Ruatangata Pioneers' Memorial Church

The Ruatangata Memorial Church, as it is commonly known, was opened in 1940. It is not a war memorial church, but a pioneers’ memorial church, named in honour of the early European settlers of the district.

A Wesleyan church was first built in the bush district of Ruatangata West in 1867. For several years this also served as a schoolroom. On 17 September 1887 it was destroyed by fire. For more than half a century the site lay vacant. However, in October 1937 a group of local settlers from various denominations resolved to build a new church in the district.

The site of the old church was chosen and in April 1938 it was decided to call the new building the Ruatangata Pioneers’ Memorial Church. This was dedicated on 2 March 1940. Although it stood on land belonging to the Methodist Church, it was administered by a trust and was made available not only for Methodist but also for Anglican, Presbyterian, Church of Christ and Congregational services. In 1956 Sunday School rooms were added to the building.

The church continued in regular use for several decades, in later years as part of a co-operating parish. On 27 March 1999 the last regular parish service was held in the building, although the Ruatangata Christian Fellowship continued to meet there.

The land and buildings were controversially offered for sale by the Methodist Church in 2013. The church is now in private hands, although at the time of writing (July 2017) monthly services are still being held there.

Sources: ‘After 50 Years: Church Replaced’, NZ Herald, 23/3/1940, p. 10; ‘Memorial Church Opened at Ratangata’, Northern Advocate, 25/3/1940, p. 3;  Eric Dodd, Pioneers’ Memorial Church, Ruatangata, Whangarei, 1999 (ltd circ.); ‘Locals Rally to Oppose Church Sale’, Northern Advocate, 25/10/2013; ‘Church Sale Plan Upsets Local Users’, Northern Advocate, 7/12/2013.

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