Topic: St Hilda in-the-Wood (Ngamatapouri)

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St Hilda in-the-Wood 

Ngamatapouri is a small settlement located in the upper Waitotara Valley.

On 6 March, 1898 the Rev. C.A.Tisdall convened a meeting in the local store to discuss a proposal to erect a church in Ngamatapouri on a section already purchased by the Wellington Board of Diocesan Trustees. A committee was appointed, fundraising commenced, and plans were drawn up by Wellington firm, Clere and Swan. (Plans drawn and signed by John Swan are held by the Alexander Turnbull Library) 

Meanwhile Rev.Tisdall had returned to England to take up a post as vicar of St Hilda's, Darlington. His desire to see a church at Ngamatapouri remained, and in March 1900 he wrote to the committee with the news that an anonymous donor had given £150 toward the project.

A contract was signed on 23 March, 1903 with George Braithwaite to build the church for £158. This was somewhat lower than Braithwaite's earlier tender of £281.12.6, deemed to be too high. It seems likely the committee sought donations of building material to reduce costs. The church was taken over on 6 November 1904 with work still needed to finish the interior. Local mill owner and carpenter, John Chesswas, completed the interior at a cost of £31 and for another £5/17/6 he provided the communion table, the box for the altar cloth the altar table and the front door lock.

St Hilda in-the-Wood was finally consecrated on 13 March, 1907 - the name in recognition of the assistance from Rev.Tisdall's parish in Darlington. (Source: The European Settlement of the Waitotara Valley 1890-1930, Laraine Sole)

In 1909 the Taranaki Herald reported that "handsome new gates" had been installed, a gift from Mrs Georgetti. It was hoped that a new fence could also be donated to harmonise with the new gates. Recent photographs of the church and surround suggest the gates were at some stage removed.

On Sunday 21 November, 2004 a centenary service was conducted by the Anglican Bishop of Taranaki, The Right Reverend Philip Richardson.

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