighting:

“I pushed on towards Papakura. The same loneliness struck me here as around Howick; not a soul moving in the fields, all seem to have fled and to have congregated in the villages and the town.”

Both Presbyterian and Anglican buildings were used as refuges for neighbouring families. On 8 August Mr. Lush records his visit to the church where many of the women were living. Bishop Selwyn had held a service there on the previous Sunday – one transept being piled up with bedding, and the other with furniture.

The Bishop, however, was satisfied that the Vicar of Howick was quite unable to do justice to such a vast parish. His express ideal was for every country settler to receive a clergyman’s visit every quarter, and to that end he established a system of “visiting clergymen” who covered large areas, visiting the settlers and conducting services. So in 1863 we read in Mr. Lush’s diary that the Rev. B.T. Ashwell, whose base was at Taupiri, did duty at Papakura and Drury, while he himself concentrated on the Turanga Creek schoolhouse, All Soul’s, Wairoa (Clevedon), Wairoa Road Chapel (Ardmore) and Smale’s Chapel, Otara (East Tamaki). Old records show that the Rev. F. Gould of Holy Trinity, Otahuhu, and the Rev. John Morgan of Otawhao, Waikato Archdeaconry, also helped in visiting and serving the area in the early 1860s.

In 1865 the Rev. V. Lush’s supervision was extended to the “Inner Waikato”. From an extract from his diary on 17 July of that year, we catch a glimpse of the problems presented by the scattered settlements:

“Last Saturday left Parnell for my new missionary duties. I have a very extended sphere, so many stations indeed that I shall in general be able to give but one service a month at each place. The fact is, the clergy in this Diocese are becoming far too few for the work to be done. I rode 34 ½ miles on Saturday to the ‘Queen’s Redoubt’ – a redoubt close to the Waikato – then on Sunday morning at 10 I had service with the soldiers. Then I rode back 13 miles to Drury and had service at 2, and another ride of 3 miles brought me to Papakura where I had my last service at 4 o’clock.”

Areas covered at this time included Haitapu, Waiuku, Wairoa, Wairoa Road, Pukekohe West, Waipipi, Maungatawhiri, Pokeno, Tuakau, Port Waikato, Maketu and Bombay Settlement, Patumahoe, Mauku, Ramaraina, Turanga and East Tamaki, as well as Papakura and Drury! Something of the reward of Mr. Lush’s visiting is seen in an extract of 8 June – a visit to an unnamed settlement, presumably near Drury:

“It was a long ride of some fifteen miles first over open undulating country with nothing to look at – the last 5 miles the country became more wooded and at last ended in a dense forest through which I had to exercise care in order to guide my horse with safety. Suddenly the forest ended and I entered upon a tolerably level and open plain, dotted here and there with immigrants huts and cottages … they told me of a poor woman back in the bush who had a baby a month old and who wished to see a clergyman; they offered their son as a guide … so I went back and found a very thin and delicate but interesting-looking young woman, with a wee little baby in her arms. … She begged me to baptise her babe, which I at once did, and then I churched the poor fragile mother, and seldom have I seen a woman attend to the Service with more apparent devotion than that woman did, in that small raupo hut, kneeling upon the mud floor.”

The realities of working in a frontier society often meant that Christians of different denominations found co-operation overcame difference. Elsdon Craig noted this in his history of the early leaders of Papakura’s Presbyterians and Anglicans, the Rev. Thomas Norrie and the Rev. Lush: “Both ministers were noted for their ecumenical spirit.”

Lush gave an instance of this in his own diaries:

“Passing through Papakura, I called on the chemist and druggist of the name of Fallwell … this Mr. Fallwell is the Presbyterian schoolmaster and precentor in their chapel but the last time I officiated at Papakura he, with the consent of the churchwardens, brought his own harmonium into the church and led the psalmonry – for which I was delighted… He still acts as precentor at the kirk in the morning and seems anxious to establish himself in the same capacity in our church in the afternoon.”

The scattered nature of the settlements has meant that the church has always strongly depended on faithful laymen for regular services and instruction in the various centres. Again it was Bishop Selwyn’s initiative that gave lay-readers such a vitally important part in the life of the young New Zealand church. This extract from his address to Synod in 1863 shows his concern for country districts or “the Brethren in the Bush” as he called them:

“The main object surely is to secure to our congregations in all parts of the country the benefits and blessings of Common Prayer, as our fathers called it, or as it is now more frequently called, of social worship. There is scarcely a settler in the bush who does not recognise the necessity of bringing up his children in the habit of hallowing the Lord’s Day by attendance at the House of God … for the most part there is an earnest desire among the country settlers for the spiritual good of themselves and their children testified by the willingness with which they attend Public Worship and the wish expressed everywhere for the establishment of schools. It is sometimes possible to combine both advantages by the appointment of the schoolmaster to the office of Lay Reader.”

Perhaps the Bishop had Papakura in mind as he spoke. For Mr. R.B. Calvert, a schoolmaster at Wiri, was at that time visiting lay-reader for Papakura, Wairoa and Wairoa Road. At first he rode out to help with the services, but later in 1862 he moved out to Papakura to become head teacher of the school that had been begun in the 1850s. He was actually an Independent minister recently out from England and it is thought that he was appointed lay-reader by the Bishop, and would in due course offer himself for the Anglican ministry. But in April 1863 his valuable services were lost when his wife’s illness forced the family to return to England.

Mr. H. Worthington, another lay-reader in Mr. Lush’s time, giving valuable service during the years he remained in Papakura, was also a popular, though strict, teacher at the school. This school was held in the Presbyterian Church until 1876.

The first Synodsmen for the Papakura district in 1862 proved to be two men who were to give outstanding service to the young diocese. Robert Baillie Lusk came to New Zealand from Scotland in 1849. He settled in the Turanga Creek area and represented Papakura Parish in Synod until he moved into the city in 1871. He continued as a zealous member of both the Diocesan and General Synods. John Gordon likewise proved a good first choice as he represented the parish at Synod for 25 years, 1862 to 1887. Mr. Gordon also did valuable work as a visiting lay-reader for Panmure and Otahuhu during these years.

After Mr. Lusk’s departure, other Synodsmen who sat from time to time with Mr. Gordon were Colonel Haultain (1872–3), Mr. H. Martelli (1874–5), Mr. David Nolan (1875–87) and Mr. N. Rawlings (1884).

From 1862 to 1870, Messrs. W. Wheeler and J. Middlemas acted as Returning Officers; from 1870 to 1871, Mr. H. Greenacre; and from 1872 onwards, Mr. Worthington. We also know the district wardens, as reported by Mr. Lush to Bishop Selwyn in 1866:

  • Turanga Creek cum Maraetai – Mr. Trice.
  • Wairoa – Mr. Thorp
  • Papakura – Mr. Mellsop
  • Drury – Mr. Worthington
  • Waiuku – Mr. King


The “South Road” is established

Meanwhile, in 1866 the Rev. Richard Augustus Hall, M.A., was appointed Vicar of Howick – which included the oversight of Clevedon, Ardmore, Alfriston, Papakura and Drury. An Irishman and a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, Mr. Hall is remembered as a man of scholarship. He published several controversial works, including an essay on Swedenborgianism, but no records survive from this period.

For most of his cure, which lasted until his return to Ireland in 1882, the vicar was assisted in these, his more outlying districts, by a series of visiting clergymen.

From 1 March 1869 till about June 1872 the Rev. Joseph Bates was licensed as itinerant minister of the Papakura district. A very scholarly man, he combined this task with headmastership of the local school. His residence was a little cottage near the Presbyterian church, though there is some suggestion that in 1870 his district was extended to include Waiuku and Wairoa and that he moved to the cottage at Drury.

At this time such itinerant clergy were controlled by the “Home Mission”, and the organising secretary of this body, the Rev. Ezra Robert Otway assisted with monthly services at Papakura and Drury throughout 1871. On 23 February 1872 he was licensed as itinerant minister in the area, but his Vicarage and church were St. Bride’s, Mauku, and he concentrated on that area.

On 27 May 1873 the Rev. William Taylor was appointed visiting minister of the Papakura, Drury and Ramarama districts. When he was appointed Vicar of Mauku–Waiuku in 1876 the districts again became the Rev. R.A. Hall’s responsibility. But in the “Church Gazette” of May 1877 we read:

“Great South Road. The Reverend R.O’C Biggs has been appointed by the Bishop to the charge of the districts through which the Great South Road runs from about four miles south of Drury to Mercer. Mr. Biggs will also, for the present, hold services on 2 Sundays of each month at Drury and Papakura as assistant minister to the Reverend R. A. Hall who is in charge of those two settlements.”

Mr. Biggs’ appointment was short-lived, however, for in November he was moved to Hamilton. We know that throughout 1880 Mr. Hall held a service in Christ Church, Papakura, each second Sunday in the month, while a student from St. John’s College, Mr. Hubert MacLean, came out on the other Sundays. This was no doubt the pattern until Mr. Hall returned to Ireland on 23 March 1882.

During the 1870s the area had gradually grown away from its earlier identification with the parish of Howick. In Diocesan reports its centres were listed separately as “South Road District”. So, although throughout 1882 to 1883 the district remained under the general supervision of the Rev. T. Farley, Vicar of Howick, arrangements were being finalised to establish it as a separate parochial district.


Our records of these “in-between” years are few. We know that Bishop Cowie placed great emphasis on the Sunday School movement, forming a Diocesan Union in 1872. And in the 1870s we have reports of growing Sunday Schools at Papakura and Drury. The names of Mr. O’Callaghan, Mr. and Mrs. Baylis and Miss Willis are linked with the Sunday School in Papakura; thirty-seven scholars were on its roll in 1875. Mrs. Bluck supervised one of seventeen scholars at Drury.

The services after the departure of Mr. Hall were ably maintained throughout 1883 by Mr. R. Goddine Boler who journeyed out from Woodside (Papatoetoe) for each service. He moved to Auckland in that year and was later ordained.

No record of these years could omit a mention of the Willis family, whose homestead was near the church. The men-folk, especially Mr. Robert Willis senior and Mr. R.J. Willis, his son, played a major part in the administration of the church for many years. The women folk did the flowers and kept the church in order. Miss Fanny Willis began in the 1870s her remarkable record of devotion and reliability as church organist for over forty years. Her sister, Miss Charlotte Willis, tended the church grounds and gardens over the same long period. Willis Brothers owned the general store where the Farmers now stands – a grocery, bakery and butchery combined. Their generosity, especially to the many poor settlers in the 1860s and 1870s, was well known. “Always deliver bread to everyone,” Mrs. Willis used to say to her boys.

An equally outstanding record of church work began at this time when in 1875 Miss Lizzie Walter took up her work as Sunday School teacher. She continued until 1927 – a remarkable dedication of fifty-two years.

It was the poverty of this area in the era before refrigerated shipping that kept it from becoming a parochial district. Offertories were small, and the district could only pay a very small part of their clergy’s salaries, which mostly came out of a “Home Mission Fund”. In June 1873, for example, Bishop Cowie attended a Papakura church committee meeting to discuss the matter of finance.

A typical statement of accounts was that for 1873:

Balance from 1872 11             6                9 Clergyman’s Stipend (paid standing committee) 24             8                1
Offertories – General 16             0                10 Sunday School 2                5                6
Offertories – Special 2                5                6 Expenses 25             8                4
Entertainments and subscriptions 28             8                6 Balance 5                19             8
58             1                7 58             1                7


We have the names of the church committee for 1873: Messrs. O’Callaghan, Willis, Trafford, Smith, Carlile, Harper and Heard (Drury). This is the first reference to Mr. William Smith, another layman who gave outstanding service. He was Minister’s Warden for over twenty-three years, and a committee member for an even longer period.

From these years too, we have our earliest surviving marriage register. The first Papakura entry fittingly marks the union of two families that have given great service to the church in the district:

1882   Register No. 1 Officiant
No. 1 May 9 William Walters, Papakura
Harriet Jane Willis, Papakura
R. O’C. Biggs


Finally during this period the first structural alteration was made to Christ Church, Papakura. Late in 1881 a small vestry was added to the church “greatly to the convenience of the visiting clergymen, who often arrives wet (in winter) or covered in dust (in summer) and in any case needs a room in which he can rest for a few minutes before beginning the service”.

The Parochial District of Papakura


  • The Rev. Oswald Rousell Hewlett, 1884–9; 1896–1904
  • The Rev. Noble Dale Boyes, 1891–6
  • The Rev. Peter Thomas Fortune, 1904–10
  • The Rev. William Charles Wood, 1910–36

The Rev. O.R. Hewlett’s first ministry

In 1884 the Parochial District of Papakura was formed and in April welcomed its first Vicar, the Rev. Oswald Rousell Hewlett. His parish was defined as the settlements at Papakura, Drury, Hunua, Wairoa, Wairoa Road, Papakura Valley (Alfriston), Woodside (Papatoetoe) and Ness Valley.

Mr. Hewlett, though newly ordained from St. John’s College, was well fitted for this scattered parish. His youth had been spent in North Auckland districts where his father had been an itinerant clergyman, and he brought to the task energy and enthusiasm.

In 1882 a general meeting of parishioners had agreed that Papakura should be the site of the vicar’s residence. Thus on 11 August 1884, six acres were bought from Mr. Harrison at £15 per acre and within a year, largely as the result of Mr. Hewlett’s energies, the home was completed. So a report from the parish in November reads:

“It is built in a capital position, a little way out of Papakura village, on the Auckland road. The six acres of land purchased are fenced and laid down in grass. The committee have erected a commodious stable and a good entrance gate to the property. Some ornamental trees and shrubs have also been planted, and the estate bids fair to become one of the prettiest little places in the district.”

The whole venture – purchase of sections, erection of house, stable and gate, etc. – cost £504.4.9. Of this, £200 was raised at the time and £300, borrowed from the Diocesan Trust Board, was paid off at the rate of £50 a year.

Raising money was still a major problem for Papakura as people were still very poor. In particular, in the 1890s the flats between Papakura and Alfriston were all a big gum field, and in one particularly dry summer fully 1,000 men, of all nationalities and all stations of life, were camped in the locality. “For a few months things were fairly lively in Papakura; it was quite usual to have three or four constables at the weekend,” Alfred Willis records in his history of Early Papakura. Experienced men could make from £10 to £15 per week, but many barely made a living.

The Vicarage was constantly offering meals, and Willis Brothers constantly supplying food to families whether they could pay or not. However, the parishioners tackled the “Parsonage Building Fund” with great resourcefulness. In November 1884 the Bishop himself gave a lecture to help raise funds. At this time the concerts, lectures and social entertainments, which were to play such a happy part in the life of the church throughout the following fifty-odd years, were initiated.

In 1887 a new church, St. David’s, was opened at Wiri, and in 1889 received its own vicar, the Rev. Middlewood Kirkbride, and so ceased to be part of the parish. However, its lay-reader, Charles Henry Lupton, was to give good service to Papakura over the years. To make up for Wiri’s withdrawal, Weymouth began to take its place in the lists of centres of worship of that year. It is referred to as a “pleasant sea-side watering place”.

Early in 1889 illness began to interrupt Mr. Hewlett’s ministry and a roster of travelling clergymen, especially the Rev. W. Roper, assisted with the services. Finally in June 1890, Mr. Hewlett reluctantly resigned the parish and moved to Drury, and in 1893 was well enough to become assistant minister at Onehunga.

It was during Mr. Hewlett’s first ministry that Mr. W. Hampton Thorp’s name dominates the records. He was the energetic lay-reader at Clevedon for over 25 years and ably represented the parish in Synod for a long period. During this time Messrs. Robert Willis and William Smith gave long service as churchwardens and urged the parish a long way towards the goal of financial self-sufficiency.


The Rev. N.D. Boyes

In October 1890, when the Rev. N.D. Boyes was licensed to Papakura, the parish was in good heart. His ministry was marked by growing congregations, a more satisfactory income and marked improvements to church properties. In 1893, for example, improvements were made to both church and Parsonage; both were re-painted, the church enclosed by a wicket fence with new gates, and only a small amount was left on the Parsonage debt.

A description of the harvest festival in March 1893, reflects the state of the parish:

“The church was tastefully and appropriately decorated for the occasion by several of the ladies of the congregation. A goodly supply of fruit and vegetables were sent in by neighbours interested in church work, and were afterwards distributed among the poor in the district … at 8 o’clock in the morning, [the vicar] administered the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper to twenty communicants. At 11 o’clock a.m. a service was held by Mr. Findlay and was well attended; and at evening service the church was crowded. Each of the services were bright and hearty, the congregation joining the choir in heartily singing the festal hymns.”

On Easter Day we are told the vicar preached to a congregation of eighty at evening service and the church “looked exceeding pretty”. However the vicar was not without his “ups and downs”:

“[The vicar] was thrown several yards over his horse’s head on February 18th on his way to conduct Divine service at Weymouth. Cantering in the centre of the main-road, which is good, the horse broke in the surface of the road and fell. The hole was deep, but fortunately neither horse nor rider received much injury.”

It is clear that Mr. Boyes was supported by willing parishioners. This was the age of soirees and concerts, and fund-raising. Annual accounts in all the centres were showing a balance.

Captain M.T. Clayton of Manurewa began in 1895 his long years of service as a lay-reader, riding out regularly to Papakura and Drury from his home in Manurewa. At this time, too, he and Mr. Lupton began their long period of service as Synod representatives for the parochial district.

Mr. Stan Evans for many years acted as unpaid sacristan, punctually opening and lighting the church and ringing the bell. Cleaning the church was done by a roster of reliable women. Miss McKeever helped Miss F. Willis with organ duties. The interior of the church was improved by the donation of a lamp by Mr. Prince and flower vases by Mesdames Hockin and Clarke.

In January 1896, the Rev. N.D. Boyes preached his last sermon in the district before moving to Stratford. “Our people regret the loss of one so zealous, active, and self-denying,” it was reported.


The Rev. O.R. Hewlett’s second ministry

Early in 1896 Mr. Hewlett’s tall hat and horse and buggy were again a common sight around Papakura. This was a period of heartening consolidation for the church; attendances at services grew, the quality of the worship improved, and financially the church appeared to be finding its feet. Mr. Hewlett was particularly encouraged by the new emphasis people were giving to attendance at Holy Communion; over 100 communicants came forward at Easter 1897, and in the year ending May 1899 the total number of acts of Communion was 1,269. This is a remarkable contrast with earlier years when Communion Services were rarely held and not popularly attended.

Mr. Hewlett was keen to raise the musical standards of church worship. New organs were installed at Papakura, Drury and Clevedon during these years. An organ recital was given on the new organ at Papakura on 19 July 1897. The choir was very strong at this time, and the church noted for its hearty singing. Mr. Gerrard of the Presbyterian Church helped to train the choir. Mr. David William Jones’ name also appears at this time, when he helped with the music at the Ardmore Church. This was part of his long association with the church, which covered the period 1893–1921. He also became Vicar’s Warden in 1900 and for many years this local schoolmaster was depended upon in the committee work of the church, in its music and choir work and as a lay-reader. In 1903 Mr. Charles White Cave and Miss Cave brought the choir up to seventeen members, led by Mr. Cary. The Hay family were valuable members who left the district at this time. Mrs. Robert J. Willis was leading soprano for years, and one of her daughters, Mrs. S. Harrowell, was a regular chorister. Mrs. Alf Willis helped Miss F. Willis with the organ on the few occasions she was unable to be present.

The women of the church formed a Working Guild in 1897 which staged the first of the long series of bazaars, or sales of work, which have continued through the years. This raised the overwhelming sum of £70 for much-needed alterations to the Vicarage. Also in 1897, the annual soiree and concert, which Mr. Boyes had built up, attracted between 200 and 300 guests from all the districts in the parish. Those “who richly provided the good things” and presided over the tea were Mesdames Hewlett, Findlay, R.J. Willis and S. Walker and Misses Willis, Middlemas and Walter.

Mr. Hewlett greatly admired his team of lay-readers and did everything he could to equip them for the work. In 1901 he formed a Papakura Lay-Readers’ Association which met regularly for fellowship and for study and discussion. Captains Clayton and Collard and Messrs. Lupton, Thorp, Jones and Findlay were his chief readers, Mr. Findlay also working with “untiring zeal as treasurer of the vestry”. Of the 360 services held in the parish in 1899, 168 were taken by lay-readers. Over 80 men and women were active as members of vestries, wardens, choir members, organists and Sunday School teachers. Perhaps the most outstanding of all the lay workers that Mr. Hewlett inspired during this ministry was the seventeen-year-old Harold Walters. For fifty years he served as a thoroughly reliable and hardworking member of the vestry, and with his wife and family became the mainstay of the church in the Karaka district.

The church building did not go unattended. In May 1899, Christ Church in Papakura was re-roofed for £34. Mr. Treadgold, a local builder, did the job, and shingles were obtained from Nicol and Creighton of Clevedon. A stable was erected and fencing built around the church in the same year. In 1901 a carved chair was given for the sanctuary by Nina Black. In 1902 the vestry room was enlarged and the church and fence re-painted – largely through the efforts of Captain Clayton. The present pulpit was given to commemorate the outstanding work of Mr. William Smith over the years.

In 1903, because of the growth of the congregation, a fund for a new church was inaugurated. But perhaps there was an element of prophecy in this, for in May 1904, fire destroyed almost the entire township – the Globe Hotel, Public Hall, Masonic Hall, chemist’s shop, saddler’s shop and general store, and two private dwellings. Only “strenuous exertions of the neighbours”, we are told, saved Willis Brothers’ store, Miss Willis’ house and the church, all of which were in great danger.

In October 1904 Mr. Hewlett left Papakura, but ten years later the parish welcomed him and his family back when he and Mrs. Hewlett retired to Drury and were able once again to serve the church in the district.


The Rev. P.T. Fortune

From December 1904 to January 1910 the Rev. P. T. Fortune was Vicar of Papakura. Unfortunately there is little record of his work. The most persistent memory of him is his interesting but very lengthy sermons – up to an hour and a half we are told – which did not always attract large congregations! Brookby, Karaka and Te Hihi were added to the centres in which services were held during this time.

Perhaps the balance to the small congregations at sermons was found in the attraction of the church’s evening soirees with music and recitations, which were very popular social events at this time. Elsdon Craig mentions that “between two and three hundred people attended one Anglican soiree at Papakura in 1897”.

One of the major events during his ministry was the building of the parish hall by Mr. Wyn Williams, begun in 1907. It cost £180 (unlined). Mr. D.W. Jones was treasurer at the time, and Mrs. R.J. Willis was particularly active in organising bazaars to raise funds. The hall was completed in 1908, though it remained unlined until about 1915. One of its earliest uses, besides Sunday School and church meetings, was the dancing classes run by the Swears sisters from 1909. These classes financed the erection of a handsome white-paling fence and “squeeze-gate” around the church and down to the old red shed where Captain Clayton rested his horses.

Until 1912 Mr. Cave continued to work with the choir, often writing his own music. In about 1907 he introduced a boys’ choir which helped lead the worship for some years. Both Mr. Jones and Mr. Cave were active lay-readers.


The Rev. W.C. Wood

On 12 February 1910 a new era began in the life of the Papakura Parochial District with the appointment of the Rev. W.C. Wood as Vicar. He was to remain in the position for twenty-six years. From the beginning he established himself as a born leader and a most able and well-read speaker and preacher. For many years he served the community, first as a member, then as Chairman, of the Town Board, and he also represented the district on the Auckland Hospital Board. In the Depression years he made great personal sacrifices for those in need. He had a warm heart and a lively sense of humour; a typical illustration was the “mock Parliaments” he organised for public amusement in the 1920s. Many parishioners recall with deep affection their distinguished-looking, white-haired vicar.

It was no small wonder that he was criticised for failing to visit his flock, for he had an impossibly wide area to cover. In 1910 he was holding services at Papakura, Drury, Clevedon, Ardmore, Alfriston and Weymouth. By 1920, Karaka was added to this list, while at last in 1922 the parish was reduced to a more manageable unit when Alfriston, Ardmore and Clevedon withdrew to form the nucleus of the Clevedon Parochial District. In 1923 services were held at Te Hihi and Takanini, but Weymouth was cut off from the parish. Kingseat Hospital and Waiau Pa also came under Mr. Wood’s supervision at a later date.

To cover this parish, Mr. Wood, in his early days, travelled by horseback or gig. In 1915 we read of his short-lived experiment with a motorcycle – not a successful venture on the rough roads of the day. Later he came to be identified with his Model T Ford – complete with chains on its wheels for the arduous journey to Auckland.

Throughout Mr. Wood’s ministry the Papakura district endured lean times. After the big fire of 1904, the destroyed shops were rebuilt, but in the next thirty years the little township showed few signs of expansion. The central position of the stock sale-yards, across the road from Willis Brothers’ store, typified the small rural town atmosphere of Papakura. In the Great War many young men of the district lost their lives, and through the 1920s and early 1930s few families escaped economic hardship. The parish was constantly in debt. Mr. Wood suffered personally when his eldest son was killed in action, and later during the long illness and death of Mrs. Wood, and the early deaths of two of his daughters. Yet he loyally ministered to his people – even when they were unable to guarantee his full stipend.

Two minor alterations were made to the church in the early years of Mr. Wood’s ministry. During the war the present belfry was added to the church, its big bell replacing the small bell at the porch. Secondly, the introduction of an acetylene plant in 1920 was a vast improvement on the older kerosene lamps. Older choir members recall their amusement as the plant failed during the singing of “Lead Kindly Light”, and their wonder when, during the singing of “Thou Whose Almighty Word”, the lights flashed more brightly at the last line of each verse – “Let there be light”!


The War Memorial Sanctuary

The addition of the War Memorial Sanctuary in 1923 was the most significant structural alteration to the old Selwyn Church over the years. As early as April 1919 an annual meeting of parishioners had adopted the vestry’s recommendation that the war memorial for the Parochial District should take the form of a sanctuary in permanent materials. This was intended to be the first portion of a new stone church. Mr. Holt presented a model of these alterations from which the architect, Mr. G.S. Goldsbro, prepared the working drawings. Such plans were later slightly modified, for example, by the gift of the two dormer windows by Mr. Holt. Tender offers were, however, too high at the time, and it was not till March 1922 that the vestry accepted the tenders of Mr. P. Brewin for the masonry and of Messrs. J.H. and J.G. Walker for supplying stone from near Hunua Gorge.

Bishop Averill laid the foundation stone on 30 September 1922. The inscription reads:

“The Sanctuary was erected as a thank offering to Almighty God, for Peace and Victory, and in memory of the men from this parish who fell in the Great War 1914–19. This stone was laid on 39 Sept 1922 by Alfred Walter Bishop of Auckland.”

Built into the stonework of the chancel’s southern wall is a tablet of Oamaru stone, carved by Mr. Feldon. It presents a long list for so small a district:

Lieut. A.D. Bremner Pte. R.E. Costar Pte. W.C. Kearney
Sgt. J.B. Campbell Pte. W. Costar Pte. R.W. Munro
Sgt. A. Muir Pte. L.G. Clark Ptr. R. Morton
Sgt. M.L. Waters Pte. J.R. Clark Pte. K. Moir
Corp. W.H. Wood Pte. W. Derbyshire Pte. J.L. McKinstry
Rfln. T.F. Atkin Pte. G. Embling Pte. F.E. McConaughy
Pte. A. Bond Pte. A. Girdwood Pte. J. McAnally
Pte. L. Birch Pte. R. Hasted Pte. J. Parmentar
Pte. A.L. Bailey Pte. W. Henderson Pte. A. Ryan
Pte. A.T. Bates Pte. J. Henderson Pte. W.M. Shepherd
Pte. G.H. Burnside Pte. A.M. Hills Pte. J.F. Seaton
Pte. W.H. Brown Pte. A.B. Hunt Pte. W.H. Wardell
Pte. W. Carpenter Pte. C.R. James Pte. H.J. Wall
Pte. C. Campbell Pte. R. Johnson Pte. W. Winstone
Pte. T. Campbell Pte. R.R. Jones Pte. C.M. Wallis


Messrs. McEntee and Sons gained the contract for the woodwork in the floor and roofing; Mr. Arthur Richardson made the specially designed choir stalls and screens. So on 4 August 1923, the Bishop consecrated the new sanctuary in the presence of a crowded church. Subscriptions, offerings and the Ladies’ Working Guild had raised sufficient money (£578.9.7) to pay for the work before it was finished. Mr. Holt, who was the prime mover of the effort, compiled a commemorative booklet for the occasion.

The new vicarage

A second major building project was the erection of the present Vicarage on land nearer the church. In 1923 it was decided to dispose of the old Vicarage and the six acres on which it stood, and from the proceeds purchase the site in Coles Crescent; any balance remaining was to form a “Parochial Endowment Fund”. Between 1924 and 1928 all but two of the fifteen subdivisions were sold – ten to A.C. Townend, one each to H. May, A.C. Rayner and F.J. Lound. Unfortunately none of these buyers, save H. May, was able to keep up his payments, and the sales were rescinded, though in the 1930s five lots were re-sold. However, the vestry were not to foresee the grave financial difficulties ahead and they purchased the site, which, cleared and ready for building, cost £210.6.6. In January 1927 a tender for the erection of the Vicarage was accepted at £1,512.10.0. It was not until the 1940s that the old Vicarage properties were cleared up and the Diocesan Loan Board and Vicarage Account Overdraft settled. For eighteen months Mr. Wood lived in Clevedon Road, until Archbishop Averill officially opened the Vicarage on 27 April 1927. Like the new sanctuary, its “permanent materials” have proved a lasting investment.

Throughout Mr. Wood’s time the responsibility for maintaining the worship, the finances and the social life of the church repeatedly fell upon the few faithful families. Congregations were seldom large, yet much care was taken over the presentation of services and a happy fellowship was built up. Mention must be made of some of those who gave their services.

The choir, which had flourished under Mr. Hewlett, always played an important part in the worship of the parish church. The gracious Miss F. Willis was organist until the 1920s and the grand old man Mr. Cave led the choir until his death in 1912. In the years before the war a strong boys’ choir was begun; Mr. L. Kernot and later Mrs. Wood helping in their training. Mr. Hardman was organist for a while, and at various times Misses L. Turner, Clare Wood and Rollett assisted. But the organist who gave outstanding service was Mr. Thomas Seaton, who came in the early 1920s from the Methodist Church to become the first paid organist of Christ Church. His fee of ten shillings a week was never raised, though he continued until 1955. Miss Rollett, a leading chorister for many years, was closely associated with the church for thirty-seven years until she moved to Manurewa in 1938. Other stalwarts of the choir through the 1920s and early 1930s were Mrs. Crawford, Miss Clare Wood, Miss L. Mogford, Mrs. Tasker, the Muir and Turner sisters, Mrs. Beams and Miss Julie Williams. Messrs. Fred Margetts, D. Pemberton, Selwyn Wood, Claude Naden and Len Kernot gave strong support too. In the 1930s a junior choir also sang at some services.

Throughout these years the Sunday School was maintained. Miss L. Walter continued as Superintendent until 1927. Misses Harris, Cole and Alice Derbyshire were among her assistants in later years. Jack O’Neil was also a keen superintendent, ably supported by his brother, Ivor, and the Turner, Muir and Kerr girls. Ivy Turner, now Mrs. A. Wood, continued to be an outstanding teacher, superintending the Karaka Sunday School in the late 1950s. The Sunday School concerts and prize-givings were great events, as were the annual picnics – after the race between Alf Walker’s and Johnson’s trucks to Weymouth, Waiau Pa or Eastern Beach.

Though never a large group, the Ladies’ Working Guild played a major part in helping with the constant struggle for finances throughout the 1920s. Few of its members were in a position to give generously, but they were hard workers for the church. Some mention must be made of the most reliable supporters – Mesdames Crawford, Mogford, Tasker, Bernasconi, Jellyman, Muir, Cosgrove, Langford, Hope, Page, W. Clarke and L. Kernot and Misses Rollet and Wood. The Guild finally disbanded at about the time of Miss Wood’s marriage in 1931.

The condition of the parish, however, demanded that some attempt be made by its women to raise funds. So in 1935 the Women’s Parish Association was formed under the leadership of Mrs. W.H. Walters, who for twenty-one years took a lead in this work, and was still active in 1962. This association was open to any women from any part of the parish who would work for the church. They were bound together by a common pledge which they recited before each meeting; the Drury Guild still use it.

“The Church Women’s Aim:

I will endeavour: to support by my prayers and presence the services of the Church so far as in me lies; to help forward the work of this Parish by every means in my power; and to encourage and help my fellow members, and all I come in contact with, to live happy and useful lives.”

Garden parties, “at home” social gatherings, bring and buys, snowball teas, spring and autumn flower shows and “community sings” helped to raise funds; working bees were organised around the church building and grounds. But primarily the association was a social group and interesting talks, demonstrations and competitions attracted a large membership and built up a happy fellowship amongst the women of the parish.

A number of men gave unstintingly of their time and talents in these years. Until 1921 Mr. D. Jones continued his work as lay-reader, warden and synodsman; his neat and thorough account books still survive. Percy Monckton Holt was another keen worker. He was Vicar’s Warden from 1916 to 1923 and acted as auditor of accounts, and he continued to serve church and community until his death in 1928. Messrs. H.H. Muir and G. Kernot were vestrymen and wardens in the 1920s. George continued for twenty years altogether, being People’s Warden for eleven. With his brother, Len, he was always doing the necessary odd-jobs about the church, and energetically organised working bees. Mr. A.L. Turner, who worked with Mr. Holt and was warden for some years, continued as a vestryman for some twenty-six years. Another vestryman, and also synodsman, was Harry Ernest Mogford. He came from Matamata in the 1920s and his family entered enthusiastically into church life and gave generously towards it. Jack O’Neil was a lay-reader for some time. In the 1930s Mr. Frank Kirton and his family were most regular worshippers, and remained so until he left the district in 1949. He was for much of this time both a lay-reader and vestryman.

