Northland's religious communities are rejoicing a return to "normal" service as New Zealand's gathering restrictions are relaxed today.
Previously under alert level 2, gatherings had to be kept at 10 or below until Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday, gatherings could increase to 100 people.
Under the previous restrictions, religious communities which held regular congregations and services were greatly restricted with many turning to technology to broadcast such services online.
For Whangārei Anglican Church priest Peter Minson, his past as a broadcast journalist certainly came in handy as he turned to Facebook to deliver his service to his usual congregation of 100 people.
However, Minson found his word travelled far and wide after its upload on Sunday mornings, with the service watched by up to 600 people by Wednesday.
Minson believed this extraordinary increase spoke to people's desire to practise their faith in their own time rather than at 9am on a Sunday.
"There are some people that the time of worship on Sunday morning is inconvenient, particularly now that we live in an economy where people work six and seven days," he said.
"Sunday morning is the only family time for a lot of people, so for them to be able to watch a service later in the day or later in the week, it suits them just fine."
Minson also said being in lockdown may have attracted those put off from the church to return in a way they felt comfortable with.
This Sunday also marked Pentecost Sunday - which commemorated the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. Minson said the date fittingly signified, "the time God's power came down on the church".
Sunday's communion at the church would consist of the wafer only, without the sharing of a chalice of wine. Seats inside the church had been spaced appropriately and Minson confirmed the online broadcasting would continue for the future.
However, Minson and his 10-year-old fox terrier/whippet Pepe were looking forward to seeing their parishioners return.
"I hope people will get here early because if they don't, they may not get a seat."
For Whangārei's Muslim community, the Islamic Centre on Porowini Ave will have its doors wide open today for Friday prayers, a first in more than eight weeks.
Northland Muslim Community Charitable Trust president Shameer Sathar said while much of the community had tuned in to online broadcasts of the weekly prayers, today would be special for all.
"It'll be quite emotional for us," Sathar said.
"The Friday prayers, it has to be told to us in congregation, so I guess that feeling is different. Face-to-face presence is different."
Pre-covid, Sathar said about 30-40 people arrived at the centre for Friday prayers and estimated today's group would have to be limited to possible groups of 15 to account for appropriate spacing.
New Zealand's social restrictions were particularly tough during the month of Ramadan, which ended last Saturday.
During that month, people would meet at the centre every night - something which was prohibited throughout much of the month.
Despite the hardship, Sathar said he was proud of the tight-knit community for sticking to the rules.
"We as a community are proud that we did our part, especially in the month of Ramadan.
"It's outside of what we are used to, so it was hard for us but everyone understands why it's required and everyone abided by it. We all need to do our part."
At the Tibetan Buddhist Centre in Kamo, their weekly gatherings on Sundays, along with sessions during the week, had ceased but would return in the coming days.
Centre director Paul Currie said it would be great to see the usual group of 10-40 people attend their weekly teachings.
"It gives you an opportunity now to come together and reconnect, that personal contact is what makes us humane," he said. However, Currie explained practising Buddhism had less focus on weekly congregations and more on building on its teachings in daily life.
As he acknowledged how tough social restrictions had been for people, Currie hoped the Buddhist community would return to the centre when they felt ready.