A highly respected church minister is retiring after 15 years' service to Kāeo and Kerikeri — but she has no plans to put her feet up.
Rev Robyn McPhail, 65, will move to Central Otago where she plans to put her newly gained emergency medicine qualification to use as a St John volunteer.
McPhail, who heads the Kāeo-Kerikeri Union Church, will be farewelled this weekend with events in the Bay of Islands and Whangaroa.
Originally from Southland, McPhail said the move would take her back to her extended family and her first parish in Alexandra.
"So I'm going back to my maunga, my moana and my awa, but I'm going to miss the people here. I just want to take them all with me."
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Highlights of the past 15 years included the Boyd Commemorations of 2009, which had led to a new partnership in Whangaroa and started a journey of healing, and the Whangaroa Armed Services Commemorations of 2015-18, marking 100 years since World War I.
In Kerikeri the highlight was overseeing the construction of the new church at the corner of the Heritage Bypass, Cornerstone/Te Whare Karakia o Manako, and its development as a community facility.
She had also enjoyed being part of the Bay of Islands Singers, learning te reo, and having the opportunity to officiate at tangi — something she was unlikely to do in Central Otago.
As the chaplain for St John in Kerikeri she was drawn into volunteering as an ambulance driver and has just qualified as an emergency medical technician.
"I thought that would be a good retirement project," she said.
Church councillor Mary Fenton described McPhail as highly intellectual — she has a PhD in philosophy and had done "enough study to last three lifetimes'' — but she was also practical. She knew the location of every screw and nail in the new church in Kerikeri and was highly proficient in IT, building the church website and operating its audiovisual equipment.
Alongside her church work McPhail had spent a lot of time getting the church's community centre running the way she wanted it.
"It's going gangbusters now, it's hard to get a booking," Fenton said.
She had also immersed herself in the Whangaroa community, embraced the Maori community and learnt te reo to a high level.
Fenton said McPhail was an inclusive, level-headed and moderate minister who focused on helping the community rather then trying to convert people into coming to church on Sundays.
■ On January 11 Te Patunga Marae, at Pupuke, will host a poroporoake (farewell) for McPhail and a powhiri for new minister Saikolone Taufa from Tonga. McPhail's final service will start at 10am on January 12 at Kerikeri's Cornerstone Church, which will be followed by morning tea then a shared lunch from 11.30-2pm. All welcome. Taufa's induction will be on February 8 with his first service on February 9. The Kāeo-Kerikeri Union Church combines Methodist and Presbyterian parishes.