Dances and socials, concerts, sales of work, card drives and garden parties all contributed to the social side of church life. In the 1920s the Guild’s big annual bazaar lasted for two days and nights, being held in Richardson’s Hall on the site of the present Windsor Theatre. The hardworking women produced as much as £200, a fantastic sum for that time. It was a major social event for the town.

For the young people, the happiest times were had in the tennis club, which began about 1927 amongst church members who used to gather on the Muir’s private courts. Mrs. Muir lent the money to equip the first tennis courts, which remained in constant use until plans for the new church were finalised.

The present font in the old church has an interesting story. A doctor, Charles Swanston, L.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., who was dying of an incurable disease, used to come to the church to receive Communion from Mr. Wood. His family gave the font in his memory, and Mr. Selwyn Wood donated the brass water jug to go with it.

The Mothers’ Union was begun in the parish in the final years of Mr. Wood’s ministry. Mrs. Marx and Mrs. Seaton were keen to start this second women’s group, which has played an important part in parish life ever since.

In 1936 Mr. Wood resigned. The parish lacked the finances to attract a new vicar immediately and for nearly two years the parish was left without a pastor. The parishioners appreciated the services of the Rev. Foulkes, who came out each weekend from Manurewa to maintain regular services and do a little visiting.



  • The Rev. Hopkins Sinclair, 1938–40
  • The Rev. John Gordon Heath, 1940–4
  • The Rev. Walter Herbert Beech, 1944–7
  • The Rev. Melville Edward Holmes, 1948–51
  • The Rev. Mangatitoki Cameron, 1951–5
  • The Rev. Thomas Roy Everall, 1955–62

In 1938 the community started to show new signs of life and growth. In subsequent years Papakura was transformed from a small country town into a built-up suburb of Greater Auckland; in the 1950s in particular the explosion of population was phenomenal and showed no signs of abating. By 1962, the one school of the 1930s was augmented by four primary schools, a convent, an intermediate school and a high school, with another primary school soon to be opened. The handful of shops and the sale-yards gave way to a large and busy shopping centre along the Great South Road. In 1937 the population of the borough stood at 1,700; in 1949 at 2,600; in 1956 at 5,230; and in 1961 it had grown to 8,004.

This unforeseen growth greatly heightened the church’s pastoral and evangelistic responsibilities; the story of these years is the story of how the Anglican community responded to this challenge.


The Rev. H. Sinclair

At last, in 1938, a new vicar was appointed, and parishioners were soon in hearty agreement that the Rev. H. Sinclair was the man for the job. After over eighteen months without any pastoral leadership, and following on from the Depression years, the affairs of the parish were in a grave state and the church’s life in the doldrums. Mr. Sinclair brought to his office the gifts of an Irishman’s humour (and temper), the sparkle of an excellent mixer and popular leader of youth and children, and a wide experience with many walks of life. He was determined to rouse the parish out of its slumber and to set his house in order. The impression Mr. Sinclair made on the life of the church was out of all proportion to the short period he was its priest.

Mr. Sinclair immediately provided more services within the parish, and church attendances grew considerably, especially at Evensong at Christ Church. On 1 December 1938, Archbishop Averill dedicated the new sanctuary furnishings, which added considerably to the beauty of the church. The older varnished tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written were moved out to the Sunday School hall. Mr. Crawford was responsible for the woodwork of the altar and reredos, which were funded by voluntary subscriptions. The Kirton family donated the pair of candlesticks; Mrs. Swears made and gave the altar linen; and the sanctuary was carpeted. In 1939 a carved oak eagle on a wooden pedestal was given as a lectern by the Willis family to commemorate three outstanding church workers – Mr. Robert Willis, the original pioneer, his son Mr. Robert J. Willis and his daughter Miss Fanny Willis. The alms dish of hand-beaten brass was also given anonymously in the same year.

Mr. Sinclair also took services at Drury and Karaka, and once or twice a month at Kingseat Hospital. He instituted services at Takanini (at first in the Public Hall, later at Mr. and Mrs. Shannon’s residence), at Waiau Pa, and at Ponga; in these three districts small bodies of worshippers regularly met together. Messrs. H. Gatrell, J. Cain, D.J. Graham and F. Kirton assisted as lay-readers.

A house-to-house canvass was undertaken and an accurate parish roll established. In his first four months Mr. Sinclair visited over 300 Anglican families. The pastoral contact thus begun was greatly assisted by the publication of the first Parish Leaflet in June 1938.

The importance of the choir in the church’s life was given further recognition in 1938 when Mr. Sinclair asked the Women’s Parish Association to undertake the making of the choir robes. Cassocks, surplices and mortar boards were made up at a cost of £26.12.10. The dignity these white and black robes added to the services soon overcame any initial prejudices. A second vestry was added to provide a robing room for the choir. Funds also were raised to board the hall landing and repaint it.

Finance presented a major problem. The new vicar inherited accumulated debts, a large bank overdraft and considerable confusion. The Women’s Parish Association helped to wipe off the Diocesan debt by the end of 1938. A new envelope system was instituted at Christ Church in an attempt to encourage regular weekly giving. Much time was spent in cleaning up the old Vicarage property and in the formation of a Trust Board to administer its finances.

Everything Mr. Sinclair undertook he did with enthusiasm. He built up the work of the Sunday Schools at Papakura, Mrs. Nora Clarke and Mrs. H. Dreadon being amongst his helpers, and at Drury. Highly successful young people’s social clubs were begun at Drury, Karaka and Papakura. He formed a Missionary Committee to keep alive this aspect of the church’s life, and for many years the committee did valuable work in arranging missionary speakers and raising funds.

He and Mrs. Sinclair placed great stress on the place of the Mothers’ Union, and its membership grew. He gave every encouragement to the social life of the congregation – be it the debating society, the euchre club, sales of work, garden parties, Sunday School concerts or prize-giving socials. Above all, this was the hey-day of the tennis club, of which Mr Sinclair was a keen and active member. All these activities deepened the fellowship and friendships of church members and attracted outsiders to the church.

There was considerable disappointment when Mr. Sinclair announced in 1940 that he was leaving for Takapuna. But as he himself suggested in his last Parish Leaflet in November 1940, his gifts were “better suited for spade work than consolidation”:

“… Three years ago I responded to what I considered a call from God through the Bishop of Auckland, to leave a Parish in a reasonably good state of organisation and accept the parish of Papakura, which was passing through difficult days: with the co-operation of many capable and energetic workers, it has been possible, under God’s guidance, to create enthusiasm, improve the financial position, and generally lay the foundation on which the spiritual edifice of the Church Life may be built in the future.”


The Rev. J.G. Heath

On 4 November 1940 the Rev. J. G. Heath was instituted as Vicar. These were the war years, and again difficult times for many in the parish, particularly the faithful in outlying districts, who found travelling a problem. Mr. Heath’s sincere and sympathetic pastoral visiting was treasured by many families who suffered personally during the war. The establishment of the Papakura Military Camp, although it had its own chaplains, brought a new factor into the life of the parish. In the war years, members of the Women’s Parish Association helped out in the social huts at the camp; every Friday night the Anglican tennis club’s dance was crowded with soldiers; and four men from the parish volunteered to work with the Church Army – Captains W. Hughes, W. Robinson, V. Salisbury and R. Morris.

The sincerity of Mr. Heath did much to consolidate Mr. Sinclair’s work – especially the building up of the spiritual life of the congregations. Services continued to be held at Papakura, Drury, Karaka, Takanini, Waiau Pa and Ponga. In February 1943 the present parochial boundaries were set, Waiau Pa and Kingseat Hospital coming under the control of Waiuku, and Ramarama and Ararimu being included with Papakura.

The services at Papakura were given greater dignity by the appointment in 1942 of servers for the first time; a Sanctuary Guild tended the church; and the choir, though small in numbers, never failed to assist in the worship and by 1944 again began to grow.

In 1941 Bible lessons were begun at Papakura school for the first time, taken at first by Mr. Heath and two laymen.

An important change during Mr. Heath’s ministry was the introduction of Children’s Church in July 1942, to replace the Papakura Sunday School. In part, this was necessitated by the lack of a suitable superintendent for the work, but it was also an attempt to face the fact that so many of the children were being “sent” by parents to Sunday School and so never joined their parents in church services. Parents were encouraged to attend these “Junior Church” services. Bible classes continued for those over Standard 6.

Mr. Heath looked to the Women’s Parish Association to keep the parish’s social life alive, as well as to help with its finance. But in 1943 the pressing needs of the Christ Church committee led to the formation of a local guild with the specific aim of raising funds for local projects. Mr. Heath sums up his ministry in his last letter, dated November 1944:

“I have always conceived it as my work here to try and stabilise what had been done. Not to do anything spectacular, but rather to consolidate. That successfully or unsuccessfully you and I have tried to do through the difficult years of the war period.”


The Rev. W.H. Beech

The work of consolidating the life of the parish was taken further by the Rev. W.H. Beech, notably by his stress on the dignity and beauty of liturgical worship. This high churchman constantly taught the prime duty of regular worship, especially at the altar. His services for Holy Week in 1945 reflect his standards – daily Communion, observance of the Easter Vigil, the Liturgy of Good Friday, and the “Reproaches”. Fortnightly services were held in the Karaka hall, and monthly services at the Union Church, Ramarama. The annual report for 1945 sums up the church at Takanini and Ponga:

“Takanini: As was recorded at the last Annual Report, the faithful few were still the faithful few. Unfortunately one or two of the faithful members in Takanini have moved to other parishes, and there seems, so far, little sign of their places being taken by others; but perhaps here is a place where the few can do more than a larger number of lukewarm Christians.”

“Ponga: Here again are monthly services only, and they are particularly notable for their informality. I believe I am the only clergyman who likes services at Ponga, and the congregation is interdenominational. The people here travel considerable distances to worship in an unimposing building, but they refuse to let such disadvantages deter them.”

In September 1945 a prayer desk, given by the Kirton family, was dedicated by Bishop Simkin, in memory of Roy Lewis who gave his life while serving in the Merchant Navy.

The Mothers’ Union, Children’s Church, tennis club and young people’s social club still continued under Mr. Beech. And early in his ministry, in 1945, he called together the women of the parish for the purpose of forming a new organisation to take the place of the Women’s Parish Association and Christ Church Guild. For some time the two organisations, composed largely of the same women and doing similar work, had realised the inefficiency involved in running two groups. So a Parish Guild came into being, its purpose to build up the spiritual and social life of the church, and to assist in the raising of money for parochial needs. In 1962, the Guild was still continuing this work.

In August 1947 Mr. Beech left the parish.


The Rev. M.E. Holmes

After a short period while the cure of the parish was vacant, the Rev. M.E. Holmes was appointed Vicar in March 1948. During his ministry, regular services were maintained at Papakura, Drury, Karaka, Takanini and Ramarama. The organisations – the Women’s Guild, Mothers’ Union and tennis club – continued to strengthen the church fellowship. Special mention must be made of the women who played their part in the administration of the church from 1939 onwards – notably Mesdames Beams, Kernot, Peers, L. Dreadon and later Mrs. Ken Watson, who was the reliable secretary-treasurer of the central vestry and church committee. Mrs. Dreadon still serves on the Christ Church committee.

In Mr. Holmes’ time the congregations at Christ Church were further augmented by students from Ardmore College. The Guild served breakfasts for the students in the college hall and thus encouraged regular attendances.

By the year ending 31 March 1951 – the last year of Mr. Holmes’ ministry – the number of communicants had grown to 2,775, as compared with 1,040 in 1945; baptisms in the same year increased from 21 to 46.

In April 1951 Mr. Holmes moved to Mt. Albert. For a short while the Rev. P. Baker acted as Vicar, before sailing for Melanesia.


The Rev. M. Cameron

In June 1951, the Rev. M. Cameron came from the parish of Hokianga, and soon won the affection of the people of Papakura with his outstanding personality. His pastoral visiting is treasured by many of his parishioners. He continued the regular services of his predecessors at the Papakura and Drury churches, at the Takanini Public Hall and at the Ramarama Union Church. The greatest step forward in his time was the completion of the new brick church, St Margaret’s, at Karaka – a fuller record is found in the section on Karaka. The congregations at Karaka at times were even greater than those at Papakura.

Much consideration was given to the future of the Papakura church at this time. With the growing population, the building was clearly no longer adequate for the congregation. By 1952, a bequest left by Mr. Percy Holt in the 1920s for the completion of the stone church originally envisaged when the War Memorial Sanctuary had been built had grown to £734.11.6. Two choices were laid before the annual meeting of parishioners in 1953: either to erect a new church building, incorporating a parish hall in the basement, in the site of the tennis courts between the old church and the Vicarage; or to invite the Diocesan architect, Mr. D. Patterson, to build into the existing church new foundations as part of a major scheme to rebuild and enlarge the church in permanent materials.

Many of the parishioners showed great alarm that harm might be done “for the safety of our historical and beautiful Selwyn Church”. A petition signed by seventy-nine prominent church members was sent to the bishop and archdeacon. An open meeting of parishioners chose to adopt the second alternative, so in June 1953, the tender of A.J. Holmes, of £1,640, was accepted by the Church Restoration and Extension Committee to provide a concrete floor to the nave, transepts and vestries of the church. The work was started on 23 August 1953 and completed for £1,723, of which £95 worth of materials were donated – notably by Lees Brothers and Stephenson’s quarry. At the same time the interior of the church was for the first time painted in light colours – the ceiling green, as it had always been, but the walls a light grey, replacing the dark varnish and stain, and the ceiling trusses brown. The choir vestry was lined and also painted for the first time. The “revolution” involved in this painting raised loud opposition, but the committee’s action was upheld. The repainting of the hall was a welcome move.

On the departure of Mr. Cameron, the need for an increase in accommodation for both church and hall was more urgent than ever. In 1954 Sunday School classes were being held in the body of the hall, the kitchen, the ladies’ cloak-room, the porch, the stage and in both vestries of the church, while Bible Class occupied the body of the church. The hall was badly in need of renovation.

Four alternatives were suggested in the Wardens’ Report of 1954:

“1. The extension or enlargement of the existing church.

  1. The purchase of another section in another area within the district and the erection of a new church on that section.
  2. The erection of a new church on the existing site following the destruction of the present church.
  3. The erection of a new church on existing church land adjoining the present church, with possible retention of the present church as a Sunday School.”

The women’s organisations were strong at this time. The Guild played an important part in the raising of funds for the work done on the church. One of the important innovations in Mr. Cameron’s first year of office was the formation by Mrs. Cameron of the Anglican Club (later known as the Young Wives’ Group), which met for the first time in August 1951. This club, inspired mainly by Mrs. Ken Watson and Miss E. Stark-Brown, fulfilled a vital part in the parish’s life in providing a meeting place for the growing number of younger women in the district, and introducing them to church life. Mrs. Cameron was the club’s first President. In 1952 it was suggested that members paid three pence per month for tea and sugar and one monthly meeting saw a demonstration of women’s corsets as part of the entertainment. Visits from similar clubs in the Presbyterian and Methodist churches also took place.

Attempts were being made to tackle the finances of the church more realistically. In 1951 the financial report was considered the most satisfactory for thirty years. This was largely due to an energetic committee, which canvassed the area and increased the giving through the envelope system. In view of the heavy demands on the parish – for church renovations at Papakura and the new building at Karaka – funds remained fairly well balanced.

The spiritual life of the congregation was enriched by a successful mission conducted by the Rev. Father Bell of the Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield, in Mr. Cameron’s first year. The congregations continued to grow; communicant figures in Mr. Cameron’s first year rose to 2,775, and in 1954 reached the record figure of 3,757. During these years it was good to see many younger men playing their part in the committee work of the church.

Mr. Cameron’s stay proved all too short; in May 1955 he was appointed Maori Missioner in Taranaki and left for Waitara. The very week that Mr. Cameron left, Mr. T. Seaton, the trustworthy and talented organist for so many years, died.

In the nine weeks before the arrival of the new vicar, visiting clergy assisted with the regular services.


The Rev. T.R. Everall

In August 1955 the Rev. T.R. Everall, with his young wife, came to his first parish to begin the longest ministry in Papakura since Mr. Wood’s day. During Mr. Everall’s ministry the rapid expansion of the Papakura district was matched by a rapid growth in the Anglican community.

The most encouraging development was in the size and regularity of congregations – particularly at Papakura. Between 1955 and 1961 the communicant figures rose from 4,453 to 9,992. The only disappointment was the dwindling congregation at the Takanini Public Hall; at the end of 1958 it was decided to discontinue these services and subsequently the Takanini congregation were brought to Christ Church by a special bus.

The Sunday School also grew considerably under efficient leadership, first of Mr. Roy Matheson, and then of Miss Rhyll Davies. They were faced with large numbers of children in quite inadequate conditions. In an attempt to relieve the situation, a church service was begun at the same time as the Sunday School, and children from standards four to six were encouraged to attend with their parents. Nevertheless, by 1958 the roll had reached 200, with fourteen teachers. The vicar and the vestry co-operated by building up the Sunday School equipment, such as partitions, blackboards and black-out blinds for films, which greatly assisted the teaching work. For some time the Masonic Hall was used for Junior Bible Class work, until the classes were moved to rooms in the Vicarage. The high percentage of adult teachers, especially married women, was a great strength in the Sunday School during this time. The use of the new hall and Selwyn Chapel opened up new opportunities for Sunday School work, and roll kept growing.

Mrs. Everall started up a Young Anglican Group in Papakura and a Youth Club in Drury. Study, discussion, games and dances built up the life of these clubs, and the new hall helped to expand their activities.

The Anglican Club (Young Wives’ Group) continued to grow and, under keen leaders, provided a fellowship for the younger women of the parish. Mrs. Everall in particular was a keen supporter of the Mothers’ Union, which grew in strength, and the Women’s Guild continued its activities and grew in numbers. In 1956 a men’s club was formed, offering fellowship to the men in the parish; in 1961 an Eighteen Plus fellowship was begun for young people of that age group; and in 1962 the Bible Study group that had been held for several years – strengthened by the Parish Mission – was re-formed as the Fellowship Group. During Mr. Everall’s time the Selwyn Scouts, Cubs, Guides and Brownies were sponsored by the church, so the church provided fellowship for every age group.

The most heartening development of all was the 9.30 a.m. Sunday service/Sunday School as a time for family worship; many young families came to experience the strength of coming to church together.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s the choir was strong in leading the worship of the church, especially under the guidance of Mr. B. Trussell, Mus.B., and Mr. D. Menzies. In 1956 the choir won the special commendation of Gerald Knight, the Director of the Royal School of Church Music. From 1955 the singing was accompanied by a piano until an electric organ arrived from Hamburg in December 1957.

Increasingly, the energies of the committees of the parish were concentrated on the erection of a new parish centre. The crowding of the church building, porch and vestries at large services and the urgent need for Sunday School accommodation forced the issue of a building programme. In 1956 it became clear that a new building, including both church and hall, was the best solution and Dr. Toy was selected to produce the necessary plans. It was also decided that the Selwyn Church would be retained on the present site and preserved as a Memorial Chapel. Dr. Toy’s plans met with general favour and so at a Special Meeting of parishioners held in the parish hall on 2 November 1958 it was agreed, without dissent, that the vestry proceed to the building as soon as possible, and that a loan be raised for a sum not exceeding £18,000, to be supplemented by funds raised by the parish. There was delay in the drawing up of working plans in 1959, and it was not until 4 May 1960 that the building committee (which comprised the Vicar, Messrs C.L. Jerram, Rex Mellsop and H.P. Lees) recommended that the tender of H.J. Woodbridge and Sons Ltd., of Tuakau, be accepted at a figure of £33,548.5.0. Mention should be made of the other members of the central vestry at this time for the work which they also put into the project – Messrs W. Knibb, P. Bartlett, L. Snell, J.W. Liggins, B. Paterson, P. Mellsop and R.A. Higgs, of Papakura; Messrs D. Yates and W.H. Walters of Karaka; and Mr. T. Downes of Drury. Members of the Papakura church committee also involved were Mrs. L. Dreadon, Mrs. J.J. Young, Dr. B.W. Allen and Mr. W. McArtney. In 1961 it was decided that the old parish hall should be shifted to Drury to replace its small hall. The Drury people undertook to raise £150 towards the cost of this move.

There were considerable set-backs in the building programme, but finally on 16 and 17 December 1961 the new centre was opened by the new Bishop of Auckland, the Right Reverend E.A. Gowing. A crowd of 900 gathered for the Dedication Service on Saturday afternoon; the church was again filled for the Confirmation Service in the evening; and the following morning a Parish Communion was held at 9.30 a.m. – three memorable services. A fourth, crowded service – 500 upstairs and 200–300 downstairs – was held on New Year’s Eve, when four bishops took part in the evening service: the Right Reverend N.A. Lesser, Archbishop of New Zealand; the Right Reverend R. Koh, Bishop of Malaya; the Right Reverend H.W. Baines, Bishop of Wellington, and our own Bishop. The congregation was augmented by nearly 500 young people from the Youth Conference at Ardmore.

The new building admirably combined features of the Selwyn style with modern ideas and materials. The high-pitched tiled roof, the stone facing of the front wall and the straight white walls blended with the old church. The simple lines of the exterior carried over into the interior; the white plaster walls and lofty lightly varnished beams and ceilings gave the impression of spaciousness; the free-standing altar was of the same blue stone as the outside facing; the suspended cross was of dull stainless steel; the wall behind the altar of ship-lap heart rimu; the altar top, communion rails, pulpit, and prayer desks of mahogany, the pews of heart rimu. The strong, dignified effect was softened by the warm moss green sanctuary carpet. Following modern liturgical trends, the choir was moved to the side of the sanctuary and the congregation brought as close as possible to the altar – the back seats in the new church were no further from the altar than those in the old. A special feature of the church was its lighting, which all fell from behind the congregation – from the side windows set at angles in the east wall, and the immense thirty-five-feet-high south window. All the church’s furnishings were donated.

Stairs led from the back of the church into the hall; with its large floor, stage, choir room, and well-equipped kitchen, this space enabled the church and its organisations to work and plan more ambitiously.

The congregation felt that the real climax of the opening of the new church came with the Parish Mission in Holy Week in 1962. From mid-1961 intercession groups and a large study group prepared for this event; all the known Anglican homes in the parish were systematically visited by lay people three times – in December 1961 and in February and April 1962; and an intensive advertising campaign preceded the missioner’s arrival. The mission opened on a promising note when the missioner, Bishop Gowing, spoke to 180 men at a men’s tea on Sunday 15 April. About 500 filled the church at 7 p.m. that night, and the church was filled each week-night. At a special family service on Good Friday up to 700 packed the church, including the organ loft! And another crowd gathered for the final service of Holy Communion at 9.30 on Easter Day. Each morning at 6.30 a.m. a good congregation (rising to eighty-four on Maundy Thursday) met at the Lord’s Table to pray for the mission. The Bishop impressed all who heard him by the simple, reasoned clarity of his addresses and his challenging sincerity, together with his friendly, approachable manner in the times of fellowship after each mission service. Over 120 people asked for mission cards at the end of the week. This was indeed a fitting climax to the opening of the new parish centre.

Another event which revolutionised the face of the parish, and made possible the subsequent building programme, was the Parish Canvass of 1956, run by the Wells Fund-Raising Organisation. Mr. Fred L. Nebrig, as Canvass Director, set in train the soon familiar pattern of hostesses, Loyalty Dinner, and men’s team of canvassers. The highlight of this canvass was the Loyalty Dinner held in the Military Camp on 1 August 1956. Some of the methods used were criticised, but the challenge this campaign gave to the parish’s whole attitude to “giving” was a long-needed one, and the people of the district responded to it. What had been mere token giving in the past now reached more realistic, and even sacrificial, giving. The income of the church rose from £1,769 in 1955, to £6,013 in 1956, to £7,630 in 1957, the first full year under the system. Tribute must be paid to the Joint Chairmen, Messrs O.H. Grut and Rex Mellsop, to the financial secretary, Mr. Phil. Mellsop, and the recorder for the next five-and-a-half years, Mr. W. McArtney. Mesdames D. Lindesay and Athol Wood led the team of women. The greatest tribute to the work done in this initial canvass, however, lay in the way the parish maintained its giving. In 1959 a second canvass was conducted by the Wells Organisation and in 1962 the parish called upon the able assistance of Mr. Gibson, Diocesan Stewardship Organiser. A parish service and supper replaced the earlier Loyalty Dinners, and the emphasis was laid on teaching the concepts of stewardship: of time, of talents and of money. All this made possible, for the first time in the parish’s history, practical budgeting and realistic planning for the future. With the parish’s own house in order, it could look forward to the time when it could give money to the needs of the church outside the parish.

These two major parish activities gave the parish a deeper sense of the responsibilities it shares with its clergy. The responsibility for pastoral care and evangelism particularly expressed itself in lay visiting. Every street had its magazine distributor and visitor to maintain contact with the life of the church; the Young Wives’ Group regularly visited Anglican mothers in the Obstetric Hospital, and started to follow this work up by visiting the young mothers in their homes; the Guild recruited new members by this method and in 1958 formed a Friendship Group, which did the work of bringing cheer to elderly and lonely parishioners. The value of this lay visiting was affirmed by the attendance at the stewardship campaigns and the mission. The vicar’s sick visiting was aided by the donation of a travelling Communion set by “A.E.B.”.

After the first stewardship campaign, several major works were achieved: St. John’s Church at Drury was renovated and enlarged; a parish office was well equipped and a part-time secretary employed; and a half-acre section at Takanini was bought, though by 1962 no building had been erected. In 1959, the mortgage on the Vicarage was repaid, and various alterations were made to it from time to time. In January 1961 the Rev. Murray John Mills joined the parish staff as its first Assistant Curate. During Mr Everall’s ministry, three young men from the parish offered themselves for the ordained ministry – the Rev. J.S.G. Cameron (ordained in 1958), the Rev. D.H. Mellsop (ordained in 1960) and Mr. R. Matheson (at St. John’s College in 1962).

At its 100-year anniversary, it was clear that the history of the Anglican Church in Papakura was an unfinished history. The parish launched on a forward-movement programme – and the possibilities that lay ahead in the fields of evangelism, liturgy, teaching, fellowship and service were a good omen for the second century in the life of Christ Church, Papakura.


Part B: 1963–2012

Towards the new millennium and beyond

by Mr. B.R.P. Mc Watt


I. The Rev. H. Simmonds 1963–73

The winds of change

The winds of change that had started to blow through the world, New Zealand and local church life in the late 1950s were to continue to gather momentum in the second half of the century. The main strands of this were the Cold War and rise and fall of communism, the rebirth of feminism and the women’s rights movement, the impetus for church unity in a World Ecumenical Movement and the rise of a youth culture in the “hippie” generation. In Western society an initial wave of evangelical fervour declined in the face of rising secularism, while at the same time there was a huge extension of the Christian Church’s missionary activities in Africa, Asia and South America, especially as the tide of European colonial empires receded. In our Pacific region we saw a rise in Polynesian migration to New Zealand from the Pacific Islands and, within New Zealand, the migration of Maori people from rural areas into the cities as part of the increasing urbanisation of the general population. This latter trend led to a rise in the need for cultural awareness.

The 1960s saw the beginning of the second century of Christ Church’s history in Papakura. We started with a brand new church and, in 1963, a new vicar, after the retirement of the Rev. T.R. Everall. The Rev. H.J. (Herbert) Simmonds and his wife, Margaret, arrived from Ruawai with their four children. His tenure was to cover the next decade.

Assistant clergy

During the Rev. Simmonds’ ministry several young curates were to leave their marks on Christ Church. These included the Rev. Derek Grinder (1963–4), the Rev. Bryan Drake (1968–71), the Rev. Graham Colley (1970–3) and the Rev. Richard Randerson (1964–8). Richard arrived as a Curate and went on to eventually become Dean of Auckland Diocese and Assistant Bishop. A priest who assisted from time to time was the Chaplain of the Papakura Military Camp, the Rev. Huihui Vercoe, later to be Bishop of Aotearoa. As Papakura’s population continued to grow through migration from overseas and from other parts of New Zealand into the Auckland area, the need for a part-time assistant priest in the parish became apparent. In September 1970 the vestry agreed to a year’s trial of the position to see if this was financially viable, and the Rev. Noel Benham was appointed. Unfortunately, it soon became clear that it was too costly to sustain and the appointment ended in December 1971.

Worship and changes in liturgy

Despite the pressure for change, the parishioners in our Papakura community still largely kept “the noiseless tenor of their way”. Life went on and any adaptation to external pressure was made slowly. The pattern of Sunday services was 8.00 a.m. Holy Communion, 9.30 a.m. Holy Communion with Family Eucharist every fourth Sunday, 4.30 p.m. Young Anglicans, and 7.00 p.m. Evensong. An experiment was made with an Eighteen Plus service on Sundays at 8.15 p.m., but it did not last. The search for a service form that appealed to the youth in the parish continued and in 1971 approval was given for an evening Holy Communion using a New Zealand liturgy. Holy Communion and Family Eucharist services at 11.00 a.m. for Drury and Karaka followed the same pattern as at Christ Church.

Traditional patterns included a robed church choir. Murray Guy served as choir-master for many years and a story has been told of one of his experiences with choral discipline in preparation for Christmas carols. Murray announced the first carol they would practise was “While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night”. He then added an admonition, “I don’t want anyone singing, ‘While shepherds washed their socks by night’!” He picked up his baton and the choir launched into just those words! Murray was quite miffed until one chorister said, “ If you hadn’t reminded us of those words they wouldn’t have occurred to us!”

Richard Randerson’s musical abilities must have qualified him as a talent-seeker for the church choir, according to parishioner H.E. (“Bert”) Tunley. Bert tells the story of Richard making a house call to the Tunley home in Takanini and asking if Bert or his wife had any singing talents. Bert’s wife gave a clear, “No way” for herself but volunteered for Bert, “He can sing ‘Bali Hai’.” “Ah! He would be a tenor,” said Richard. And so Bert tells us that’s how he got roped into the choir and progressed from there into religious plays, tableaux, reading lessons and full engagement into church life.

Early in the new vicar’s ministry a junior choir was established, taken by Ruth Murray, a long-time supporter of choir music. Children in junior choirs can sometimes be a challenge, as Ruth found out. At one practice they were playing up and, despite her pleas and warnings, she was not having much success in controlling them. Finally she announced, “If you don’t stop misbehaving I’m going to leave you and go home!” This threat was greeted with noises of disbelief. A repeat of the threat gaining no further ground, Ruth picked up her music and walked out of the church. Stopping out of sight in the foyer she listened to cries of, “She’s actually gone home!” and, “What are we going to do!” Some were also concerned as to how they were going to get home, having come in Ruth’s car! Finally, after their concern had reached a climax, Ruth went back in and laid down the terms of her remaining. The gesture succeeded and an orderly choir practice followed. Are church choirs still the same today?

In 1964 a crèche service was trialled to accommodate young mothers at the monthly family service, but it was not used very much and ceased after several stops and starts. There seems to have been a decline in support for the Evensong service and in 1970 it was decided to move it to the more intimate setting of Selwyn Chapel. In his second newsletter to his parishioners, the Rev. Simmonds found it necessary to write a reminder to some of his flock of the expected pattern of behaviour on entry to the church:

“The humble bow towards the altar, symbol of God’s sovereignty … The humble covering of a woman’s head with hat or scarf … and self restraint of silence or subdued talking … all to God’s glory.”

Despite this reminder, the rise of feminism swept aside the earlier customs for dress during worship. Another change was the re-siting of the altar so that the priest faced westwards to his congregation – although this was actually a revival of one of the church’s older practices. It is one change that remains in 2012.

As independence movements within the old British Empire and Commonwealth gathered momentum, it became clear that the Anglican Church needed to recognise this fact and become less Eurocentric. This desire for independence asserted itself in many ways. In New Zealand, a demand for a prayer book liturgy that reflected our own identity as a Pacific nation began to grow. This started a movement in 1964 for the revision of the liturgy and by 1966 approval was given for use of the proposed new form. But change from traditional forms is always slow and costly if it involves replacing existing prayer books with new ones. Our present use of the old prayer book at 8 a.m. Communion on the fourth Sunday in the month is witness to this fact, and a reflection of the desire of some parishioners to maintain a link with tradition.

Education of children in the faith continued to be through the traditional Sunday School classes. Numbers on the roll in 1973 at the end of the Rev. Simmonds’ ministry stood at sixty-five, under Mrs. Barbara Frank as Superintendent. There was a steady need for teachers to fill the roster and finding adequate space for classes was also an on-going concern; the need for flexible space in a church complex was apparent. At Takanini a Sunday School was started up in the Scout Hall in 1965 and special Children’s Missions run by Church Army Officers were held from time to time, giving teachers a chance to observe experts at work and acting as a stimulus to improve teaching. For older children, Bible Study classes were held as preparation for Confirmation.

Growth in faith for adult members of the parish also began to take new forms when, in 1965, the Rev. Richard Randerson started Bible discussion groups that met in parishioners’ homes twice monthly. This initiative had developed out of the previous year’s Parish Planning Conference, conducted by the Rev. Michael Houghton, in which a strong wish for spiritual instruction had been expressed. Over time these “home groups” were to take on expanded forms and become a feature of parish life.

At the Diocesan Synod of 1970 a motion was passed approving in principle the ordination of women to the priesthood, and all the lay functions in the church were extended to women. This opened the door to greater opportunity for women to take a wider role in the parish and it was implemented over the next decade.

