Fire investigators are this morning to look into a suspicious fire in Mamaku overnight, which left one person suffering from smoke inhalation.
Specialist fire investigator Jon Rewi said they were still investigating the cause of the fire and because the church was not a powered building they were treating it as suspicious.
He said they were now working with police to try and find the cause.
Detective Senior Sergeant Zane Smith said the investigation would take a number of hours because it was a large scene.
The fire service was called to the blaze on Kaponga St in Mamaku - near Rotorua - about 1.15am today.
The single-storey building, which is used as a church, was "well involved in fire" when firefighters arrived at the scene.
Crews from around the region were called and between 24 and 30 firefighters attended.
A St John spokeswoman said one patient with moderate injuries was taken to Rotorua Hospital.
A fire service spokeswoman said one person - a member of the public - was seen to by ambulance.
The person was suffering from smoke inhalation, she said.
Mamaku resident Shane Hutchinson said the church had been there for years.
"It was a pretty church, I live a street over and everybody at the school was telling me so I thought I'd come and have a nosy."
Mr Hutchinson works at Mamaku School and said most people there were feeling "very sad" about the fire.
Another Mamaku resident who did not want to be named said it was a "great shame".
"It was an old pretty church up on a hill... [I'm] feeling quite sad," he said.