Waikato Methodists make connexions during Kawhia visit
By Mary West
Hamilton Methodist parish often has inspirational meetings. Last month the parish decided to take this tradition on to the road and visit Kawhia to see the recently renovated Methodist church.
In November a special service was held to mark the reopening of the restored church. Knowing the affection Waikato Methodists have for Kawhia Church, District Superintendant Susan Thompson asked Hamilton parish to consider opening their trip up to the whole district.
Rev David Poultney suggested that if sufficient people were interested that a bus could be hired. A message was sent synod-wide and the response was such that the bus was full to overflowing and cars were used to transport other interested people.
Waikato Methodists enjoyed fellowship on the road during their trip to Kawhia.
Saturday May 8th was dry but overcast as we set off. Each person took a picnic lunch. We were met at the Church by Nick Tuwhangi, who told us he had been the project manager for the restoration. Nick and his wife Linda had arranged that the community hall was open for the opportunity for a hot drink. There was time for folk to wander along the beach front either to explore or reminisce.
At the church David led the group of 45 in a short service. It was a great joy to the members of Kawhia church that the restored organ was played for the first time as we lustily sang two hymns. Eric Russell from Te Aroha was the organist. In addition to playing an unknown instrument, he needed to peddle to get power.
Nick gave a vivid description of all the work that went into the restoration and the great support that he received from Kawhia folk. Nick explained the meaning behind the tukutuku panels and the two miniature canoes on the walls. We were especially interested in the carving on the front of the pulpit which had been done by the father of the late Evelyn (Tuss) Kingi.
David invited stories from those of us who were gathered.
Elsie Jones from Mt Maunganui told of her arrival in Kawhia in the late 1950’s. Elsie had just arrived as a teacher from England and had thought she would be posted near Auckland. Kawhia was something different.
Elsie shared how on her first day at the school she was as scared of the children as they were of her. Elsie always worshipped at the church and the first Sunday she attended she played the same organ with one finger only to get the basic tune of the hymns! Elsie made her stories come alive.
We heard from a member from Thames who had had the trucking business for many years and how the husband of one of Maori women present today had been a driver for him.
A photograph was taken of everyone and you can see it was a great gathering. After we had boarded the bus we were taken to see the local Pa, unfortunately we were not able to go inside.
Homeward bound we were all very thankful that we were not the driver on that very twisty road.
This was a memorable day. There was great Synod wide fellowship with old and new acquaintances but most important of all the opportunity to learn more of our Methodist history in the Waikato.