Meeting youth needs

The growth in the number of younger people in the community – the legacy of population movement and the post-war “baby boom” – was reflected in many ways. One was the commencement of youth dances in the new hall beneath Christ Church, a Friday night event which became immensely popular. Bands such as “The Chicks” were engaged as musical fashions became youth oriented. Unfortunately, even with parents supervising and acting as gatekeepers, an unruly element began to appear. An attempt at “gate-crashing” resulted in one parent, Stuart Purvis, being pushed over, which forced the closure of these social events. As popular folk singer of the day Bob Dylan indicated, “The times they are a-changin’!”

Notice for a Church Youth Dance in the 1960’s! How would it read today?

BOYS COLLAR and TIE (your own)
(one tie, one boy)
(no jeans or trouser suits)
RULES Once in the hall – stay in
Decent behaviour or – out
No smoking while dancing


Richard Randerson, as a young Curate, started a shift in music style by introducing a youth element to Evensong that included young people taking readings, leading in prayers and playing guitar. This would have been quite radical for the times and signalled further changes in the future. Richard also developed a junior youth group, which met at 4.45 p.m. on Sundays for films, games and discussion, and in 1965 the Papakura Ministers’ Association sponsored a United Youth Rally in the parish hall. The growing ecumenical spirit was very apparent in these occasions. The need for youth group leadership training was recognised at Diocesan level when eleven from Papakura attended a course at the Diocesan Girls’ High School in 1965.

Other moves to meet young people’s needs resulted in the local development of the Young Anglican Movement and the establishment of a Children’s Choir under Dorothy Wiseman. Dorothy’s choir entered competitions at the Auckland Town Hall and won first place for a rendition of the song “Inch Worm” from a Danny Kaye film. At the Diocesan level, an annual debutantes’ ball was instituted at which young girls from our parish, attended by their partners and parents, were presented to the Bishop.

Weekend Confirmation Camps and school holiday programmes for children were started and also proved very popular. Mrs. Pat King remembered her and her husband, Danny, being involved with such camps at Waihi Beach, Kawakawa Bay, Ngaruawahia and other locations. They were a mixture of lessons and instruction for candidates combined with games and socialising in a beach setting. Other youth camps were held from time to time, many of these associated with the Selwyn Scouts, Guides and Brownies and led by church members such as Danny King and Ruth Solly. These were examples of ways the church tried to meet local needs created by social change. This pressure to meet teenagers’ needs in church worship and other activities was to continue to provide challenges in subsequent years.

The influence of ecumenism

After the World Council of Churches was formed in 1948, a growing desire for some form of church unity asserted itself in the ecumenical movement. At first it was largely a phenomenon of the Protestant Churches, but after Vatican II in 1965 the Roman Catholic Church became involved. This involvement deepened when the Roman Catholic Church participated in the World Council of Churches in 1968 in Uppsala, Sweden. It was when Herb Simmonds was President of the local Ministers’ Association that Father Ernie Simmons of St. Mary’s Catholic Church joined as its first priest to be a member. This desire for unity reached Papakura tentatively in 1967 when, as an experiment, combined Evensongs were held alternately in the Roman Catholic, Methodist and Anglican Churches for one month. It was tried again the next year between June and August with the Methodist Church, but stopped due to lack of enthusiasm from the Anglicans; congregations often move more slowly than leaders. But it was a start. By the 1970s the ecumenical movement seemed poised for a strong movement forward. Home groups were formed to study the proposals and a referendum on the issue was held in all parish churches in the Diocese in late 1972. In Papakura 159 voted for further moves to union and 92 were against. The Auckland Diocese as a whole voted by a narrow margin to reject this move, while in New Zealand as a whole voting was narrowly supportive of further moves. This showed that ecumenism still had some way to go to become a full reality. Despite this, it is interesting to note that the youth group from Christ Church met with similar groups from the Methodist and Catholic Churches at this time to discuss programmes and common objectives in the spirit of ecumenism. This lead to a combined dance for these groups hosted by the Roman Catholic youth group. Other instances illustrating the desire for co-operation were when, in 1966, a Greek Orthodox wedding was celebrated in the Selwyn Chapel, and when the Lutheran Church used the Chapel for monthly services in 1969. The effect of Polynesian migration was demonstrated when vestry acceded to a request for use of the church by the Congregational Church of Samoa in 1972. Christ Church also hosted a combined Church Union service and, as early as 1969, the Papakura Ministers’ Association combined to conduct the beginning and end of year services at Ardmore Teachers’ College in order to encourage the students to join local churches.

A sign of ecumenical moves in areas outside of worship was indicated in vestry minutes of June 1972. The vicar reported to vestry that the Papakura Ministers’ Association had requested and attended a meeting with the Borough Council regarding the setting up of an Information and Counselling Centre, and had been offered space in the council building for this purpose for a nominal weekly rent. The vicar indicated to vestry that any further action was subject to Association approval. Eventually this led to the establishment of the Papakura Community Guidance Centre, out of which the present Papakura Citizens’ Advice Bureau was to grow. It illustrates the developing trend for inter-denominational co-operation of Papakura churches in outreach activities in the spirit of ecumenism. It was not a smooth path, however, because there are also vestry minute references to concern that the Presbyterian Church was opening an opportunity shop in competition with ours. This provoked some inter-church correspondence pointing out that such a move was hardly in the spirit of ecumenism! One wonders, how would the profits of a joint project have been divided?

These efforts to reach out to and work with other denominations continued as churches made exploratory moves towards greater unity and co-operation. The 1960s and early 1970s were a time of “first steps”.

Property and maintenance

With the opening of the new Christ Church at the beginning of the 1960s, it was to be expected that we had increased responsibilities and new assets to maintain and care for. Strangely it was our new church building that was a major concern almost immediately. In 1965 leaking around the west windows had to be fixed; repairs were quoted at £30. The next year, however, problems with these windows continued, necessitating re-glazing at a cost of £500. On-going problems with the same windows reappeared in 1968 and 1969. Perhaps these were forewarnings of the extensive roof re-strengthening that became necessary in 1999.

Interior changes and additions to Christ Church included the installation in 1965 of a pipe organ built in England by George Croft & Sons at a cost of £2,250. Intensive fund-raising by the Women’s Guild helped to raise the finance needed. Also, concern about the position of the large suspended cross led to its re-siting in 1968 from over the Communion rail to over the altar. Apparently it was considered that if the suspension broke the danger of losing the vicar was preferable to losing communicants!

By now the Selwyn Chapel, designated in a notice from the Papakura Council as a “historic building”, also began to exhibit the need for extensive restoration work. This, it had been pointed out in the notice, was a church responsibility despite its new status. Repairs started in 1966 with roof re-shingling to combat leaking. In March of that year working bees began replacing the shingles, but it became clear that much larger and more expensive work lay ahead. In 1967 a Papakura Selwyn Church Restoration and Extension Committee authorised a banking account to be set up for this eventuality.

The property boundaries around Christ Church were changed to meet Papakura Council parking needs, which resulted in the negotiated sale of a strip of land behind the present Cole’s Crescent clergy house. The Council built a new Vicarage garage as part of the deal. During the 1960s the church’s half-acre property on Maru Road in Takanini, purchased in anticipation of parish growth, saw no development of the envisaged church or hall due to mortgage payment commitments for the new Christ Church. Instead, the land was leased out to provide another source of income for the parish. Continued population growth and new housing in the Takanini area meant that eventually a decision would have to be made on the best use of this asset.

Social life in the parish

The parish of the Anglican Church in Papakura has always had social and community functions through which the Christian faith is given substance. During the 1960s many of the groups that had served the church in the first 100 years continued to provide these functions. As is the case today, in some groups patterns of growth, decline or modification occurred, reflecting changing needs and changing leadership resources. Groups such as the Mothers’ Union, the Women’s Guild, the church choir, the Anglican Men’s Club and the Selwyn Scouts and Guides continued as part of church life. Led by Margaret Simmonds, the Mothers’ Union, which tended to represent the older women in the parish, moved its meetings to evenings to enable younger mothers to attend. New groups also appeared such as the Young Wives, the Anglican Women’s Association, Bible Study and home groups. Some of these groups were responses to immediate needs. For example, parish concerts, which Phyllis Garland remembers as being ably M.C.’d by the Rev. Simmonds, were often fund-raising activities to help to reduce mortgage debt on our new buildings and pay for their maintenance. Church picnics were also held as social occasions for young families in the parish.

The Young Wives was a new, vibrant and enthusiastic group especially for young mothers with pre-school children that reflected the changing population demographics in Papakura. Strongly supported by the Rev. Simmonds, it was founded in 1963 and initially led by Jacqui Wills, who later married Richard Randerson. This group kept young wives in contact with the church at a time when young mothers’ family responsibilities often made regular attendance at Sunday services difficult. Their meetings were also enjoyable social occasions, keeping them in contact with other women in similar circumstances, the church and the world outside their families. There was always a brief service taken by the minister before each meeting, and meeting activities included morning teas, play groups and visits as well as dramatic skits, concerts and fashion parades with mothers as models to raise funds. The group increased its membership by encouraging members to bring along friends in the same position and by visiting new mothers and babies at the local maternity hospital with a gift for the new child. This fellowship led to further involvement in other aspects of church life such as galas, church cleaning and flowers, etc. Many firm friendships were established, often for a lifetime. In 2003 a weekend reunion of Young Wives was held in Rotorua and included a dinner evening and attendance at a local church on Sunday. Pam Guy’s particular memory of this occasion was of a young man enquiring where they came from and which group they belonged to. The answer was, “We are the Papakura Young Wives.” Pam said, “From the expression on his face we assumed he was dubious about the word ‘young’ as applied to our group!” Along with Pam, other leading early members of the group included Julie Williams, Marian Campbell, Merle Nix and Esme Young.

Outreach and stewardship

An important part of outreach that started during these years was the Opportunity Shop, a development proposed by Nesta Snell and Ebba Tier. Initially it did not gain much support from the Rev. Simmonds, who was concerned that parishioners would see its income as a substitute for personal giving. However, they persisted and eventually he gave way, and the shop opened on 10 June 1971 in O’Shannessey Street. Women within the church volunteered to be rostered for duties; up to sixty-four women gave time to the project. The original plan was that half of the proceeds from the shop would go towards parish needs and half to purposes outside the parish. Initially much of the money retained for the parish went towards reducing the mortgage debt on the new Christ Church, which had become a major drain on finance. Outside the parish, grants were made to Selwyn Oaks Retirement Village, Papakura Library for large print books, the Selwyn Scouts, the Auckland City Mission and many others. It was to become one of the parish’s most consistent and outstanding fund-raisers.

The laity’s responsibility for the church’s outreach activities began to widen markedly in the 1960s. This was recognised by the formation of the Anglican Consultative Committee, which was set up in 1968 to democratise and further laity involvement in church life at large. In 1963 to 1964, at the beginning of the Rev. Simmonds’ ministry, a review of outreach and stewardship took place under the slogan “Time, Talents and Money”. As a result, the Papakura Parish sent parcels every three months to the women’s and children’s wards at Kingseat Hospital; gave help and support to Radley House, the Anglican home for children on Clevedon Road run by parishioners Ann and Ian Martin; and in 1965 sponsored a Korean immigrant family to help them adjust to New Zealand life. Contact with the family was maintained until 1972, by which time they had integrated sufficiently to be able to live independent lives. The Bibles in Schools programme and the parish Sunday School both flourished in this period of growing families and increased space in the new church hall. People like Esme Young, Wynn Dodd, Phyllis Garland and Pat and Danny King were leading figures in these activities.

The annual bazaars or fairs were renamed galas in 1969, increased in frequency to twice a year – in spring and autumn – and were centralised at Christ Church, thus increasing financial returns to meet the needs of the parish. Separate galas at Karaka and Drury were discontinued. The new structure acted as a means of bringing the wider church members together but it may also have resulted in a decline in local community activity in the two rural churches.

It was in the Rev. Simmonds’ time that the Selwyn Oaks Retirement Village was established through the efforts of the Papakura Lions Club in co-operation with the Anglican Selwyn Foundation. Several of our parishioners who were also Lions were prominent in this project, including Ted Lees and Roger Axtens. The whole Papakura community was canvassed for donations and our church vestry donated $500 in support. The Village was opened in 1970 after a three-year campaign. It was the start of an on-going relationship between Selwyn Oaks and Christ Church which was expressed in the form of financial and human outreach support.

All these working groups within and outside the church required regular communication to keep everyone informed and the monthly “Anglican Newsletter” continued as the main vehicle for publicising parish life. Its format was of one sheet of folded cyclostyled foolscap printed on both sides. Much of the work in producing this fell to Margaret Young (now Brady), Secretary to the Rev. Simmonds. When Mrs. Brady relinquished this position in 1970 she had completed ten years of service in this role. She was replaced by Mrs. Elsie Picard.

A decade of service ends

In 1973 the Rev. Herb Simmonds’ ministry in Papakura came to an end, and he left us for his new parish church of St. Thomas in Kohimarama. It had been a time of fruitful progress in which he had been ably supported by his wife, Margaret, who had involved herself fully in many of the parish’s functions. Their time in Papakura had not been without its sorrow, however. In 1965 their seven-year-old eldest daughter, Joanne, was tragically killed on a pedestrian crossing on Great South Road. In memory of their time in Papakura they presented a candle snuffer to Christ Church. The inscription on the inside of the candle extinguisher reads:

“In Memory of Joanne Marie Simmonds – 1958–1965”

The Rev. Herbert Simmonds was remembered as “a compassionate person, very much for the people, with a great understanding of their needs and circumstances,” wrote one parishioner. Murray Guy, who was to become People’s Warden in 1968, wrote:

“Herbert was and still is, a very humble man with very strong faith who was able by example to assist and encourage many people in the faith … He invited me to be his prayer partner and so we would meet weekly in the Selwyn Chapel for discussion and prayer for approximately one hour. He and his wife lived a very simple life directing money that might have gone to the Vicarage to the maintenance of other parish needs.”

Amongst the records of the parish, research unearthed a delightful exchange of correspondence between Herb and an irate lady from the Plunket Society who had held a meeting in the church hall. The lady wrote as follows:

“Dear Sir,

Last night at a … series of talks at present being held in your Sunday School Hall, we were disturbed by the meeting of church folk which was held in the adjoining room to the hall.

Although the hall is big and maybe your church members thought that the noise from supper preparation and before their departure would not carry, but it made it impossible for us to concentrate.

Also we found that a plate of date loaf had inadvertently been eaten for their supper!

In view of these circumstances I feel that the charge of $3.85 for the use of the hall is excessive.

Yours faithfully, etc.”

The following was Herb’s reply, explanation and suggestion of compromise:

“Dear Madam,

I acknowledge receipt of your letter … received this morning. It is noted that you were disturbed by the meeting being held in the adjoining room.

I am constrained to point out to you that your meeting’s use of the hall at the same time was due to the courtesy of the same people against whom you have lodged your complaint. After all, they were meeting, as of right in their own hall, were engaged in serious business requiring close concentration for decision making, and were expected to do this against the background from a sound film being screened for an outside organisation.

A little mature thought will make it clear where grounds for complaint really existed. We accept these inconveniences in the spirit of mutual co-operation and tolerance with visiting groups with whom in the past, we have had the happiest of relations.

I am enclosing 25 cents which should cover the cost of the date loaf and butter which one of your ladies inadvertently placed with the Church group’s supper.

Yours faithfully, etc.”

It was perhaps Herb’s background as a plumber before entering the ministry that enabled him to bring a sense of reality to such situations. As Murray Guy noted, “Herbert was a very definite character.”

In his farewell letter the Rev. Herb Simmonds wrote on behalf of his wife and himself:

“It has been good to serve you as your priest and for Margaret to have served in her special capacity. It has been good to be part of the community of Papakura and Districts.”


II. The Rev. D.N. Fuge 1973–82

With the arrival of the Rev. Neil Fuge, his wife, Natalie, and family, the changes of the 1960s gained a new impetus. Added to the existing movements in ecumenism, women’s rights and the youth culture, social turmoil also developed over the Vietnam War, the issues of bi-culturalism and Maori rights and the anti-apartheid movement. Britain’s entry into the European Union meant there was a growing sense of separation of New Zealand’s social and economic links with this older world, and a shift began towards stronger relationships with Asia and the Pacific nations. Tensions between the old and the new inevitably developed; street marches and public demonstrations began to be a feature of political activism on a scale not seen since the 1930s.

The pressure of growth

Between the departure of the Rev. Simmonds in May 1973 and the arrival of Neil Fuge in September, the Rev. Graham Colley (at that time a Curate), was Priest-in-charge. He had, however, been working in the parish for three years in various other capacities such as the senior youth group, and was also involved in pastoral visiting, especially to the two rural churches at Drury and Karaka. Amongst his memories of this part of his work was his visit to the two Walters sisters in Karaka to arrange a fish course for a progressive dinner. He was helping them to move a small cupboard to make way for a long table for people to use for self-service when its door suddenly opened and a large number of bottles of wine rolled out onto the floor. As Graham said, “Nothing to worry about today, but in 1971 quite something to deal with for two rather embarrassed elderly spinsters!”

The demands of the increasingly busy church life that Neil Fuge was to stimulate required an extension of pastoral care. In 1975 the Rev. Graeme Horne arrived to serve as Curate for a year, until the more permanent appointment of the Rev. J.R. Hislop, who remained with us until 1978. In response to our growing need for a youth pastor, a deacon, the Rev. Patricia Bawden, arrived in 1976 after Bishop Gowing sought the vestry’s views on this suggestion – the first light of feminism in the clergy had reached us. But while she was responsible for excellent work with the youth group, there were difficulties that led to her leaving within twelve months. She has referred to this time as her “Pressure Course in Ministry”! It could not have been easy for women in the 1970s to enter what had been for so long a male domain in the Anglican Church. Another deacon, the Rev. Kerry Parkin took over her pastoral role with youth. When the Rev. Hislop left in 1978 the Rev. Brian Hooper arrived to serve as Curate until 1981. The Rev. Murray Harford also served on an occasional part-time basis until his full-time appointment in 1982. These comings and goings highlighted the need for more permanent appointments and/or the expansion of lay roles in a parish located in an area of growth that made increasing demands on clergy.

In 1980 an attempt was made by the vicar to make it easier for members of the large congregation to get to know one another by the use of name-tags. It was adopted first by members of the vestry with the intent to extend it to all parishioners. It never really caught on, but the attempt did reflect a problem that group size brings; sociologists call it “anomie” (anonymity): the difficulty of knowing everyone in a large organisation. But by the end of the 1970s there were signs that the congregation’s growth was beginning to slow down, reflected in diminishing numbers attending Sunday School and stagnation in congregation numbers. The vestry minutes of 1980 to 1982 expressed concern with this trend, which was probably due to demographic changes, growing secularism in society as a whole (church weddings dropped from forty-one in 1977 to twenty-seven in 1979) and the increasing variety of Christian churches appearing in Papakura.

Continuity and change

While the church was to take a lead in some areas of change, in our parish, life continued to flow more sedately and any tensions existed at a much more low key level. This was exhibited with the introduction of charismatic elements into church worship. Music started to a shift away from the ancient and modern hymn-books to more contemporary forms derived from American sources. As Vivian Pollock recalled in her memories:

“9.30 a.m. became a little more upbeat … music was very rousing at the time of the huge charismatic movement in Papakura. Goodness, what an experience that was for very conservative Anglican people!”

A few older members of the congregation disagreed with the introduction of these newer elements, sometimes to the point of talk of leaving the church for more conservative fields. One chorister, when confronted by having to sing more modern hymns, apparently was heard to remark “If they’re going to sing ditties, then I’m not coming back!” Whether the threat was ever followed through has not been recorded! There were also full immersion baptisms in the sea and even in one parishioner’s swimming pool for Confirmation candidates! Without modern hymn-books, new technology appeared in the form of the overhead projector to provide wording for the new hymns and liturgy as well as to illustrate sermons. The pre-cursors of the computer age were upon us!

However, despite some divisiveness, a solid core of dedicated and committed parishioners inherited from the Rev. Herb Simmonds continued to serve parish needs in many ways. These included Hilton Florance, whom Neil Fuge described as “a man of deep yet optimistic faith”, Ray Viall with his practical skills in maintenance and repairs, and Lew Snell, Treasurer for twenty-five years. Lou was also a great tomato-grower whose seedlings were planted annually in various widows’ and elderly parishioners’ gardens. Descendants of these tomato seeds are still doing well in Neil Fuge’s Whangaparaoa garden after ministerial journeys via Whangarei and Queenstown. Christian virtues often operate best in simple down-to-earth settings! Many other men were also remembered by Neil Fuge for their stalwart work on vestries of the time and for service to the parish in many other ways, including as leaders in the Selwyn Cubs and Scout troops and the on-going maintenance of buildings and grounds. Wives and other women leaders also contributed immensely to parish life with their work in the Sunday School, the Guides and Brownies, the Women’s Fellowship, the Opportunity Shop and the Loaves & Fishes Coffee Shop. Parish Secretary Elsie Picard was especially remembered by Neil for her faithful work both for him and for Herb Simmonds who preceded him. During that time the parish office was first in the Vicarage sun porch and then in a small room off the stage in the hall. All these people formed a rich tapestry of talent that enriched church life in the 1970s.

Services of Thanksgiving were an annual feature on the Feast of Dedication – St. Simon and St. Jude’s Day – around the end of October. This celebration was preceded during the week with men’s dinners and gatherings of the women’s and other parish groups. A variety of interesting guest speakers ensured full houses. Amongst these were Bill Subritsky; Bishop Huihui Vercoe; Cecil Marshall; Stephen Brooker from the Anglican Board of Missions; Puti Murray, the Maori Missioner from Otara; and Professor John Morton. It was a way of drawing the disparate elements of the parish together to jointly celebrate the fullness of church life.

Sunday School and youth activities

Sunday School attendance rose rapidly in the 1970s as “baby boom” families arrived on the scene. Attendance in 1973 averaged about forty each week and doubled the next year. In 1975 it was over 100 and by 1979 was staffed by fifteen teachers. Problems were created by this fast rise, particularly in dealing with class noise in cramped space and without partitions. The hall stage had to be used as a classroom at one point. The hall’s use by so many diverse groups in so many ways suggested a need for any future development to have a flexible architectural structure. Concern was expressed in the early 1980s when numbers began to fall and about the difficulty in getting replacement teachers.

Preparation for Confirmation was through Bible classes that rose to around twenty to thirty candidates. The activities for this group were somewhat limited by the lack of human resources of skilled people and concern was expressed about this from time to time.

Activities for older youth were enjoyed by vibrant groups that expanded in this time. The youth group was given new impetus when several young Anglicans who had been attracted to the youth group active in the Presbyterian Church returned to “put their weight into the Anglican Youth Group”, as Neil Fuge described it. The group started with only six members but was built up under the leadership of Geoff Lees to over sixty. Geoff was assisted by Graeme and Vicky Kelly, who were appointed as youth workers in the parish in 1979. Activities that had started under the Rev. Herb Simmonds continued enthusiastically, with outdoor camps at Kawakawa Bay and Confirmation camps in a variety of outdoor locations. Dramatic and musical productions were introduced, with one of the most memorable being “The Enchanted Journey”, a musical based on John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress”. Under Patricia Bawden and Geoff Lees, a twenty-six-strong team of “Teens and Twenties” from our church and the Presbyterian Church even took a play on tour to the north with performances in churches, on marae, in town halls and at youth camps. According to Patricia, it was also an experience in bi-culturalism that profoundly affected the participants.

The Selwyn Scouts, Cubs, Guides and Brownies inherited from the previous ministries also provided young people with a focus in the church life. The regular church parades of these groups, which included the vicar’s own boys, were also attended by their parents. The main leaders in these activities were husband and wife teams like Danny and Pat King and Ian and Ann Crichton. Many women such as Ann Jeffries, Olive Jones, Phyllis Garland, Ruth Solly, Gillian Rolle and Jan Evans assisted with the Guides and Brownies, and the men involved with the Scouts and Cubs included Bob Appleby, Ken Hall, Dave Clarkson, Murray Guy and Commissioner Richard Travers. Activities focused on outdoor tramps and camps in remote areas such as the Ruahine Ranges, the Ureweras, down the Whakatane River from Ruatahuna, and the South Island mountains. The church provided the space for meetings and equipment storage for these groups and gave financial support from time to time, and they in turn assisted in some church activities and projects.

These were exciting times for many children and young people with a high degree of activity for them in the church area most days of the week.

Ecumenical co-operation

The efforts to find ways of fostering Christian Church unity continued into the 1970s and early 1980s at the national level. In 1981 the negotiating churches were the Associated Churches of Christ, the Church of the Province of New Zealand (Anglican), the Congregational Union, the Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church. At our local level the Papakura Ministers’ Association was very active in this time. Among those participating were John Balchin from the Presbyterians, Alan Finlay from the Baptists, Father Tom Ryder from the Roman Catholics, Graham Bell from the Methodists and Tom Clooner from the Takanini Church of Christ. This group organised several very successful Lenten programmes and missions, with all ministers participating as speakers. These usually went on for the whole month of Lent and finished with a combined service on Good Friday held at other churches in Papakura.

Not all efforts were as successful, however. Discussions were held and surveys were carried out, but these resulted in few practical outcomes with long-term continuity. It was suggested in 1976 that a religious survey of Papakura be carried out by the Association member churches, but no evidence has been found to indicate whether this was done or, if so, what the results were. Efforts were made in 1975 to establish combined services of Anglicans and Methodists in Papakura on every fourth Sunday in the month, and late in the same year a Combined Papakura Churches Mission culminated with a final meeting at which 800–900 people attended. In 1982 a letter was received from Bishop Paul Reeves encouraging parishes to foster joint services of worship with the Roman Catholic Churches, which resulted in two such services during that year. However, inter-denominational services did not gain enough support from the congregations to become more regular. This raises the question as to whether efforts at unity needed to be explored in avenues other than worship – certainly there was evidence of it occurring in the joint activities of the youth groups from the Presbyterian, Baptist and Anglican Churches at this time. An interesting example of inter-church co-operation occurred in 1982 when an Easter Pageant and Tableau was staged, but it seems to have been for one year only as it was not repeated. Other attempts at joint public demonstration of Christian faith were intermittent or seem to have been confined to individual church participation in Christmas parades. It was clear that ecumenical union was still very much in the exploratory stage.

Musical life

Under Murray Guy as choir-master, a robed choir provided leadership in church services for the new hymns being tried out. Despite the change in the style of our hymns at this time, the traditional organ, played by some excellent people, remained the main type of accompaniment. Amongst the organists were Joy Jefferis, Dulcie Hall, Bill Cato and Mandy Mc Millan. Janice Thompson arrived in 1982 and when her musical talents were discovered she also became a regular organist, a position that she still holds after thirty years. Graeme Horne, the Assistant Curate, was an accomplished musician and player of both the organ and piano. With his encouragement, a parishioner donated a piano as an additional musical instrument. Graeme’s musical talent also led a parishioner to sponsor him in a TV competition. Neil Fuge recollected of his organists, “They were willing to play and try anything that the Vicar put to them, sometimes to much complaining from some choir members!” The organ had to be upgraded in 1975, and then there was trouble with starlings getting into the organ pipes for nesting and being unable to get out. They poked their heads out in the gap near the base and the only way to remove them was to take the pipe out and turn it upside down. The original repair costs were quoted at $2,677, but by the time it was completed in 1979 with an additional trumpet the cost was $5,078. Many amusing stories seem to focus around our organ. Neil Fuge tells of an occasion when one person went up into the organ loft for some quiet swotting one day:

“The organist came in to do some practice. When a pause came in her playing the young student blew into one of the pipes much to the consternation of her who thought she had broken the organ.”

Chapel restoration and building maintenance

Church buildings were to impose considerable financial costs on the parish in the 1970s. As indicated earlier, Selwyn Chapel had shown need for major restoration by 1967. When the final mortgage payment for the new Christ Church was made in 1975, attention turned to this problem. By the next year it had become urgent and a special meeting was held to determine what should be done. Some suggested the building be demolished, but such was the Papakura public’s feeling for this historic chapel, this idea had to be put aside. Restoration was a major task both in cost and extent. Most of the timber proved to be riddled with borer, the roof shingles on the south side especially needed replacing and it was discovered that the Hunua stone wall on the extension was sinking and would have to be reinforced with concrete under its base. The vicar approached Lewis Frank to take control of this project. After some initial reluctance he accepted the role and began recruiting the volunteer teams that were to make up the working bees for the next year and a half. Lewis approached six men in the parish to act as supervisors of teams of up to half a dozen others. Over the time of reconstruction, some seventy-five people of all ages were involved. Every Wednesday evening in this period Lewis rang his supervisors and informed them of their projects for the coming Saturday. Work carried on rain or shine. A committee of Lewis himself plus Dennis Taylor and Jim Ramsay (finance) oversaw the whole exercise.

The first task was the removal of all the unsafe or rotted timber and it started with the tongue and groove lining of the inside walls. Borer dust flew everywhere. Lewis remembered an amusing incident in this work when Murray Pollock was about to remove a brass memorial plaque on the wall.

“I said to Murray to be careful when removing it because the bones of the person would be there. Wow! He stopped, too shocked to remove it. ‘Take it easy and you’ll be right.’ When finally off – no bones! I laughed and said that I was having him on. This became a standing joke with Murray and myself over the years.”

Most of the timber removed was either kauri or rimu and was carted off for firewood. This included the pews, some of which were sold at the gala, though a wood turner bought quite a few which he made into spoons and other items that were also sold as fund-raisers. The floor tiles were taken up, the floor sanded and the cork tiles that replaced the old ones were sealed, sanded and coated with polyurethane. Once the removal and reconstruction had been completed, the work of painting the new timber surfaces commenced. The ceiling itself was given over six coats of paint. Apart from the carpentry and painting, the whole electrical system was replaced. And finally there was the removal and replacement of the roof. There were 14,000 treated kauri shingles that had to be individually nailed in place on the steeply sloping south-facing roof. These had been obtained from Totara North near Whangaroa and transported by the vicar’s VW Kombi and trailer back to Auckland. The north sun-facing slope was less prone to leaking and was left for a future day!

Financial strains

All of this placed a large financial burden on the parish, despite some assistance from the Papakura Borough Council. Costs for material alone amounted to $15,000. It is interesting to note that as a result of a chance remark to Murray Pollock by Lewis Frank about how he had organised galas at his previous church, Murray suggested that they organise a gala in Papakura to raise money for the chapel restoration. And so church galas, which had lapsed for a time, were revived. Other groups outside the church called “Friends of the Chapel” also did a lot of fund-raising for the restoration. It was an indication of how much the wider community valued the historical heritage it represented to them. The celebration of the completion of this major project took place with re-consecration by Bishop Godfrey Wilson on 12 July 1981.

There was more financial pressure when it was found that the Christ Church roof was in need of repair as it was still leaking. It was decided to replace the existing tiles with a more durable and heavier type. This took place in July 1977, unfortunately during a very rainy time, and resulted in flooding of the interior and a need to cover the pews with tarpaulins. Worship had to be held in the hall for several weeks. The extra weight of the new tiles, however, led to continuing roof leaks. As would become apparent later, it was the design of Christ Church roof itself that was the real source of the problem. There were some further modifications to Christ Church in 1978 when the large cross was added to the north exterior wall of the building at a cost of $767. Then in 1981 the chancel area was enlarged to allow more space for dramatic presentations and the whole area then re-carpeted.

As the church continued to grow, further strains were placed on finance, especially when it became necessary to purchase properties for the housing of clergy. It had been suggested that a new church needed to be established in the Takanini area, but the financial situation initially ruled this out. Eventually, however, a property was purchased there at 8 Princess Street in 1980 for $37,000 for the housing of Capt. Ray Rhodes, a Church Army officer stationed with us. A Curate’s house at 20 Grove Road had been purchased earlier, in 1974, for $22,000. While all these expenses were a challenge, a strong and dedicated congregation were able to meet the parish’s financial needs.

Bi-culturalism, multi-culturalism and feminism

The question of the position of the Maori Church within the Anglican Communion became a matter for discussion in the 1970s with a rise in Maori activism. This was to some degree an offshoot of the urbanisation of the Maori population over the previous twenty years. Efforts to find ways to meet these concerns took many forms, the plan for inclusion of Te Reo Maori in the Church Liturgy for New Zealand being one. In 1974 the Selwyn Chapel was used for 11 a.m. Sunday services for local Maori parishioners, but this seems to have been a tentative step rather than an indication of radical and permanent change. After the Rev. Danny King was ordained in 1982 there was a further attempt to develop Maori services in Selwyn Chapel but it was soon decided to hold such services in the local Te Ngira Marae. There were also occasional joint services but these did not become a regular occurrence. For a time the Samoan Congregational Church also used our church for their services. All this pointed to the need to make changes to the structure of the church at large and to seek other ways of bringing the elements of increasingly culturally diverse Christian churches together in a society that would become even more multi-cultural in the future.

The feminist movement gained even more momentum in the 1970s. An indication of the direction in which the wider Anglican Church was moving was shown in 1978 when the first ordination of women into the priesthood took place. This became an obstacle to ecumenical links with the Roman Catholic Church. But in Papakura we were as yet unaffected, even though as early as 1968 Miss Joan Parton, a woman who was stalwart in her service of the parish for many years, had been accepted for training as a deacon at St John’s College. The short appointment of Patricia Bawden as a Deacon in 1976 also pointed to the direction the church was moving. The feminist movement was beginning to affect women’s fashion and more informal dress styles were emerging. For women, Sunday church services were a time for wearing your best outfits – dresses not slacks, hats to cover the head and gloves for the hands. Photos of congregations of the time bear testimony to this fact. But change was afoot, sometimes pressed forward by avant-garde vicars who were not otherwise in favour of women’s entry to the priesthood. One parishioner recounted an incident where the vicar asked one of the younger women in the congregation to set a precedent by coming to church without a hat, not wearing stockings and in white shoes to “… stop women wearing those hats!” It must have seemed a bold move in the 1970s but it seems to have worked, considering today’s liberal dress standards. However, we have not as yet discovered any records of ‘bra burning’ by feminist women parishioners!

