St James Church: Celebrating Life & DeathMay 12, 2021 No Comments CARING | COMMUNITY | Local Treasure | Mangere Bridge Village | Newsletter Issue 2 - May 2021 Colin
Māngere Bridge is a community with a story. A special chapter is the story of St James church.BY REV. MARK BARNARD
It’s hard to miss the little stone church surrounded by the urupā. This site is significant for both Māori and Pākehā. Built in the 1850s by tangata whenua, from volcanic rock sourced from Te Pane ō Mataoho, it is of this land.
Tamati Ngāpora, cousin of the first Māori King, Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, was a key figure in the construction of the chapel. His cooperation with Bishop Selwyn demonstrated an early bicultural partnership.
But such positive collaboration was short lived, as in 1863 Governor Grey unjustly confiscated the land. As the Crown then orchestrated war down into the Waikato, much more land was stolen and many lives lost. The church and urupā were later returned, but the deeper damage was done.
Much has happened in our place since then. The church and urupā remain as a sacred centre and living symbols of the celebration and memorial of life and death. As an Anglican church, St James embodies something of the Pākehā story here. As an urupā of the Tainui people, the cemetery holds the story of tangata whenua. These stories sit together, inviting a friendship.
The church welcomes, baptises, marries, farewells, and tells a story of faith. The urupā is a place of final rest, where bodies are held by the land, and tears are met with memories. Our stories connect; they constantly remind us of the connection between life and death and that as neighbours we need each other in all our rich diversities.
Māngere Bridge is a vibrant community. Our lives are enriched when we take time to hear its stories. The more we learn the more we grow, as the people of this place.
St James meets every Sunday at 9:00am, including a kids programme. Our bilingual worship service, Te Kare o ngā Wai is held on the 2nd Sunday of each month at 6:30pm.
Nau mai, haere mai.