Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 43, September 1999


The earliest record of the Church of England in Paeroa, which was then part of Auckland Diocese, is an account of the Annual Meeting held on 30 January 1883, published in the March 1883 issue of the "Church Gazette". The meeting was chaired by the Rev. E J McFarland, B.A. (of Katikati) and the report of the outgoing Vestry was read by Mr C F Mitchell. The Vestry expressed its appreciation of the "earnestness and ability of the Rev. Thomas Farley, who had recently moved to Howick". Mr Farley is therefore the earliest known clergyman to have taken Church of England services in Paeroa. The report also records that services were being held in a Hall but that a building fund had started with a collection made when the Bishop had visited early the previous year.

Elsewhere it is recorded that the Methodist Church opened its church in Paeroa on 4 June 1882 and made its building available for Church of England services. During 1883 the Rev. E J McFarland (who was stationed at Katikati for one year), visited Paeroa to provide the services and sacraments of the Anglican faith.

The next Annual Meeting of the Church of England, Ohinemuri, was held in the Public Hall, Paeroa on Monday, 4 February 1884 with the Rev. H S Davis in the Chair. The stipend of the officiating clergyman was set at £50 per annum.

At the Annual Meeting held on 25 October 1885, the Rev. F G Evans was in the Chair and no further Annual Meetings were recorded until 1889, with the Rev. William Katterns, B.A, of Katikati in the Chair. Mr Katterns took the services in Paeroa from 1886 to 1892. He was well known for his flock of ostriches, kept near his home and one of the murals in Katikati shows him with his flock of ostriches.

Notable at the 1889 Annual Meeting was the passing of a resolution ". . . that steps be taken to proceed with the erection of the Church". A Vestry meeting followed on 28 April 1889 and a committee was appointed to "take all necessary steps to carry out the resolution". Negotiations to lease a site commenced and following the completion of arrangements, the building of the church commenced in May 1892 (completed by April 1893).

At the Vestry Meeting held on 17 December 1892, with the Bishop in the chair, it was resolved that the name of the Church be St. Paul's. At the same meeting the Bishop stated that he had arranged with Mr Katterns that after 31 December he would cease to visit Paeroa and that Rev. F G Evans of Te Aroha would visit Paeroa monthly; the congregation to pay Mr Evans £2 for each visit.

Rev. Frank G Evans took monthly services from the beginning of 1893 but in May 1894 Vestry resolved that he should come fortnightly. His stipend was then £60 per annum and by July 1895 it had increased to £110 per annum.

In May 1896 Vestry received a letter from Bishop Cowie regarding the appointment of a resident clergyman in Paeroa. Vestry requested clarification from the Bishop that it was his intention to make Paeroa the Headquarters of a Parish to include Karangahake, Owharoa, Waitekauri and Waihi. If that was so, the Vestry said that they were prepared to erect a vicarage and would ask Church members at these various points to contribute to the fund. The Bishop replied on 10 July 1896 stating that "no time has been lost in arranging for the formation of a Ohinemuri District, comprising Paeroa and all the gold mining districts between Paeroa and Waihi (inclusive) . . . Our people may now set to work and build their vicarage house as quickly as possible, as Mr Evans informs me that he will be ready to move into it as soon as it is finished".

However, on 29 September 1896, Mr Evans tendered his resignation to Vestry to enable him to take up a position in New Plymouth. A social to farewell him was arranged at Te Aroha and he was presented with an Illuminated Address and a purse of sovereigns.

Rev. W H Wilson

Rev. W H Wilson

A Century of Anglican Clergy in Paeroa
Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 43, September 1999
Rev. W H Wilson

Rev. William Henry Wilson was the next Vicar appointed and he became the first resident Vicar. Mr Wilson was from England and under the London Missionary Society he had spent four years in Samoa. During part of this time he was Queen Victoria's Consul and Deputy Commissioner. He arrived in Nelson in 1888, was ordained deacon and priest in 1889 and was at Te Awamutu before being appointed to Paeroa, arriving in October 1896. On his arrival, the Vestry guaranteed a stipend of £150 on behalf of Paeroa, Karangahake and Hikutaia. Two years later when the Annual Meeting again confirmed his stipend at £150, it was stated that he was to give £12.10.0 per annum towards the Vicarage fund.