Extending our outreach

Outreach activities to the Papakura community continued to be a feature of parish life. The Opportunity Shop continued to grow in size and space. Its founders, Nesta Snell and Ebba Tier, were ably assisted by Betty Miller, Helen Guy, Ruby Henry and a large back-up team of over seventy women helpers. Space soon became a problem, so the shop was expanded into the adjacent building and a storeroom built under the ramp into Christ Church, along with a room for Sunday School purposes. The income from the shop proved to be a boon for the many needs and activities of the church and for wider community needs. During Neil Fuge’s ministry $27,000 had been given to clear mortgages on church buildings and $17,000 went to the Selwyn Oaks Retirement Village, along with considerable amounts to other charitable and community needs. Regular debate went on between the founders of the Op Shop and vestry about the financial role of the funds raised. When it had been founded, the fear had been that finance from the shop would reduce the pressure on our congregation to fund running costs from parishioner giving. As serious costs mounted in the 1970s, monthly running cost expenses increasingly exceeded income and Op Shop monies were used by vestry to cover the shortfalls. Ebba Tier and Nesta Snell fought hard to resist this and, after letters to vestry, special meetings were held to try to hold the line and keep shop funds for special parish purposes only, such as capital projects, e.g. the chapel restoration, and charitable donations. Inevitably this resulted in campaigns and appeals to the congregation to increase regular giving. A major Op Shop achievement in 1974 was the clearing of the debt on the new church, which allowed for its consecration by Bishop Gowing on Palm Sunday 1975 with a packed-to-the-doors congregation (accompanied by some of the new hymns of course!). Attending this service were former vicars Melville Holmes, Roy Everall and Herb Simmonds. In 1981 $18,633 was disbursed from the Op Shop yearly profits for special purposes.

Just as it had taken time for the ladies of the parish to soften the previous vicar to the idea of the Opportunity Shop, so a similar pressure from Mrs. Pat King led to the foundation of the Loaves & Fishes Coffee Shop. The idea was the result of a trip to England where Pat saw such coffee shops operating in churches. Initially Neil Fuge was not convinced of the idea but Pat was not one to be denied, especially in an age of “women’s lib”! Finally the vicar capitulated and said, according to Pat, “Have your coffee shop!” In 1982 it opened on the lower floor of the church and also provided catering for weddings, funerals and other occasions held there. Setting up took time as all equipment for it had to be obtained – cutlery, crockery, table linen and kitchen facilities. Pat gave up her job at Farmers Trading Company in Papakura for a time so she could concentrate on getting it up and running. Luckily Farmers was very understanding and she was able to return to her job later. She was ably assisted by Dorothy Woodbridge and Heather Maxwell and the coffee shop rapidly proved to be a profitable enterprise, returning $200–$300 per week. The ladies running it did most of the cooking of cakes and scones and other catering necessities for large occasions.

Parish social life

Much of the social life of the parish was an offshoot of the various service projects and fund-raising activities. The re-establishment of the galas, a Parish Ball and annual family camps and picnics contributed to a well-engaged community life. However, the on-going existence of social groups contributed more directly. These included the Young Wives, even though they ceased as a group in 1981, and the Church Guild, which remained active until 1977. The Mothers’ Union kept going and in 1973 the Women’s Fellowship was formed by Natalie Fuge. The Men’s Fellowship was started in 1982 by Ron Garnett and Lewis Frank and an indoor bowling club provided another means of diversifying parish social life. Out of the “Life in the Spirit” seminars, groups were formed that gathered in members’ homes for further Bible study and to explore aspects of their Christian faith. These were a continuation of the home groups that had started under the previous vicar. Their more intimate social dimension also helped counter the size of the church. By 1980 about forty people met fortnightly in six or so groups. Neil Fuge took a strong supporting interest in these groups and this enabled him to keep in closer touch with his flock. They were to remain a permanent element in our parish life.

The call of the north

The Rev. Neil Fuge’s ministry came to an end in September 1982 with his acceptance of a new ministry in Whangarei. It marked almost ten years of busy growth, development and change. Neil Fuge was remembered by his congregation as very much a hands-on person in much of his work, both spiritual and practical. He put his whole soul and body into the work as related in the following incident:

“He was engaged with a team in cleaning, sanding and coating with polyurethane the church hall floor. But having painted himself into a corner he then attempted to walk back over the still wet surface with his still open can. With a consistency rather like oil on water he was launched into the air followed by a shower of polyurethane. Attempts to remove it from head, arms, legs and body with thinner proved too hazardous so it was left to dry. The next week was spent peeling sheets of dry plastic from his body accompanied by much hair. Ouch!”

Barbara Florance, also a gifted writer of poems about our church life and producer of religious dramas, summed up Neil Fuge’s years with us in the following amusing extract which Neil sent to us:

“O come let us give thanks to the Lord
Let us heartily rejoice in the new appointment

Nine long years was I grieved with this congregation
And said, ‘They are a people that do err in their hearts
But there must surely be some good in them’
With whom I oft lost my patience
But loved them in spite of it.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost.”

III. The Rev. John Leitch 1983–2000

The eighteen-year ministry of John Leitch in Papakura was the longest of the second half of the twentieth century, and the second longest in Christ Church’s history.

A changing society

The growth of modern communication technology in the post-World War II period created new pressures and influences in society at a rapidly increasing rate. It had started with the arrival of television and extended into the computer and mobile phone age. Changes in technology brought the usual expansion of use for both good and evil. Social morality came under attack. Entertainment, as presented on television and mass-produced videos, CDs and DVDs increasingly used violence, sex and profanity to boost sales and ratings. Laws liberalising the sale and availability of alcohol and the wide availability of so-called “recreational” drugs saw serious social problems emerging. The rise of both verbal and physical violence, particularly amongst the younger members of society, pointed to an increasing social malaise. Legalised prostitution became a growth industry and, along with the new methods of contraception, loosened sexual restraint. Casualisation of sexual relations and rising divorce rates increased solo parentage. The family unit came under growing stress as, encouraged by the feminist movement or because of the economic necessity of solo parentage, more women entered the workforce. The extension of the working week through legislation also led to less time for the family unit and for engagement in community service activities. Sunday trading, with its materialist advertising emphasis (“retail therapy”; “shop till you drop”), was an influence in the secularising of society as well as a counter-attraction affecting church attendance. Christians increasingly found themselves facing a society worshipping at the altars of hedonism and materialism.

The pressures from this changing society inevitably affected and impinged upon the people of the parish. The “baby boom” having largely run its course, there was a decline in the birth rate and a now ageing population reflected itself in an increasingly older congregation dominated by women, this partly a consequence of their greater longevity. This factor was clearly demonstrated in the Church Life Survey of the Diocese of 1997. John Leitch worked hard to meet the challenges of this trend and a strong effort was made to make church worship and social activities more relevant to youth and young families while still providing the familiar elements for the elderly. This demanded human resources who were able to give their time and expertise to the young, supported by appropriate funding and provided with the necessary activity space. It pointed to the need for the parish to employ trained professional support persons. Numbers of young people and activities to attract them fluctuated with the availability of these human resources and supporting funds. All too often, the lack of permanency of such appointments led to a fall in numbers until the next more permanent appointment could be made. This pattern was most noticeable in the sixteen-to-twenty-plus age group.

The problem was eventually recognised by the Diocesan Synod – the Youth Synod Report in 1984 expressed concern over the lack of support in churches for this age group. The same criticism was expressed again the next year, and finally in 1991 the Diocesan Synod approved the appointment of a Youth Facilitator, the Rev. Jackie Sewell. This was a step in the right direction, but two years later, concern was expressed by youth groups when it seemed that the position was under threat of cessation due to problems of costs and the need for economic constraints. Uncertainty was a continuing feature of work with youth at both Diocesan and parish level.

Associated Clergy

Over the long period of John Leitch’s ministry he was assisted by quite a few members of the clergy and priests-in-training for varying periods. After the Rev. Kerry Parkin left the parish in mid-1984 the Rev. Dr. David Holt accepted the position of Curate. The Rev. David Guthrie also assisted part-time in the parish while Chaplain at Kingseat Hospital. David Holt remained until 1987 and David Guthrie until 1989. An amusing story was related by a parishioner about one of John Leitch’s assistant clergy who apparently wanted to explain the identity of God in more inclusive terms than “Our Father”. From the pulpit at one service God was referred to as “Our Mother”! It seemed to a shocked and more traditionally aligned congregation who were used to patriarchal imagery that this was a step too far! Perhaps this assistant should have recalled God’s enigmatic reply to Moses’ quest for a name in Exodus 3:14, “I am that I am!” and left it at that!

A Church Army officer, Jenny Looser, joined the parish in 1988 after a short visit in 1985 as a trainee. She was to remain until May 1992 and was responsible for areas of religious education in the parish. John Leitch especially remembered her powerful spiritual ministry to the young women of the parish, which would fill the Selwyn Chapel to overflowing. The Rev. John Mc Clean joined as a non-stipendiary priest in 1989 while working as a dairy farmer at Karaka. St. Margaret’s inevitably became his centre of concern. In 1991, when John Leitch took his year of sabbatical leave, the Rev. Bob Sanders stood in for him. The years 1993 to 1995 saw the curacy of the Rev. Ron Ashford who went on to take up a parish appointment in Whanganui. The Rev. Charlie Hughes came in 1996 after C.M.S. mission experience in Tanzania to study for the priesthood at St. John’s Theological College and worked as a Lay Assistant in the parish. After ordination in 1998 he stayed on until his appointment to the Hillsborough Parish. At this time the Rev. Terry Molloy, a retired priest, also assisted, especially in ministering to St. John’s at Drury and St. Margaret’s at Karaka. The Rev. John Fitzpatrick also assisted at this time, especially at St. Margaret’s. The Rev. Francis Foulkes, who had retired from missionary work in Africa and latterly as Warden at St. John’s Theological College, also gave support to John Leitch in preaching, taking services and religious education from 1991 to 1996. Finally, in 2000 a new Curate, the Rev. Stuart Crosson joined us just prior to John Leitch’s retirement and was able to familiarise himself with us before his subsequent appointment as Vicar to follow John. Then there were the short-term youth worker appointments of Glen and Jane Cox (1992–3), Julian Dobbs (1995), who was later ordained in Nelson Diocese, and Graham and Lee-Ann O’Brien (1997–9) to round out John’s helpers. This reflects the standing John had as a mentor, particularly for the younger entrants into the clergy, during these years and was a comment on his ability to foster their growth in ministries.

John Leitch’s concern with this pattern of constant change and the need for a more permanent increase in support clergy and more professional lay support was expressed in his report to vestry at the beginning of 1992. He pointed out that whereas there were around seven or eight Presbyterian ministers in the parish area, we were struggling with two or three, and that this situation demanded that we determine the priorities in our ministries. These he considered should be:

  • Christian education and youth groups
  • Home groups (especially women’s groups)
  • Caring and visiting, especially in the growing areas of Conifer Grove, Drury, Ramarama and Karaka

It seems clear that his vision for our future would require people with both time and talent – people who would be difficult to find within our lay resources without them having some professional training. John had identified a problem with which our parish is still wrestling in this time of declining lay and financial resources.

Secretarial change

John’s ministry started with a change in the vital position of Parish Secretary. Elsie Picard retired in 1982 after many years of service under the two preceding vicars and was followed by Janice Thompson, whose term of service continues today. Secretarial work technology changed too. In 1990 a computer was introduced and initiated extensive changes in the means of recording, printing, publishing and communicating with parishioners. It also meant that more office space was needed to accommodate the new machines. All this Janice had to take in her stride, alongside dealing with an increasingly computer literate congregation. Some changes were made, starting with John Leitch re-naming the parish magazine “Celebration”, a name it still carries today. The frequency of this publication, which had varied over the years, settled at the present quarterly pattern. The new technology allowed for photo printing and photo illustrations. This now more attractive magazine provided us with a regular survey of parish activities during the year. The regular Sunday newsletter and service sheet continued to provide notices of weekly activities and upcoming events. The administration of the parish affairs could not have been carried out without the dedication and expertise of this experienced Parish Secretary, who also happens to be our long-term organist.

The size of the congregation

While in many ways John Leitch reflected an older traditional side to church life, he also had been influenced by the charismatic revival of the 1970s and was able to accommodate this element and provide depth to aspects of worship during his ministry. It was hoped that this would help increase the numbers attending weekly worship. But the number of worshippers as reflected in the yearly acts of Communion dropped sharply between 1982 and 1983 after the change of vicars, when some of the more charismatically inclined of the congregation left us. This was quickly offset when a peak was reached in 1985 that had only been exceeded in 1962, the year of the opening of the new Christ Church. However, from then on acts of Communion numbers again declined, falling below 10,000 annually with the exception of a couple of years. When this is looked at alongside the continued rise in Papakura’s population from around 24,000 in 1983 to over 42,000 in 2000, it is a clear reflection of the general decline in Christian church attendance in New Zealand society. As early as 1984 the vicar expressed concern at falling numbers, especially at Evensong, which was reduced to a fortnightly service. In a vestry minute of February 1998 it was stated that, “Trend of numbers attending services seems to be slowly decreasing… Vestry needs to give serious thought to growing numbers …”.

Youth ministries

In the parish A.G.M. Report of 1984 the Rev. Kerry Parkin outlined his philosophy of working with a youth group. He said that a youth programme “endeavours to offer a balance of social and ‘serious’ activity” and that “initiative and organisational leadership ought to come from within the group rather than adult leaders”. He stressed that, “adolescents should not be subject to religious pressures to convert or to make commitments but should be allowed space to develop their minds and to be accepted in the normal doubts and uncertainties of their age.” With the help of the Rev. David Guthrie and his wife, Barbara, a structure was formed for youth group activities based on “cells” of six to eight persons with a “cell leader” responsible for each cell. This structure was largely retained during John Leitch’s ministry despite regular changes of adult advisers and youth leaders. When Kerry Parkin left at the end of 1984, the adviser role was taken up by the Rev. Dr. David Holt and later by Mrs. Anna Hodson. Membership of the youth group rose rapidly to sixty in that year and in 1985 reached a peak of eighty. This placed great demands on the advisers, especially if they were also clergy assistants with other responsibilities, and reference was often made in their reports to a heavy workload. Part of this burden was lifted with the appointment of Tim Frank as a part-time youth worker. Youth leaders and parents of this age group felt the demands on them, too, in terms of providing transport, organisational support and supervisory time. Reports to vestry in early 1994 by the Rev. Ron Ashford and youth leader Nicolette van der Schriek indicated concern with finding a place in parish life for youth in the fifteen-to-eighteen age group. These pressures, coupled with continually changing advisers over the previous ten years, saw a gradual decline in numbers down to fifteen in that year.

This fall in interest and numbers was due to a variety of factors. In a later report to vestry in 1994, Richard Travers referred to the need for a youth facilitator with expertise, time and resources to lead the group long term. This pointed again to the appointment of a paid youth worker who had professional training. Because membership of such groups was constantly changing due to the demands of tertiary education, transition to the workforce and the desire of many for the “big OE” experience, the position of a permanent paid youth adviser was critical. The support of parents to assist with transport and supervision was also vital. Vestry decided to seek a part-time youth worker and in 1996 Graham and Lee-Ann O’Brien were engaged for this position. This resulted in a revival of the group but at no time did the numbers return to those of the early 1980s. A survey in 1998 reveals that the maximum attendance at social events for the group was around thirty to thirty-five, most of them under the age of sixteen. For meetings with a spiritual emphasis, numbers dropped below this.

Many activities took place in which the youth group was integrated into the life and worship of the wider parish. This included leadership in worship, contemporary music in services, a variety of fund-raising activities and co-operation in social and worship occasions with other local church groups. Despite this there was no great upsurge of growth by the millennium. After eighteen months the O’Briens moved on from the parish and the problems associated with changing leadership arose once more. The arrival in 2000 of a new Curate, Stuart Crosson, saw another attempt to revitalise the sixteen-to-twenty-one age group, now called the Emmaus Group, which met regularly as a home group hosted by Jim and Edith Yearn.

At the Diocesan level, a vision statement and programme called “Stepping Out” appeared in 2000 that aimed to increase the youthfulness of church membership. It called for thirty percent of the Diocesan congregation to be under the age of forty by the year 2010. The need for a revitalisation of parish congregations with younger adults was clearly a foremost concern for the church and in relation to this the need for a strong youth ministry looms large. It would be interesting to know to what degree the Diocesan target set in 2000 had been reached by 2010.

Children’s ministries

The main means of educating the children of primary and intermediate school age in the parish continued to be through the Sunday School and Bible Class. Those of primary school age were usually split into junior and senior groups, with the class size for each depending upon the numbers attending and the teachers available. In about 1990, in the early period of John Leitch’s ministry, the number of Sunday School pupils reached a peak of around sixty with seven to eight teachers working on a roster system. In the later years the number of pupils dropped and in 2000 it was reported to be twenty. The pupils of intermediate school age were a separate group, many of whom attended the Bible Class as preparation for Confirmation. They numbered about twenty in the early 1990s. It has been difficult to get an accurate picture of the trends in pupil numbers because of the various systems used for recording these figures, but it does seem that there was a fall in numbers in later years from those of the early 1990s, and certainly there was no growth commensurate with that of the population growth of Papakura city.

The Sunday School provided creative and imaginative opportunities for learning and John Leitch was active in devising ways in which the children could be integrated into the worship of the larger congregation. He said, “… it is important for children to witness worship with all its celebration and awe. This is more likely to influence their future Christian worship if they felt welcome in church.” At the 9.30 a.m. family services the children sat with their parents in the early part of the service and then went with their teachers to classes in the hall, chapel and elsewhere, returning near the end of the adult service to make presentations associated with their lessons for the day. On special church festivals such as Easter and Christmas these often took the form of small dramatic presentations, puppet shows, singing or displays of their work. At Easter, egg rolling races, decorative egg contests, the Great Easter Egg Hunt, lolly scrambles and pancake races added to the sense of fun in worship. Pageants and parades were often part of the Christmas period. Barbara Frank especially was very talented in producing these at Christmas as well as at other times in the year. John Leitch had strong views on the effect of American-style commercialised festivals such as Halloween and so, to provide an alternative for children of the parish, a party and games night was established for them named the “Banquet of Light”. These activities all contributed to John’s aim: “I wanted children to go home and say, ‘Church is fun,’ and that they wanted to go again and that this would stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

There were various problems in running the Sunday School. Those referred to in parish records by Jenny Looser, Ron Ashford and Lee-Ann O’Brien included finding enough people who were willing to become teachers, giving them some training, finding the physical space for separate classes especially when there were increases in numbers, and finding space for storing teaching materials. The problem of workload was also referred to from time to time when Sunday School responsibilities were combined with other educational programmes. When leadership was stable for an extended period, as under Jenny Looser (1988–92), the Sunday School flourished, but when there were short or broken periods of supervisory leadership, numbers seemed to fall.

The Bibles in Schools programme was an adjunct of the Sunday School ministry. Our parish had responsibility for providing teachers for this programme at Papakura Central School. Usually we were able to provide enough teachers for about four classes but there was room for more teachers if they had been available. Then, as cultural diversity in New Zealand society increased and other, non-Christian, religious groups appeared, new questions began to be raised. Should Christianity be given special status in the public school religious education system? Increasing secularism and a more militant atheism in society also meant more people began to question whether it was right for any religion to be taught in public schools. By 2000 these issues were knocking on church doors.

The Selwyn Scouts, Guides, Cubs and Brownies continued to operate from the church during the 1980s and 1990s. Both Bob Appleby and Gillian Rolle from our congregation were appointed District Commissioners in 1987. But the 1990s saw a steady decline in numbers. Along with the decline in birth rates and the attractions of other forms of entertainment in society, pressure from the changed weekly patterns of work, including an increasingly secularised Sunday, affected leadership availability for such groups.

Christian education for adults

Adult education in Bible studies and in the nature and understanding of Christian belief, life and worship both for regular parishioners and for those seeking a religious faith took a variety of forms under John Leitch. It involved the existing home groups and special courses taken by visiting clergy and others on issues of the day, as well as the Alpha courses that started at this time. These activities often had both a fellowship and a social element. This was true especially of the home groups, which started under Neil Fuge and were also strongly encouraged by John Leitch. These were small discussion groups averaging about six to ten meetings at varying frequencies during the year. Apart from their educational and social function they provided a comfortable, less formal setting where parishioners could meet and get to know one another better. The number of home groups and their size, meeting frequency and patterns changed as situations demanded but they did provide valuable occasions when aspects of church life and faith could be explored in depth. An examination of six groups active in 2000 showed that they were all meeting on week-days, usually in the mornings or early afternoon, except for one men-only group that met at 7.30 p.m. in the evening. One of the difficulties referred to in reports to vestry was the problem in finding people who could lead such groups, especially when it came to study courses and the use of teaching materials. This was emphasised when the Rev. Francis Foulkes, with his background in theological teaching and education, used his talents in courses upon his retirement here. Over the period 1992 to 1996, he conducted evening Bible Study courses lasting 8–10 weeks in Selwyn Chapel, which were very well attended and enjoyed.

While home groups and special study courses catered for those already within the Christian fold, there was a great need to provide for those returning or coming for the first time to Christianity. The church at large was wrestling with this problem and an answer seemed to be the Alpha courses, which many churches were using and which had had considerable success overseas. In 1996 the first Alpha course was held in Papakura. The courses were a total programme that included an introductory evening dinner followed by video presentations and small group discussions. Again, the courses depended upon trained leaders who could commit to, initially, fifteen weeks of meetings, which were usually held in the evening. The Rev. Charlie Hughes was remembered by John Leitch as a great influence in getting these courses up and running. Initially several courses were held each year; they received considerable publicity and to begin with were well attended. Often those attending were already members of other church congregations rather than people outside the churches. But eventually numbers dropped off and by 2000 one course attracted less than ten people. However, this may have been the result of years of back-log being taken up and then the settling back into more realistic pattern. By this time churches in Papakura were considering joint courses. Nevertheless, the Alpha courses remained a way of presenting the Christian message to those outside the church and those seeking spiritual growth. They were an important development at this time but did raise the question of how they should be followed up to lead these new people into the regular pattern of church life and worship.

The growth of lay ministries

The concept of laypersons sharing in church ministry that had begun in the 1970s gathered strength under John Leitch. This meant equal opportunities for both men and women. Clearly, it also meant that training in the various ministry needs would be required, so Diocesan courses and seminars began to appear. In our parish such ministries largely grew out of the Pastoral Care Team that was formed in 1983. It involved organising parishioners to provide help for people in times of need. Phyllis Garland and Dulcie Hall became responsible for senior parishioners and especially for arranging visiting and monthly week-day Communion and morning tea contact. Another group was responsible for visiting young mothers and families, while a third group covered general parish visiting. By 1987 Sally Naulls was involved in organising groups to widen the net of pastoral care. A parish survey was undertaken to ascertain the various types of help that parishioners could offer and to identify community needs. These ran from simply visiting the housebound elderly or sick to providing temporary overnight shelter for the homeless. Twelve different categories were listed in the survey. This ministry was led by Dawn Jones (now Redman). By 1992 a large laypersons’ ministry had developed and was widening to link with similar initiatives in other Papakura churches. This was a response to real needs in the wider community that had been created by difficult economic times.

A formal recognition of laypersons undertaking what were now major responsibilities was provided for by bishops being able to authorise three-year licences for lay assistants to help vicars in parishes. The need for this was recognised in our parish when there was difficulty in finding a replacement for the Rev. David Holt. Bishop’s licences were sought for Joan Parton to provide the Eucharist to the sick and homebound elderly and for Tim Frank, a theological student, to cover youth education in the parish. By 1992, further formal recognition of lay service leadership was extended by bishops authorising parish vestries to commission people for lay ministry. In that year twenty people were commissioned by our vestry to carry out a wide variety of roles, ranging from administration of the Sacrament at Holy Communion to Baptismal preparation. Prominent among these people were Jean Robinson, Lewis and Barbara Frank and Doedtie Hoekstra.

Inter-church co-operation – the Ecumenical Movement

Ecumenical worship and co-operation had expanded considerably by the end of John Leitch’s ministry in 2000. In some years the Papakura churches combined to display their witness of faith at Easter and Christmas. This took the form of combined inter-denominational worship and public presentations of tableaux and pageants. A “Christmas Time Tunnel”, in which each church presented a portion of the Christmas story, was held at the Crossroads Methodist Church in 1991 and 1994. Around 3,500 children from local public schools visited it to learn something of the Christmas story. From time to time there was co-operation in the annual Christmas parades, while from 1985 combined carol services were to become an annual alternating celebration with St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Other forms of ecumenical activity involved establishing a Bible Society Action Group for fund-raising. Joan Parton was a very active and successful fund-raiser for this group over the years. Her Papakura street stalls selling home cooking and preserves raised several thousand dollars annually for missions. A further tentative step in co-operation occurred in 1997 when there was a meeting of Papakura Neighbourhood Home Groups to share experiences. This indicated that the home group idea was much wider in scope than just our own Anglican groups and showed how the concept of ecumenism had potential for dimensions other than just worship. The next year there was also a meeting of Methodist and Anglican women’s fellowship groups and in 2000 youth groups in Papakura churches had a combined outreach service at Rosehill College. Another offshoot of these ecumenical moves was the opening of a Papakura Christian Bookshop in 1994 that was staffed by people from contributing churches.

Perhaps the most important ecumenical move in Papakura occurred in 1990 when eight churches combined to set up the Papakura Christian Services Trust. This move may have been an outcome of the establishment of the Conference of Churches of Aotearoa/New Zealand in 1987, which was made up of the Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian, Society of Friends (Quakers), Salvation Army, Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches. However, it was the economic and social hardships of the time that triggered Christian action. In our parish the Pastoral Care Group was formed in 1987 and, led by Sally Naulls, began to identify social needs of people in our community. By 1990 this concern was expressed in the “Rise Up New Zealand” campaign of churches nationwide. Locally it drew all churches into a joint effort to provide answers to local social problems, and thus the Papakura Christian Services Trust was established. Financial backing from churches and other sources soon raised $28,000 and a Board of Trustees was created to administer the Trust. Sally Naulls was our representative. The Trust was to be the co-ordinating body for Christian social services requested by churches or initiated by the Trust. The churches remained independent but contributed financial and human resources. Funding was sought from other sources, including government and other charitable funding agencies. Paid staff were engaged where necessary and churches provided volunteers. Initially the Trust aimed to provide low-cost medical care by establishing a Medical Centre at Rosehill Presbyterian Church. Doctors provided their services at reduced charges or allowed people to pay as they were able. Other initial services included the Papakura Christian Budgeting Service at Papakura East Presbyterian Church, a Community Care project at Crossroads Methodist Church and a communications and clearing house centre called “Christian Love Link” at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. As time went on, a wide variety of services was established for families and others in need, including transport, food, garden and house maintenance, removals, a furniture bank, home help, clothing, etc. Sally Naulls was a leading figure in the Trust for its first six years and was followed by another parishioner, Martha Hosick.

The Three Tikanga Church

The Anglican Church’s position in the Pacific and the strong migration from various parts of Polynesia to New Zealand led to a realisation that our church structures should reflect this. This resulted in the development of the Three Tikanga Church and in the new Constitution of the Anglican church of Aotearoa/New Zealand in 1992. Powers were to be shared among its Pakeha, Maori and Pasifika branches. In our own parish contact began to increase. As early as the mid-1980s a combined service with the Maori congregation was held twice a year. In 1990, as part of the 150th year celebrations of the Treaty of Waitangi, a combined Maori and Pakeha service was held in Christ Church, and subsequently the Selwyn Chapel was used from time to time for services in Maori for local Anglicans. Samoan Christians also used Christ Church for a time until their own church was built, as did Presbyterian Niueans in 1995 to 1999. It is interesting that cultural differences, especially language, made each group more comfortable in their own worship setting. There was also a strong growth of new urban Maori churches in some suburbs, and our parish contributed considerably to requests for financial help in the building of the Mangere Anglican Marae Church at this time. In the light of these changes the way seems open for the development of some local Christian inter-cultural worship occasions in the church year, perhaps in a public setting at the time of a major Christian festival.

Change in the liturgy and worship patterns

The changes in the liturgy of worship that had started in the decade previous to John Leitch’s ministry were confirmed in 1984 with the publication of the New Zealand Prayer Book. This had a strong New Zealand flavour with both Maori and English language wording. Also, new elements were introduced into the worship patterns, some of which reflected new concerns such as environmental issues and new theological concepts arising from debates within the Christian community and a desire to avoid sexist language. Replacing the old Book of Common Prayer with this new version was authorised by the Diocesan Synod in 1985 and it was adopted for use in our parish in 1989. It was not a clean break, however, as the Book of Common Prayer continues to be used at the 8.00 a.m. service on the first Sunday of each month by a predominantly older congregation. At the same time as adopting the new prayer book, it was decided to provide the new Good News Bible for the pews. The funds for both books had been provided from proceeds of our Opportunity Shop trading.

Worship patterns under John Leitch were influenced by both traditional and new elements that he introduced or enhanced. At the Harvest Festival service the old tradition of the “Succoth” was introduced. A Succoth is an archway decorated with flowers which symbolises the Old Testament shelters that the Jewish people built on their properties to protect their grape harvest from their enemies. In Christ Church the Succoth stood on the chancel steps and parishioners passed through it when coming up to take Communion. Produce donated by parishioners was placed around the Succoth and, after the service, was given to Radley House, a home in Papakura owned by the Anglican Trust for Women & Children, the House Parents for which were Anne and Ian Martin, who were faithful parishioners for many years. They welcomed anyone who came to their door in distress or need and acted as counsellors to many. Ann’s work was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 1984 when she was awarded an M.B.E.

Mothering Sunday has always been a special church celebration separate from the commercialised Mothers’ Day. Traditionally it was when young girls who lived away from home because of work in service made their annual visit home, and this was celebrated with the baking of a special simnel cake – a fruit cake with marzipan icing. It was often decorated with eleven marzipan balls around the edge to represent the true apostles (i.e. not Judas) and one in the middle to represent Christ. The word “simnel” is thought to be derived from the Latin word for fine white flour, from which the cake was made. Apparently the custom of the congregation eating a piece in church did not meet universal approval; John Leitch remembered this was “often to the wrath of the ladies who had to clean the church next week, and who had to get the crumbs out of the carpet”! Traditionally flower posies were also given to the mothers at this service.

Palm Sunday was another occasion for a traditional celebration by having as part of the service the whole congregation process out to encircle the church with people. So large was the congregation that often people were still coming out of the church as others were returning in.

But it was not just these traditional elements that John encouraged. The regular Sunday evening service was conducted with a more informal, charismatic character, where younger parishioners listened to modern musical instruments and sang the newer, more modern hymns that were appearing. An interesting entry appears in the 1993 vestry minutes stating that a set of bongo drums had been offered to the Presbyterian Church. Whether this indicated that our musical changes had gone too far or whether they were just surplus to requirements was not made clear. A later minute indicated they had been sold for $200. However, there is no record of residents complaining about Sunday morning bongo drumming calling the faithful to prayer at the Presbyterian end of Coles Crescent!

Another form of worship that has continued to the present day is the “Prayer Chain”, founded in 1988 by Heather Robinson and Elizabeth Naylor. It is an affirmation of our Christian belief in the power of prayer. The aim was to have a group of members who, in their homes at whatever time they chose, were prepared to share in bringing before God specific people, situations, requests, thanks, sorrows or joys. Parishioners are invited to bring to the group anything which they would like the group to pray for urgently. This is totally confidential and it makes it clear that we accept the responsibility of “bearing one another’s burdens”. It is one way in which we acknowledge our dependence on God and our trust in Him to meet the needs of those for whom we pray.

Stewardship of parish properties

There was considerable development of the church buildings and properties during John Leitch’s time. The hope that the re-tiling of Christ Church would solve our leaking roof problems proved to be false. Early in 1983 an architect’s report was commissioned to seek an answer to the roof leaks. This was received in August of that year with an estimate of $2,000–3,000. But within months it was found that, despite the work done, the roof was sagging and an engineer’s report was called for. This apparently did not provide a solution either because leakage problems re-appeared in 1985. The situation was to go on until 1996 when attempts at repairs were undertaken again, at the cost of a further $6,880. It was obvious that the architect’s rather radical design of the roof was the prime source of the problem and this would be very expensive to rectify. Thus it was not until late 1998 that this issue was faced. The next year, according to Jim Thompson, then Vicar’s Warden and Chairman of the Works Committee, a local consulting engineer, Peter Hill of Hill Design Engineering Ltd., was asked to present a report with recommendations. He found that the roof was unsafe and ordered the church closed forthwith, much to the concern of John Leitch. So a second opinion from another engineer, nominated by the Diocesan Office, was sought. He confirmed the original report. Remedial work would incur heavy costs to the parish ($82,587.60 by July 2000) so funds were raised by vestry authorising the sale of some land at Te Hihi that had been gifted to the church in 1934. This sale was concluded in March 2000, tenders invited, a contractor engaged and work started in May of that year. The organ pipes and pews were removed and in June 2000 the roof was jacked up, ready to be reinforced. Prefabricated steel portal frames were transported to the church site and raised inside, then assembled and bolted into position. These are now visible in the church interior. This, plus carpentry and finishing work by M.R. Webster Builders Ltd., took eight months, during which time services were held in the Selwyn Chapel and in the hall. Christ Church re-opened on 13 August 2000 with a thanksgiving and re-dedication service.

