After many years of working towards this end, the Maori people of Auckland at last have their own interdenominational chapel.
It is a fine modern building, which achieves in its appearance a successful fusion of the old and the new: its dramatic, uncluttered design is unmistakably modern, but the long sweeping lines of the roof and walls, and the form of the porch at the front, are equally clearly inspired by Maori architectural tradition.
The building stands on part of the old Orakei marae site at Okahu Bay, the last piece of Ngati Whatua's ancestral land in the city of Auckland. It is not intended for the use of any one particular Christian denomination. With the traditional Maori tolerance towards all the different branches of the Christian faith, it will be available for use by all denominations.
The new chapel is situated on Ngati Whatua's ancestral land at Orakei. Above, on the hill behind it, are the modern homes of the Orakei Maori people.
This fact was reflected in the procedure at the dedication of the chapel, which took place last March. The dedication, arranged by the Maori section of the National Council of Churches, was led by Bishop Panapa, who is himself an elder of Ngati Whatua. Among the other clergy who took part were Canon Mangatitoki Cameron of the Church of England, the Rev. Rangi Rogers of the Methodist Church, and the Rev. Tioke Tawhao of the Presbyterian Church. Ministers of many other faiths, including Catholic and Ratana, also attended and spoke following the dedication.
Approximately 1,000 people, Maori and Pakeha, gathered for the opening ceremony. Among them were the Minister of Maori Affairs, the Hon. Mr Hanan; the then Leader of the Opposition, The Rt. Hon. Walter Nash; the member of Parliament for Southern Maori,
Ministers belonging to many different churches took part in the opening ceremony. In our photograph, Bishop Panapa, who is himself a Ngati Whatua elder, is officiating at the dedication.
Mr Robinson, one of the many speakers, congratulated the Orakei community and said Auckland was proud of its achievement.
Mr M. Te Hau, chairman of the Auckland District Council of Maori Tribal Executives, said Maori returned servicemen would ensure the completion of the war memorial forecourt, which is part of the chapel project.
Princess Piki, daughter of King Koroki, who attended with a large party of Waikato Maoris, was handed the key of the chapel and performed the official opening.
Items were presented by the newly formed Maori choir under the leadership of Mr K. Harris, and Miss Te Kanawa, a pupil of Sister Mary Leo, sang two songs.