Rangiatea Today  

Octavius Hadfield c1885

Octavius Hadfield was 24 when he arrived in New Zealand, in 1839, to work as a missionary. After a brief period at Paihia, in the Bay of Islands, he responded to a request to establish an Anglican Mission on the Kapiti Coast.

Hadfield arrived in Waikanae in November 1839, and soon won the confidence of local Māori. Under his direction, Te Āti Awa built a large wooden church within the Waikanae pā. It was this church which inspired Te Rauparaha to build Rangiātea at Ōtaki.

Hadfield's strong sense of social justice often made him bitterly unpopular with the colonial government. For example, during the Taranaki war, he supported the rights of his Te Āti Awa converts. Hadfield's attitude was based on his conviction that 'every act in New Zealand must be productive of good or evil to generations to come.'

Hadfield suffered from severe asthma all his life, which often left him incapacitated and bedridden for months at a time. Despite his illness, he became Bishop of Wellington in 1870 and Primate of New Zealand in 1889.


  Octavius Hadfield c1885

photographer unknown
Negative no F15156 1/4 Photographic Archive,
Alexander Turnbull Library


Octavius Hadfield's diary 1839

Hadfield papers Collection of the Wellington Public Library This is the only surviving remnant of Octavius Hadfield's diary. It begins on 30 September 1839, at Paihia, and tells of the decision to send him to Kapiti, and his preparations for that journey. Suffering from poor health, he writes: 'I may as well die at Kapiti as here.'

Hadfield's diary describes in detail his overland walk from Wellington to Kapiti, including his first meeting with Te Rangihaeata, on Mana Island. He eventually arrived at Waikanae on 18 November 1839. The diary recounts his first encounter with Te Rauparaha, at Tāhoramaurea, an off-shore island of Kapiti, and his meeting with the Ngāti Raukawa, with whom he was to build the magnificent Rangiātea.


Octavius Hadfield's diary 1839  


Collection of the Hadfield family

This cloak belonged to Octavius Hadfield. According to textile conservator Rangi Warnes, it is an unusually large cloak with a broad taniko border of exquisite design. Other distinguishing features include the use of natural dye pigments, and the reverse-tāniko pattern. The three-metre width of the cloak is an indication of the prestige associated with its wearer.




The kaupapa, or body of the cloak, contains eight to nine stitches per centimetre or approximately 3,000 stitches per line. There is an even greater number of stitches per centimetre in the taniko border. The weaving of the tāniko border would have taken as much labour as that of the entire body of the cloak.

The cloak is believed to have been made by a woman (or women) from the South Island, probably in the late 18th or early 19th century. It is a magnificent example of early Māori craftsmanship.

This cloak, and other Māori taonga, have been carefully preserved by the descendants of Octavius Hadfield, passed down father to son for four generations.



The Beginnings of Christianity on the Kapiti Coast

Mātene Te Whiwhi was the son of the famous Ngāti Toa chieftainess Te Rangi Topeora. Born in Kāwhia, he migrated to the Kapiti Coast during the first Ngāti Toa migration in 1821.

As a young man, Mātene participated in marauding Ngāti Toa war parties on the Kapiti Coast. Because of his chiefly rank and exceptional personal abilities, he sometimes acted as a 'go-between' during tribal peace settlements.

During the late 1830s, Mātene and his cousin, Tāmihana Te Rauparaha, became influenced by the Gospel of St Luke. In 1839, they sailed to Paihia, in the Bay of Islands, to request a missionary for the Kapiti Coast.In response, Octavius Hadfield was selected to go to Kapiti and establish a Christian Mission.


  Matene Te Whiwhi c 1864

Mātene Te Whiwhi c 1864
photograph by W H Davis Negative no B.010798 Collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa




Mātene Te Whiwhi became a Christian and was baptised by Hadfield in 1841. In 1843, he too became a missionary. With Tāmihana, he travelled to the South Island on a dangerous mission to preach to the Ngāi Tahu, former enemies of Ngāti Toa.