Early in 1983 a report was commissioned regarding the Vicarage and other church properties in Takanini and Grove Road. As a result of this the vestry decided to sell the Takanini property and purchase a new house for a Vicarage. By the end of the year the Takanini property had been sold for $55,000 and a new Vicarage bought at 20 Gill’s Avenue for $92,000. By early 1984 the vicar and family had made the move to Gill’s Avenue and it was eventually decided that the old Cole’s Crescent Vicarage should be renovated for use as a Curate’s house. The cost estimate for this was $20,000, using voluntary labour. In the A.G.M. minutes of March 1985 it was reported that sixty volunteers had given 1,500 hours of work in extensive interior alteration and renovation of this building. This had been organised by the Vicar’s Warden of the time, Geoff Naylor. Other repair and restoration work was done in the maintenance of St. John’s at Drury, where roof re-shingling took place in 1997 to 1998, while at St. Margaret’s, Karaka, $2,175 was spent in 1995 on maintenance work. Finally, the north side of the Selwyn Chapel roof had its shingles replaced with cedar ones in 2000. All these works placed a considerable financial burden on the parish and would have been impossible without the voluntary labour of many people.

The church properties highlighted two areas of parish life. The first was cost of restoration and maintenance of buildings and the second was the need for more appropriate space for church activities and administration as youth work and lay pastoral activities increased. Pastoral work also called for professional or semi-professional staff. Money directed to the first was money not available for the second. A major challenge for the parish as it entered the new millennium was how to face these problems.

There were also various enhancements and additions to Christ Church itself. This included banners depicting Christian symbolism that were made in 1986 by ladies of the parish and were hung on the walls. These added a touch of bright colour to the interior. Congregation comfort was also increased with the installation of infrared heaters in the same year, taking the early morning winter chill off the air. For older parishioners who needed help with hearing, our first speaker system appeared in 1984. This was further advanced with new radio microphones in 1996 and, for the new music styles becoming apparent in worship, a twelve-channel mixer for a keyboard and guitars appeared at the same time. An audio-visual projection system added in 1993 provided another dimension to worship patterns. Mrs. Lownsborough, a parishioner, presented a useful addition in the form of a portable lectern in memory of her husband. This plus the new sound systems left the largely unused pulpit a remnant and reminder of older times! In 1997 a southwest Memorial Window in stained glass was dedicated as a gift from the Guy family in memory of Helen Guy, a long-time strong supporter of the parish in many ways. The artwork in it features stylised motifs of New Zealand foliage, a symbol of life. From the base of the window come red tongues of fire symbolising the Holy Spirit given at Baptism and to the disciples at Pentecost. In the middle of the window is the cross, central to the Christian faith. The Baptismal Font near this window has a beautiful Nigerian carved wooden cover that was presented by the Rev. Francis Foulkes and his wife, Marjorie, who both had long associations with the parish and with missionary work in Nigeria. In 1998 an external addition to Christ Church was the establishment of a Memorial Garden and Ashes Repository at the east wall. The initial design work for this was done by the vicar’s daughter, Wendy Leitch, a landscape architect. The first ashes to be placed in this garden were those of the Rev. Francis Foulkes.

Outreach to the community

Op Shop

The outreach activities of the parish, such as the Opportunity Shop and the Loaves & Fishes Coffee Shop, continued to provide income and links with the community. The Op Shop, as it had become known, was a major contributor to both church and community. It usually raised around $30,000–40,000 a year and, after running costs, disbursed this in charitable giving to the South Auckland Hospice, the Selwyn Oaks Retirement Village, the Papakura Public Library for large print and talking books, and the St. John’s Ambulance, amongst many community and charitable groups. Grants were also made to the parish for major restoration and renovation work on our many properties and for special needs in our pastoral activities.

The founders, Ebba Tier and Nesta Snell, continued as joint managers of the shop until 1987 and, helped by a small committee, organised a weekly roster of around forty-four women who volunteered to work in the shops. By now two premises were needed in O’Shannessey Street. As time went on there was an increasing need for new, younger people to replace the ones who had passed on or who were no longer able to offer help because of failing health. Regular calls for new helpers appeared in parish newsletters and magazines.

There was also some continuing debate with vestry as to what control the Op Shop should have over disbursement of its earnings. At the beginning the Rev. Herb Simmonds had emphasised that the profits should not be regarded as a substitute for stewardship giving by parishioners. But it was often difficult to decide where the line between use of monies from stewardship and use from Op Shop profits should be drawn. This was especially the case in the 1990s when there were difficulties in getting enough income from stewardship giving to cover expenses in the budget. But with the large costs involved in paying off the mortgage on Christ Church in the 1980s and also roofing costs for the Selwyn Chapel and Christ Church in the 1990s, it was often the Op Shop that came to the rescue in meeting expenses. Eventually, as the result of pressure from the Diocesan Office, a rationalisation of the parish financial structures took place. The result was that all parish finances were centralised in the vestry and the Op Shop lost its independent cheque account. This was not without some heart burning amongst long-term leaders and supporters of this important outreach activity.

There was also a social side to the Op Shop, with yearly dinners or luncheons and the running of a special stall at annual galas at which much stock was sold. In 1996 a quarter of a century of Op Shop service was celebrated by a special luncheon with over 100 past and present workers attending. One past member, Betty Mueller, came from Australia for the occasion. In 2000 it was clearly still a community service activity that was very much an essential part of the structure of Christ Church.

Loaves & Fishes Coffee Shop

The Loaves & Fishes Coffee Shop also continued to provide a link to the wider community throughout John Leitch’s ministry. A succession of parishioners was to follow Mrs. Pat King, its founder-leader, including Dorothy Woodbridge, Heather Maxwell, Phyllis Garland, Joan Parton and Barbara and Lewis Frank. The shop opened on a weekly basis, Tuesday to Friday from 10.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. It offered inexpensive morning teas and light luncheons in a quiet, restful setting which suited young mothers with children when in town or after taking their children to the playground on the Village Green nearby. A low-cost catering service for weddings and funeral services held in the church was also offered. Most of the food for the shop was provided by a back-up team of women from their own home baking. Since it was a food-selling outlet, it was eventually required to be licensed and inspected under the Food Hygiene Regulations, so considerable upgrading became necessary in 1997. It was estimated that it would cost $7,000–8,000 and a decision had to be made as to whether the coffee shop should be continued. However, vestry saw the venture as a valuable outreach to the community and voted to provide funds for the upgrading. A more pressing problem, however, was in maintaining enough people to keep the shop open for four days per week. There were regular calls in vestry reports and parish magazines for helpers. Eventually in 1995 it was decided to open it for only two days per week, Thursdays and Fridays, and to close it earlier, at 1.00 p.m. The shop also made a small profit that was used for community charitable purposes and support of our parish pastoral activities.

Play Group

A new venture established during John Leitch’s ministry which expanded rapidly was the Play Group. It was started in 1987 by Mary Marshall and was open initially to pre-schoolers on Mondays from 9.30 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. By 1990 it had almost thirty children on its roll. Parents paid $1 per session and this was used to purchase materials and equipment to add to that presented by parishioners. It has become quite popular and allows children to play and mix with others in a safe, supervised environment while young mothers socialise together. By 1991 its growth led to an afternoon session being added from 12.30 to 2.00 p.m. It was quite common for the Plunket Society and the Citizens’ Advice Bureau to refer its services to young mothers under stress.

In 1998 Barbara Frank from vestry and leaders of the Play Group met with representatives of the Childhood Development Organisation (C.D.O.) regarding the group’s needs. The general growth of such groups with largely religious backgrounds that catered for young mothers with pre-school children had demonstrated a growing social need. In Barbara’s report to vestry it was recommended that a bank account be opened in the name of the Papakura Anglican Play Group with nominated signatories from vestry and the group and that proper accounting procedures be implemented. This would open the way for long-term planning for growing needs and was one of the requirements when applying for funding from the C.D.O. Under Bronwen Discombe there was rapid acquisition of play equipment and improvement of facilities, with an outside space being fenced off to extend the play area. Bronwen was succeeded by Connie Howell, who organised for teachers from the Childhood Development Unit (C.D.U.) to provide help and advice to the mothers and others in taking leadership roles in the group. The number of children continued to increase to the point where there was a waiting list. A limit had to be set for each session to avoid overcrowding. An information pamphlet was planned as well as a newsletter to parents. Further additions included children’s books, a “clatterbridge” and shading for outside play in sunny weather. In Connie’s report to vestry at the end of 2000 she wrote:

“I am finding Play Group to be a very enjoyable and gratifying experience, meeting new people, catching up with familiar faces and being able to share thoughts and concerns. ‘Thank you’ to vestry and the church community for your support and interest in Play Group.”

It was clear that this outreach was succeeding when new families began to join the church and children from the group were presented for Baptism.

The parish social scene

“Most parishioners were involved at some level in parish activities. This is something that I strived to achieve and believe it led to a very happy parish. The parish meant something in peoples’ lives, it became the centre of their activities.”

John Leitch made this comment when looking back over his ministry in Papakura. There was always a social element to all parish activities but to some more than others. Events such as the annual picnics on Lees Island in the Manukau Harbour or East Coast beaches, potluck dinners and parish concerts drew large numbers of the parishioners together at one time for what were largely social occasions. This was especially true of the dinner concerts, which were organised by Janice Thompson, assisted by John Hargreaves, and were presented in the parish hall, featuring items from popular musicals with appropriate period costumes. They were always sold out. Concerts were also presented to the elderly residents at Selwyn Oaks Retirement Village along with monthly sing-along musicals. Even the annual parish galas with their fund-raising aim had a strong social dimension because they involved so many people. And rarely did they fail to bring in a substantial income. In the early 1980s around $5,000 was raised annually from the November Gala. When a May Mini Gala was added the combined totals exceeded $8,000. Then there were the smaller social groups such as the Men’s and Women’s Fellowships, the Mothers’ Union, the Bowls Club, the Young Mothers’ Coffee Group, the Thursday morning gathering of older parishioners for Prayers in Chapel and Morning Tea and the Saturday Men’s Breakfast Group. One would have to agree that under John’s ministry his aim of an involved and “very happy parish” was achieved.

Financial stewardship in difficult times

As already mentioned, the 1980s and 1990s were times of financial stress for the parish. The various building costs, economic inflation and falling income were problems that were not being adequately met. This was a great challenge to our Financial Committee and the parish treasurers of the times. Some valuable changes were initiated to enable the finances of our many activities to be closely monitored. Financial difficulties at the parish level were a reflection of similar problems at the Diocesan level. Moves to get parishes to be more efficient in their accounting were signalled in 1991 by the Diocesan Office insisting that all parish funds be place in one parish account. The Diocesan report of 1995 referred to the fact that many parishes had been relying on reserves to cover costs and had reached their limits. Attempts to increase the Diocesan Parish Quotas were resisted by many parishes. Our parish was largely able to meet its annual quota and received a letter of thanks in 1994 as one of the parishes that was “… practising stewardship and making progress during these difficult times. … The Resources Council of the Diocese … congratulates you and the Vestry on your stewardship.”

The work of monitoring and guiding us in our finances fell on the shoulders of a succession of capable treasurers. These included Jim Hargreaves, who held the position up to 1991, and David Mattar, who succeeded him and began the consolidation of our plethora of bank accounts in order to gain greater oversight of financial management. This led to a special meeting of representatives of the Opportunity Shop and the Vestry Finance Committee in June 1992 to explain the reasons for the new accounting requirements. It was clear that the growing use of funding from the shop profits to meet vestry spending was of deep concern to the representatives, since, as mentioned earlier, the Op Shop had been established on the understanding that its funds were not to be considered an alternative to direct giving by the congregation. The dangers of reliance on the Opportunity Shop for operational expenses were raised with a plea for vestry help to increase the declining voluntary workforce upon which the shop depended.

It was under Treasurer Ian Fletcher in 1993 that a more systematic way of controlling the budgets of the various bodies in the church was initiated. This was to lead to further improved accounting and financial efficiency. A Vestry Monitoring and Review System introduced by Jim Thompson and Brian Howell was put into place to guide nominated Budget Holders. Increased publicity of the parish’s financial situation was enhanced by regular reports in the parish magazine which used graphics to highlight trends and patterns. By 2000, while there were still problems finding a regular and adequate source of income, there was a more efficient and business-like system for financial control in place.

God’s faithful servant

When John Leitch decided at the end of the millennium that retirement was his next step, he had completed a long ministry during which there had been a great deal of development and growth. The parish’s character under his ministry was summed up by Bishop Moore in these words from his 1993 report on a three-day visit to the parish: “It was good to be in a parish where there is such a lot of evident life, service to God and the community, and a sense of joy and purpose.” Much of this character flowed from the leadership of John Leitch. Our church was now responding and adapting to the changes set in motion in earlier ministries. In some ways it seems to have been a time of seeking the best from the new directions in which the church was moving. Our vicar’s steadying hand was the needed element to provide a sense of continuity with the past as these new directions were explored. In all of this, John was strongly supported by his wife, Judy. She was spoken of as a much loved and energetic worker behind the scenes. She was a hospitable leader of the Women’s Fellowship and a valued singer in church music.

Christian charity gets tested from time to time and Judy Leitch’s was no exception. John related a story of how Judy was phoned one holiday weekend from St. Paul’s Anglican Church in the city advising that they had been contacted by a woman in Papakura urgently needing a food parcel. It seemed odd to Judy that the request had not come directly from the woman but she agreed to deliver one. To put her mind at rest she tried to contact the local Christian Care Budgeting Service and the Parish Food Bank but neither was available. So she purchased the food herself from a supermarket and delivered the parcel. On contacting the food bank co-ordinator the following Tuesday she found out that the person was well known for requesting food parcels from widely dispersed agencies! A much-appreciated cheque was sent to Judy from St. Paul’s when she told them her story. Shades of those people who regularly frequent funerals in order to dine at the after-service refreshment gatherings!

John was remembered as a sociable, caring and compassionate vicar who was able to mix easily with his parishioners. But, like Judy, his Christian compassion also got tested from time to time. Often it was by people requesting a place to sleep on a Friday night. These requests were met by providing bus fare to the city and directions to the Auckland City Mission which had suitable accommodation. But then there were the requests for money for petrol. John recalled the following conversation one evening with a rather forgetful regular:

“Can I have some money for petrol? I have come from the Waikato and am going to Kaitaia, ‘cos my mum’s died.”

“That’s funny,” John said. “You told the same story four months ago. How many mothers do you have?”

His long tenure had made him seem like a father figure to many of his congregation by the time he moved into well-deserved retirement. One could justifiably say of John Leitch, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”



IV. The Rev. Stuart Crosson 2000–05

The Rev. Stuart Crosson arrived in the parish as a young Curate in February 2000, the last year of John Leitch’s ministry. The following year the Rev. Terry Molloy returned to us as Priest-in-charge for a year while the search began for a new vicar. We didn’t have to look too far as, following the selection process, the position was offered to Stuart and he took up his ministry with us in 2002. He quickly settled into parish life with his wife, Mary, and young son, Sam.

While we were to lose the Rev. Terry Molloy with Stuart’s appointment, we were to gain the Rev. Gayanne Frater. Finally, the age of women priests in the Anglican Church had reached Papakura! Gayanne took up her position at the beginning of 2001 with her husband, Nick, and their teenage children, Richard, Alison and Nathan. She was obviously well qualified for providing leadership in youth matters. Gayanne was to stay with us until mid-2004 when she left to take up her appointment as Vicar of the Parish of Bombay-Pokeno. Her ministry in Papakura Parish was a historic milestone for us.

The emphasis on youth continued with the arrival of Pastor Alick Williams, his wife, Sheryl, and their four children, Jesse, Joeli, Timothy and Tiana. Alick brought with him a cross-cultural background, being born of Samoan, Tongan and Fijian parentage. And how could a pastor from a family of thirteen children not know something of youth needs! His sunny personality radiated the warmth of his Fijian homeland.

Early in November 2004 the Rev. Terry Molloy was welcomed back as Priest Assistant on a part-time basis to assist in ministering to older parishioners, especially for Thursday Prayers and for Sunday services at St. John’s in Drury. Recent heart surgery had given Terry a new lease on life and his return to us was warmly received. At this point we were better provided with the ministerial leadership needed to extend our human resources in order to serve our congregation and reach out to the community.

Stuart’s vision

In his profile Stuart gave us his view of our parish and his vision for it:

“The Papakura Anglican Church is a healthy one that has benefited from the stability of John Leitch’s ministry. There is a very solid core of committed lay leaders whose service to the church is vital for its on-going life. I believe we currently do well at looking after our own but sense the time is right to be more intentional in reaching out to the community around us.”

The means of reaching out are both human and material. Already Stuart had recognised the importance of human resources when he set up the Emmaus Group in 2000 for those in their late teens and early twenties. Our parish needed an injection of youth, as did the Anglican Church at large, and innovative and imaginative youth leadership would be critical in this. Then there were the material resources of finance and space. The last twenty years of the previous century had indicated that we needed more space for our activities. While the building of Christ Church had provided this, the growth of new activities such as the Loaves & Fishes Coffee Shop, the Play Group, Op Shop storage and an administration office quickly absorbed it. Flexible space for the Sunday School classes and youth group activities was limited. It was in the areas of human and material resources that much energy was directed during Stuart’s ministry.

The Welcome Centre

While travelling overseas, some parishioners had observed the use of a “narthex” in many churches. A term not in common use here, a narthex is an area attached to, or part of, the church itself, where informal meetings, social morning teas, etc. can take place. One of the goals of our own church had been to become a more welcoming place for members and visitors, and with this in mind, the idea gradually formed of a “Welcome Centre”. Early in 2002 this idea was broached by its chief proponent, Murray Guy, the Vicar’s Warden, and enthusiastically supported by Rex Olds, Treasurer Howard Taylor and our new Vicar Stuart Crosson.

Vestry invited input from parishioners as to what it might involve. On the positive side were the advantages of greater accessibility to clergy and staff in a centralised area, an inviting entry to the church complex with space for meetings, a centralising of resources, a secure office and space for administration, a suitable area for pre- and post-service social gathering and better facilities and access for the disabled and elderly. Against this had to be reckoned the cost burden it would impose both in terms of raising the finance needed and the extra maintenance it would incur. Since it was proposed that the church’s rented property in Grove Road would be sold to help raise finance, this would mean some loss of income. The issue of spending money on buildings rather than people was also raised as a question of priorities. These issues were publicised for parishioners to consider.

By the end of the year some concept sketches had been produced by architects Pepper and Dixon to give everyone an idea of what might be built. At the same time the feasibility of raising finance to build the Welcome Centre was investigated. This included the expected income from sale of the Grove Road house and possible support from the A.S.B. Charitable Trust. In June 2003 the decision to proceed was made and parishioners began making financial pledges, including suspensory loans that were interest-free. Cost estimates began at around $480,000. The sale of Grove Road netted $195,500 and the grant from A.S.B. was $52,000. By March 2005 around $500,000 had been raised and a bank loan of up to $150,000 was negotiated. Meanwhile, tenders had been called and contractors Des Searle Builders Ltd., with a tender contract price of $530,000, started work in mid-2004. Further additions and improvements pushed the price to $660,267 and with G.S.T. added the final cost was $742,800.

Apart from money raised from pledges there were many special fund-raising activities which continued in the following years, including a garden party at St. Margaret’s at Karaka, a guided bus tour of Selwyn churches and numerous cake stalls and parish dinners. The Yulia Townsend Concert organised by Murray and Pamela Guy at the Hawkins Centre raised over $24,000. In early 2005 the much-needed Welcome Centre was completed and included a new kitchen, additional and improved toilet facilities and three offices upstairs, and an extra two meeting rooms and an upgraded Play Group area downstairs. The new addition certainly presented a welcoming face to the outside world and met most of the space needs of the church.

On Sunday 6 March 2005 a Service of Dedication and Thanksgiving was held with the Archdeacons Don and Eleanor Battley attending. At the sumptuous morning tea that followed, a simnel cake decorated with a picture of the Welcome Centre was cut. Vivian Pollock and Murray Guy read out some apologies and welcomed the special guests. As current Vicar Dion Blundell has noted:

“Those, like me, who came after the event have benefited from the groundwork of those before us. Something like this serves as a reminder and inspiration that things can be done. Some bold moves have been made that have worked – that is, a combination of good management, great timing and GOD.”

Lay ministries

“Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” [Matt. 9:17]

This quotation prefaced Stuart Crosson’s report to vestry in June 2003, “Structure Review of Papakura Anglican Church Leadership”. It called for creating new structures as a means for greater involvement of lay people in the church ministry. This required the development of a staff team that would be a mixture of full-time and part-time, paid and voluntary, ordained and lay, to run church affairs on a more efficient basis. Our new vicar instituted some modifications of the lay assistant system after he had time to assess the pattern he had inherited. Initially the Parish Assistant’s role was held by Jean Robinson, who was Pastoral Link Team Leader from 2002 until 2004, when Dawn Redman took on this role. Lewis and Barbara Frank and Elizabeth Garraway, who assisted for a short time in 2003, were the other Parish Assistants under Stuart. While his main clergy support had come from first Gayanne and then Alick, occasional help was given by the Rev. Deirdre Sutcliffe and the Rev. John Fitzpatrick as non-stipendiary priests. A re-organised lay leadership pattern emerged in 2005 with Dawn Redman responsible for Pastoral Link Care, Doedtie Hoekstra as Worship Leader and Sally Naulls as Outreach Leader.

The Pastoral Link Care Team divided the parish into eight divisions, each with a link person responsible for a team of visitors who would provide contact with parishioners in their area. The visitors were often responsible for delivering the parish magazine, “Celebration”, to these people. The other lay activities and services, some twenty-one in all, were identified and grouped rationally to provide a comprehensive overview of parish life and the contact people involved. This highlighted the demands of our size and the pressure these demands were placing on our human resources, especially when some people were involved in leadership or organising roles in more than one group. This phenomenon was noted as early as 1993 by Bishop Bruce Moore in his report printed in the parish magazine for August–September, where he wrote, “Some people seem to be doing a tremendous amount. I had some anxiety that people be not overtaxed and do more than they should or get burnt out in their church work.”

In Stuart’s June 2005 report to vestry, “Living Beyond (a congregation size of) 200”, it was clear that by this time he had a better view of the source of some of our problems. In it he referred to research that indicated there is a barrier to church growth beyond about 200 active members – a barrier our church had been restricted by for a number of years. It was noted that to function successfully beyond this barrier four issues had to be faced. These were:

  • Expectations – The structures and organisation of small churches are inadequate for those over 200. This leads to diminished achievement and work overload.
  • Communication – New methods of communication need to be adopted. The bigger the group, the harder it is to reach everyone and people feel less connected to the group.
  • Staffing – Expectations mean that more staff are needed, including multiple pastors, paid part-time lay workers and voluntary support people.
  • Small groups – To offset the impersonality of size, small groups in which personal spiritual growth, meaningful relationships and feelings of belonging can develop need to be cultivated within the church.

Some elements of these parish needs had been developed in previous years, for example, home groups. There had also been moves to develop some systems and structures to fit our size needs, but Stuart seemed to see the broad pattern of needs very clearly, which was probably a reflection of his background in business. By the time he finished his ministry with us, a more professional pattern of responsibilities with precise job descriptions, some remuneration for leadership positions and standardised reporting to vestry had been created. It seemed we now had a clearer view of what our needs were. As Stuart explained to vestry, we had to meet this challenge because “Small church expectation in a medium size church is a recipe for burnout in leadership and dissatisfaction among congregation.” His words echoed those of Bishop Moore in 1993. We needed new wine skins for our new wine! Nowhere was this more clearly obvious than in the youth ministry.

Youth and church growth

Efforts to put emphasis on youth in the life and worship of the church received new impetus under Stuart Crosson’s leadership. He delegated much of this responsibility to the Rev. Gayanne Frater until she moved to her new position as Vicar of Bombay-Pokeno in 2004. The appointment of Pastor Alick Williams as Families Minister under the urging of Stuart signalled a further recognition of the importance of youth in the parish. The continuity of youth leadership provided by Rhonda Kerr, Richard Morley-John and Ross Williams was also an important part of this ministry. Plenty had been written about youth needs in the church and how to meet them, but practical application did not always bring success. During 2004 the parish magazine, “Celebration”, ran a series of articles listing six realities for youth in the modern world that would need to be addressed in any youth programme. These were:

  • rapid change – particularly lack of permanence in community
  • emotional damage – i.e. drugs, alcohol, family breakdown
  • accelerating consumerism – with its emphasis on materialism
  • lack of absolutes – derived from a value system based on individualism
  • indifference to or ignorance of Christian values
  • standard setting by media and electronic communication

It was these realities that the church had to surmount to reach youth. This would require a great deal from the adult mentors who were trying to lead them to a Christian life. The same writer also listed six needs that youth would require of adults in the churches:

  • relationships – in time, attention and concern
  • empowerment – in willingness to give encouragement and responsibility
  • room to grow – at a time of rapidly changing maturity
  • models – adults must live what they preach
  • authenticity – the need to see faith as a reality at work
  • vision – provision of inspiration and direction

These challenges and needs would require special people with special talents – people who had not only strong Christian values but also professional skills in working with youth. Gayanne Frater in her report to vestry in 2002 wrote:

“As yet we have no youth pastor, and I believe we need to think seriously about what we are able to achieve without one and how we can best support and strengthen those involved in working with youth and children in the Parish right now… We have a number of young people who are very gifted in the parish, but who are stretched in their responsibilities at home and at school, and therefore we need to be careful about what we are expecting from our youth in terms of ministry and involvement at church… I do believe that our older young people need to be disciplined in a more cohesive way than at present and am not sure how this can be achieved with our present resources.”

Finding a route to a successful youth ministry would be challenging and would require a willingness to experiment, to be imaginative, to be patient, to be adaptable and to take the risk of failure. This would not be easy. Youth is a time of rapid change towards adulthood, a fact that must be recognised in all aspects of any plans to involve youth in church life. Programmes must be suitable for each age group – this was reflected in the various groups from Kidz Club to Emmaus, an age range of twelve-plus years! There was considerable overlap in this range, but it mostly catered for those in secondary school and tertiary education. While the programmes under Stuart’s ministry largely followed models already established, there were attempts to alter, modify or change to improve what was done. There were many variables affecting this – suitable days and times, suitable spaces, the demands of home and school responsibilities, the availability of capable, trained leadership and parental support. It was not easy to find a pattern that worked consistently well and provided total satisfaction.

Probably the most important aspect of Christian growth is the spiritual, since it leads and influences all others. The most direct way the youth programme met this was in Bible Study as preparation for Confirmation and in youth discussion groups. Weekly Sunday classes were divided between the younger (aged 7–10 years) and older (aged 11–13 years) members of the youth group. In 2002 Gayanne had Michelle Frings and Katherine Briggs assisting with these classes, along with Rhonda Kerr as Youth Leader. Other means of helping youth to develop spiritually included discussion groups and seminars, which were stimulated by tapes, DVDs and speakers on a variety of topics. Some of these took place at annual camps and in a variety of other locations. There were also meetings in homes, such as those of the Emmaus group, hosted by Jim and Edith Yearn. Effectiveness of such courses was very dependent on the adult mentors being available and highlighted the need for training of any lay adults involved. Spiritual growth is difficult to develop except under skilled people, as youth can easily be “turned off” and disengaged unless they see relevancy to their own lives. And it is not easily measured, as time is needed for growth and it often only bears fruit after maturity is reached.

Involving youth in church worship also provides a challenge. Music, which has always had an important place in worship, has changed and youth always respond more readily to the newer elements. This change was already underway in the last thirty years of the previous millennium but it continued even further under Stuart Crosson. Provision was also made for a Sunday evening youth service which included modern music and instruments as part of worship and the beginnings of new youth-devised patterns in liturgy. Leading figures in this development were Sam Treadwell, Richard Morley-John and Rhonda Kerr. A worship seminar was held to further explore youth modes of worship. The 9.30 a.m. family service was a time when the youth group band brought some of their own contributions to the larger congregation. It was hoped that a more youth-oriented worship pattern might attract more young people to the church. Some special “guest services” were held with this intention, and the Connect Café group had a social and evangelical as well as a worship dimension.

Youth participation in parish stewardship was also encouraged. Too often, it seems, the young people felt they were left on the outside and it required the initiative from the adults of the church to help youth to overcome their reluctance to come forward. Moves were made to engage youth more regularly by having them take over one of the rosters for serving morning tea after the Sunday 9.30 a.m. service. They were also involved in helping to run the October “Banquet of Light” for the younger children of the parish and in providing assistance in some of the working bees for property maintenance. By taking responsibility for the running of the Diocesan youth “Whodunnit” competition at the Presbyterian Church for 150 members from other church youth groups, stewardship of a wider kind was experienced. Its success was recognised by a visitor remarking that the event was “the best run in years”. The youth group also undertook a fund-raising campaign for the Bible Society. Experience in stewardship develops confidence, maturity and a sense of responsibility and self-worth in youth.

Social activities have the greatest attraction for youth and there was a regular programme that provided a wide variety of activities for different age groups. While the church hall was suitable for some youth activities it was very restrictive of the more athletic and boisterous activities that young people enjoyed. This pointed towards the need for an indoor recreation space. Youth and family camps always had a social dimension, as did the Connect Café. There were also special events in the yearly calendar including monthly youth group luncheons, the Op Shop Ball and potluck dinners.

The Rainbow Club

For children of primary school age and younger the activity pattern of Sunday School, now renamed the “Rainbow Club”, closely followed that established in previous years under John Leitch, but pupil numbers did not rise. This was partly a reflection of marriage being deferred to a later age as women developed their careers or extended their education and also of the falling size of families. Leading figures in the organisation of the Sunday School during Stuart Crosson’s ministry were Nicky Treadwell, Judith Morley-John and Connie Howell. While the names of the various age groups in it tended to change, the groupings were much the same. For those under three years of age the Sunday Crèche allowed young mothers to attend the 9.30 a.m. family service, a junior group called “All Stars” catered for the three- to seven-years-olds and the “Trail Blazers” for those between eight to ten years old. A roster of teachers was created to allow those not on duty to attend the family service. Training courses were organised to prepare them for teaching activities. Over a dozen people accepted this role during Stuart’s ministry, many of whom were young mothers. Numbers of children attending varied but hovered around twenty in 2005. The strength of the Sunday School depended upon being able to attract parents of young families to the church. With them would come the children, creating a link to church-organised activities as a basis for spiritual growth. It was the realisation of this that had led to the appointment of Alick Williams as Families Minister. This was a huge task as Gayanne Frater emphasised in her reports to vestry, calling for a Youth Pastor to relieve her of some of the load. When Alick replaced Gayanne this load was largely transferred rather than alleviated. Pastoral visiting to young families as well as organising and running children’s, youth and young adult’s programmes in the church remains demanding and more semi-professional support seems needed if we are to break through the “200 barrier” that Stuart identified.

Another avenue of contact with this age group was through the Bibles in Schools Programme organised by Heather Maxwell in Papakura Central School. Unfortunately the Selwyn Scouts and Cubs group, which had been strongly linked to the church over the years, was finally disbanded at the end of 2003 due to lack of leaders and declining numbers. Efforts to keep children of this age group connected to the church led to the formation of the “Kidz Club”, an after-school and holiday programme which included games, music and other activities followed by supper. This was run by Alan and Val Mc Clean in the church hall. The October “Banquet of Light” started under John Leitch continued to provide an annual social evening, in place of Halloween, and was often attended by children other than just those from the church. Some of the older primary school children were included in the programme and the youth group provided help and leadership on these occasions.

Worship and change

Changes in worship styles had been happening in Christ Church well before Stuart Crosson’s ministry but in October 2003 he set up a Ministry Leaders’ Team where, amongst other areas of church life, our future directions in worship were looked at closely. The main area of concern was the 9.30 a.m. service as this was regarded as the key service for welcoming visitors and prospective new parishioners. The result was the commissioning of Doedtie Hoekstra as Worship Leader. In her report to the A.G.M. the following year she outlined four areas of change she hoped to implement. These were:

  • Worship leading in singing
  • Different people leading worship
  • More time and space for children, e.g. drama, stories, puppets
  • More time for prayer during and after services

Our Vicar was well aware of the divisive potential of change and was careful to solicit feedback from members of the congregation regarding this. He even had post-service “Have Your Say” sessions to encourage feedback and a Worship Committee of five was set up to examine the directions that change might take and to monitor the reactions of the congregation. A questionnaire was also put to the parishioners to gain some insight into attitudes towards change. As might be expected people took positions both for and against any specific proposals. In general, however, the survey showed that most people were happy with the different service and music styles but usually asked for a mix of the new and the old, and were receptive to attempts to create a more “young people friendly” atmosphere. A degree of informality was introduced with lay assistants not robing in the 9.30 a.m. service, although robing was retained in the 8.00 a.m. service. From October 2004, initially two services each month had youth music based on guitars and drums from the Connect Café Group. For some this was too much and complaints about loudness were voiced while others felt change had not gone far enough. As Stuart noted, “Both ‘change’ and ‘no change’ could unsettle people”! A question was asked by one advocate for more change, “How can we make it easier for the congregation to get into meaningful worship?” without any suggestion as to how one could identify or even measure worship “meaningfulness” in individuals! By the end of 2005, the Worship Leader, Doedtie Hoekstra, summed up progress so far in these words, “This continues a process begun two years ago of assessing and developing the 9.30 a.m. service at Christ Church.” Certainly by the end of Stuart Crosson’s ministry there had been developments in all four areas of change that Doedtie had initially aimed at implementing. All these efforts and issues showed a church alive to its problems and a willingness to wrestle with them. Solutions, however, often come in God’s good time, which may differ considerably from that of the flock!

