Panmure Stake members celebrate the 200th anniversary of Christianity in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Panmure Stake members celebrate the 200th anniversary of Christianity in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

The play was a dramatization by Stan Stewart, based on 'The Years Before Waitangi,' by Patricia Bawden, and 'A Narrative of a Voyage to New Zealand', by J L Nicholas. Originally written as a 90 minute play, the script was revised and condensed by Tamati Patuwai from the Glen Innes Ward especially for the community event. Tamati has worked in the performing arts world as an actor, writer and producer both in television and on stage. Tamati played the part of the rangatira (chief), Ruatara, in this First Christmas piece.

The play tells the story of the special relationship between the Rev Samuel Marsden and the Nga Puhi Rangatira and chief, Ruatara, of Rangihoua. The narrative outlines the struggles and challenges of bringing Christianity to New Zealand. On Christmas Day 1814, Marsden proclaimed the Christian message before a gathering of Maori and Pakeha in Rangihoua. Rangihoua represents a place of Christian beginnings in Aotearoa-New Zealand, and Ruatara was certainly key to Christianity coming to Aotearoa-New Zealand.

Christmas 2014 marks the 200th year of Christianity in Aotearoa-New Zealand.

The cast was comprised of 15 members of the Glen Innes Ward, with a further 30 members singing in the community choir.

The catalyst for the Ward's participation in Carols on the Green, was the desire to connect at an inter-faith level with other churches. A phone call from Leah Broughton-Couch, ward music director, to the Rev Pauline Stewart from the local St Heliers Presbyterian Community Church, resulted in the development of a warm friendship and commitment to work together through the medium of sacred music. Pauline then invited Leah to be part of the Orakei Local Board's planning committee for the Carols on the Green event. It was at this meeting that Leah seized the opportunity for the ward to participate in some meaningful way in the celebration of 200 years of Christianity in Aotearoa-New Zealand.'

Costumes were borrowed from local theatres or home made. The play was also interpreted in sign language. A crowd of over 1,000 people attended the event.

Written by Leah Riwai-Couch