Aotearoa Chapel


The Aotearoa Chapel is a special spiritual and cultural place within the Cathedral.  The chapel symbolises the partnership between Māori and Pākehā, especially those who live in East Coast, Hawke’s Bay and the Bay of Plenty.  

The Chapel is at the east end of the main space of the Cathedral and is regularly used for smaller services, such as morning prayer and evensong.  

The chapel sits in an area that was left empty after the high altar was brought forward in 1974 from the east wall to its central place.  The Māori Chapel had been in the eastern extension of the Cathedral, and Maori welcomed the move of the chapel to within the main space of the cathedral. Cliff Whiting was the kaiwhakahaere (overseer/advisor) for the project to set up the Aotearoa Chapel with the tukutuku (weaving) panels.

The Chapel was dedicated on 30 April 1977 and was specially designed as a memorial to Sir Āpirana Ngata and Bishop Frederick Bennett who had both been involved with the Waiapu Diocese throughout the first half of the 20th Century.

Aotearoa chapel with tukutuku panels


Stairways to Heaven

Similar to the decoration found in a wharenui (Māori meeting house), the tukutuku panels in the Chapel reflect aspects of the Christian faith and Māori culture – such as those behind the altar suggesting a stairway to heaven and a window overlooking a cross. Each panel is surrounded with red, white and black kowhaiwhai designs painted by Cliff Whiting.

Each of the Māori pastorates and Māori Mission Districts in the diocese were asked to prepare a pair of tukutuku panels.

On each side of the chapel the first panels are gifted from Te Puke-Tauranga, then panels from Te Ngae and Ohinemutu, while the east wall panels were created and gifted from Ngāti Porou.

Cliff Whiting insisted on using traditional weaving material such as pingao (a dune plant) and encouraged the weavers to complete our panels. Individual weavers who created panels have been named, but we acknowledge that other weavers and people also helped create these beautiful works of art and prayer.

Waiapu Diocese is grateful for Cliff’s contribution to our Cathedral and honours a great artist, carver, heritage advocate and teacher.

Tukutuku panels side of chapel