Outreach to the community

Under the re-organised staffing structure introduced by Stuart Crosson, Sally Naulls became Outreach Leader. Her brief was to keep in contact with a group of activities that linked us to the Papakura community. This included the by now well-established Opportunity Shop, the Loaves & Fishes Coffee Shop and the well-supported Play Group. To these was added in late 1999 the Selwyn Village Homestead Day Care Centre Programme for the Elderly. Other links to community needs that came to our attention were also provided through the Christian Services Trust. Amongst these were an ESOL programme for teaching English to new migrants that, at one stage, involved five Chilean families, and providing assistance with the “Angels Light” breakfast programme run at Takanini Primary school. All of these activities involved members from our parish and Christians from other Papakura Churches as well as others with no church affiliation at all. There were thus growing evangelical and ecumenical dimensions to outreach work. Sally Naulls kept in contact with all these activities and reported on them monthly to vestry.

The Opportunity Shop was the oldest of these services and during Stuart Crosson’s ministry was led by June Webster, who was supported by a small committee. The main change in this time was the move from two small separate shops to one large shop on O’Shannessey Street. The net income from trading averaged around $30,000–40,000 a year, which was largely disbursed for parish projects, as well as in the form of regular donations to various groups including the Selwyn Oaks Retirement Village, South Auckland Hospice, Seeing Dogs training programme run by the Foundation for the Blind, the Red Cross, Auckland City Mission and to the Papakura Library for purchase of large print books. Apart from serving in the shop, a large amount of time was spent sorting and pricing the regular inflow of clothing, which came in considerable amounts. Staffing the shop was a continual challenge as volunteer workers moved, aged or retired through illness and there was a steady plea for extra helpers. The Op Shop also supported the annual galas with its own stall. Some women had given long years of service to the shop, like Mrs. Billie Hadfield who retired in 2004 after twenty-eight years. June Webster relinquished her leading position in 2004 and was succeeded by a management committee of five: Barbara Olds, Gillian Rolle, Lorna Hewson, Barbara Burrows and Betty Crockford. At the end of Stuart Crosson’s ministry the shop had been in business for thirty-four years of serving church and community.

The Loaves & Fishes Coffee Shop also presented a face to the community by offering its morning teas and light lunches on Thursdays and Fridays and providing quiet space for discussing needs and concerns, as well as enjoying friendship and home cooking. Barbara Frank continued as convenor until 2004 when Barbara Jones joined her and then took over in 2005. They were supported by a team of women that provided the home baking. There were times when there were shortages of both shop helpers and home bakers but they always managed to survive these crises. The small profits made from this regular service and from occasional function catering and sales of home preserves were used in a variety of ways and to boost mission funds. In 2005 the original founders of the Coffee Shop could be well satisfied that it was still an important outreach to the community after twenty-two years.

The strong growth of the Play Group continued under Connie Howell and then Michaela Williams, who took over in 2005. The pattern of two days a week, Monday and Wednesday from 9.30 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. continued and by 2005, 109 families were on the roll including ten from different cultural groups, many of whom had no other contact with a church. Families paid $2 per session for a single child plus a $1 charge for each extra child. By 2005, following Stuart’s restructuring of ministries, the Play Group was run by a supervisor with a nominal remuneration payment and a small committee of six with parent representatives on it. Costs for equipment, activity materials and for the supervisor were partly met from Early Childhood Development (E.C.D.) funding grants from Internal Affairs. This necessitated structures for clear financial recording and Brian Howell acted as treasurer for the group to establish these. The Play Group also provided an evangelical channel for the church that the mothers would otherwise miss and it was often the means by which children were brought for Baptism. The Christian message was delivered too via special treats and activities for children, especially at Easter and Christmas. It also came in very practical ways, as illustrated by the organisation of a telephone roster by several mothers to keep in touch with one young mother who badly needed help. It was a busy and needed outreach activity which served the community by providing caregivers and mothers with children under the age of three with friendly support and company at an affordable cost. Eventually an information pamphlet was produced outlining the group’s aims and conditions for first-time caregivers.

The Selwyn Homestead Day Care Centre Programme for the Elderly expanded in response to a government policy (Aging in Place) and an Anglican Diocese initiative pioneered in Papakura to try to keep the elderly in their own homes for as long as possible rather than increase numbers in the more expensive rest home care. This tended to keep many people isolated when they had no spouse or extended family to support them – a growing problem with an ageing and mobile population. Along with people from other Christian churches involved in the Papakura Christian Services Trust, members of our outreach team and supporters have worked in this programme with funding from the Selwyn Foundation since 2001. A committee made up of Don Rolle, Dawn Redman and Sally Naulls has guided and overseen the programme. By 2006 over sixty elderly people gathered four days per week at the Selwyn Homestead for friendship, company and mental and physical stimulation. Many had no other outside contact or came so that their caregivers, usually their spouse or family, could be given some time out. These people were grateful in knowing that they could leave these often frail elderly folk in a place where they were enjoying themselves and were being cared for while they had time to recharge their energy. Over twenty people from local churches made this possible, including volunteer drivers like Neil Redman who used the Selwyn Community van to pick up those attending and them return home. Entertainment, refreshments and a light meal were provided by church groups, and there were professional helpers who were able to direct caregivers to support services available for the elderly. Again the ecumenical dimension was apparent in such programmes.

Parish pastoral care

This was another ministry that developed considerably under Stuart Crosson between 2002 and 2005. Initially Jean Robinson set up the Pastoral Link programme in May 2002. Its purpose was to provide a regular link with our 400-plus parishioners and families on an updated Parish Roll. This was to be done through Pastoral Care Teams, each with a Team Leader, covering eight areas of the parish. It was a means of determining the needs and concerns of the parishioners and maintaining contact with them. For Jean this also involved administering Communion to the sick and elderly at home, in retirement villages or in hospital. It also involved the provision of transport to the church if needed. This lay ministry relieved some of the burden on the clergy in a very large parish. By the end of 2004 steps had been taken to re-organise our structure of lay ministries and Jean Robinson stepped down from co-ordinating the Pastoral Link programme but continued with her home and hospital visiting and administering of Communion.

Dawn Redman took on the Pastoral Link programme, now re-named Parish Connections, as part of her Pastoral Care lay ministry. Her brief was considerably widened to include revitalising a more formalised incorporation programme, originally begun in 1989, to bring newcomers from various backgrounds into the church family. They ran from people who had moved from other churches to those entering or re-entering Christianity and families of the newly baptised. Part of the brief also included the preparation and publication of the church magazine, “Celebration”, updated to appear in colour in June 2005, and the printing of information flyers for parents whose children were in programmes such as Bibles in Schools, the Rainbow Club and Play Group. The group of lay people licensed to administer Home Communion now included Cecilia Smith and Elizabeth Garraway. This was a vital ministry that Dawn entered into with great energy and leadership.

“Bringing the good news”

An evangelist is a “bringer of the good news” and this can be done in various ways. Our parishioners were engaged in many outreach activities where contact with the community outside the Christian church brings an implicit message of what Christianity is all about. But this message also needed to take more direct forms. As Stuart noted in one of his reports to vestry, “Local evangelism is an area where, as a church, we have some way to go.” Our southern fringe of Auckland city was growing quickly and Stuart recognised that there was a need to reach out and bring “good news” to these new arrivals. Areas west of the motorway from Hingaia to Waiau Pa and Clark’s Beach were filling up rapidly with new housing. Takanini to the north and Drury to the south were similarly growing.

Explicit envangelism is a spiritual gift and it is not easy to find ways of making direct, deliberate contact with arrivals in new housing areas other than direct door-knocking or pamphlet drop-offs. These are both time and labour intensive. In 2002, with Stuart’s backing, Sam Treadwell undertook the task of creating an Evangelism Team to develop plans and means of implementing this ministry. Various methods were suggested and tried including leaving “seeker friendly” pamphlets and booklets in public areas of the church used by the Play Group and the Loaves & Fishes Coffee Shop or at the Op Shop. Local newspapers and church road signage were used to increase publicity for courses like Alpha. More direct contact with the public was sought through the Connect Café evenings aiming at youth, and a Children’s Church Street Party was held close to Christmas 2003. Another approach was to have “guest services” for a month where parishioners were encouraged to invite friends and neighbours along and an after-service morning tea was served to allow for socialising. In 2005, another attempt at making direct contact saw Stuart and Alick making a “street walk” through the town. An ecumenical approach was tried at Waiau Pa and Clark’s Beach after considerable planning with the Presbyterian Church and the local community in these areas. There was a good turnout of people for this event but there remained the problem of an effective follow-up programme. It may be that even with a combined effort of our two churches there were simply neither the structures nor the resources to build on this initiative. Perhaps it points to the need to train local people in these areas to provide lay leadership and take responsibility for local growth. This was probably the way the early church grew in St. Paul’s time. Initial failure may be God’s way of directing us to different approaches to our goals. While new people did join our congregation, progress was slow and there probably needed to be an on-going effort to produce sustained growth. It’s likely that St. Paul faced the same situation – but at least our “street walk” evangelists didn’t get thrown out of town like Paul!

Ecumenism and multi-culturalism

During Stuart’s ministry, ecumenism continued to take on dimensions outside that of worship. The main areas of Christian church co-operation continued to be the outreach activities under the aegis of the Papakura Christian Services Trust, youth group interaction, especially with the Crossroads Methodist group, and the outreach services to the elderly at the Selwyn Oaks Homestead. At least one home group included both Methodists and Anglicans, and the Alpha courses moved towards joint operations. The evangelical outreach to Waiau Pa and Clark’s Beach showed that Presbyterians and Anglicans could co-operate in this area too. By now our annual Christmas carol service with St. Mary’s Catholic Church was an established tradition and some combined Easter services also began to take place. For a few years an inter-denominational “Carols by Candlelight” service was held in Central Park with combined church choirs. The Papakura Ministers’ Association continued to provide an on-going link for local Christian churches and in November 2004 they held a combined churches service in Christ Church followed by hospitality, to which the newly elected mayor and councillors were invited. It was well attended and a Bible was presented to the Mayor to mark the occasion. Consolidation was occurring, but extension of ecumenism still seemed to be waiting in the wings.

The multi-cultural nature of our society and the desire of distinct groups to worship within their own Christian cultural traditions were reflected in requests from different cultural groups to use our facilities and Selwyn Chapel for Sunday worship. Amongst these groups were those of Niuean, Korean, Samoan and Antioch Church traditions. The Maori population in Papakura was being served by the Rev. Morris Rangiwai and his wife, Viki, as part of a Maori Parochial District that extended over a large part of South Auckland. Selwyn Chapel was used twice a month for services in Maori, with the Rev. Rangiwai officiating at these times. There is room for inter-cultural communion to grow further. An International Family Service held in Christ Church in 2004 allowed this diversity of Christian cultural traditions to be presented to the congregation through children’s song, dress, dance and drama. Perhaps this is something that could be explored more regularly on an annual basis? It does illustrate, however, the challenge the church faces to create unity in diversity in our changing nation. Hopefully we are beginning to meet this challenge in our parish.

The call of the Deep South

It was with some dismay that the parish learned in 2005 that Stuart would be leaving us at the end of that year for a position in Dunedin where he had family roots. So many wheels of change had been set in motion in his ministry that many felt that his guidance would be necessary to see these changes through. However this was not to be.

Stuart’s had been a fruitful ministry and the task of carrying on the work he had started would fall to the flock he left. In many ways he had equipped and empowered us to do this work by delegating responsibilities and creating the structures to implement it. So fruitful had his ministry been, in fact, that we not only had the addition of a Welcome Centre to Christ Church and a raft of challenges to meet, but Stuart and Mary also had two additions to their own family during this time! There is no doubt that his ministry was appreciated by so many. The Wardens, John Hargreaves and Vivian Pollock, expressed this aptly in their A.G.M. report of 2005–06:

“His enthusiasm, motivation, preaching and friendliness are just a few of his God given attributes. With Mary also significantly involved in our church, we were beneficiaries of a special time that was a great blessing to us all. We know that the Crosson family will always be special to us and pray that their new ministry will also be a blessing in the deep South.”

We conclude this chapter with a Crosson memory!

“The Hazards of Christmas Carolling” (An episode from “Dad’s Army”?)

(As related by Stuart Crosson, a.k.a. “Jonesy”)

“Vicar and Curate went out carolling one evening around Christmas 2000 with one to two dozen others. We came to one parishioner’s home (Ray …?) that was shut off by high gates with very sharp pointed tips on the top. Rev. Leitch was not to be dismayed by the gates and set about climbing over to get to the house. Halfway over the gates he got stuck and requested help from Curate Crosson.

‘Give me a push!’

In a scene reminiscent of a ‘Dad’s Army’ episode, ‘Captain Mannering’ was helped over the gate without serious injury by, perhaps, ‘Jonesy’?

‘Don’t panic, Mr. Mannering!’

The ragtag bunch went on to sing a couple of carols beside the house but had soon collapsed into a serious bout of giggles by then, so the tune had to be held (somewhat?) by the Rev. Leitch and his faithful assistant, Rev. Crosson, a.k.a. ‘Jonesy’.”


V. The Rev. Dion Blundell (2006–present)

Archdeacon Eleanor Battley guided us through the interim between the ministry of the Rev. Stuart Crosson and the induction service on 10 June 2006 to signal the arrival of the Rev. Dion Blundell, his wife, Angela, and young son, Daniel. Prior to his call into the ministry in 2001, Dion had completed an honours degree in computer and electronic engineering and was running his own consulting business in these areas. After his training at St. John’s Theological College, Dion ministered first as Deacon and then as Priest-in-charge in Whangarei Parish in 2004. Angela had been trained as an occupational therapist but had added to this a Graduate Diploma in Theology. Since arriving in Papakura they have added to their family two sisters for Daniel, Caitlin and Annalia, and, in our 150th anniversary year, a brother, Isaac; a considerable contribution to our on-going efforts to increase youthful elements in our congregation!

Consolidation and stability in ministry

As Vicar, Dion inherited a strong supporting team from Stuart Crosson that has remained intact since 2006. This stable ministering base has been maintained with Pastor Alick Williams as Families Minister, assisted in many roles by his wife, Sheryl, the Rev. Deidre Sutcliffe as Hospital Chaplain at Middlemore and the Rev. Terry Molloy as Assistant Priest.

At this point it is worth noting that, as at this year of celebration, the Rev. Terry Molloy’s long link with us now extends back to 1995 when he began taking some of the services at St. Margaret’s at Karaka. Then, in 1998, he stood in for John Leitch during his sabbatical leave and included St. John’s at Drury in his ministry. This continued to the end of 2000. The following year he became Priest-in-charge of the parish during the interim between John Leitch and Stuart Crosson. After Stuart’s appointment as Vicar, Terry continued to take the occasional service at our rural churches for the next four years, as his health permitted, until he was appointed Assistant Priest in the parish in late 2005, a position he has held to the present date. His special responsibilities have primarily been St. John’s and St. Margaret’s but he has also had pastoral responsibilities for retirement villages such as Selwyn Oaks, Longford Park and Acacia Cove, and for older parishioners and home groups. His seventeen years with us in one form or another represent a strong and comforting element of stability amidst all our changes, especially for our older parishioners!

Supporting lay leader ministries have also remained very stable in the capable hands of Dawn Redman until 2008, and since then Edith Yearn as Pastoral Co-ordinators, Sally Naulls as Outreach Leader and Doedtie Hoekstra as Worship Leader. With no new building projects, major restorations or maintenance since the building of the Welcome Centre, financial pressures from this direction have been reduced. This stability has enabled much consolidation of the development and change inherited from earlier vicars.

A missional church

The challenge that our previous vicar, the Rev. Stuart Crosson, had put before us when he said that “the time is right to be more intentional in reaching out to the community around us” was also very much in the Rev. Dion Blundell’s vision of “a missional church”, and this was expressed in his Vestry Report in mid-2007 after his first year with us. Dion’s thinking had been influenced by the Emerging Church Movement and the ideas of Dr. Steve Taylor, a Baptist pastor who had pioneered this concept in New Zealand. It emphasised the need to go out into the community rather than wait for the community to come to us. Dion identified some of the core elements in our outreach programmes that indicated we were already on the right path. These included the Opportunity Shop, the Play Group, the Selwyn Oaks Day Care Centre Programme for the Elderly and, initially, the Time Out Café (previously called the Loaves & Fishes Coffee Shop), although this has now finally ceased operation. These programmes demonstrated how, by identifying and attempting to meet the needs of people in the community, we mirror to others the Christian faith elements in our lives, potentially drawing them into a closer relationship with Christianity. Recognition of this fact shows where our energies should be directed and outreach activities that focus on young mothers and families would seem to have the highest potential for the church’s future growth. And this is also an area where current social problems suggest the greatest needs are located.

Our basic and long-standing activities should not preclude the development of other “reaching out” missions. Some of these might be developed to meet temporary needs that passing social and economic change have created and might last for short periods only. Others might develop into more long-lasting missions, such as the Selwyn Oaks Day Care Centre Programme for the Elderly, which seems likely to continue in the light of the ageing national population. We need to be aware of this and not feel we have failed and castigate ourselves when a project ends after needs decline and circumstances change. Change must be accepted as normal.

With this view of the church’s role in the community, Dion saw a different role for the vicar himself. As he said in his report, “My role … is to help equip people … not lead the charge, … my role is one of coach.” This is an interesting concept, since the primary role of a coach in the sports sense is to recognise the potential talent of the athlete, help them realise a vision or goal, e.g. be an Olympic champion, and equip them so they become self-dependent and, in our case, with God at their shoulder. This opens the way to greater involvement of individuals in “mission” goals as their own talents flourish. Much of coaching is finding out what works and what doesn’t; this is how growth and development takes place. It is also possibly God saying, “No, not that!” or “No, try another way!” or “Not yet.” Failure or fear of failure should not be inhibiting but be seen as a challenge to seek new approaches. Change involves taking risks. As Dion pointed out, “Sometimes to take ‘no risk’ is more ‘risky’ than no change.”

The reports from the lay leaders, Dawn Redman, Sally Naulls and Doedtie Hoekstra, who attended the 2007 Licensed Ministry Conference with Dion, endorsed this vision. The work of engaging with the community through the well-established activities, the Opportunity Shop, Time Out Café, Play Group and the more recent Day Care Centre Programme for the Elderly at Selwyn Homestead, and supporting, adapting and developing them when needed, remains our prime goal. The recent move of vestry to introduce the Supporting Parents Alongside Children’s Education (S.P.A.C.E.) programme is an example of a more professional development of the original Play Group concept. In a society where young mothers often lack the support of extended families there is a growing need for such programmes. New Zealand’s shocking child abuse statistics also emphasise this fact. And with appropriate resources, both human and material, it is likely that after-school and holiday programmes could be developed for children of solo working mothers in the community too. Pastor Alick Williams’ annual reports to vestry have indicated this.

A further example of reaching out to the community was an attempt to help people to develop home gardens in order to grow their own vegetables, a skill which seems to have declined with urbanisation and decreased open space around urban homes. The present difficult economic times have also thrown emphasis on such projects as a means of developing self-sufficiency. There was an initial burst of interest and support for this project, but it was short-lived.

Vestry is the policy-making organ of the parish but often its monthly meetings became clogged with the detail of administrative needs and the hearing of reports, leading to little time being devoted to discussion and examination of wider issues of the direction and vision of the church. This was reflected in longer and less efficient meetings or the calling of special extra meetings for such purposes. In May 2007 the vicar proposed a change in the pattern and an alternation of discussion of administrative and business matters one month and discussion of wider issues the next month was adopted. In addition to this change the A.G.M. of the parish was divided into an annual parish reports session in November and a separate financial report session early in the following year. In addition to these changes, leaders of the five pastoral teams – Worship, Families Ministry, Pastoral Care, Outreach, Worship and Pastoral Care at St. John’s and St. Margaret’s – were to meet twice a month to report on and shape the direction of the church’s day-to-day mission and to exercise spiritual oversight of the parish. It was clear from these changes of emphasis that much more attention would be focused upon the concept of a “missional church”. With these new concepts and structures in place, change began to occur in small ways.

Changing worship patterns

In her Worship Report to the A.G.M. in 2007, Doedtie Hoekstra itemised some of the changes in worship patterns. The Worship Committee was replaced with the Service Planning Group with responsibility for the 9.30 a.m. service only, which was based on the Seasons of the Spirit liturgy. Then, since day-time prayer groups did not seem to be meeting everyone’s needs, the church started to offer a group prayer session immediately after the 9.30 a.m. service. It was to last no more than half an hour and people were free to stay for five or ten minutes then leave quietly. It was a way to start testing different approaches to meeting personal and wider church and community prayer needs before, during and after services in order to find out which ones gained the greatest response and were thus worth continuing with.

Band music continued to be used at the 9.30 a.m. services, but for no more than two services a month. Richard Morley-John and Sam Treadwell provided leadership and training to develop younger musicians in the group. But as with all young groups, changing and declining membership as members grow older presents an on-going challenge. Experimental changes to the order of the Communion Service were trialled in an attempt to better integrate the Sunday School teachers and pupils into the pattern of worship, but these did not bring the desired outcome; it seems that the perfect pattern is yet to be devised. Much change is cyclic in character and people return to older patterns to meet changing needs. But willingness to try new approaches does indicate an awareness of the need for more inclusive patterns of worship for this service, which is primarily for young families. The 8.00 a.m. Sunday service continues to meet the needs of older parishioners.

The Sunday School continues in much the same structure as developed by Alick under Stuart Crosson. For those under ten there are three groups – the “Sparklers” for the under fives, the “Rainbow Club” for five- to six-year-olds, and the “Rising Stars” for those aged seven to nine. Above that are the “Transformers” for those up to age eighteen. Helpers in the Children’s Ministry are Heather Maxwell, Clare Moss, Val Mc Clean, Sue Greensill, Bill Harris, Angela Futter, Angela Blundell and Katherine Thompson.

A significant development in the Bibles in Schools programme occurred in April 2006 when the Papakura Central School wrote to let us know that they were no longer supporting the programme in their school after taking a survey of parents. It was clear that having an increasingly multi-cultural community made it difficult to support one religion in school education, and certainly secular and atheistic pressures were at work too. While each school makes its own decision in these matters and our programme continues at Takanini School, the writing is on the wall for the future for all religious programmes in New Zealand schools.

The pastoral ministries

Three different ministries carry out pastoral care at present. The first of these is the Pastoral Links programme, continued under Dion Blundell by Dawn Redman until 2008 and now led by Edith Yearn. There has been continued growth in this area of pastoral care. Its main function is to keep in touch with parishioners in order to meet their spiritual and other needs, especially when they are ill or infirm and unable to attend church regularly. Dawn, Edith and some other lay helpers in this team are licensed to administer the Eucharist. Apart from Communions in parishioners’ homes, the Eucharist is also administered by lay assistants Dawn Redman, Cecilia Smith, Edith Yearn and Lesley Thew to increasing numbers of elderly in rest homes or retirement villages.

Another pastoral service, the Incorporation Ministry, continues to be responsible for integrating new people into the parish family. The A.G.M. report of 2007 noted that fifteen people had been put through this programme over the year. The programme includes information brochures, social occasions for and visiting of newcomers, as well as special “guest services” at the church. Home groups also provide another means of keeping close contact with the church flock. The preparation, printing and publication of the quarterly parish magazine, “Celebration”, under Dawn Redman, is also part of this ministry. With an increasingly computer literate population, communication via this medium went to the next level when the parish website – – was set up early in 2007. It will be interesting to see what opportunities the newer forms of electronic social communication will offer this ministry in the future. Direct human contact will always be the most powerful medium we have, and we must find ways to realise its potential.

The Families Ministry continues to be the brief of Pastor Alick Williams assisted by his wife, Sheryl. It covers young families, children and youth. Programmes are a combination of spiritual, recreational, educational and social elements. Initially, the organisation and running of the youth programmes for people of secondary school age and above were especially demanding of time, even with the support of many capable helpers like Ross and Michaela Williams, Doug and Angela Futter, Nicky Treadwell and Richard Morley-John. These programmes ran from trips to the annual Christian music festival “Parachute”, the Connect Café, the Op Shop Ball, combined music, worship and socials with other church youth groups in Papakura and attendance at Christian youth leadership seminars to mention a few. Ross Williams found his leadership role difficult to fulfil and early in 2008 conveyed his concerns to vestry when numbers in the group began to decline. But numbers in this group have often tended to fluctuate widely. The “First Contact” group continues to meet on Friday nights and now numbers some thirty boys and twenty girls. It has a strong multi-cultural flavour with youth from Fijian, Samoan, Tongan, European, Maori, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Ethiopian backgrounds.

By mid-2008 it was decided that a youth worker needed to be engaged part-time and so a young American, Forrest Williamson, who had been studying at Capernwray Bible College in Hamilton, was appointed to this position. This was partly funded with help from the Papakura District Council in recognition of the value of youth workers in the community. As a result of the time that Forrest was able to put into this ministry there was a revival of interest and activity. Unfortunately this situation did not last as Forrest was forced to resign when family matters obliged him to return to the U.S.A. in July 2009. The load now returned to Alick and Sheryl Williams. Having a part-time youth worker for this interlude did, however, seem to demonstrate the value of such a post if a programme with growth potential was to be viable. Finding the resources, both human and material, for youth work is not easy; yet, if the regular rise in petty crime during school holidays is any indicator, the need for it is evident in our Papakura community.

The second area of the Families Ministry is focused on those below secondary school age. The range of activities here has extended from the Sunday School programme to family camps held in the Hunua Ranges or at beaches on the Awhitu Peninsula. Programmes such as “Drop Zone” or “Kidz Club” during school holidays or after school provide working parents with supervised social settings for their children at these times. Indoor games and activities are supervised by volunteer adults or, on occasion, visiting Capernwray students from the Cambridge Bible College. There is always an on-going need for extra workers in these roles. One wonders whether suitable senior students in secondary schools or students in tertiary education could be trained and employed under adult supervision for such programmes. The writer has seen this system at work during school vacations in communities in the U.S.A. It would require support from schools, local communities and local council representatives, however, and has potential for an ecumenical basis too. Apart from these social and recreational activities for this age group, the Sunday School, the Bibles in Schools programme, the “Light Party” and the “Angel’s Light” breakfast programme at Takanini Primary School and Papakura High School also fall under Alick’s Families Ministry.

The final area of Alick’s pastoral work involves young families and this has included many families who have come as immigrants to New Zealand in recent years and need help integrating into our society. This has taken on an increasingly multi-cultural character and families supported in 2011 included ones from South Africa, Vietnam, Ethiopia, China and Korea. In the current difficult economic times this is a demanding pastorate.

The third area of pastoral care is the ministry to the parishioners attending St. John’s at Drury and St. Margaret’s at Karaka. This is the responsibility of the Rev. Terry Molloy and is covered in Part C of this history.

Outreach – stability and change

While some parts of our outreach have been very stable, change has been necessary. Dawn Redman put the challenge to our outreach in her 2007 report from the Diocesan Licensed Ministry Conference: “We have to develop new tactics using our imaginations and revisit established ministries.”

In its forty-first year, the Opportunity Shop is our oldest outreach. It continues to provide income for parish and community needs as well as a social function for the ladies running it. Its annual gross takings have risen from $5,842 in 1972 to $91,121 in 2010. Its main challenge is to find a younger workforce to continue its operation. A small committee continues to be responsible for its organisation.

But, after thirty years, the Time Out Café, originally the Loaves & Fishes Coffee Shop, has finally ceased to exist. There were several reasons for this. A marked increase in cafés in the Papakura business district with a concurrent decline in patronage, changing patterns in weddings and funerals being less based on churches as secularism increases, and again difficulties in finding volunteer workers for catering had forced this decision upon us. In February 2012 this outreach was closed with a Thanksgiving Service and afternoon tea.

However the Play Group continues to provide an appreciated service and opens at present on Wednesdays for two hours from 9.30 a.m. at a cost of $2 per family. Recent co-ordinators of its activities are Heather Maxwell and Sheryl Williams, assisted by Clare Moss, Angela Blundell and Katherine Thompson. Morning teas are provided by a team of volunteers organised by Phyllis Garland: Rakai Tomoana-Gul, Doedtie Hoekstra, Phyllis Garland, Margaret McKenzie, Jennifer McKenzie, Lesley Thew and Katrina Stewart. And our Vicar, Dion, has developed his barista skills for the group on the coffee machine. Mary Marshall can be justly satisfied that after a quarter of a century the continued existence of the Play Group indicates that it is still a needed outreach that will survive as long as we have people to support it in our Christ Church congregation.

Other outreach work also continues for missions and the Bible Society. This includes sales of home cooking and preserves at street stalls in Papakura or at the Welcome Centre and car boot sales run on the church grounds. Direct mission giving took on a more specific approach recently with money being directed to a community in Pagopago, American Samoa, for a healthy water supply. A food bank is being maintained for emergency needs of families in these difficult times. Major fund-raising for more general outreach purposes continues via our two galas in May and November.

A new outreach directed at new mothers that has recently been started is S.P.A.C.E. It developed after Anglican Care approached our church to see if we would be willing to support such a programme. Funding comes from the Tindall Foundation, the Hostel for the Holy Name and Anglican Care. It is designed for first-time mothers and runs weekly for the first year of their babies’ lives. After consideration our vestry agreed to support it. A meeting is held weekly on Mondays from 9.30 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. in the hall. The aim is to help new mothers learn parenting and baby care skills and how to help their child’s early development. Angela Blundell, Heather Maxwell and Annette Kelly have all been qualified by S.P.A.C.E. as co-ordinators. Ten parents attended the first course. Mothers also share their experiences in discussions with each other and with professionals from bodies like Plunket, thus gaining confidence in their new roles. Use is made of the Play Group equipment and morning tea is served from the hall kitchen. Holding the meetings in a friendly church environment helps to create familiarity with a Christian setting and there is also the possibility that it could lead to a flow-on link to the church Play Group after the initial year. Based on what social statistics are telling us, this programme is satisfying a major need in our society at present.

A related group that uses our facilities is Play, Observe, Relate, Support, Extend (P.O.R.S.E.). This is a government-supported programme for caregivers who work in the children’s homes. It provides home visits from Area Teams, training courses for caregivers, workshops, resources and means of social outings for the children. Our Play Group facilities are used on Tuesdays for two hours. With the increasing reliance of working mothers on childcare that is home based, our church has been pleased to be able to provide facilities to help this programme in Papakura.

At the other end of the age scale, the Selwyn Homestead Day Care Centre Programme for the Elderly at Selwyn Oaks is another outreach that our church, along with others, has now supported for twelve years. Dawn and Neil Redman, Sally Naulls, Val Mc Clean and Don Rolle continue to provide help in this well-established, valuable service that provides an important social role in Papakura. The Selwyn Foundation now pays for a co-ordinator, but there is still an on-going need for volunteer helpers.

In all our outreach activities, we, alongside many other churches in the Papakura district, have tried to project the practical face of Christianity into the local community. When one considers the nature of Christian church denominational relationships a century and a half ago, it is clear that, in this sense, ecumenism has grown. We do, however, have a long way to go in a world where material values are so prominent and in which even greater unity will be demanded of all Christian churches.

Ecumenism and cultural diversity

Co-operation with ministers in other churches in Papakura has been on-going but has seen varying degrees of activity over the years. When Dion arrived there was a lot of activity in this area, largely through the efforts of the Rev. Tom Philips of the First Presbyterian Church. In the early stages it was a meeting of Tom, Dion and Pastor Owen Frethy for early Tuesday morning coffee and prayer. By 2008 the vision of Papakura Alive and Transformed (P.A.A.T.) was adopted. The emphasis was on mutual support and fellowship, building relationships and the concept of all being Christians with different flavours, rather like pizzas, as Dion put it! This group now links the Papakura Anglican, Apostolic, Methodist, Roman Catholic, First Presbyterian, The Gate, Salvation Army and Wesleyan Methodist Churches. Out of this has come three combined ministers’ retreats and three combined Sunday services in the main 9.30 a.m. time slot when we have worshiped together. Members meet weekly for coffee and once a month for longer lunches. Thus in recent years ecumenism in Papakura seems to have strengthened in its development.

Our Selwyn Chapel continues to be used by a Maori-speaking Anglican community and a Tongan-speaking Methodist community for worship within their own cultural traditions. In recognition of our co-operation the Tongan community presented us with a magnificent tapa cloth backdrop for the altar in Christ Church. Its size, traditional design and colour make it an impressive and beautiful addition to Christ Church. It seems to have inspired us to use backdrops of similar size for celebration of the major Christian seasons and festivals in their traditional colours. Covering an area of around four by six metres, these backdrops certainly send out strong signals of Christian symbolism.

Nuts, bolts and buildings

The greatest challenge that has arisen from the church’s buildings in recent years was to pay off the Welcome Centre bank loan. Since 2008, various fund-raising projects have been undertaken to meet this challenge, including stock-taking at The Warehouse, fashion parades at Ballantynes, online sales on Trade Me, and the Op Shop’s extension of its business hours to include Saturdays. The whole exercise has been an encouraging example of the way a small crisis can bring a community of people together in a variety of ways.

While we have had no major construction or maintenance issues of late, the day-to-day care of our buildings and grounds has gone on without great fanfare. For this we are indebted to a silent squad of workers who mow lawns, tidy up building surrounds and organise and man working bees for spring cleaning. Our Works Committee suffered great losses this year with the deaths of Rex Olds and Jim Yearn. Their quiet and unassuming labour and leadership over the years has been largely responsible for the cared-for and attractive appearance of our grounds at the entry to Papakura’s business district. They are greatly missed, as was attested to by the large assemblies of people who attended their funerals in Christ Church. In 2007 the south-west window behind the organ was replaced with aluminium joinery to finally solve the leaking problem. This was financed by the bequest of Joan Parton.

At the north end of Christ Church, set against a contrasting background of grey Hunua stone, is a large white cross. This was re-painted and fitted with L.E.D. lights in June 2012 and is now a prominent beacon of Christianity, highly visible both day and night, as you enter the Papakura township, travelling south on the Great South Road.

