ST PATRICK'S OF AHUROA

Written (circa 2003) by David Thatcher


We live in a church. It is not a grand church but to us it is very special. Often during the weekend as we are sitting having a coffee on our deck we watch as a car drives past on the road below. As soon as the cars occupants see the church the car slides to a halt, backs up, and the occupants gaze at our church, and sometimes even take a photograph.  From down on the road our church looks to be the typical quaint country church.  Probably all those people who stop and look do not even realise that the church is now someone’s home.

Eight years ago Alison and I were on the hunt for a new home. We had spent the previous few years living on our yacht but now wished to set up a base on shore. Browsing through various real estate magazines did not really inspire us. There was precious little that we could afford that inspired us as a place to live and call home. On a rainy Sunday one advertisement did catch our attention:

 HISTORIC SOLID WOODEN CHURCH

Something unique for someone with flair and

artistic imagination.  2 acres with bush outlook.

Weekender or renovation

We had no idea where Ahuroa was but another advertisement for the same property placed it in Puhoi.  Worth a look to fill in a wet Sunday. The road from Puhoi to Ahuroa nearly put us off, who would want to live way out there?  But after an hour of viewing the property we were smitten. The church had a good feel to it, and I knew that I could build an interior into it very easily. The setting was beautiful. By the next morning the property was ours.

The first part of the renovation was to tear down a confessional which had been built onto the side of the church. If all the borer in the rimu timber from which this was constructed were to stop holding hands it would have probably fallen down by itself. The rest of the church was built from heart kauri and was in very good condition. A simple interior was built and development of the property was begun, and, as with any property is still ongoing. When we began our renovations we wished to retain the essential character of the church. The wooden country church is an essential part of New Zealand’s architectural and cultural heritage and we feel privileged to be the guardians of one of these historic buildings.  

Many of our visitors ask the inevitable questions of how old is the church, and where did it come from.  For some reason many people assume that the church was moved onto the property. This however is not the case. Although we do not know the exact date of the church’s construction records show that it was insured from April of 1918.  Early information shows that a Major Burns donated the land for the church site. The church was built by a Mr. John Paul and a Mr. Tony Russek, with the aid of local people. The kauri timber was donated by Mrs. Turnwald from her farm just down the road. The confessional was added in the 1930’s.  Although the church was catholic it was also used by the local Anglicans.  I understand that on Sundays the priest would finish services in Puhoi, and then ride his horse across the hill to Ahuroa to conduct services there.

The church was used by the local community right up to the mid 70’s.  At about that time ownership passed to the Lothlorien property, which is featured elsewhere on this web site.  While under Lothlorien ownership the church was utilised for numerous functions, including many parties.  During our years of ownership we have met many local people who have attended church services and other functions at ‘St Patricks’.  One such example is a local contractor who delivered a truckload of garden mulch to the property recently.  As he was about to climb into his truck and head off down the drive he paused, looked at the church and said; “I got married in there”.  We hope his marriage has been a good one.