The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]
The Anglican Church, Pahiatua, occupies a good position in the town. At the time of writing (Dec. 1896) the cure was vacant.
The Pahiatua Presbyterian Church was opened in 1895. Previously the place was a preaching station connected with Woodville Presbyterian Church, services being held in the town hall. The church is a wooden building designed to seat about 180 people, and it has an organ and choir under Mr. Henry Turnbull. Services are held every Sunday at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. The Sunday school attached is attended by sixty-five children. The church has preaching stations at Alfredton, Makakahi, Ballance, Kaitawa, Makuri, and Ngaturi.
Rev. W. H. Philip, Minister in charge of the Paihatua Presbyterian Church, was born in Edinburgh, and educated there. His first ministerial charge was the Congregational Church, Harray, Orkney, where he was ordained in in 1877. He subsequently joined the Free Church, and was appointed as Presbyterian minister in the page 1028 Falkland Islands, South America, in 1882. After eight years there he returned to Edinburgh owing to domestic affliction. In 1893 he came to New Zealand and was inducted in his present charge in the same year.
St. Bridget's Church, Pahiatua. The church of St. Bridget is situated in Wakeman Street, at a distance of about 100 yards from the main street, and forms a part of a very large parish, which includes Mataiwi, Hastwell's, Mauriceville, etc. This parish is presided over by the Rev. Father Thomas McKenna. The Presbytery is near the church, and occupies some six-and-a-half acres of land, which was bought many years ago by the congregation. The bush has been felled and burned, and the land is now covered with a fine sward of grass. The presbytery, which contains some nine rooms, was built in 1894, and is one of the most picturesque houses of Pahiatua.
The Rev. Father McKenna, who is in charge of the above church and district, was born at Callan, County Kilkenny, and was educated at St. Kieran's College, Kilkenny. He arrived in Wellington, New Zealand, in 1888, per s.s. “Austral” to Melbourne, completing his journey by the “Mararoa.” Father McKenna spent the first three years of his colonial life in Masterton, and then a similar period in Patea, taking up his residence in Pahiatua in February 1894. Though the resident clergyman of Pahiatua, Father McKenna has churches in Woodville, Eketahuna, and Hawera (Forty Mile Bush). He also holds occasional services at Alfredton, Kaitawa, Makuri, Mahawhera, Kumuro, and Ballance. Notwithstanding these many duties, Father McKenna finds time to enter into the healthy, though hard work, of logging, burning off, and otherwise improving the estate, and was engaged wielding the axe on the occasion of the writer's visit. Father McKenna is very popular in the district, and takes a great interest in its advancement.
The Wesleyan Church, Pahiatua, was built in 1888. Services were previously conducted in the town hall. In 1894 Pahiatua was opened as a ministerial charge, the first minister being the Rev. John Wesley Griffin. The church is in the main street, and seats 140 worshippers. It has a choir and organ, and services are held every Sunday at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. The Sunday school attached is attended by over 100 children, and a Christian Endeavour Society meets on Wednesday evenings. The Church has preaching stations at Ballance and Kaitawa, where there are churches, and at Makakahi, Ngaturi, Nikau, and Makomako. The charge was originally a United Free Methodist one, but came in at the Methodist union to the Wesley an Church.
Rev. John Wesley Griffin, Minister in charge of the Pahiatua Wesleyan Church, was born near Dublin in 1854, and educated at a private school. He came to New Zealand in 1874. and after serving in the ironmongery business in Auckland, Christchurch, and Napier, took home mission work for a few years in Auckland province, and was then appointed to the Free Methodist Church ministry in 1894. He is married, and has seven children.