The challenge of evangelism

The social setting in which our Anglican Church in Papakura finds itself has changed hugely in the last 100 years. From a small rural settlement separated from Auckland city by open countryside it has now become part of a spreading urban metropolis. In 1912 about five different denominations shared the Christians in the area. By the outbreak of World War II this number had increased slightly, but in 2012 there are fourteen different denominations with around twenty-three churches to serve them. With new global migration bringing Christians from different cultures into our society we can expect an increased diversity of churches in our community. But despite this growth and diversity, the numbers of people in society professing the Christian faith has declined. This is reflected in our own Papakura Parish congregation. The decline began (if we use annual acts of Communion as a guide) after reaching a peak in 1963, reaching a marked low in 1974. Growth rose again till 1985 but from then on further decline set in while the Papakura population continued to grow.

What were the reasons for the decline? Partly it can be attributed to the growth of materialistic values in society. Advertising, in an increasingly pervasive media, focuses attention on wants rather than needs, and the philosophy of the market that became apparent in the early 1980s has increasingly dominated social values. Hospital patients became “customers”, students became “clients” and the object of life became consumerism and “higher standards of living”, resulting in obesity for many! In a world of limited material resources one wonders how long such values can be sustained. Our recent social and economic crises have also raised questions about the morality of business and political leaders who focus on such materialism and about the society this creates.

Other reasons for the decline that have been advanced include outdated church worship styles and music, the old-fashioned language of the Bible and worship, and the conflicting views of religious theology. Some aspects of Christian fundamentalism’s inability to accept the findings of modern science within the orbit of Christian understanding have created barriers to growth as well. However, there is little evidence that making changes in these areas has brought about dramatic permanent change in church attendance. There may have been some arresting of decline but little sign of sustained growth. It seems more likely that the challenges we have face have more to do with the emphasis on values derived from scientific rationalism, individualism, pluralism and materialism.

This situation creates an opportunity for Christians to advance their alternative system of moral values. But we still face the issue of how to effectively present it. Although our indirect evangelism of outreach activities does indicate that “by their fruits you shall know them”, we still have yet to develop a more effective direct form of evangelism. The 2012 visit to the parish of Michael Harvey from Manchester in the U.K. to explore, through his “Unlocking the Growth” seminars, how individual Christians can become missionaries for their faith indicates a growing interest in this form of evangelism. Our previous vicar had tried to develop this more direct evangelism in 2002 with the creation of an Evangelism Team, but as a means of arresting the slow decline of our congregation it cannot be said to have been entirely successful. If we are to maintain our various outreach activities through lay ministries there must be the human resources to support them. And while the more indirect forms of evangelism such as outreach, our “guest services” and our Alpha courses have had some effect in bringing new members into the congregation, this has not been enough to stop the on-going decline. To bring about change we must explore other new and imaginative approaches, and direct increased effort and resources into these areas. Until we grasp this, further decline may only be averted in the face of some crisis situation where humans eventually find that material resources alone are not sufficient for living life to the full. As Christ said, “Man does not live by bread alone.” (Matt. 4:4). This situation will remain a vital challenge for our parish and the Christian Church in the years to come.

Dion and the “cheese burglar”

The waifs and strays of this world and parish vicars seem to have a natural affinity. John Leitch found himself dealing with one who had multiple deceased mothers and Dion tells this story of another who, in his determination to gain access to the vicar’s help, made his entry to the church by breaking a window in the night with a mouldy Budget brand block of tasty cheese! The next morning, after Alick had cleared up, the cheese entry was reported to the police and the window replaced.

Having failed to find the vicar during the night, the “cheese burglar” must have decided to try again at a more conventional time. The next day he walked into the Welcome Centre and, as Janice, our Parish Administrator, was engaged on the phone, Dion left some work he was busy with in Alick’s office and asked how he could help. His client said he needed somewhere to stay. Dion returned to Alick’s office to do some phoning. After several unsuccessful calls to possible local locations he wrote down the phone number and address of the City Mission in Airedale Street and came out to find the client had been into his office, taken a bottle of Ribena and was now drinking it!

A short conversation followed, during which Dion was informed that the Mission didn’t suit and that he actually wanted to stay in the Welcome Centre. He was informed that this wasn’t possible as we did not have the facilities for it, but that Dion would organise a bed at the City Mission for him. At this point the man got abusive and said he was staying here! With great patience Dion tried to explain again why this was not possible, to no avail, and the following exchange took place:

“I’ll just break another window and stay here! There are lots of homeless people that need a place to stay rather than under bridges. You have lots of space here. I’m Jesus Christ and his brother come back! Do you know Revelation?”
“I’m familiar with Revelation,” said Dion and, with another revelation dawning, he again patiently explained that he could organise a place at the City Mission.
“No, I’ll just break another window and stay the night. I can avoid infra-red. I’m a criminal,” he said.
“You broke our window?” Dion asked.
“Yes. Last night,” he said.
Well, that flummoxed Dion. What did he do now?
“I will have to ask you to leave.”
“I’m not leaving. I’m staying the night.”
“No, you’re not. You’re leaving.”
“I’ll thump you.”
“No, you won’t. You’ll leave.”

Thankfully the vicar’s view prevailed and, despite a few parting words from “Jesus’ brother”, he left.

Dion decided it was time to lock up, call 111 and return to normal life. The police duly caught up with our “cheese burglar”. Parishioners were later informed that anyone bringing blocks of Budget brand tasty cheese to church for the Food Bank should leave them at the door. One wonders what other adventures of this type lie in wait for our vicar in his years ahead with us!


Part C

The rural churches of the parish


St. John’s, Drury 1862–2012

The first century 1862–1962

by the Rev. M.J. Mills

The histories of Christ Church, Papakura and St. John’s Church, Drury, are closely interwoven. They have through the century been served by the same clergy, and have formed part of the same parochial district. In the nineteenth century Drury often stole the limelight; certainly in the excitement of the Maori Wars, Drury was an important defence post, and it also provided the church-house where many of the early itinerant preachers resided. In the late 1950s Drury did not share in the phenomenal growth of Papakura. St. John’s still remained the centre of worship for a relatively small number of families, but by 1962 there were clear signs that Drury would become involved in the southern sprawl of Greater Auckland in the near future.

The erection of St. John’s Church

We have even less definite information concerning the opening of St. John’s than we have of the Papakura Church. The long-standing tradition of the Drury church people is that their church was completed and in use before Papakura’s, built at a cost of £100 from one kauri tree felled in the local bush. The tree was the gift of Mr. William Cossey, who was one of Captain Hobson’s bodyguard, an early Drury settler and St. John’s first Warden. The Rev. V. Lush, in his diary entry for 22 November 1862, appears to support a date before the end of 1862:

“The four chapels and schoolhouses, viz. Wairoa, Wairoa Road, Papakura and Drury, being now completed …”

However, other reports of church building in the area at about the same time do not include Drury; the “Southern Cross” reports, on 29 November 1862, the great efforts of the Episcopalians in building churches at Papakura and Mauku. Bishop Selwyn too, in April 1863, omits any reference to Drury: “We now have chapels completed at Papakura, Wairoa Road, Wairoa, and Mauku.”

Other reports suggest that the building was not completed till 1863. In April of that year, the Diocesan Synod Reports and the newspaper “The New Zealander” record that “a chapel is now being built at Drury”. As late as August 1863 the “Daily Southern Cross” reports:

“The new church is well forward to completion. It still wants the roof, however.”

Recent research in 2012, aided by recording of past New Zealand newspapers on the internet, has finally produced the actual date of the opening of St. John’s. An advertisement in the Daily Southern Cross of 25 June 1863 reads –



The Right Rev The Lord Bishop of New Zealand will hold Divine Service in the above recently erected place of worship, on Sunday Next, June 28th (1863), at 3.30pm. A collection will be made at the close of the service towards liquidating the cost of erection.

Auckland, June 22, 1863

It is unclear as to what situation led to the August newspaper report about the church still needing a roof though. So St. John’s was built and opened some six months after Christ Church in Papakura.

These were the days when Drury, as the northern base of military operations, played an important part in the news of the day. Bishop Selwyn himself often preached at the church to the soldiers, and in the church’s graveyard many soldiers were buried. When the fighting was most threatening the building became a refuge for the women and children. A later writer in 1883 recalls:

“On one occasion, when there was an alarm of a Maori invasion, and great uneasiness was felt for days, the Bishop sent all the women and children living in Drury into the church, but would not allow any of the men into the crowded building. The bishop himself stood guard at the door but took no greater advantage of the place of safety than he would allow to any other man.”

At about the same time the bishop had a small three-roomed cottage built and furnished for the use of the ministers travelling through the area. The Rev. V. Lush, in his journal entry of 17 July 1865, gives us a full description of his “parsonage”, known to subsequent generations as Bishop Selwyn’s “mission house”:

“I am occupying the house the Bishop calls the “Parsonage”, Drury (plan enclosed). Each room is about 12 x 12. In the two bedrooms there is an iron bedstead with 2 pairs of blankets to each and a counterpane – and mattress and bolster. In one of the bedrooms in addition to the bedstead there is a small wash hand stand, basin, jug – and two towels; in the sitting room, an inverted box serves as a table and then there are two chairs – two cups and saucers – one or two knives and forks, 3 plates and a milk jug, and 3 or 4 canisters. This house and the accommodation therein is what the Bishop estimates as sufficient for his Clergy – and here I must make myself as comfortable as circumstances will allow.”


Mr. Lush also reports favourably on the services at Drury in 1865:

“20 August: At 2 o’clock had service at Drury; here there was a large increase. I have officiated three times only as yet. There were some 6 or 7 the first time, about 20 the second, and today upwards of 50. I attribute the improvements to my visits to their houses. I only hope the improvement may last. At Papakura also the congregation was very much better, but there was still no singing, whereas at Drury they attempted a chant, as well as two of Bradey and Tates.”

A month later he again records the enthusiasm of the Drury people:

“19 September:… On reaching Drury near upon 9 o’clock saw a light in the church – heard singing – looked in and found the choir practicing; but a short time ago, I hear, there was no singing ‘at all, at all’ as the Irish say. Now my fear is that the young people will want too much!”

Although the church was being put to good use, it was still unfinished inside. In April 1866 Mr. Castledine, of the Drury Inn, promised a Communion Table for the church. So on 6 May Mr. Lush records:

“Service at half past 10. Congregation very good. The new Communion Table placed in the chancel today. Hitherto we have had a common dressing table belonging to the Crisps. I begged a little money for the new one and this is the result. … Whether this one was approved of or no, I know not, for no one spoke about it to me.”


In the period when the district was being served by visiting clergymen the little church at Drury maintained regular services. Often the ministers used the little mission cottage as their parsonage. In 1875 we know that a Mrs. Bluck and another teacher ran a Sunday School at St. John’s. In May of 1876 the “Church Gazette” reports:

“Drury – The Bishop stopped at our church in passing on Sunday afternoon, April 9, and placed on the Holy Table the Altar Cloth and Altar linen which he received for us from friends in England by the ship ‘Brodick Castle’.”

In 1866 Mr. Lush had prepared a class of young people for Confirmation at Drury. In subsequent years candidates joined those from Papakura at services at Christ Church. It was recorded with great pleasure in 1881, therefore, that the Bishop confirmed ten young people in St. John’s, followed by a Communion Service during which twenty people received Communion. From 1878 until her death in 1889 Miss Euphemia Blake (Mrs. T.N. Blackhall) was the capable organist at St. John’s.

The church grounds and buildings received careful attention. In 1883 we read:

“The little Drury church has been lately renovated. A suitable plate has been substituted for the old offertory collection bag, the candles and tin sconces have given way to neat lamps, the building has received two coats of paint, a bell has been affixed, the church-yard has been cleared of furze and lastly, through the kindness of Mrs. Clark and Miss Seaborn, the windows have been provided with calico blinds. An effort is to be made shortly to renew the fence and provide some additional seats for the building.”

Under the Rev. O.R. Hewlett, the life of the church at Drury was built up. He took great pride in the appearance and general upkeep of the church and in the 1890s was greatly encouraged by the response of the Drury people. In 1897 the number of services was doubled and the average attendance rose from 31.9 to 37.7. In the same year, a new bell was installed, the windows decorated in stained glass, the roadway up to the church re-metalled, and the gateway and church repainted. The trees that add dignity to the building today were also planted in Mr. Hewlett’s time.

During this time Miss Louisa Cossey was organist and the semi-choral rendering of the services, led by a strong choir, was praised. At a presentation made to the organist for her work, it was said, “Miss Cossey walks several miles to church, over very bad roads, especially in winter, but she is always at her post.” Mr. Burnell, the station master, was a faithful Warden in the 1890s together with Mr. Solomon Cossey, who gave devoted service to this task for over forty years, up until 1921. Mr. Lupton is remembered as a very fine lay-reader who often helped at Drury, riding out on his roan pony.

However, on New Year’s Day in 1897, the little church dramatically escaped disaster:

“The store and dwelling across the road from the church were entirely devoured by fire, and, as the wind was towards the church, large pieces of lighted material were carried on to the roof, and, in a few minutes, with this dry weather, it must inevitably have shared the fate of the unfortunate store; but happily, a number of people were passing at the time on the way to the sports … and all did their very best to save the church. Twenty times the roof was on fire, but the settlers stuck to their work bravely and beat back the flames. Mr. Fred Cossey entirely destroyed a new coat in beating out the fire, and numbers of others had their best clothes ruined … the large congregation gathered on the Sunday following the fire, joined heartily in a special thanksgiving to Almighty God for his mercy in preserving the Church.”

In November 1897, Drury bought a new organ and Mr. Albert White played for the first service. Captain Collard was the reliable lay-reader at this time and he revived the Sunday School work. His young daughter Katie was organist, “a talented musician, and plays with much taste and judgment”. Other lay workers at this time were Mrs. Smallfield, who organised annual sales of work for Dr. Barnado’s Homes; Mr. Hockin, who helped in the services, and his wife, a reliable worker and chorister, who sometimes played the organ; and Mr. and Mrs. Fox, who gave similar service. At the end of 1898 Mr. Hewlett replaced the Sunday School with weekly Bible Class instruction in the day school at Drury. At this time the congregation was strong and enthusiastic.

“Christmas, 1897: At the 8 a.m. service … one of the communicants had walked 5 miles, and another, a lady, ridden 10 miles to be present at the Sacrament.”

“Easter, 1898: Every available seat was occupied, and some were unable to obtain entrance.”

In 1899, £14 was spent on painting the church and paying its organist. Mr. Fallwell travelled out from Papakura each Sunday to play. Mr. Hessel was a station master who was a keen church worker at the turn of the century. On one memorable occasion he combined his job, his churchmanship, and his enthusiasm for the Imperialist cause in the Boer War, by stopping a special troop train while the church people dispensed fifteen hundred-weight of fruit and 100 gallons of milk to the soldiers!

Mid 20th century

The Drury church in this century seldom regained the strength it attained under Mr. Hewlett. Regular services were maintained, but the worship and work of the church relied on a very few faithful families. In particular the women gave devoted service, cleaning the church and arranging the flowers. An outstanding worker was Miss G. Cossey, organist for thirty years. Miss Cossey was, during these years, secretary and treasurer on the Drury Church Committee, and only relinquished her duties as caretaker of the church graveyard in the early 1960s. Mrs. Langford was another staunch supporter for twenty-eight years.

At the end of 1913 Mr. Hewlett’s family retired to a residence at Drury; for twelve years they continued to join in church affairs. Miss Edith Hewlett started up a Sunday School, helped at times by Misses Kinlock, Glasson and Smallfield, and the roll reached over forty children. Memories of picnics at Papakura or Duder’s Beach were treasured by many parishioners. Superintendents after Miss Hewlett were Mr. Dagg, Mrs. Brodick and Miss Smallfield, and Mrs Edith Bremner held this post for over ten years. Throughout Mr. Wood’s day the parish lay-readers helped maintain regular services.

Under the Rev. H. Sinclair, St. John’s again made progress. In 1938 a Drury branch of the Women’s Parish Association was formed under the leadership of Mrs. A. Walker, who served in this position until 1962. She also was organist for a similar period. The work done to the church since 1938 was to a large extent due to this Association’s efforts. Mr. Sinclair also formed a social club “for recreational, educational, and spiritual purposes” in the first year of his ministry. This club proved so successful that similar young people’s clubs were begun at Karaka and Papakura. The activities of this club, together with the growing Sunday School work led by Mr. and Mrs. V. Salisbury, precipitated the conversion of the old Selwyn Mission House into the present Sunday School hall. This Social Room, as it was first called, was erected near the church, and was still being used in 1962. Mr. S. Adcock, the People’s Warden, did nearly all the work involved. Mr. D. Young served with him as Vicar’s Warden for many years.

In 1938 Mr. Sinclair had the church’s interior re-stained and renovated, and electric lighting installed. Later in the year a new organ was purchased and the old one donated to the Sunday School. In 1939 the congregation decided to raise £100 for the purpose of replacing the altar and reredos, and the east window and sanctuary furnishings; in 1940 the work was completed and a sanctuary carpet added. Not until September, 1942, was it dedicated.

During Mr. Heath’s time several families moved away and were not replaced by Anglicans; communicant figures dropped; and difficulty was found in obtaining suitable Sunday School teachers until the work was taken on by Miss Fielding, Mrs. Reid, Mr. Mulholland and Miss Rickard. Much of the committee work relied on women – notably Mesdames Fielding, F. Cossey, Peers, Walker, and of course Miss G. Cossey. The present credence table and book stand were given by the Ladies’ Guild in 1944. The old altar, which stood in the vestry for some time, was given to Bishop Baddeley for use in a Melanesian church. A “Maintenance Fund” was begun for the church.

The Rev. W.H. Beech also took a keen interest in the little church at Drury, doing much of the paint-work himself. He found a heart-of-oak desk under the Vicarage, which, renovated, cut down, and re-polished, was generously offered to Drury by Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Knibb of Papakura as a prayer desk. Mr. Beech introduced the Holy Communion at the family service each month and Mr. Peers assisted as lay-reader. Efforts were made to erect a suitable belfry over the church.

On 1 May 1949, the new lectern given by the Adcock family was dedicated as a thank offering to Almighty God “that their son, who had resided in England throughout the war, had come through many dangers and difficulties unscathed”.

In 1952, after a short break, the Sunday School was re-opened. Miss Julie Carson and Miss J. Downes acted as leaders; the latter was still superintendent in 1962.

In 1953 Mr. T. Downes first represented Drury on the central church committee, and Mrs.M. Downes began her work as church treasurer.

In spite of the great care that had been taken of the little church over the years, by 1955 it was clear that major repair work could no longer be delayed. The Rev. T.R. Everall stressed this as one of the parish’s urgent needs in the first Stewardship Campaign of 1956. The foundations of St. John’s were gone, the shingled roof no longer kept the rain out, and the vestry was straining from the main building. Extensive repairs and alterations were commenced in April 1956 that included renewal of the foundations and replacement of the roof shingles. A new wing at the west end, running north and south, was built. The nave was extended to become the new entrance area and the doorway moved to face east, providing shelter from westerly and southerly winds. Mr. T. Downes, with the help of local residents, accomplished this great project while Sir William Stevenson gave financial help and donated the shingles for the roof. Paths were laid, new fences built and metal gates made by Mr. Downes marked the entrance to the grounds. At this time a Selwyn belfry was also built above the nave on the western end.

The northern extension, which became a small vestry, was built over the gravesites of William and Harriet Cossey and some of their family and this resulted in the need for a small memorial plaque by the entrance to the vestry to record their names. The Bishop’s faculty rule requires permission for items to be placed in a church and the fixation of plaques to walls in churches creates problems as they are memorials and cannot be removed without permission of the families concerned. The Bishop usually refuses any such request but in this case the plaque was allowed because the vestry had covered the Cossey family burial plot.

A new organ was ordered and the sanctuary re-carpeted. On Sunday 22 September 1957, Bishop Simkin consecrated the new work; 95 people attended the service and luncheon. Mrs. F. and Miss K. Cossey presented a framed Roll of Honour, in memory of several officers and soldiers buried in the church’s cemetery during the Maori Wars.

Miss E. Hewlett (of Auckland) and Mrs. M. Reid donated the altar linen. In 1960 the sanctuary lamp was given in memory of the latter church worker. During 1961 Mrs. Sprague, helped by Mrs. Hatt and Miss Smallfield, made the first of the set of coloured vestments that gave added dignity to the Drury services.

In the late 1950s the little Sunday School had become quite inadequate for its task, so the major effort for the centenary was the re-erection of the old Papakura church hall at Drury in 1961. The hall had all the basic facilities – toilets, a small kitchen, a piano and space for storage. In 1962 the congregation at St. John’s was in good heart. There was a nucleus of devoted worshippers and workers, and both church and hall were in better condition than they had been for many years. Whatever Drury’s future might hold, St. John’s, in all faith, felt ready to meet it.


St. John’s 1962–2012

by Margaret Garnett


Maintaining a historic church

The maintaining of St. John’s has both human and material dimensions. Its first century had ended with work on restoring and upgrading of its historic Selwyn Chapel. This was only part of the material demands it has placed on its diminishing human resources. Since it is the only one of our churches in the parish to have a graveyard, a large part of its upkeep is in maintaining this area, which has some sites of major historical significance going back to the turbulent times of the Waikato Land Wars. At this time Drury was the major forward encampment of the Imperial and Colonial troops on this side of the Bombay Hills.

The present cemetery is full except for two burial plots, one owned by the early pioneer Cossey family and the other by the Mc Kay family. The last burial was of Mrs. Kath Mc Kay (nee Cossey), who was buried in the same plot as her husband. However, an ashes repository strip was established in 1996 on the right side of the path leading to the church hall. Funds for the repository were donated by Mr. Ray Legg. Interred in this repository at present are former parishioners of St. John’s, Clyde and Irene Lewis, Mavis Downes and Gloria Legg. The cemetery fund for St. John’s has been administered by Christ Church central vestry since 1960.

It is interesting to observe the large variety of headstones in this small churchyard, some with lead lettering falling out with age and which are difficult sometimes to decipher. There are also a significant number of unmarked graves and, as early church records have been lost, it may never be known whose graves they are. In the early days poverty was prevalent and some graves would only have had a wooden cross as a marker, which would have deteriorated and rotted away over time.

More substantial is the monument, in the form of a memorial cenotaph, erected by the officers and men of the 1st Waikato Regiment to twelve comrades who fell in action at Titi Hill near Mauku in October 1863. In 1996, after twelve years of research, the mystery of another set of graves at St. John’s was finally solved by the Papakura Genealogical Society, with help from the Pompallier Diocesan Centre Archives. This was the names of seven Roman Catholic soldiers buried in a section known as the “Catholic graveyard”, located on the eastern side of the cemetery by one of the Lebanon cedar trees. They had been buried here because there was no consecrated cemetery for Catholics in the area at that time, but there was no record of their identity. The Society found that the men were from the 2nd Battalion of the 18th Irish Regiment, nicknamed “Paddy’s Blackguards”! Their names were Daniel Carrol, Patrick Kennedy, John Moran, James Murray, John O’Meally and John O’Neil. It seems that a Catholic priest, Father O’Hara from Otahuhu, had conducted the service in Drury and then recorded the names in his own parish, which is where their records were found.

On 6 June 2012 a memorial stone was placed next to the cenotaph for the soldiers of the Waikato Regiment to honour these Irish Catholic soldiers and two others, John Glover and Samuel Mitchell from the 65th Regiment, also believed to be buried in the cemetery. The Honorary Consul General of Ireland, Mr. Rodney H.C. Walshe, ONZM, Father Peter Murphy representing the Roman Catholic Church, the Rev. Dion Blundell from our own church, local Drury historian and genealogist Mr. Donald Mc Fadzean and representatives of the New Zealand Army attended this public ceremony of unveiling and dedication. Two soldiers carrying muskets and wearing the 1863 uniform of the 65th Regiment made an honour guard while a bugler played the Last Post and the Reveille. It was a moving little ceremony. The National War Graves Commission regularly provides a grant to assist in the upkeep of the military memorials and Margaret Marks has a yearly meeting with the Drury Warden to discuss the maintenance needs.

Keeping the graves, their surrounds and the large lawn area on the east side of the church tidy is a mammoth task. As the cement holding the headstones in place erodes, maintenance is necessary, especially because young children from groups using the hall often play around the area. The Lions Club of Drury have helped in recent years by organising their members to put new cement under the loose headstones. Considerable work has been done by Cyril and Gaye Couper over the years in filling in parts of the grounds which needed levelling. Apart from occasional working bees, help has also comes from groups using the hall, such as the Scouts and Guides; Periodic Detention workers have also provided welcome help in recent years. With a slow decline in the number of men attending St. John’s and the loss of older parishioners, the burden of maintaining the grounds has fallen on a few people like Derek Sutcliffe, Paul Lewis and Ron Garnett. More recently paid contractors also have had to be engaged to do this work.

While the upkeep of grounds is a regular on-going task, maintenance of buildings tends to occur at greater intervals and with greater costs. By the late 1990s it was found that major problems were again developing in the roof of the church. The shingles were leaking and to stop further deterioration in the structure a major task loomed. An application was made to the A.S.B. Trust for monies to purchase new shingles for St. John’s as a registered Historic Place building. A sum of $15,000 was granted and a volunteer group of forty parishioners, mostly from Christ Church congregation, led by the church works committee chairman, Bob Appleby, commenced the project, which took about six weeks to complete. With builders’ expertise from parishioners Merv Webster and Rex Olds, costs were further reduced. While the older workers cut the shingles, the younger more agile folk scaled the roof to set them in place. Don Rolle used his electrician’s skills to ensure that the wiring and heating was installed without intruding on the Selwyn architecture and that they met professional standards. The ladies under Irene Lewis provided sumptuous morning teas and lunches to support the men. Following the re-shingling of the church, the hall was also re-roofed and re-painted, mainly by male volunteers from Christ Church. The Rev. Terry Molloy was instrumental in recently getting a small wash basin installed in the vestry of the church, the plumbing work for which was done by Peter Jones. It makes a huge difference having water available in the building now. Peter and Barry Robinson also keep an eye on other small upkeep needs. Future maintenance cost for this historic building and its surrounds is likely to be a major factor for parish finances. But St. John’s badly needs an injection of younger human resources too.

A church is people

Like many small rural churches, St. John’s has depended on a small group of dedicated people for its on-going needs. But in a world of greater mobility, many of the old long-serving families have dispersed from the Drury area. Notable amongst families who have recently given long service to St. John’s and the wider parish has been that of Clyde and Irene Lewis and their son Paul. Arriving in the district in 1961 there have been few areas of church life in which they were not involved, Clyde in buildings and grounds maintenance and care and Irene in a multitude of activities extending from housekeeping and cleaning of the church itself to being organist for the services. Wider parish groups such as the Opportunity Shop, the Loaves & Fishes Coffee Shop, Mothers’ Union, the Women’s Fellowship, and the running of and providing for the jams and pickles stall at parish galas all fell within her orbit. In fact her yearly production of preserves for the galas assumed industrial proportions at times according to one Drury parishioner. Outside of all this she was an enthusiastic historian and served as secretary for the Papakura Historical Society, and a tireless worker for any community project that needed her help. When Clyde died in 1997 and Irene in 1999, a golden totara was planted in the church graveyard to commemorate their faithful support of St. John’s for almost forty years. Son Paul has continued his family’s role as a grounds-keeper and supporter of St. John’s, and has given generously for additions to buildings and for building maintenance.

Others who have given long years of service to St. John’s and the parish have been the Downes family, Margaret and Ron Garnett, Barbara and Jim Hargreaves, Robin and Carol Eyres, Jim and Barbara Houghton, Jim and Barbara Munro, Ray Legg and Olive Jones. Olive is very much one of the main contact persons for St. John’s at the present time. When Jim Houghton passed away in 2007, in celebration of his life a beautifully crafted wooden Communion wafer box and a Communion cup were gifted to St. John’s. Both of these have been engraved. But it is clear that St. John’s is in great need of a younger congregation to succeed the older generation, many of whom have died in recent years.

The attendance at services has fallen to under twelve at present. The last group of children attending Sunday School at Drury was very small; they had as their teacher Wendy Osbourne – now Mrs. Cossey. Wendy kept this class going until she went to teachers’ training college in the early 1980s. Any Drury children now would attend Sunday School at the Papakura church. There has been no Sunday School for many years despite efforts to revive it. Various attempts have been made to attract people by improved signage and alteration of service times. Three services a month were held at 11.00 a.m. up to 1994 when a switch was made to a 7.00 p.m. only. This evening Holy Communion every Sunday was taken by Vicar John Leitch or the Rev. Charlie Hughes and occasionally the Rev.Terry Molloy. The Rev. John Fitzpatrick took services for a time when St. Margaret’s was also part of his brief. When Stuart Crosson became Vicar he expressed his concern with the situation at Drury to vestry and began consulting leaders there in an effort to find a solution. A survey was held in early 2004 to obtain the views of the congregation. As a result the vicar proposed to add a morning service for families at 10.00 a.m. each first and third Sunday in the month. The initial service was held with the attendance of the Drury Keas and Guides who made use of the church hall. This group has always been closely linked to the church as several parishioners like Ruth Solly had been active in the group until moving to Papakura. It was hoped that this, with a letter drop in the local area, would open a link to the Drury community that, with a service directed to non-regular church families, might lead to a Sunday School being revived. The service was to be under an hour and tried out for five Sundays. The regular 7.00 p.m. service continued for Holy Communion. There was also an attempt to inject a more youthful element into this family service when the Emmaus youth group took a leading part in one of the services. When the Rev. Terry Molloy was appointed Assistant Priest at the end of 2004, St. John’s became part of his brief, in which he was assisted by Andrew Hill. While this change did bring some new people into the congregation, by the end of 2005 it was clear it had not produced the anticipated results. Late in that year, we learnt that Stuart would be leaving us for an appointment in Dunedin and any momentum seemed to decline. It was announced that for 2006 St. John’s would revert to the previous pattern of a 7.00 p.m. Holy Communion service only every Sunday, spelling an end to the effort to revive a Sunday School. Under the Rev. Dion Blundell, Terry continues to have responsibility for St. John’s services at present.

The arrival of Dion as our new vicar was a matter of some anticipation at Drury. The Drury parishioners met him at one lovely sunny Saturday morning working bee armed with a paintbrush and his gentle smile. In fact, one parishioner who had not met him yet thought he was a member of the youth group who had come to help. At least the vicar was leading the way in the drive for youth in the parish!

Social life and celebration

Apart from changes to services, other efforts during this time to increase numbers included a potluck tea, a mid-winter dinner and a barbeque. A home group was also begun in 2005 as a means of bringing parishioners together. The church has also served as a focus for some of the older members for family celebrations, including Keith and Olive Jones’s diamond wedding anniversary and Jim and Barbara Munro’s and Margaret and Ron Garnett’s golden wedding anniversaries, all in 2011.

St. John’s participated in the 125th Anniversary Thanksgiving Service in November 1987. Part of this was a special service at St. John’s at which Archdeacon Herb Simmonds gave the sermon. This was followed by a special luncheon where Mavis Downes cut the celebration cake.

The biggest celebration in recent years was the 2002 gathering for the 140th anniversary of the foundation of two Selwyn Anglican churches in our parish. St. John’s was the venue for an old-fashioned garden party with games, at which many dressed in period costume. This very enjoyable day, with a fabulous afternoon tea, included Ray Legg’s ceremonial cutting of the celebration cake made by Margaret and Ron Garnett. Ray’s involvement with St. John’s goes back to the 1920s – he was baptised by the Rev. W.C. Wood in 1922 and attended the St. John’s Sunday School. Assisting Ray was Paul Lewis. Special services of worship and thanksgiving were held to mark this historic event.

Separate galas are no longer held at Drury, but the ladies of St. John’s participate in the two galas at Christ Church by taking responsibility for the jams and pickles stalls. This is not only a fund-raising activity but a social one as well.

Outreach and fundraising

While many St. John’s parishioners are involved in the general outreach activities of the parish, members have always been active in their own fund-raising for outreach purposes, sometimes in co-operation with St. Margaret’s at Karaka. Afternoon teas hosted by the Mothers’ Union were a regular means of fund-raising for a variety of purposes, including World Vision, the South Auckland Hospice and the Pacific Leprosy Mission. Guest speakers were commonly the draw-card for such occasions. For the Diocesan Cathedral extensions the ladies from Drury held a stall selling rosemary biscuits, jelly and vinegar at Aroha Cottage and raised a remarkable $1,500. Overseas missions have also been another regular beneficiary from such activities.

It is noticeable that many of the families who once lived and worshipped at St. John’s have now moved to Papakura and have now linked to Christ Church. Greater mobility gives people the opportunity to worship where it is most convenient for them on a regular weekly pattern. It also brings them closer to the mainstream of parish activity. These later few years have appeared rather quiet at St. John’s as a result. We have, with God’s Grace, to give thanks for our dedicated church leaders, the Rev. Dion Blundell, the Rev. Terry Molloy and our organist Pat Williams, for making our Sunday evening services a joy and celebration. We look forward to the big event of this year in October, the 150th anniversary of our parish. Many of our parishioners are working now to make it a success.

Our little church stands proudly on the knoll of a hill and, even though now set in an industrial area, there is a spiritual peace surrounding it. In a quote from C.R. Knight’s “The Selwyn Churches of Auckland” we read:

“It is easy to imagine that it is proud of its distinction, in War and Peace, of now standing over the graves in its churchyard of soldiers and pioneers who helped build the peaceful New Zealand of today.”

Inside the church there is a sense of the words, “Be still and know that I am God.”

With God’s love and grace, and a focus on Bishop Selwyn’s vision and work that made our church and his other chapels a reality, we pray that St. John’s Church, Drury, will continue to be a living witness to God’s greatness and majesty.


