St Mary’s, Upokongaro

490 State Hwy 4, Upokongaro 4575

A service is held at St Mary’s at 11am on the second Sunday of the month.
By the mid 1870s the Upokongaro schoolroom was being used as the venue for regular Anglican services. With an Anglican church having already been built at Matarawa, Upokongaro residents felt it was time for a church of their own. Fundraising began, and in 1877 building was commenced by John Randal to a design by local architect Edward Morgan. The design of the spire, beginning as a square pyramid and becoming triangular, makes for an unusually sloped look, and has occasioned comment and question from the time of construction. The first service was held in September 1877. The stained glass memorial window which stands above the altar was given by the Montgomery family in memory of Archibald Montgomery who drowned in the 1877 Avalanche shipping disaster in the English Channel. The church at that time did not have a chancel or vestry: these were added in 1892, as were the four striking stained glass windows which adorn the sides walls of the chancel. The extension was designed by Alfred Atkins, one-time partner of Frederick de Jersey Clere, the latter having had an interest in the extension. The church was consecrated by Bishop Octavius Hadfield in July 1879. The church was supposed to have been dedicated in honour of St Mary the Virgin, but given that the consecration took place within two days of St Mary Magdalene’s Day, it has been considered ever since to have been named after St Mary Magdalene.

A full description of the church and of the early history of the parish can be found at: St Mary’s Heritage