By Beckie Wilson
If you think the idea of uplifting a 116-year-old church sounds ambitious, you’d probably be right.
But a rural Wairarapa community wants to achieve just that, and has a six-figure plan to do so.
The Church of the Good Shepherd in Tinui holds the historic title of where the world’s first Anzac service was thought to have been held on April 25, 1916.
But it also sits in a floodplain where it has been victim to flooding, despite efforts to raise it up off the ground.
The building is in need of major restoration and restructuring work to meet building standards, but the community has decided it would be “easier” to move the church away from the floodplain and into Tinui village.
Project co-ordinator and church member Emily Crofoot said they had purchased a piece of land on Blackwell Rd, down from the hall, making it “part of a little historic precinct”.
The project is expected to cost about $150,000, including the purchase of the land, the physical move of the church, and any restoration work.
“There are two big sets of powerlines that we need to manoeuvre around, but it’s all doable and we are all very excited about it,” she said.
The group have set up a Givealittle page, but hope to receive more grants along the way.
“We have already secured some of that funding, but we still need more”.
She said church members and the community had been working on the project for a couple of years.
“We are not focused on a time frame, we are focused on one step at a time.”
While the congregation is small, the community feels strongly about the church and its role in Tinui’s history.
Permission was first needed from the community, council and Wellington Anglican Diocese – as they own the church.
Now, the next step is “making it happen”, Mrs Crofoot said.
“It’s very special both because of its Anzac connections and the other thing, in a rural community so many of the families that funded the construction of the church and the buildings, the descendants of those families are still here and part of the community – it’s all part of the legacy.”
The community wants to see another 100 years of continued use of the Church of the Good Shepherd as a site for weddings, baptisms, and funerals, as well as a spiritual gathering place.