Archbishops and bishops attending the 62nd Anglican General Synod last night took time out to dedicate the site of a resurrection about to start with the rebuilding of St Michael and All Angels' Chapel at Hukarere Girls' College at Eskdale, northwest of Napier.
The rebuilding comes as part of a $13.1 million investment by the church in the school, Te Aute College in Central Hawke's Bay and their management authority, the Te Aute Trust Board.
Originally consecrated in 1953 on Hukarere's long-time site on Napier Terrace, overlooking Napier, the top of the hill historically known as Mataruahau, the chapel was demolished after the school moved in 2003 to a new site, formerly a boys' home at Eskdale (also known more historically as Herepoho).
Carvings, panels and other features had been stored in shipping containers as the school struggled for funds to make the relocation complete but last night, as the three archbishops and the Bishop of Waiapu stood before the clearer plot where construction will finally take place, trust board chairman Stephen Jacobi spoke confidently of the future for both schools and the church's investment.
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He said it might be "swimming against the tide" after closures of schools with similar issues over the years. "But we are very aware of the value of these schools to Maori," he said.
In the wake of the announcement of the assistance, Hukarere has made considerable progress with its roll having climbed from 66 at the end of last year to 91, about 70 of the girls being boarders.
"We want it to be significantly bigger in time," he said.
Design work is still to be completed with the aim to keep the interior as much as possible in keeping with that which will be remembered in Napier Tce - "decorated by the finest carving, panelling and scroll-work, the building has little in New Zealand church architecture to equal it," according to one description.
Mr Jacobi said a more contemporary exterior was proposed in keeping with the school's Maori heritage.
The design of the original chapel was guided by Sir Apirana Ngata, with Lady Ngata and students working together in the weaving of the panels using traditional materials.