The Church





Holy Trinity Church in Pakaraka has always been closely connected with The Retreat across the road.  It is to be found on SH1, across the road from The Retreat, and has a Category 1 listing from Heritage New Zealand.  Originally an avenue of trees connected the Retreat and the Church, most of which are now lost.


From the time Henry Williams purchased the area of land at Pakaraka in 1833 he had set aside a tenth of the land as an endowment for a church, and envisaged a structure that would serve the future needs of his family and their descendants.


Planning for the building of a chapel at Pakaraka began in 1850 when Henry and Marianne moved there from Paihia, to stay in his son’s house, which later became known as ‘The Homestead’.  Services were initially conducted in an old barn nearby, while Henry and his sons started to build a church that was designed to form the chancel of a larger structure. The new church was opened on April 23, 1851 amid great celebration.


The church was named Holy Trinity, as Trinity Sunday was the day on which the Archdeacon was ordained, and Trinity Sunday was the last day the Williams family spent at Paihia. The church was extended and a steeple added in 1854.


After Henry’s death in 1867 his sons decided to erect a new church as a memorial to their father.  The original church was shifted and converted by Marianne into a hostel for Maori who might come from a distance to attend a service.  The present church was erected on the original site and opened in November 1873.  Archdeacon Clarke and the Bishop of Auckland conducted the service and William Williams, the Bishop of Waiapu and Henry's brother ,read the lesson. Originally an avenue of trees connected the the Retreat and the church, most of which are now lost.


The large east window in the present church probably came from the first church.  The pulpit almost certainly did too, for a description in Marianne Williams’ diary closely fits that of the present pulpit.  A commemorative marble plaque summarising Henry Williams' contribution and some lines on the church history, has recently been replaced with one carrying more accurate information.  


In the churchyard are the graves of Henry and Marianne Williams and other early inhabitants of the district.

Holy Trinity, Pakaraka.  Drawing by Henry Williams, 1854

​© 2013 H & W Williams Memorial Museum Trust.  All rights reserved.


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