At the Annual Meeting in July 1897, it was reported that owing to the large increase in the population of the District, the Vicar was finding it "a hard matter" to visit all his parishioners as he wished. On an average he was spending seven days a fortnight away from Paeroa, all travel being done on horse back. It was to be another two years however before the Annual Meeting was informed of the intention of the Bishop to divide the district and to appoint a resident clergyman in Waihi. The Paeroa Parochial District was to include Karangahake, Hikutaia, Komata and Maratoto while Waihi would include Waitekauri, Golden Cross and Waikino. Waihi gained its first Vicar in July 1900. A Vicarage was erected in Rotokohu Road on five acres of land, donated by Mr Alfred J Thorp, early in 1897.

The Rev. Wilson's ministry continued until he notified the Vestry on 7 July 1901 that he had accepted a position at Mt Albert and would be leaving during the first week of August 1901. On 26 July 1901 a farewell social was held at the Criterion Theatre and a further function was held on 2 August 1901 at the Royal Mail Hotel, at which Mr Wilson was presented with a purse of sovereigns.


On 29 July 1901, Bishop Cowie wrote appointing his son, the Rev. John Patteson Cowie as the new Vicar of the "Paeroa District". He was born in 1872 and educated at the Church of England Grammar School, Parnell and King's College, London. After spending four years at sea, he entered St. John's College, Auckland in 1896 and was ordained deacon. In 1897 he accompanied his father, as Chaplain, to the Lambeth Conference and then he served a curacy in a London Parish. He was ordained Priest in Brisbane, Queensland in 1899.

Mr Cowie arrived in Paeroa on 7 August 1901 and was inducted by his father. On 21 August the "Ohinemuri Gazette" reported preparations for a social to welcome Mr Cowie to the district but on 26 August the newspaper reported that it regretted being unable to report on the event as the usual courtesy had not been extended to the Press to attend.

During Mr Cowie's ministry in Paeroa the first Parish Hall was erected and opened debt free (1906) and the freehold of the Church sections was obtained in 1910. In 1912 three acres of the Vicarage land was to be taken for stopbanks and this was seen as the appropriate time to purchase a more central site. Three sections were subsequently purchased in Bennett Street.

On leaving Paeroa in December 1915 the Rev. John Cowie was presented with a purse of sovereigns at a farewell social. He and his family moved to Pukekohe. He died at Auckland on 19 October 1942 at the age of 70.


The next Vicar of Paeroa was the Rev. Frank Barter Dobson who had been Vicar of Pukekohe for 19 years. When he arrived, he decided that the Vicarage in Rotokohu Road was too far from the church and he did not favour the Bennett Street property either. He rented a house in Arney Street and this together with five sections was subsequently offered to the Parish. Therefore between July 1920 and June 1921 the Rotokohu Road and Bennett Street properties were sold and the Arney Street property was subsequently purchased.

Frank Dobson was 57 years old when he arrived in Paeroa and it is important to keep this in mind when reading the following letter which was written to his mother, shortly after his arrival. All of his travel during his years here was by horse and gig and about one weekend a month he would leave home on a Friday, returning on Monday. In addition to commencing services in Ngatea, Pipiroa and Waitakaruru, he also visited in Kaihere and Patetonga:-

"4 April 1916

There are seven places at which Reverend J Cowie (former vicar) held services and five more places where services ought to be held - 12 altogether. From one end to the other a distance of 30 miles. Fortunately most of the roads are good and Paeroa a fair size at about 2000 inhabitants - but a lot of almost pioneering work to be done.