Mātene was one of the tohunga responsible for performing the necessary incantations for felling and transporting the trees used in the building of Rangiātea. He was a faithful supporter of the church all his life, and died at an advanced age at Ōtaki on 29 September 1881. He is buried at Rangiātea.





Tāmihana Te Rauparaha 1852

Tāmihana Te Rauparaha, also known as Katu, was the only surviving son of Te Rauparaha. Born at Ōkoki pā, Waitara, he was carried on the back of his mother Te Ākau to the Kapiti Coast during Ngāti Toa's historic migration from Kāwhia in 1821.

With his cousin, Mātene Te Whiwhi, Tāmihana travelled to Paihia in 1839 to request a missionary for the Kapiti Coast. In 1843, he and Mātene travelled to the South Island to preach to the Ngāi Tahu.

Tāmihana visited England in 1851, and was presented to Queen Victoria. On his return to New Zealand, he and Mātene lobbied to establish a native monarchy based on the British model. This was to become the Kīngitanga movement.

  Tamihana Te Rauparaha 1852

watercolour by George French Angas Drawings and Prints Collection Alexander Turnbull Library




Although he never acquired the English language, Tāmihana was quick to adopt European customs and is seen here wearing the attire of an English gentleman. His penchant for things European eventually estranged him from the affections of his people. He died in 1876, and is buried alongside his wife, Ruta, in an unmarked grave at Rangiātea.


  Waikanae church 1847

Tāmihana Te Rauparaha's house
watercolour by Charles Emilius Gold Drawings and Prints Collection Alexander Turnbull Library



Thompson's Warree, Otaki, New Zealand 1849

This was the house of Tāmihana Te Rauparaha and his wife , Ruta. The Reverend Richard Taylor, who visited it in December 1848, described it as a three-bedroomed house, decorated in the 'native style' and finished by an English carpenter.

The interior supports were totara, adorned with red and white kōwhaiwhai designs, with tukutuku panels set between them. There were two centre posts which were carved at the base, and the ceiling was similarly ornamented with kōwhaiwhai patterns.





Waikanae church 1847

Octavius Hadfield's first church on the Kapiti Coast was located at Kenakena Pā, in Waikanae. In many ways it was the model for Rangiātea.

Completed by 1843, the church greatly impressed Te Rauparaha, who was a frequent visitor to Hadfield's early services. According to the missionary the Reverend Richard Taylor, Te Rauparaha was so taken with the church that he vowed to build a 'still finer one in his pā' at Ōtaki.

Like Rangiātea, the Waikanae church had three large central posts, tukutuku panels, and kōwhaiwhai rafter designs - features typical of a decorated meeting house. The Waikanae church was approximately 71 feet x 36 feet.

  Waikanae church 1847
pen and ink sketch by Thomas Bernard Collinson (in a letter to his brother Dick, February 1847) Manuscripts and Archives Alexander Turnbull Library


With the return of Te Āti Awa to Taranaki in 1848, the Waikanae church fell into decline. By 1851, it had been abandoned, and the recently completed Rangiātea had taken a firm root as the centre of Christianity on the Kapiti Coast.

This sketch by Thomas Bernard Collinson is the only surviving image of the interior of the Waikanae church.







Church at Waikanae 1849

This sketch shows the deserted Waikanae church and pā in 1849. In the previous year, Te Āti Awa had left Waikanae and returned to their ancestral lands in Taranaki, in order to protect their claim on the land at Waitara, which Governor Grey was attempting to acquire for Pākēhā settlement.

The exodus of Te Āti Awa led to a shift of activity from Waikanae to Ōtaki. The Waikanae church suffered from neglect, and the continuously encroaching sands threatened to overwhelm the failing church walls. By 1851, it was in ruins.

  Church at Waikanae 1849
pencil sketch by William Swainson Collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa


In 1961, the remains of the church were uncovered during preparations for a subdivision in Paraparaumu's Mazengarb Road. Selwyn Hadfield, a descendant of Octavius, salvaged a piece of wood from the remains and carved a decorated lectern for Rangiātea. Sadly, the lectern was destroyed in the fire which razed Rangiātea in October 1995.


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