Wanted: Bell ringers and Visitor guides

9 November 2022

Waiapu Cathedral is in search of people who would enjoy doing something different for their community – as bell ringers or visitor guides.


The Waiapu Anglican Cathedral is a significant feature of Napier’s art deco quarter and is the focus for church services, civic services and private ceremonies, for which extra bellringers would be useful.  It could be an unusual hobby for some people, so what’s needed?   


“Bell ringers don’t need to attend Sunday services, but it’s a task that would suit people who enjoy getting up early, enjoy music and exercise, and would like a very different hobby that people can enjoy hearing ring out across the city,” says Dean Di Woods.  


Experienced bell ringer Keith James explains that people don’t need to know how to read music.  Bell ringers play familiar hymns and tunes on the bells and learn these by the bell numbers, 1 – 8, and with symbols indicating long or shorter notes. They also learn the special peal sequences that start and close a service.  Click on the video below, and adjust your screen setting for viewing.


Mr James advises that a good level of fitness also helps.  While there are no thick ropes or heavy bells involved, because the bells are operated by a cord system, arm dexterity and speed is needed for many of the peals.  There are also the two flights of stairs to get up the bell tower.


Mr James has been ringing the bells at the cathedral for over 40 years and says anyone who is interested can watch him in action before a Sunday morning service.


The Cathedral would also welcome people who would like to volunteer as visitor guides.


“We’d love to hear from anyone who enjoys meeting people and is interested in the city’s history, in architecture, in cathedrals, or simply loves our exceptional stained-glass windows,” says Dean Di Woods. 


She says the guides would be rostered at times to best suit their lifestyle, to greet people arriving at the cathedral and show them the history and beauty of the building.   The modernist style Cathedral was completed in 1965 and features both modern and traditionally styled stained-glass windows and one of the largest pipe organs in the country.  It replaced the earlier traditional-style brick cathedral which was destroyed in the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake. 


“The visitor guide role could suit people who like to welcome people to our special city and could guide them around this one special building,” says Dean Woods.


People interested in volunteering for either of these roles can contact the Waiapu Cathedral office administrator on 021 754 161 or email admin.cathedral@waiapu.com.


Keith James bell ringer