The chief places are -

Paeroa: 2000 population with gas and water laid on -400 children at school, a large theatre, a lot of reserves for recreation - one is Primrose Hill from which one has a good view of the town and surrounding country, bowling green, croquet green and tennis courts just opposite where we are living. But sad to say with all these things the church only seats some 120 people and it is never full except last Sunday morning for a church parade when we squeezed in 150 people, 100 of them soldiers in camp for training. The church, by the way, is built of white pine and nearly falling on our heads on account of the dry rot.

Karangahake: A gold mining town with about 1000 people and 300 at the school. Two batteries, one with the electric light and power plant that cost £130,000 and which I think was never used, and only one battery working now and only working one shift. Whereas in the good old days about ten years ago they had three batteries going night and day, Sundays and week days, so like other places they talk of the good old days. Paeroa does this too but Paeroa sees good ahead on account of the agricultural land opening up on the Hauraki Plains. I am afraid there are no good days ahead for Karangahake. They have been working the mines for 33 years and I fear they are about done. There have been 12 fires which burnt down 16 houses since 5 November 1915 so now the insurance companies are cancelling the policies and we have had no fires there for three weeks. People are getting out of it like rats out of a sinking ship. 60 children have left the school since the beginning of the year. If we have 30 people at church, we think we have a good congregation.

Hikutaia: A farming centre with saleyards and hotel (no hotel in Paeroa and Karangahake, they are in Ohinemuri which is a dry district except when there is a "shout" of grog from the outside which seems to happen occasionally. Folk go to Hikutaia, 7 miles, and come back with a fair supply). Hikutaia has a school, two churches, one store, a hall, blacksmith, 80 children at the school. All the folk have milking or grazing farms. The Church of England was opened about 18 months ago and church life is better than in some other places.

Komata Reefs: Another of the has-beens, it used to have a population of 1000 or more, coach three times a day, wagons galore, store, hall etc. Now there are 14 families, a school, a battery, water race etc. Yet it is the place where they like coming to church. I have been twice and they are always anxious that I come again.

Wharepoa: Hall, store, creamery, railway station, school, in the middle of dairy farms. I go once in three months for service. I have been once, a hearty congregation of some 40 people.

Komata North: Hall, store, about 10 farms.

Netherton: Wharf on the river, hall, store, school, 50 farms. I have been there three times but no service at all there yet.

Turua: Where I used to work in the sawmill (in 1880s). The mill is closed some six months ago. Now Turua has a wharf, store, hall, cheese factory, boarding house, school, 60 or 70 pupils. Mill cottages are mostly occupied, 60 or 70 farms all doing well. They have had one service in the last 20 years - pretty sick isn't it. Fortunately a Presbyterian Home Missionary has gone to live there recently.

Kerepehi: School and farms. The Presbyterian man goes there for service. This is a new place, the farms only occupied about four years.

Ngatea (or Orchard), Pipiroa, Waitakaruru: At each place a school, a hall, a store, a wharf, all on the Hauraki Plains, formerly known as the Piako Swamp. This district only opened up a few years, 3, 4 or 5 years at the most. No Church of England service ever held at any of these.

So you see I have a fair sized parish in which church life is fairly sick and a number of new settlements in which church life has not yet commenced."

In July 1923 the District was divided, with Paeroa retaining Hikutaia, Wharepoa, Netherton and Komata and the remaining northern portion formed a new district centred on Turua.

Rev. Frank Dobson announced at the 1925 Annual Meeting that he would shortly be reaching the age of 65 and would retire. He moved to Manurewa on 1 May 1926 and died on 5 July, 1947 aged 88.


As Rev. Frank Dobson's retirement drew near, St. Paul's was faced with a dilemma. General Synod had passed a Statute authorising the formation of the Waikato Diocese but it did not become fact until 1 April 1926. On 11 February 1926 a meeting was held with Archbishop Averill (Bishop of Auckland) and he stated that the Auckland Board of Nominations had no power to appoint a Vicar to Paeroa - and Waikato had no one to make an appointment. Following a Vestry meeting, a letter was sent to the Bishop asking him, as Primate, to make an appointment. A letter was also sent to Archdeacon E M Cowie, Chairman of the Provincial Council, Diocese of Waikato.

