Tuapeka (Lawrence) Methodism
There was a time when the residents in and around Lawrence, Gabriel's Gully, Munro's Gully and Wetherstones numbered more thousands than there are hundreds in the district today. The rich finds of gold in the Gully in 1861 caused great excitement and people came from all over New Zealand, Australia and California. Among them were Methodists who soon made the hills echo with the singing of hymns. The local preachers conducted services in the mining camps, dressed in the digger's garb of blue jumper and moleskins.
Two canvas churches were speedily erected, one in Munro's Gully, and another in Gabriel's Gully. It was in the latter, which was situated at the foot of Jacob's Ladder, that the Rev. I. Harding of Dunedin, conducted the first service. He preached from I John 5: 7. "There are three that bear record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one"....................
The name "Taita" means a piece of wood lodged in the bed of a river, a snag, and is pronounced correctly with the second "a" lengthened, hence Tytar, not Tyta, with
a - short second syllable. This correct pronunciation would account for the pakeha mis-spelling and mis-pronounciation Taitai, still so named by many f the older folk.
After the original Hutt River settlement of Britannia had dispersed, and the people settled at Thorndon (Pipitea Point), Aglionby and Richmond, the task of opening up the hinterland was undertaken in earnest. The road reached as far as Taita in 1843, Stokes Valley in December 1843, Upper Flutt in August 1844, and the Wairarapa in 1847. Native troubles developed in the district, there being a Taita Stockade near Mr. Thomas Mason's original house, and near what was then the southern boundary of Taita, Boulcott's Farm Stockade, where the famous battle took place in 1846. Taita then was merely a clearing in the bush some few miles from Hutt. In 1845 an Anglican church was built there, a church which is still in use to-day.