The history of organised worship in our area begins in the 1820s when the Mahurangi region was visited by Church of England clergy.
First came missionaries from the Bay of Islands, notably Henry Williams who later would regularly call on settlers up the river and held services in their homes. From 1844 Bishop Selwyn visited inland areas, surprising settlers when he emerged on foot from the bush to hold services and baptise children.
Over time the first churches were built in four districts that now lie within the present parish bounds. Services were conducted by local Lay Readers and visiting clergy. From 1875 to 1881 the Parish was part of the Mahurangi parochial district, whose first Vicar took office in 1876. After 1881 the Parish was covered by Home Missionaries until 1911, when the current Parish of Warkworth was created.
A history of our churches is set out below.
Christ Church, Warkworth
When John Anderson Brown founded the town of Warkworth in 1853, he set aside land for an “Episcopal Church” (the Scottish name for the Anglican Church) and Cemetery. While worship commenced right away, not much was done about actually putting up a building until a Building Committee was formed in 1865. But finally, on the 30th of April 1876, the first service was held in the new building, named Christ Church. John Anderson Brown himself was buried in the new Anglican Cemetery.
The beautiful stained glass window in the church was given by Mrs Henry, aunt and housekeeper of the first Vicar of Warkworth, the Rev’d Ranald MacDonald. In 1979-1981 the building was greatly extended with the addition of side aisles, sensitively retaining the style of the original while symbolising the breadth of God’s love by offering an open-armed welcome to all. The present parish lounge, built in 1862, was moved to the site in 1941 having originally been the local Presbyterian church.
St Leonard's, Matakana
The church at Matakana was established in the early 1900s after land was donated and money raised for a new building. The church was dedicated on the 31st of May 1914 in the name of St Leonard of Noblac, the patron saint of prisoners and friend of the weak and fallen. The building was extended in 1993 and a Rose Window added in 2001. This window portrays elements of the Christian faith and of the local history and character of Matakana. The adjacent hall building (currently occupied by the Matakana Anglican Opportunity Shop) was built at the same time as the church and was once the post office.
St Michael’s and All Angels, Leigh
As early as 1867 a grant of land was given to Bishop Selwyn for the erection of a church at Leigh. Later Mr Charles Septimus Clark set up a committee and subscription list to raise funds. However, in 1915 Mrs Henry (aunt of the Rev’d MacDonald) offered to pay for the church, including stained glass windows in memory of her brother, the Vicar’s father. The church was dedicated on the 29th of October 1915 to St Michael and All Angels. About 1950 it was turned around to its present position and in 2004 the old school building from Ti Point was added to serve as a hall.
St Alban's, Kaipara Flats
The first Anglican Church built in the old Rodney County was St Clement, Kourawhero built in 1860. Land was donated, a plan approved, materials and labour donated and the settlers had a centre for their community. However, in 1905, the railway reached Kaipara Flats which soon became the hub of the district. A new church was donated by Mrs Henry and dedicated to St Alban on 30th May 1914. It seated only 24 people. Unfortunately, borer became rampant so it was replaced by a prefabricated shell fitted out by the congregation and dedicated on 20th December 1964 as St Alban’s Kaipara Flats.
The old St Clement's Church from Kourawhero was sold in about 1919 and moved to Kaukapakapa to serve as the local church. In 1979 it became redundant and, now deconsecrated, it forms part of a dwelling at 16 South Avenue, Kaukapakapa. The site of the original church at Kourawhero remains in church ownership as a cemetery, now open only for the interment of ashes, on Old Kaipara Road, Kaipara Flats.
Here is an extract describing the first ever Church service to take place at Kaipara Flats. The account comes from the memoirs of Lylie Breese, the granddaughter of George and Mary Wyatt who were the first Pakeha settlers in Kaipara Flats:
The Wyatts had not been here many weeks when Bishop Selwyn arrived, having walked through the bush with 2 Maori guides. When felling the bush for a site for the whare one log had been left close to the door, very much in the way, but the bishop procured an axe, and soon had it out of that. He then held a service for the family and any one they could collect.
Snells Beach Community Church
For many years the Parish held the intention of building a church in Snells Beach to serve the Mahurangi Peninsula. However, in the late 1980s discussions were held with the local Methodist Church about working together. This led to the Anglican Parish providing money for the expansion of the Snells Beach Community Church and to a co-operation agreement with Warkworth Methodist Parish. Today Warkworth Anglican Parish takes the Snells Beach Community Church service every second Sunday of the month as part of that arrangement.
Warkworth Anglican Parish Trust
The Ministry of the Parish is supported by the Warkworth Anglican Trust. This was established in 2005 following a bequest from the McElroy Trust. The McElroy Trust had been created by brothers William and Arthur (Paddy) McElroy of Pukapuka Farm and whose intention it was that the proceeds would go to support the ministry of the Church in this Parish.
1876 - 1881 Rev'd Hart Sparling
1906 - 1911 Rev'd Kenneth Teale
1911 - 1920 Rev'd Ranald MacDonald
1920 - 1921 Rev'd John Hawksworth
1922 - 1927 Rev'd Charles Addenbrooke
1927 - 1939 Rev'd Frederick Hart
1939 - 1946 Rev'd J.B. Rushworth
1946 - 1952 Rev'd Geoffrey Adams
1952 - 1957 Rev'd David Dunningham
1957 - 1959 Very Rev'd Dean Charles Chandler
1959 - 1964 Rev'd Maurice Rounthwaite
1964 - 1967 Rev'd Frank Coulthard
1967 - 1975 Rev'd Dick Miles
1976 - 1986 Rev'd Ngati-Pare Nathan
1986 - 1987 Rev'd Malcolm Clague, Rev'd Jackie Sewell (Priests in Charge)
1987 - 1999 Rev'd Frank Lawrence
2000 - 2007 Rev'ds Judy and Stewart Vause
2000 - 2009 Rev'd Judy Vause
2009 - 2016 Rev'd Jan Olsen
2017 - 2018 Rev'd Ellen Bernstein
2019 - Rev'd Peter Jenkins (current Vicar)
Rev'd Ranald MacDonald
Rev'd Charles Addenbrooke
Rev'd Frederick Hart
Rev'd J.B. Rushworth
Rev'd Geoffrey Adams
Rev'd David Dunningham
Very Rev'd Dean Charles Chandler
Rev'd Maurice Rounthwaite
Rev'd Frank Coulthard
Rev'd Dick Miles
Rev'd Ngati-Pare Nathan
Rev'd Malcolm Clague
Rev'd Jackie Sewell
Rev'd Frank Lawrence
Rev'ds Stewart & Judy Vause
Rev'd Jan Olsen
Rev'd Ellen Bernstein