Two suggestions were made to the Vestry as a result of these approaches. The Archbishop asked if Vestry would agree to appoint Canon Alexander of the Diocese of Calgary, Canada and Archdeacon Cowie forwarded correspondence to the Vestry from Rev. Richard Augustus Forde, B.D. of Fort Fairfield, Maine, USA, seeking a position in New Zealand. Vestry resolved to obtain further information about Rev. Forde and then, following meetings with Archdeacon Cowie, Vestry agreed to accept him as their Vicar.

The Ohinemuri Gazette of 10 September 1926 carried a report on the preparation for the arrival of Mr Forde, his wife and two children. Parish representatives would meet them off the "Aorangi" on Sunday, 12 September and they would arrive in Paeroa by express. The ladies had been busy getting the vicarage ready and they were holding a pantry day "so that Mrs Forde, upon going into her new home, shall not find herself in like case with Old Mother Hubbard of nursery rhyme fame . . ." The newspaper further reported, ". . . generally there has been a quickening of interest in church matters through the discipline of patient waiting and the future is looked forward to with quiet confidence that under the direction and guidance of the new vicar, the spiritual life of the parish will be deepened and its usefulness extended."

Rev. Forde was inducted on Thursday, 16 September by Archdeacon Cowie. There was standing room only in the Church. In the Parish Hall, following the service, Archdeacon Cowie said that he had never known a heartier or more loving welcome accorded a new vicar. In reply, Rev. Forde said he could not adequately express his heartfelt thanks for the wonderful welcome and that he looked forward with pleasurable anticipation in getting to know the Parishioners more intimately.

But all did not go as hoped for. On Monday 27 September the Ohinemuri Gazette reported, "Rev. Forde who was inducted ten days ago brought his ministry in this parish to a dramatic close at the conclusion of Evensong last night by resigning his position. Rev. Forde, his wife and family left for Auckland this morning and it is understood that the party will leave by the "Aorangi" for America tomorrow morning. The Church Wardens and Vestry are not prepared to make any statement as to the reasons for his sudden departure".

Archdeacon Cowie chaired a Special Vestry meeting on 28 September and a resolution was passed to defer the appointment of a new vicar until after the arrival of the new Bishop of Waikato. The departure from Paeroa of the Vicar's Warden, Mr Blakeway, coincided with this unhappy situation and Archdeacon Cowie appointed Dr Smith as the new Vicar's Warden.

The Ohinemuri Gazette of 4 October reported that at Evensong the night before, Archdeacon Cowie, conveyed sympathy to the parishioners with regard to the trouble fallen on the parish. He said that Mr Forde was a sick man and that he had made it quite clear that "the good folk in New Zealand were no way to blame". Archdeacon Cowie counselled the congregation to stand firm and look forward with Christian faith and joyful anticipation to happier times in the future.


In January 1927, the Rev. William G H Weadon was appointed as Vicar of Paeroa and he was inducted by the Right Rev. C A Cherrington, the first Bishop of Waikato, on 8 April 1927. William Weadon was born in England in 1883. He was first apprenticed to a dental machinery tool maker and lost the sight in one eye whilst there. He studied to become a lay preacher and during World War I he was a member of the Royal Army Medical Corp, Egypt, and later on Lord Allenby's staff. In 1920 he went to Missionary College and was ordained at Lincoln Cathedral in 1922. Arriving in New Zealand in 1923, his first position was as Curate in Wairoa and he was ordained into the Priesthood in 1924. He was Curate at Rotorua from 1925 until appointed Vicar of Paeroa in 1927.

Shortly after Mr Weadon's arrival in the Parish he stressed the need of a car and so Vestry purchased a Chevrolet from Mr Hare for £135. This brought to an end the transport of clergy around the Parish by horse, the end of an era.

It was a "sign of the times" that all was not well financially at the 1932 A.G.M. when Rev. Weadon offered to take a 10% reduction in his stipend and to meet the full running costs of the Parish car, provided that it was fitted with four new tyres. This offer was accepted in the hope that it would not be long before the cut was restored. The stipend at that time was £300 p.a. Rev. Weadon purchased his own car in 1934.

