St Isaac’s Church

History Administration Achievements Centenary



Contact Us by e mail:

Rev Thelma Connor
Phone 09 4339820      

Committee Contacts
Hank and Dale van Engelen
Phone 09 4337026

church 2006   2006
The large head stone is the memorial for our Tupuna Eru and Te Tawaka.



The land where the church and urupa (cemetery) are located was donated by Eru and Te Tawaka Nehua. The church came under the care of the Anglican Diocese and was named St Isaac after a son who died.

circa 1960's
In the 60's there were macroparpa trees surrounding the church and cemetery.  In those days many people had no cars and the only way to get around was walking.
People would get dropped of by the bus at the main road and walk up the hill in the dark past the cemetery, children would scare each other with ghost stories. Our uncles decided to cut the trees down so the place wouldn't be so scary - and to clean it up.
 church 1960s
The Whakapara St Isaac’s Church was opened on Thursday 11th August 1898. A newspaper article at the time reported that the weather was exceptionally bad with almost continuous rain. The church was built by Eru Nehua (also known as Mr Edwards) with assistance from his family and a few Pākeha friends. The Foote timber mill as well as contributing a sum of money also cut the timber supplied by Eru free of charge.

The opening services were conducted largely in te reo Mäori. The part of the service that was conducted in English was interpreted into te reo.  The church was available for English services for the settlers in the neighbourhood, timber mill workers. It was reported that the Māori population at the time within a radius of six miles did not exceed seventy.

The church still remains under the spiritual guidance of the Anglican Diocese but the care and maintenance was handed back to the descendents of Eru and Te Tawaka Nehua in the 1980s.  


An administration committee with representatives from the descendents of  Eru and Te Tawaka Nehua meets regularly to discuss church issues such as maintenance and repairs, fundraising, organising special events such as the centennial in 1998 and reunion in  2008. Funds to maintain the church and cemetery comes from  koha (donations and fundraising. The Anglican Diocese assists with funding at times for things such as helping to purchase paint and other necessary materials.

Because families have moved to other places it has become more difficult to raise money. Many families have decided to make regular contributions through automatic payments. This has allowed them to feel they are contributing even though they may not be able to be physically present.

We welcome any support we can get.  If you would like to make a contribution please contact us either by e mail for bank account details or post to Hank and Dale van Engelen, 448 Apotu Rd, RD1 Kamo, Whangarei 0185.

See our strategic plan here

Lawn mowing
Upkeep of the church and cemetery buildings and grounds is the responsibility of the descendents of Eru and Te Tawaka. In recent years a church lawn mowing roster has been established. This has been a success and the lawns and grounds look very neat and tidy. Each tupuna line is assigned certain months to mow the lawns.  They supply their own equipment and resources. If you can’t make it to the church when it’s your turn then a donation of money to help with petrol is always appreciated – contact someone in your tupuna line.

January  - Tutu
February - Maraea
March - Ani
April - Wiri
May - Hone
June - Te Ruhi
July - Rehutai
August - Tita
September - Te Paea
October - Tutu
November - Maraea
December - Ani
mowing lawns
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Some of the things we have achieved in the last few years are to renovate and update internal fixtures and furniture for the centennial in 1998, build a storage shed for grave digging tools and equipment, fixing the fences 2007. Future projects include painting the outside roof and buildings, repair all fencing, mapping the graves in the cemetery and building a memorial place for people to place plaques for loved ones who are not buried at Whakapara.

church shed

 church fencing
church back

The little shed was built in 2004 the fencing was done in 2007.We had the ‘Gravediggers Ball” to raise money for the shed. Neville and his boys were the band – and Te Paea’s line won the whanau talent quest. It was a great evening, we raised $1000 to buy the material and whanau and friends did the mahi.

Church Centenary


This logo was commissioned for the church centenary in 1998.

The forward motion of the bird in flight represents the continuation of the families of Eru and Te Tawaka. The wings of the bird represent Eru and Te Tawaka and the support they continue to provide for their children. The children and their descendents are represented by the feathers of the bird – there is also one feather to represent the other people in the community who are associated with the church and family.
Designer: Steve Tana


The centenary was a very special occasion and people came from far and wide to attend. Each tupuna (descendent) line was allocated a colour so people could identify who they belonged to, and each line made a family photo board. This was a source of great delight to many people to see pictures of people they had heard stories about but had never seen.

In the evening there was a centennial dinner and special cakes were made – one large cake and ten small cakes (one for each tupuna line and one for the community). Each line had to come up and sing for their cake. It was great entertainment. The large cake was kept to be cut at the lunch time hakari after the church service on the Sunday morning.
 church centenary 1998

 church cakes

We decorated the church, and the cakes were a big hit.


The Tupuna Line Colours

 Tita – yellow Te Paea – aqua blue
 Wiri – orange Tutu – bright green
 Hone – purple Te Ruhi – dark crimson
 Rehutai – red Maraea – cerese pink
 Ani – navy blue                 Community –  dark forest green

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Church Window 

The stained glass church window was made for the church by Kathy Shaw a mokopuna of Tupuna Maraea. It was blessed in 1999 by Hadi Edwards. The design of the window is based around the centennial church logo. The dove and the feathers represent Eru and Te Tawaka and their children; the four tail feathers the children who passed away without issue including Isaac after whom the church is named. The background is the landscape of Whakapara – the river, hills and trees. The rainbow symbolises the covenant with God linked to the ark and the flood; it could also symbolise the Polynesian waka of discovery also known as Rainbows.

 church window church window from inside
 church inside 1998
       Inside church 1998
 church alter pre window 1998
              Pre window 1998



Page last updated 19 Feb 2012