Flood risk is behind the move of Whangaehu's St Andrew's Catholic Church - but it hasn't gone far.

The church, just off State Highway 3 south of Whanganui, was loaded on to a house moving truck and on Tuesday was transported about 500 metres along the road from the corner of Whangaehu Village Rd and Ruatangata Rd to a site next to the Whangaehu community hall.

Whangaehu village has been flooded by the Whangaehu River several times since 2004, with the church sustaining flood damage.

Mike O'Regan, treasurer of the Marton Catholic parish, said a number of options to protect the church were discussed before the decision to move it to land next to the Whangaehu community hall.

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"We looked at raising it and putting flood banks in but it wasn't really practical because of the work involved," O'Regan said.

"It was discussed by the community and with the community hall committee and decided to move it next to the community hall. We decided that in the long term we would be better off to move it. We've been working towards that for the last couple of years."

The church's new home is next to the Whangaehu community hall.
The church's new home is next to the Whangaehu community hall.

Patricia O'Leary, a member of the Whangaehu Catholic community, said St Andrew's was built in 1925 and opened in 1926.

It was the second Roman Catholic church built in Whangaehu. In about 1904 Hoani Taiaroa built the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Beach Rd, with his wife hand-matting all the floor mats.

"Sadly, it caught fire about 1913," O'Leary said.

"The present Roman Catholic church, St Andrew's, was built after Edward Green donated the end of his property to build a church. It opened on December 19, 1926 and Archbishop O'Shea, of Wellington, consecrated the church. It cost 707 pounds and 10 shillings."

Money to pay for the church was raised by dances at the Whangaehu hall.

"A bus brought people on Saturday night for the dances that were very popular," O'Leary said.

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St Andrew's has been a key part of the community over the years.

The church celebrated its 50 year anniversary with its first Holy Communion mass for locals Maureen Crowley, Karen Anderson, Suzette Wood and Erin Cvitanovich. Mrs Simpson, who lived in Turakina, rode over on her horse for the 1926 opening of the church and was also there for the Holy Communion mass.

It has held baptisms, weddings and religious instruction but O'Leary said she was not aware of any funerals being held there.

The realignment of State Highway 3 and building of the new Whangaehu Bridge in the 1950s formed a dam which later contributed to the floods in the village.
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St Andrew's Catholic Church on the move at Whangaehu.
St Andrew's Catholic Church on the move at Whangaehu.

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O'Leary said the move to the new site had taken about three years to plan, with extensive consultation with iwi, community and local government representatives.

There is still carpentry work to be done but once the church is up and running again it was likely to hold a mass once a month, O'Leary said.