On 13 December 1937 the foundation stone was laid for a new church and the original wooden building was partially demolished and a new brick sanctuary and chancel erected.

In Rev. Weadon we see a man saddened by the distractions and the troubles of the world. From his 1933 Report: "The summer congregations cast a reflection upon the Government with its abominable railway excursions to the beaches and other resorts . . . The cloud of depression still hangs like a wet blanket over the industries and labour problems of the world; it is to be hoped these times will teach us not to put our trust in anything that we do, but to lean more hopefully upon Him who knows what things we are in need of."

Canon Weadon did not "mince" words when it came to admonishing his parishioners! From his 1936 Annual Report: "The Vicar is not a hat-rack simply for use when some urgent need demands, yet this seems to be the attitude of some towards the Church and its requirements, the privileges are demanded while the responsibilities are neglected". The Vestry were not let off either: "Church attendance - Vicar gave his usual 'straff' to the Vestry and complained of their non-attendance at regular Church."

In 1937 Rev. Weadon became a Canon of St. Peter's Cathedral, Hamilton and in August 1939 he was appointed Chaplain to the British Legion. On 23 November 1943 Bishop Cherrington instituted William Weadon as the Archdeacon of Waikato.

In October 1945 Archdeacon Weadon was appointed Vicar of Te Aroha. One Vestryman said that he was more than happy with Archdeacon Weadon as Vicar and "rather than risk a new Vicar of whom he might not approve, he would prefer the status quo". He further stated that he would like a protest to be sent to the Board of Nominations. Another Vestryman said that as the Vicar himself was a member of the Board, he had therefore assisted in appointing himself to the new Parish; such a protest would be pointless. Archdeacon Weadon stated that although he had signified his willingness to go, he would be very unhappy to leave Paeroa. A resolution was passed that the Board of Nominations be informed that "this Vestry desires that the present Vicar be not transferred". Thus it was that Archdeacon Weadon remained Vicar of Paeroa.

On 20 April 1948, Archdeacon Weadon's 21st Anniversary as Vicar of St. Paul's was celebrated. Bishop Cherrington was the Preacher at a special Evensong and, in his sermon, he commented, "The Archdeacon is uncompromising. He follows in the footsteps of St. Paul, the Patron Saint of his Church". A social function followed in the hall, the programme including musical items and a comic sketch by the Drama Club. The Mayor, Mr Edwin Edwards, attended and gave his congratulations. Mrs Weadon was presented with a bouquet and there was a specially made cake bearing 21 candles which were lit by Mrs Weadon and blown out by Archdeacon Weadon. Mr H Wylde, on behalf of the Parish, presented the Weadons with two fireside chairs and a cheque. Replying, Archdeacon Weadon commented, "I used to take things very much to heart when I first came here but now I have developed a wonderfully thick hide and pinpricks which used to hurt tremendously now only hurt the pin."

Bishop Cherrington died in 1950 and the second Bishop of Waikato was the Right Reverend John Tristram Holland. He was consecrated on 1 May 1951.The Archdeaconry was divided into Waikato and Piako in 1951 and William Weadon then became the first Archdeacon of Piako.

Archdeacon Weadon's 27 years as Vicar of Paeroa ended when he and Mrs Weadon were farewelled at a gathering in the hall following Evensong on 25 April 1954. Many tributes were paid to the Weadons and they were presented with a cheque and an order for a household amenity. Mrs Weadon chose a washing machine. The Weadons moved to Kohimarama, Auckland. Archdeacon Weadon died on 8 April 1969 at the age of 86.


Rev. A F Hall commenced his ministry in St. Paul's in June 1954 and quickly endeared himself to parishioners. At the end of 1954, tentative plans and estimates were called for to complete the construction of the nave of the church. Mr Hall suggested that a letter be sent to the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's Cathedral, London, asking for a stone suitable for incorporation in the proposed new nave. Arrangements were set in motion.

