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Short History of St James Kerikeri

St James church is allegedly built on the site chosen by the redoubtable Maori Chief Hongi Hika.(the then paramount chief of the Ngapuhi tribe )  Although the first chapel was started in November 1823 and opened some 6 months later this was not built on the site of the present church.

However the second chapel , which was started sometime early in 1829 was built on the present site and the one Hongi Hika  had earlier suggested. When the Mission Station was disbanded in 1848 this chapel fell into disrepair with the result that a new  church was built on the same site in 1878. Extract form the Church Gazette reads: "A remarkable neat little church was opened at Kerikeri on December 5th 1878. The services were conducted by Archdeacon Clarke and the Rev H P Tua."

The entire cost of the builidng was two hundred and thirty five pounds: a small debt of ten pounds was all that was owing.

The building was made of Kauri weather boards (boards and battens) shingle roof, and foundations of puriri piles on stone blocks. William Cook and Son of Waimate North, who had built the church of St. John the Baptist in 1871, were also the builders of St James.

St James was dedicated to St James the Greater of Compostella.
(Tradition has it that after his martyrdom in AD 42, the body of St James was placed in a boat  without sail or rudder which drifted on to the Spanish coast. His shrine at Compostella became a famous place of pilgrimage and still is today.)

It is worthy of note that several individuals and families from St James Kerikeri, have walked the camino (the way) over the past few years.


 Extensions to St James were added in 1963.

A fuller history of St James  is available in ‘From Chapel to Church” at a cost of $5.

To find out more about Kerikeri and other historic buildings in Kerikeri enter here