From the 1820s, the Mahurangi area was visited regularly by Church of England clergy. First came missionaries from the Bay of Islands, notably Henry Williams, who called regularly on settlers up the river and held services in their homes. From 1844, Bishop Selwyn visited inland areas, surprising settlers when he emerged on foot from the bush to hold services and baptise children. Over time, churches were built in four districts within the present parish bounds and services conducted by local Lay Readers and visiting clergy. Our first Vicar took office in 1876.
The area covered by the parish was part of Mahurangi parochial district c.1875-1881, then and then Home Missionaries until 1911, when the Warkworth parochial district was created.
Christ Church, Warkworth
When John Anderson Brown founded the town in 1853, he set aside land for the “Episcopal Church” and Cemetery but a building committee was not formed until 1865. Finally, on 30th April 1876 the first service was held in Christ Church. The beautiful stained glass window was given by Mrs Henry, aunt and housekeeper of the vicar, Rev Ranald MacDonald. In 1979-1981 the building was greatly extended, sensitively retaining the style of the original and symbolising the breadth of God’s love, offering an open-armed welcome to all.
The adjacent parish lounge was moved to the site in 1941, having originally been the Presbyterian church, built in 1862.
St Leonard's, Matakana
Land was donated, money raised and a tender let for the erection of the church, which was dedicated 31st May 1914 in the name of St Leonard, of Noblac, patron saint of prisoners, friend of the weak and the fallen. The building was extended in 1993 and a Rose Window added in 2001. This portrays elements of the Christian faith and of the local history and character of Matakana. The adjacent Opportunity Shop, built at the same time as the church (though also extended in the late 1990s and again in the early 1990s), was once the post office.
St Michael and All Angels, Leigh
As early as 1867, a grant of land was given to Bishop Selwyn for the erection of a church at Leigh. Later Mr Charles Septimus Clark set up a committee and subscription list. However, in 1915 Mrs Henry offered to pay for the church, including stained glass windows in memory of her brother, the Vicar’s father. The church was dedicated on 29th October 1915 to St Michael and All Angels. About 1950 it was turned to its present position and in 2004 the old school building from Ti Point and later Leigh was added to serve as a hall.
St Alban's Kaipara Flats
St Clement, Kourawhero, built in 1860, was the first Anglican Church in Rodney County. Land was donated, a plan approved, materials and labour donated and the settlers had a centre for their community. However, in 1905, the railway reached Kaipara Flats which soon became the hub of the district. A new church was donated by Mrs Henry and dedicated to St Alban on 30th May 1914. It seated only 24 people. Unfortunately, borer became rampant so it was replaced by a prefabricated shell fitted out by the congregation and dedicated on 20th December 1964.
The old St Clement's Church was sold in about 1919 and moved to Kaukapaka to serve as the local church. In 1979 it became redundand and, now deconsecrated, it forms part of a dwelling at 16 South Avenue, Kaukapakapa. The site of the original church at Kourawhero remains in church ownership as a cemetery, now open only for the interment of ashes, on Old Kaipara Road, Kaipara Flats.
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