Tikitiki Church

Tikitiki Church - East Cape

Tikitiki Church

East Cape


1 Rankers Review

1 Face-to-Face

1 Heritage Attractions

3 Cultural Experiences

1 Hicks Bay

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Historic Maori Church

Tikitiki Church, like Ruakokore Church on the other side of East Cape is one of the highlights of the drive around SH35.

St Mary’s church in Tikitiki serves as a memorial to the Māori men from the East Coast between Paritū (south of Gisborne) and Tarakeha/Torere (east of Ōpōtiki) who fought and died in the First World War. St Mary’s was built in the 1920s at the instigation of Ngāti Porou leader Apirana Ngata. An early example of Ngata’s efforts to revive traditional Māori arts and crafts, it is regarded as one of the most beautiful Māori churches in New Zealand.

Building and design
The building of the church between 1924 and 1926 involved many members of Ngāti Porou, including elders and schoolchildren. St Mary’s spectacular interior showcases Māori carvings, kowhaiwhai designs and tukutuku panels. Hone Ngatoto, a local tohunga whakairo (master carver), was responsible for much of the carving work. Te Arawa contributed the pulpit and a number of smaller carvings, and iwi from the Waikato region gave the communion rail. Ngata supervised the weaving of tukutuku and the painting of kowhaiwhai designs on the rafters.

A striking stained-glass window depicts Second Lieutenant Henare Kohere and Captain Pekama Kaa kneeling at the feet of Christ on the Cross. Both men were killed in the war. The church also pays tribute to Taumata-a-Kura, a captive of Ngāpuhi who introduced Christianity to Waiapu upon his return to the area in 1834. St Mary’s church was built on the site of Pukemaire pā, where a battle was fought in 1866 between Christian and Pai Marire (‘Hauhau’) factions of Ngāti Porou. Veterans of the New Zealand Wars were honoured guests at the consecration of St Mary’s.


Feature Value Info


North IslandTairāwhiti GisborneHicks Bay


  • Heritage Attractions
  • Cultural Experiences
  • Free


Pete H's avatar

Pete H


Ranking: 10/10

Absolutely amazing.

Reviewed about 11 years ago