St. Margaret’s, Karaka 1954–2012

St. Margaret’s and the Karaka district: the first 100 years

by the Rev. M.R. Mills (with some additions)


Although it was only in the post-World War II years that the Karaka district began to play an important role in the life of the parish, its history is an interesting one because it is possible that the first Anglican services were held in this part of the parish.

Before the construction of the Great South Road in the late 1850s, the direct route from Auckland was across the Manukau at Weymouth. Travellers were ferried across to the point at Karaka, their horses often swimming alongside the boat. They would then continue their journey by track through the manuka scrub past the old Urquhart homestead, which was about a mile from the water’s edge, and so on southwards. One of the regular travellers was Bishop Selwyn. In the early 1860s he frequently held services in the Urquhart home, and considered Karaka as a likely site for one of his chapels. From Karaka the bishop would then continue his journey south to St. Bride’s church at Mauku.

At the turn of the century, the Rev. N.D. Boyes held occasional services in the old Karaka School. This was located at that time on Miss Urquhart’s property, near Mr. Laing’s farm. Miss Gwen Urquhart played for the services.

The Rev. O.R. Hewlett went out once a month to hold Evensong at Mr. Robert Glasson’s original homestead, named “Linwood”, alongside Glasson’s Creek. It was a two-hour journey by horse and gig from Papakura in those days before the direct road-link. Mr. Hewlett always chose a moonlit night, but even so it was rough and boggy going once one left behind the metal road at Drury. Sometimes a small dinghy was waiting to help the minister on the last stage of the journey. At this time there were only two Anglican families on the Karaka – the Urquharts and the Glassons. From 1904 to 1910 the Rev. P. Fortune also held services at the old Karaka School opposite the Laing homestead on Laing Road.

It was in the Rev. W.C. Wood’s time that the population on the Karaka began to grow; Glasson’s Bridge was opened and regular services were held in the Te Hihi School. First Miss Glasson, then Mrs. Joseph Batty played for the services. When the original Karaka Hall was built and more settlers came to that end of the district, services were moved there. The Walters family through the years were the mainstay of this centre, Mrs. Walters still playing for the singing in 1962.

The local Anglicans long dreamed of the day when the Karaka would have its own church. In 1934 the Yates family donated one acre of land at Te Hihi for future use by the Anglican Church. Part of this land was sold to the Education Board in 1946 for a teacher’s house for Te Hihi School and the rest leased out to a local farmer until it was sold in 2001 for $140,000 to pay for the strengthening of Christ Church roof. On 7 May 1950 a meeting was called by Mr. W. Harold Walters and Mr. Brian R. Yates with the object of building such a church. It was initially proposed that it be built on the Glassons’ property near the bridge crossing of the Whangamaire Stream but the Franklin County turned this down, as part of the land might be required for future bridge extension. So after voting on the other alternatives, the site chosen was on land donated by Mr. R. Urquhart opposite the Karaka Hall. A vigorous campaign followed and nearly £6,000 was raised by direct donation. Its final cost was just on £7,000, leaving a small mortgage to be paid off. The first service held in the church was at 11.00 a.m. on a stormy Sunday, 7 March 1954. Later in the same year on 22 August, St. Margaret’s Church was dedicated, and then on 16 December 1956, when it was debt free, it was consecrated by the Bishop of Auckland, the Right Rev. W.J. Simpkin. This neat and attractive building quickly won the love and affection of its regular worshippers.

In November 1956 the church’s life was enriched by the opening of the Sunday School in the new Karaka Hall. The first teachers were Mrs. A.G. Wood (superintendent), Mrs. G. Laing, Misses Rosemary Wood, Glenda Laing and Merle Hill and it had an opening roll of seventeen children. The Rev. Everall conducted classes of instruction for the teachers prior to the opening, and equipment and teaching resources were donated. Various activities for the children were organised annually, including church picnics at local beaches with attendant competitions such as races for both children and parents and ice cream treats. Then there were also visits to the Auckland Zoo, a Parents’ Day Concert and Christmas and Easter parties that included pageants and tableaux. Christmas Nativity pageants were sometimes held outdoors on the Woods’ farm under a starry night sky. A donkey was obtained for Mary one year but, startled by flashlights, it toppled Mary and baby Jesus to the ground. Luckily Mary was unhurt and insisted on climbing back on to continue the pageant. Dramatic producers are usually warned about working with animals and children!

Each year there was a celebration of the Sunday School Anniversary with a special service in which the children took leading roles. Growth was quite rapid and by 1962 numbers had reached seventy children and ten teachers. Mrs. Wood retired from her position in December of that year when her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Edith Wood replaced her as superintendent. She was followed by Miss Judy Lindesay, Miss Annette Gunson and then Mr. R. Munday who commuted by bicycle from Papakura each Sunday. Would that such dedication be found today!

There has been a steady contribution to the furnishing of the church since its construction. The original blue and gold carpet in the sanctuary was part of the Westminster Abbey carpet used for the Coronation of our Queen. It was the gift of the Urquhart family. Mr. R.W. Jolly donated the leadlight windows of the west wall; they were ones he had brought from England and kept under his house until a use could be found for them. He also built the pulpit and lectern which were designed for the church. The first musical instrument was a harmonium given by the Tunks family and its first organist was Mrs. W.H. Walters. Fourteen of the seventeen pews are memorial gifts from many of the families in the district when the church was built.

With a church property to take care of, during 1954 the first St. Margaret’s Guild was formed by Mrs. W.H. Walters, who became the first president. Members contributed substantially to church funds and furniture and undertook the cleaning of the church and floral decoration. A Garden Guild comprising young men of the church was also formed to mow lawns and keep the grounds tidy. A church committee was formed with Mr. Brian Yates as Secretary-Treasurer until his death in 1956. It was decided that amplifier equipment for bell and carillon reproduction be installed as a memorial to Mr. Yates, who was one of the most enthusiastic of the workers behind the church’s erection. According to Edith Yearn this addition was not universally approved by some more recent rural dwellers, who complained about the sounds echoing out for the 11.00 a.m. service on Sundays. Dawn crowing of local roosters probably drew similar complaints from these urban refugees!

By 1962 St. Margaret’s was well established as an important part of the parish with a dedicated group of parishioners intent on building its future in the Karaka district.


St. Margaret’s 1963–2012

by B.R.P. Mc Watt


Sited on the corner of Dyke Road and Linwood Road, the main road to Waiuku, St. Margaret’s Church in 2012 is now a permanent part of a small but changing and growing community. The demographics of this rural area have altered considerably in the past fifty years. From an area of mostly forty-hectare dairy units with a few larger sheep and cattle farms, it has developed into an area of lifestyle blocks and smaller, more diversified farms on one hand and much larger stock units, including horse breeding units, on the other. A busy tar-sealed highway now links it with Papakura, a notable change from the boggy tracks and loose metalled roads of earlier times.

Parish records are either very sparse or missing in matters pertaining to St. Margaret’s in the 1960s and 1970s. But from what is available it seems that most activity outside the Sunday services and Sunday School revolved around the Ladies’ Guild. References to “Bring and Buys” and garden parties indicate that the guild function was linked with a social purpose. There is reference in one of the parish newsletters in 1964 to the Annual Garden Party and Bring and Buy at Mrs. R. Eisdall Moore’s home on Urquhart Road. These occasions were important in a rural district as a means of keeping parishioners in contact with each other. The funds raised were used either for local needs or for wider parish purposes, though there were requests to the parish vestry for financial help from time to time. However, at the A.G.M. of the St. Margaret’s Committee in 1983, Mrs. A.G. Wood reported that the guild had ceased to function due to falling support. The area’s growing population had not translated into a growing congregation. Guild responsibilities now seem to be conducted on an ad-hoc roster basis by a declining number of long-term parishioners.

Worship and change at St. Margaret’s

The Sunday School seems to have been very active in this time, and was held in the Karaka Hall across the road from the church. Holy Communion with the attendant Sunday School was held on every Sunday in the month except the second, which was a family service. The Sunday School teachers held “At Homes” for parents and teachers in the Karaka Hall as a means of encouraging attendance for children, and joint meetings with the teachers from St. John’s at Drury enabled consultation on common concerns. From time to time there were attempts to integrate the congregations of the parish’s rural churches with that of Christ Church in Papakura. Joint family services were tried in which children from the rural churches took part by reading the lessons. Joint youth church activities were also sometimes held in the rural areas. Amongst these was a picnic and barbeque at Urquhart’s farm in 1970. The Sunday Schools at St. John’s and St. Margaret’s also combined at one time for a particular occasion. But by 1981 the lack of children and teachers had forced the Sunday School into recess.

Since the early 1960s there has been a variety of changes in the Sunday worship pattern. This has been a reflection of the availability of clergy and the falling support for church worship in the latter half of the twentieth century and the attendant efforts to meet this challenge. Up until 1990 there was a more or less regular pattern of an 11.00 a.m. Holy Communion every Sunday except for the second Sunday of the month family service. In response, it seems, to clergy shortage this was changed to an alternating pattern with St. John’s at Drury. St. Margaret’s services took place on the first and third Sundays only.

In 1993, the Rev. John McClean, who was managing a farm locally, was engaged to minister to these two rural churches. This resulted in a return to services every Sunday of the month, 9.30 a.m. at St. Margaret’s, and 11.30 a.m. on the first, third and fifth Sundays at St. John’s. It was under the leadership of John McClean that an annual combined carol service with the Presbyterians and Methodists of the district was started and held in the Karaka Hall. The service was followed by a supper and social gathering. This proved very popular with local residents and attracted a large congregation at Christmas. The McClean ministry ended in 1994 and the following year the Rev. John Fitzpatrick, the retired Hospital Chaplain at Greenlane, undertook responsibility for St. Margaret’s while later in the year the Rev. Terry Molloy assisted in the services at these two rural parts of the parish. Under this arrangement, St. John’s services were held every Sunday at 7.00 p.m. while at St. Margaret’s they were held twice a month on the second and fourth Sundays at 9.30 a.m. This pattern continued up until 2005.

The arrival of the Rev. Stuart Crosson in 2001 saw attempts to revitalise the congregations at our rural churches. After consultations with leaders of the congregation at Karaka, Stuart presented a Five Year Vision for St. Margaret’s in 2005 that suggested development of independence from the Papakura Parish. The key points in this development were:

  • Becoming a missionary church
  • Taking initiative for local mission and identity
  • A vital and vibrant church community
  • Spiritual centre for Karaka
  • Becoming a mission district

The report then outlined the various areas where development would be needed with a time frame for this to the year 2010. It was unfortunate that Stuart’s ministry as vicar for Papakura ended the following year before this vision could be actioned. But in June 2004 the Sunday School had started again on the second Sunday of the month under Lynn Mansell and Jenny Baker and a family service on the first Sunday of the month was added to the two monthly Communions.

The monthly family service was an opportunity to introduce a more modern youthful element to worship that included a band from Christ Church with contemporary music. It was hoped that these ventures would attract a younger congregation. Unfortunately some of these changes created tensions that led to the Rev. John Fitzpatrick retiring from this ministry in late 2005. Responsibility for the services at Karaka and Drury was handed to the Rev. Terry Molloy, who had returned as Assistant Priest in the parish. However, it seems that the introduction of a different style of music in services did not lead to any increase in the congregation. Thus the monthly family service was terminated in 2007. As Brett Kendall, Warden for St. Margaret’s, wrote in his annual report for that year, “… it did not resonate with a predominantly mature audience”! In 2008 St. Margaret’s reverted to its original pattern of Holy Communion on the second and fourth Sundays of the month and the Sunday School ceased due to difficulty in getting teachers and the low number of children attending. In an effort to compensate for the loss of the above services, the Rev. Terry Molloy and his wife Alison developed what he called his “Guaranteed Half-hour Service” on the fourth Sunday of the month with a family service with Communion. At the end of the first half-hour parents with young children processed out. This ended the “family” bit. Terry then processed back in to continue with the Communion Service as per the prayer book for those remaining! Brett Kendall wrote in his A.G.M. report at the end of 2008 that this was proving a popular service with the children and their parents. However in 2010 falling numbers and few children led Terry Molloy to terminate this style of service. As he remarked in his report to the December A.G.M., “Early on this year, it was seen that attendances became more sporadic even to the extent that no one came on one occasion.”

Thus various efforts had been made since 2000 to find ways of developing a new growing congregation at Karaka. Apart from the youthful changes for the family service and re-activation of the Sunday School, the Rev. Stuart Crosson also increased his own personal attendance in the district. It was also felt that Karaka people needed to be made more aware of St. Margaret’s presence in their district. With the arrival of Pastor Alick Williams there were attempts to develop and publicise church social occasions, which led to the December 2005 “Carols in Karaka”. This new format was to replace the annual Christmas carol service and aimed to widen its appeal to the community. It was to be an outdoor family picnic with carol singing with the Christ Church music group and was held in the attractive country gardens of Rex and Bev Gazzard, next door to St. Margaret’s, which was open for public viewing of a magnificent floral display. This event proved very popular and drew in over 350 people. Difficulty in getting an organiser the following year was solved by using a team from Christ Church. This outreach to the community has been held every year since, although the number of attendees has declined. Another very successful fund-raiser for the Welcome Centre at Christ Church took the form of a “Garden Party and Fashion Parade” also at the attractive home of the Gazzards, which raised over $2,000. Unfortunately there has been little flow-on effect in numbers from these initiatives and the congregation has been steadily losing its older parishioners without younger replacements, especially in leadership roles.

Leadership at Karaka

The strength of small churches tends to lie in strong links to well-established families. Some families have served St. Margaret’s for long periods of time. Amongst them, as previously mentioned, have been the Walters family. When Harold Walters died in 1964, followed by his wife, Noel, a year later, a large gap was left in church life. Harold started as a seventeen year-old vestryman in 1900 and had also been Warden and secretary for sixty-four years. Noel had served as pianist and organist for forty-one years amongst other responsibilities. Their youngest daughter, Dorothy, widow of Brian Yates, still attends services and has been a leading figure in St. Margaret’s congregation, serving as Guild President for many years.

To commemorate Harold and Noel Walters’ contribution to the Karaka church a public subscription was started in order to place a stained glass memorial window and plaque in the church. This beautiful window rises above the altar. The memorial plaque reads:


The Service of Dedication for these memorials was conducted by the Right Rev. Bishop Gowing on 10 May 1970.

The Wood family is another with a long and strong relationship with the Karaka district and St. Margaret’s. The work of Mr. Wood’s wife, Ivy, in the Sunday School as well as most other areas of St. Margaret’s church life, has been related already. Their son Brian carried on this tradition, serving as a vestryman and lay-reader for the parish and Synods-man in the Auckland Diocese for many years. He was assisted by his wife, Edith, whom he had met at a Diocesan Debutantes’ Ball. Having settled at Karaka after their marriage in 1959 they carried on the Woods’ tradition of service to St. Margaret’s until Brian’s early death. Edith later married Jim Yearn and they moved in 1988 to Papakura, where she and Jim continued in valuable service for Christ Church.

Prominent amongst these long-serving parishioners at St. Margaret’s has been the Laing family. After the death of Mrs. Walters, Mr. Gordon Laing took over the position of organist, a position he held for twenty years while his wife, Ethel, gave years of service in the Sunday School. His son, Keith, has been a vestryman and Warden for St. Margaret’s and a leading figure in maintaining its grounds for many years before passing the office responsibility on to Brett Kendall in 2002, a position Brett still holds. Keith continues to look after the church grounds, however. Keith’s wife, Jenny, acted as Secretary for St. Margaret’s for twenty-three years until she relinquished this office in 2006. Both have been heavily involved in all aspects of worship, life, organisation and housekeeping at Karaka. Mention must also be made of the strong support for St Margaret’s that has been given by the church’s next-door neighbours, the Gazzards. The attractive Gazzard grounds and gardens have been the regular site for social gatherings run by the church and Bev has also helped in keeping the church lawns and surrounds in good order.

Long after her husband Brian’s death, Dorothy Yates continued with her faithful service to St. Margaret’s as representative on the parish vestry. Brett Kendall acknowledged this regularly in his Warden’s reports to the parish A.G.M.s. In recognition of the Yates family’s contribution to St. Margaret’s, she and her daughter, Margaret, were asked to jointly cut the birthday cake at the celebration of the church’s first fifty years. Dorothy’s daughter was the first child to be baptised in St. Margaret’s.

Because of the decline of the congregation and there being fewer long-serving families at St. Margaret’s there has been a shift of focus to the central vestry in Papakura for organisation, as reflected in the “Carols at Karaka” service. While this is necessary, it does, however, reduce the pressure on local people to come forward for church leadership in the area. This is a problem that St. Margaret’s must overcome if it is to survive, and it is not an uncommon one for rural Christian churches at the present time. Any threat of closure usually brings cries of dismay and opposition from the local public, but unfortunately few practical responses in order to reverse the trend.

Bricks, mortar and toilets

It is hard to imagine how St. Margaret’s survived so long without toilets on the property but it was only in 2002 that vestry finally got around to approving the construction of a toilet block for parishioners. At a cost of $13,000, some provided from the remnant of the Te Hihi property sale, construction, which was not quite to the state-of-the-art standard at first demanded by Franklin District, was completed the following year. This was a relief in many ways to the congregation! As Stuart Crosson observed, the new facility was probably a response to a long-time prayer of the parishioners, “Thy will be dunny”!

Being made of bricks and mortar and having a tiled roof, St Margaret’s was not in need of frequent maintenance but its rather isolated location did mean it was subject to theft and burglary. Its copper down piping was removed at one stage and broken windows have had to be replaced. But it has not cost a lot to maintain compared with Christ Church in Papakura. In September 1972 vestry approved the funding for completion of the attractive brick wall at St. Margaret’s but subsequent minutes of the year do not record a completion date. A more recent addition to the church was the electronic organ donated by Miss Joyce Walters in 1993. Given its pretty rural setting, St. Margaret’s with its new “mod cons” is now a popular venue for weddings in the district.

And now we are fifty

The year 2006 marked the first half-century since the consecration of St. Margaret’s on 16 December 1956. The occasion was celebrated on 22 August with the Right Rev. John Paterson, Bishop of Auckland officiating. A large congregation of parishioners and guests, including former vicars, attended, giving thanks for God’s work in this part of the parish. Celebrations were continued after the service with a light luncheon and social occasion held in the Karaka Hall.

St. Margaret’s is now moving into its next half century and faces many of the challenges that concern the Christian church as a whole. Foremost among these is how to reach out to people in a strongly materialistic world to give them an understanding of what Christianity stands for and so draw them into communities of faith.

Saint Margaret (c. 1045–93 AD)

St. Margaret’s, Karaka, is named after a Scottish Saint who originally came from Wessex in England and was sister to Edgar Aetheling, the uncrowned successor to Harold, the last Anglo-Saxon King of England who died at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 in the Norman Conquest.

She fled with other Anglo-Saxon nobles to Scotland where she married the Scottish King, Malcolm III. While Queen, she instigated religious reforms and established charitable institutions for the poor and orphans. Through her influence the Benedictine Abbey at Dunfermline in Fife was established, and this is where Margaret and the Scottish kings are buried. The Queens-ferry crossing on the Firth of Forth to Dunfermline is named after her. She was canonised as a Saint in 1250 by Pope Innocent IV. Her annual Feast Day is 16 November.



“Good and faithful servants” 1862–2012

In the writing of this history of the last 150 years the writers have relied on the opening lines of Chapter 6 in Matthew’s Gospel to excuse any of our sins of omission. Many of these “good and faithful servants” of this parish have been mentioned already in the accounts of the events and activities as they have occurred in the text. Many were husband and wife teams. Inevitably some have had more frequent mention than the many others who have worked quietly behind the scenes in less obvious but no less valuable ways and often for long periods of time. None would ever have sought any great recognition of their service but it would have been noticed, if not by others, then certainly by God. All would have acted in accordance with St. Matthew’s words:

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men to be seen by them … do not let your left hand know what your right is doing … Then, your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”

Service has been given in a host of different ways. These have ranged from bearers of office in the administrative duties of running our parish churches to the workers who run and support our many organised activities and the more humble tasks that run from cleaning, housekeeping, the maintenance and repair of our buildings and grounds, to serving of teas and coffees at working bees and at our social occasions.

And beyond this, many see that their Christian servant responsibility extends out to our neighbours in the community beyond the church in other ways as well. One is struck by the number of parishioners who have served in local activities ranging from charitable organisations, community service, youth and sports clubs to elected office in local government.

So, if in our ignorance or frailty we have omitted some of our “good and faithful servants”, it is sure that God will reward you in much greater measure than our brief mention would have done.

And thus this record ends, acknowledging those who have carried out Christ’s injunction to his disciples, “I am amongst you as one who serves” (Luke 22:27). Our “good and faithful servants” have sought to carry out this injunction for over 150 years in this parish. Supported by the three great Christian virtues of Faith, Hope and Love, and with God’s help, it will continue to be carried out in the years before us.


Appendix I: Short chronology

1847 First settlers arrive in Papakura including Mr. Robert Willis.
1853 Robert Willis sets up first store and is a leading figure in Anglican Church in area.
1857 Great South Road to Drury metalled by military.
1850–66 The Rev. Vicesimus Lush – Vicar of Howick with responsibility for all areas south to Waikato River.

Services conducted in settlers’ homes.

1862 Christ Church opened by Bishop Selwyn on Sunday 5 October.
1863 St. John’s, Drury opened by Bishop Selwyn on Sunday 25 June.
1866–83 No resident vicars; services taken by visiting clergy from Otahuhu and Taupiri and local lay readers.
1881 Small vestry added to Christ Church.
1884 The Rev. Oswald Hewlett – first resident vicar, responsible for area extending from Clevedon to Karaka and from Weymouth to Drury.

First Vicarage built on Great South Road.

1890 The Rev. N.D. Boyes licensed to Papakura.
1896 The Rev. O. Hewlett returns as Vicar – period of rapid growth.
1897 First Women’s Guild established.
1904 The Rev. P.T. Fortune appointed Vicar.
1907 Christ Church Hall built – now located at Drury.
1910 The Rev. W.C. Wood appointed Vicar – our longest serving vicar and first to use motorised transport.
1914–18 Belfry added during Great War.
1920 Kerosene lamps replaced by acetylene in Christ Church.
1923 War Memorial Sanctuary added to Christ Church.
1927 New Vicarage built on Coles Crescent.
1931 Women’s Guild disbanded.

Anglican Tennis Club started.

1934 Te Hihi property gifted to parish.
1935 Women’s Parish Association formed.

Mothers’ Union established.

1936 The Rev. Wood resigns. Visiting clergy during interim.
1938 The Rev. H. Sinclair appointed Vicar.

First robed choir established.

First Parish Leaflet published.

Envelope giving system started.

Electric lights installed in St. John’s.

1939 Oak eagle lectern gifted as memorial to Willis family.
1940 The Rev. J.G. Heath appointed Vicar.
1942 First appointment of Holy Communion servers.
1943 Christ Church Guild formed.
1944 The Rev. W.H. Beech appointed Vicar.
1945 Women’s Parish Association and Christ Church Guild combine as Parish Guild.
1948 The Rev. M.E. Holmes appointed Vicar.

Ardmore Teachers’ College students greatly increase congregation.

1951 The Rev. M. Cameron appointed first Maori Vicar.

Anglican Club formed, later renamed Young Wives Club.

1953 Restoration and renovation of Christ Church.

First proposals for a new and larger church.

1954 St. Margaret’s Church dedicated.
1955 The Rev. T.R. Everall appointed Vicar.

Young Anglican youth club formed.

Family services inaugurated.

Lay visiting services expand.

1956 Major campaign to increase church funding.

Extensive renovation and restoration of St. John’s.

1958 Parish decides to proceed with building of a new Christ Church.
1961 The Rev. M.J. Mills appointed as first Curate assistant in parish.

New Christ Church opened.

Original Christ Church re-named “Selwyn Chapel”.

Old parish hall moved to St. John’s.

1962 Centenary year of Christ Church.

First history of parish by the Rev. M.J. Mills published.

1965 The Rev. H. Simmonds appointed Vicar.

Pipe organ installed in Christ Church.

Leak problems in new church apparent.

1967 Combined worship services with Methodist and Roman Catholic church trialled.
1971 Opportunity Shop opened.
1973 The Rev. Graham Colley interim Priest-in-charge.
1973 The Rev. D.N. Fuge appointed Vicar.

Charismatic elements appear in worship.

1974 Grove Road property bought for clergy housing.
1975 Christ Church mortgage paid off.
1976 Major restoration of Selwyn Chapel.
1978 Wooden cross erected on exterior east wall of Christ Church.
1980 Takanini property purchased for clergy housing.

Young Wives Club ceases activities.

1982 Loaves & Fishes Coffee Shop opened.

Elsie Picard retires from twenty years service as Parish Secretary.

1983 The Rev. J. Leitch appointed Vicar.

Janice Thompson becomes Parish Secretary.

Takanini property sold.

New Vicarage purchased in Gills Avenue.

“Celebration” established as quarterly parish magazine.

Pastoral Care Team established.

1985 Combined annual carol services with Roman Catholic Church.
1986 Symbolic banners hung in Christ Church.
1987 St. John’s re-roofed.

Play Group started.

1989 New Zealand Prayer Book adopted for worship.
1990 Computer introduced for secretarial and recording work.

Papakura Christian Services Trust established for ecumenical outreach.

1992 First paid youth worker appointments made.
1996 First Alpha courses start.
1997 Stained glass West Window Memorial to Helen Guy.
1998 Memorial Garden and Ashes Repository established.
2000 Te Hihi Property sold.

Internal supports added to Christ Church to stabilise roof.

2001 The Rev. Terry Molloy interim Priest-in-charge

The Rev. Stuart Crosson appointed Vicar.

The Rev. Gayanne Frater first appointed woman priest in parish.

2003 Review of staffing needs.

Selwyn Scouts and Cubs cease.

2004 The Rev. Terry Molloy appointed Assistant Priest for St. John’s and St. Margaret’s.

Pastor Alick Williams appointed Families Minister.

Grove Road property sold.

2005 Completion of Welcome Centre addition to Christ Church.
2006 The Archdeacon Eleanor Battley interim Priest-in-charge

The Rev. Dion Blundell appointed Vicar.

2007 Re-structure of parish vestry meetings.

Parish website set up.

2009 Janice Thompson re-designated Parish Administrator.
2011 S.P.A.C.E. programme for first time mothers established.
2012 Time Out Café/Loaves & Fishes Coffee Shop ceases operations.

150th anniversary history of parish published.


Appendix II: Vicars and Priests-in-charge 1884–2012


Vicars and Priests-in-charge

Prior to 1884 Papakura was administered by vicars from other parishes.

1850–1866         The Rev. V. Lush (Howick)

1866–1882         The Rev. R.A. Hall (Howick)

Visiting clergy under The Rev. Hall:

1869–1872         The Rev. J. Bates
1872                 The Rev. E.R. Otway
1873–1876         The Rev. W. Taylor
1877                 The Rev. R.O’C. Biggs

1882–1883         The Rev. T. Farley (Howick)

Vicars with sole responsibility for Papakura began with the establishment of the Parochial District in 1884.

1884–1890         The Rev. O.R. Hewlett

1891–1896         The Rev. N.D. Boyes

1896–1904         The Rev. O.R. Hewlett

1904–1910         The Rev. P.T. Fortune

1910–1936         The Rev. W.C. Wood

1936–1937         (Visiting minister only)

1938–1940         The Rev. H. Sinclair

1940–1944         The Rev. J.G. Heath

1944–1947         The Rev. W.H. Heath

1948–1951         The Rev. M.E. Holmes

1951–1955         The Rev. M. Cameron

1955–1962         The Rev. T.R. Everall

1963–1973         The Rev. H.J. Simmonds

1973                 The Rev. Graham Colley (Priest-in-charge)

1973–1982         The Rev. D.N. Fuge

1983–2000         The Rev. J. Leitch

1991                 The Rev. R. Sanders (Priest-in-charge. Leave interim)

2001                 The Rev. T. Molloy (Priest-in-charge)

2002–2005         The Rev. S. Crosson

2006                 The Ven. Archdeacon Eleanor Battley (Priest-in-charge)

2006–                The Rev. D. Blundell


Appendix III: Christ Church Wardens 1963–2012

Vicar’s People’s
1963 R.J. Lees R.A. Higgs
1964 R.J. Lees R.A. Higgs
1965 R.J. Lees Ted Brown
1966 Ted Brown B.G. Wood
1967 B. Paterson B.G. Wood
1968 M.C. Codlin B.G. Wood
1969 M.C. Codlin M. Kinder
1970 M.C. Codlin G.M. Guy
1971 N.R. Dunning G.M. Guy
1972 N.R. Dunning G.M. Guy
1973 N.R. Dunning M.H. Florance
1974 W.R. Viall M.H. Florance
1975 M.H. Florance M.B. Pollock
1976 L.E. Snell M.B. Pollock
1977 L.E. Snell L.J. Frank
1978 L.E. Snell L.J. Frank
1979 M.H. Florance M.R. Webster
1980 M.H. Florance M.R. Webster
1981 M.R. Webster R.F. Garnett
1982 M.R. Webster R.F. Garnett
1983 M.R. Webster R.F. Garnett
1984 G. Naylor I. Martin
1985 I. Martin G. Naylor
1986 L.J. Frank R. Appleby
1987 L.J. Frank R. Appleby
1988 L.J. Frank R. Appleby
1989 L.J. Frank R. Appleby
1990 J. Hargreaves G. Naylor
1991 J. Hargreaves G. Naylor
1992 J. Hargreaves G. Naylor
1993 B. Frank* R.C. Hogg
1994 B. Frank* R.C. Hogg
1995 B. Frank* R.C. Hogg
1996 G.M. Guy R.C. Hogg
1997 G.M. Guy R.C. Hogg
1998 G.M. Guy R.C. Hogg
1999 J.B. Thompson B. Howell
2000 J.B. Thompson B. Howell
2001 J.B. Thompson T. Smeal
2002 G.M. Guy T. Smeal
2003 G.M. Guy V. Pollock*
2004 G.M. Guy V. Pollock*
2005 J. Hargreaves V. Pollock*
2006 J. Hargreaves E. Yearn*
2007 N.W. Treadwell* E. Yearn*
2008 N.W. Treadwell* M.E. Marshall*
2009 N.W. Treadwell* M.E. Marshall*
2010 N.W. Treadwell* M.E. Marshall*
2011 N.W. Treadwell* M.E. Marshall*
2012 S.C. Morley-John M.E. Marshall*

* Women Wardens


IV Acknowledgements

The Rev. M.R. Mills

The author is grateful to the many people who have assisted in compiling this history. A particular debt is owed to the Rev. M. Cameron, who began research work when he was vicar of the parish, to the members of the Cossey family, who have kept interest in the history of St. John’s Church alive, and to Mrs. Athol Wood for her notes on church life on the Karaka. It is not possible to list all the parishioners who have supplied information, but the three most helpful sources have been Mr. and Mrs. W.H. Walters of the Karaka and Miss G. Cossey of Drury.

Mr. Alfred Willis’ “Early Papakura” and Henry E. Wily’s “South Auckland” provided useful background material. For the nineteenth century the Rev. V. Lush’s journals are quoted – thanks to Mrs. A. Drummond of Hamilton. The fullest records are the “Diocesan Gazettes” held in the Diocesan Office. From 1910 onwards there are few existing accounts and minute books; Mr. Percy Holt’s publication at the time of the dedication of the War Memorial is valuable, but not until 1936 does anything like a comprehensive record of affairs survive.

Bishop R.P. Mc Watt and Margaret Garnett

The recent writers acknowledge the following for help received in the gathering of information for this history and for guidance in preparing it for publication.

Firstly the members of the Project Committee:

The Rev. Dion Blundell, the Rev. Terry Molloy, Jim Thompson (Project team leader), Murray and Pamela Guy, and Edith Yearn.

Secondly the following former vicars and past and present clergy:

The Revs. Murray Mills, Herb Simmonds, Neil Fuge, John Leitch, Stuart Crosson, Patricia Bawden, Graham Colley and Pastor Alick Williams.

Finally the many parishioners, past and present, and others who so willingly provided information and reminiscences to give life to this publication:

Margaret Brady, Mary Davis, Violet Eggleston, Marjorie Foulkes, Lewis and Barbara Frank, Phyllis Garland, Ron and Margaret Garnett, Olive Jones, Brett Kendall, Mrs. Pat King, Keith and Jenny Laing, Ted Lees, Ray Legg, Clyde and Irene Lewis, Paul Lewis, Derek Lowry, Molly Lowry, Mary Marshall, Heather Maxwell, Kath Mc Kay, Phillip Mellsop, Sally Naulls, Rex and Barbara Olds, Vivian Pollock, Don and Gillian Rolle, Ruth Solly, Jim and Janice Thompson, Nicky Treadwell, Herb Tunley, Merv and June Webster, and Sheryl Williams.

And lastly Lisa Warden for her assistance in copyediting.

V. References

Primary sources

  1. Papakura Parish minutes, reports to vestry, A.G.M. reports and correspondence 1963–2012
  2. Papakura Parish newsletters and magazines in various forms 1963–2012

All from parish records.


Secondary sources

Campbell, Sally. Thesis: The History of Christian Ministry in Papakura (2004)

Craig, Elsdon. Breakwater Against the Tide (Papakura and Districts Historical Society, 1982)

Garnett, Margaret. Thesis: St. John the Evangelist – Drury (2004)

Knight, C.R. The Selwyn Churches of Auckland (A.H. & A.W. Reed, 1972)

Mills, The Rev. M.J. The Anglican Church in the Papakura District 1862–1962 (1962)

Yousef, R. Papakura: The Years of Progress. 1936–1996 (Papakura and Districts Historical Society, 1997)


Archival sources consulted

  1. Karaka Historical Society
  2. Papakura and Districts Historical Society
  3. Auckland Diocesan Archives