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Life in Early Poverty Bay

Early Church Services

Early Church Services.

Church services in Gisborne fifty years ago, Mrs. Townley related, were carried on in a small building later placed on the site of the present page 125 Townley's Buildings. This building had originally been at Adair Bros.' corner, but was moved along the street on rollers. Ministers of different religions took the services on successive Sundays and church-goers attended all services, no matter which minister happened to be presiding.

The only really established church at first was out at Matawhero, where a Presbyterian minister held regular Sunday services in a small building. Gifts of land from the Government, however, to the various denominations soon led to the establishment of separate services. One church was situated near the present Kaiti freezing works and was largely attended by the Natives. Here the late Archdeacon Williams usually took the service, but was occasionally assisted by Maori clergymen. A Maori pa was situated nearby and the greater number of its inmates attended services regularly. Most of the land now called Kaiti was then very swampy and wet.

“We had plenty of dancing in those days,' concluded Mrs. Townley, “and we thoroughly enjoyed it, even without fox-trots and the jazz. There were sawmills out at Makauri and the bushmen often came into town for some amusement. They were very keen on dancing and always ready for it. Sometimes we held out little evenings in two or three rooms of a private house and at other times in one of the stores. Eveybody joined in, of course, and there were always several good pianists about, with occasionally a violin or fiddle to make a good orchestra. Some of the Maoris came along and thoroughly enjoyed the fun, but, later, when more pakehas arrived, the Maoris became fewer and many of them moved away from the town to more sparsely-set-tled parts inland.

“Gisborne townspeople,” Mrs. Townley repeated, “were just one big family in those days and I think everyone enjoyed life, even though the work was hard and the conveniences few.”

Ormond School Drum and Fife Band in the 30's.

Ormond School Drum and Fife Band in the 30's.

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Mission House After the Waerenga-a-a-Hika Fight in 1865

Mission House After the Waerenga-a-a-Hika Fight in 1865