Regretfully Rev. Hall's ministry in Paeroa was short as he died in 1956. Parishioners donated towards a Memorial to him and, with Mrs Hall's approval, the money donated was used to erect new Altar Rails.


On 9 August 1956 the Rev. Peter Munton, L.Th. was inducted as Vicar of Paeroa. Peter Munton was ordained Deacon in 1951 and Priest in 1952 in the Wellington Diocese, having obtained his Licentiate of Theology at College House, Christchurch.

A tender for the building of the nave, including tower and vestries was accepted and the dismantling of the old nave commenced in May 1958. The stone requested from St. Paul's Cathedral in London was set in position in November1958 and the Dedication of the extension took place on 20 December 1958.

In February 1961 Rev. Munton left to become Vicar of Tokoroa.


The next Vicar of Paeroa was the Rev. Gerald Baker, B.A., M.A., L.Th. (Hons) and he was inducted on 9 February 1961. Gerald Baker attended College House, Christchurch and St. John's College, Auckland and was ordained Deacon in 1956 and Priest in 1957.

In 1961, following a request from the Sunday School teachers, the Parish Hall was extended 40 feet. The average weekly attendance at Sunday School was 100 children. The Nave, Tower and Vestries was Consecrated on 27 September 1964.

Rev. Gerald Baker was farewelled at a function following Evensong on 19 September 1965. He then became Vicar of Huntly.


On 28 October 1965 Canon Claude Hyde inducted the Rev. Kempster Baigent L.Th. (2nd Class Hons) as Vicar of Paeroa. Kem Baigent attended St. John's College, Auckland and was ordained Deacon in 1959 and Priest in 1960. He left Paeroa in 1970 to become Vicar of Huntly. At the time of his sudden death on 18 November 1996 he was Vicar of Morrinsville and Archdeacon of Piako.


On 14 May 1970 the Venerable Maurice Richards, Archdeacon of Piako was inducted as Vicar of Paeroa. Maurice Richards was ordained Deacon in 1941 and Priest in 1942. In 1957 he was appointed a Canon of St. Peter's Cathedral and in 1966 appointed Archdeacon of Piako.

In November 1976 Archdeacon Richards reported that he had resigned from the post of Archdeacon of Piako. Shortly afterwards Vestry made a presentation to him marking the 35th Anniversary of his Ordination. Archdeacon Richards retired in February 1978 and he and Mrs Richards moved to Matamata. He died on 16 October 1988 at the age of 74.


The next Vicar of Paeroa was the Rev. Tikituterangi Raumati and he was inducted on 8 June 1978. Tiki Raumati attended St. John's College, Auckland and he was ordained Deacon in 1965 and Priest in 1966. He left Paeroa in 1981 to become Priest in Charge of the Waikato Maori Pastorate.


A letter was received from the Bishop at the Vestry meeting on 2 December 1980 appointing the Rev. Graeme Brown L.Th. as the next Vicar. Graeme Brown attended Church College, Christchurch and St. John's College, Auckland and was ordained Deacon in 1962 and Priest in 1963.

Graeme Brown took leave from May to August 1986, during which time he undertook study in Australia, USA and England. In September 1987 Graeme Brown left St. Paul's to take up the position of Priest Assistant at Cambridge. At present he is a Chaplain at Waikato Hospital.


The Rev. Florence Chambers L.Th. was appointed Priest in Charge of St Paul's, her Liturgical Welcome taking place on 17 December 1987. She was later installed as Vicar on 18 December 1988. Florence Chambers attended St. John's College, Auckland and was ordained Deacon and Priest in 1983. In 1991 she was commissioned as Industrial Chaplain to the staff at the Department of Social Welfare, Paeroa. She left Paeroa in February 1994to take up a position in the Chartwell (Hamilton) Parish. It was her incumbency which completed a century of Anglican clergy in Paeroa.

The present Vicar (at the time of writing, 1997) is the Rev. Pat A Scaife and she was installed in October 1994.

(Editor's note: The Rev. Pat Scaife moved to Stratford in May 1999.)