Kaikohe could become a centre for religious tourism after lights on the town's Christmas tree appeared to show a Marian apparition - an image of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus - when switched on.
Pastor Mike Shaw, from the heart of the North Celebration Centre, said Christians in the town were amazed when the lights on the giant Christmas tree - a living Norfolk Island pine growing in Kaikohe's Memorial Park - were switched on on Saturday.
"We were having community carols and prayers for the formal switch on of the lights after we put a giant Star of David on the top," Mr Shaw said.
"After we switched the lights on somebody came up and said they could see what looked like an image of the Madonna and Child in the lights. Everybody else who looked from the same spot agreed that it did look like the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus."
He said that from a certain angle an image of a mother and child is clearly seen in the community Christmas tree lights and he suggested it may become an attraction for people, at least until the lights are removed after Christmas.
Mr Shaw said the tree decorators say while it may not be supernatural, it is a surprising coincidence the image was formed.
"They did not plan for any image other than a Star of David, which is the national symbol of Israel, on top of the tree," he said. "They were unaware that Israel was at war in Gaza. Is this a message to pray for peace?"
Mr Shaw said Marian apparitions are often named after the town where they are reported, or the colloquial name given to Mary on the occasion of the apparition.
"Could this be the Blessed Virgin of Kaikohe, the Madonna and Child or Te Whaea o te Ao?
"We don't know for sure that it is [a Marian apparition], but who knows, people may flock to Kaikohe to see for themselves."
Kaikohe is gearing up for Christmas, with organisers taking on the project to uplift Kaikohe people's spirits and kick off the inaugural Shine Kaikohe festival.
Earlier, when the Christmas tree lights were tested on Wednesday night, Kaikohe couple Jade and Kelliasta Baker renewed their wedding vows beneath the tree.
Mr Shaw said the Bakers had been planning to renew their vows in any case, but the lit-up tree provided the perfect romantic setting.
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