Henry Stokes Tiffen in 1873 gave 3 acres (1.2ha) of land on Puketapu Rd in trust to Reverend Philip Anderson, Harvey Sladen and Edmund Tuke to "… be used as a site for a church for the celebration of Devine worship to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England in New Zealand."
The condition of the gift of land was that £200 (2021: $28,000) be raised by them to build a church – which would be named All Saints' Church.
In his own words, the first vicar of All Saints' Church, Reverend Philip Anderson, said he "…did not let the grass grow under my feet. I collected high and low, near and far, and in my spare time drew the plans and specifications for a wooden church."
At the same time as the £430 ($60,000) All Saints' Church was being constructed during 1874, a schoolroom was built next to the church to provide education for Anglican children and opened in November 1874 with a roll of 50.
The building of the church was subject to delays, due to the difficulty of getting kauri out of Auckland due to shortages and receiving the church's glass from Sydney.
During the delays Philip Anderson worked on the section, levelling it, sowing grass, planting trees and shrubs, and fencing the property. Church services were held in their schoolroom until then.
A contract for a parsonage on the section was let in April 1875 and finished in July that year.
All Saints' Church was consecrated on June 29, 1875 by the Bishop of Waiapu, the Right Reverend William Williams.
The next day, Philip Anderson records numbering all the pews while his wife was collecting items for a church bazaar to raise more money for repaying the building loan, which would place some strain on All Saints' Church over the next few years.
In those days pew rent was commonly charged for occupying seats, with the back seats of the church being free. Some of the rented pews were not used each Sunday, so it was decided that those who did not have a seat when the service started could sit in them.
By August 1877, Philip Anderson had moved on to Akaroa, and no replacement was made. Reverend D'Arcy Irvine, the headmaster of Napier Grammar School, would fill in and preach at All Saints' Church.
The Anglican school started at 1874 at All Saints' Church became Taradale School in 1878, when a lease arrangement was agreed for the school for £25 ($4200) per annum.
The non-replacement of Philip Anderson and the discontinuing of the school likely indicate the financial pressures All Saints' Church was under ‒ which would come to a head the next year.
Debts of £300 ($53,000) remained on the church buildings and parsonage, and in April 1879, the lender (probably Henry Tiffen) wanted it repaid immediately.
Harvey Sladen, one of the original trustees of the church section in 1873, explained at an emergency parish meeting the repayment period "had expired some time ago; and during a further grace period of two months, the church was required to pay interest of 15 per cent per annum".
Faced with this financial emergency, a committee was formed and given the authority to open subscription lists and to receive contributions "in money, livestock, farm produce, provisions, goods and fancy articles of every description". The goods would be auctioned off on May 8, 1879.
Some of the contributions received were 60 fat sheep from Mr Lowry, 30 crossbred wethers from Mr Beamish and a double furrow plough from Mr Shield.
The generosity towards All Saints' Church would be repeated over the next 140 years of the church's existence – and not just from its congregation, but from members of the public who obviously valued its existence.
By the time Reverend John Hornby-Spear had become the permanent vicar in August 1879, fundraising to extinguish the debt was almost completed. In December 1979 it was reported only £8 2s and 4d remained owing of the £300.
All Saints' Church was on Puketapu Rd when it was built. The beginnings of Church Rd from the All Saints' Church was created around 1879. William Harpham, who owned land in the vicinity, was apparently asked what the name of the road was on his land, his reply was "the one with the church at the end of it" – therefore Church Rd was born.
The Taradale School (now Taradale Primary School) bought land near All Saints' Church and opened a school in 1879. It was then used as a Sunday School and church hall, until it was sold and removed. A new church hall was built in 1907 that better suited the needs of the church and community.
Despite its rocky start, All Saints' Church began to prosper and become an important part of the Taradale community.
In 1892 the first alteration of the church took place. A transept (rectangular area which lies across the main part of the church) was added, and new lead lights windows were installed. At that time the church was also renovated.
Alterations to the vestry in 1901 and chancel (1910) increased the size of the church.
Electricity made an appearance in the church in 1924 replacing oil burning lamps.
The east stained glass windows were added in 1956, with the south transept windows in 1960 and north ones in 1993.
Part of the original three acres of church land was sold in the early 1960s, enabling the old vicarage to be demolished and a new one built in 1964.
The biggest change to the church building occurred in 1981/82 when the north side of the church was extended, and a foyer added with a new entrance. In 1989 the south side was also extended.
All Saints' Church has over the last 10 years shown signs of needing major repair work.
Current vicar of All Saints' Church, Reverend Alan Burnett, in the tradition of many of his fellow vicars over the past 140 years, will soon be leading a fundraising campaign to replace the roof of the original church and repaint the building.
There will likely be remedial work required as well. The church will rely on congregation and community support to raise the $120,000 needed as it will receive no financial assistance from the Anglican Church.
As a new arrival to All Saints' Church, Alan is aware of the embracing of the church by the community. In addition to its use as a church, the community use of the whole complex is significant with an average of 750 people using the facilities every week for everything from dance to exercise groups, ballet to scrabble, community groups and lunches to charitable cooking and markets.
Alan Burnett is excited to preserve the heritage of the beloved and historically significant All Saints' Church, ensuring it can be used for future generations to come.
If you would like to support the project to secure the legacy of All Saints' Church, please visit allsaintstaradale.nz or contact the Office on (06) 844 2998 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Fowler (email@example.com) is a contract researcher and commercial business writer of Hawke's Bay history. Follow him on facebook.com/michaelfowlerhistory