Rotorua Weekender: Historic church up for tender

By Cherie Taylor

She's shy just a few years of 100 of serving the Ngongotaha community but now it's time for her to go.

Built in 1923, the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Taui St is not being used anymore and the church committee has decided it's time to put it up for tender.

Land for the church was given to the Catholic Church by Taui Takerei, who died at age 80 in 1938 and who is buried beside the entranceway to the church.

Church finance committee chairman Eddie Dibley says one of the biggest issues was a lack of a priest for the church after  numbers dwinded  about 18 years ago.

"Everyone gradually shifted to St Marys and St Michaels,'' he says.



Very different to about 50 years earlier when the pews were full and people overflowing out the door for services and mass, forcing them to extend the building to twice its size, Eddie says.

"People would come from all around the community.''

Oasis Church was operating out of the premises until about four months ago when the keys were handed back to the committee and, rather than leave the church empty and unused, it was time to let it go, Eddie says.

"It's sad really but I'd rather see it sold and being used rather than it being vandalised which is what will happen if it's left empty,'' he says.

The Dibley family have a long association with The Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.

Eddie's parents Doug and Susan Dibley _ nee Carl, were the first to get married in the tiny church in Taui St.

The couple had just bought a Model T car and when his mother turned up at the church there was no groom, so she headed up to the Dibley farm on Oturoa Rd where she found her husband-to-be chasing his horse, which he intended to ride to the church, around in the paddock, Eddie says.

"Her words were `he's not going to get out of this one' and went up to the farm to find him tearing around the paddock trying to catch his stubborn horse.''

The couple went on to have 11 children who were all christened in the Taui St church and went to church regularly, making it quite special to the family, Eddie says.

"It brings back lots of memories ...

"It's quite sad to see her go,'' he says.

He hopes someone may buy the church to use as a wedding or funeral chapel.

"It would be ideal for something like that. She does have a lot of character ... The bell still rings,'' he said.

However, while the church is empty she is costing the committee money for rates, water and maintenance.

Once sold the land goes back to the local tribe as Taui Takerei has no family to give it back to, Eddie says.

If you are interested in putting in a tender call Mr Dibley on (07) 332-3815.


- Rotorua Daily Post

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