Historic Hawke's Bay: Early pillar of the community


The earliest Christian missionaries in Hawke's Bay were Protestant William Colenso (1844) and Catholic French priests Father Lampila and Brothers Monchalin and Florentin (1851), forefathers of the Mission Estate Winery.

Colenso was not particularly thrilled about the French priests arrival and was, at times, unco-operative.

After Maori tribes living along the Napier to Taupo track route were converted to Christianity, Europeans felt a little safer travelling there in the late 1850s and 1860s. Protestant Thomas Tanner was dismayed when he stayed with a Maori tribe on his 1857 Taupo journey that had been converted to the Catholic faith, but accepted their hospitality - albeit being denounced as a heretic by the tribe's "teacher".

As more Europeans settled in Hawke's Bay, an essential part of their early community building was the establishment of churches.

Many early congregations met in schoolrooms, such as the Hastings Methodists did in 1877 at the St Aubyn Street schoolroom. Hastings' Methodists in the 1870s were mostly working class and small-scale farmers, and those who later identified with the temperance movement.

The section upon which the Methodist Church stands in Hastings St was bought in 1878 and the first of three churches on that site - a wooden building - was opened in 1885.

The 1912 Albert Garnett-designed Gothic-style church replaced the wooden church.

In October 1912, this building was one of the first non-residential premises in Hastings to receive electric power.

The 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake wrecked the building, which was replaced by the existing Eric Phillips-designed church in 1932.

Michael Fowler will be taking a tour during Art Deco Weekend which includes Hastings's architecture and earthquake history. Book at www.artdeconapier.com

- Hawkes Bay Today

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