A new memorial berm at St Stephen’s Church, Tamahere, is a nod to the past as well as the future.
The church, built in 1970 following a night of arson which saw three churches attacked in succession, has always been a community gathering place as well as an Anglican place of worship.
As the historic cemetery fills up, the opportunity to acknowledge the wide community has become more restrictive. Not any more.
The new berm, blessed at last Sunday’s service, has space for 64 memorial plaques – and potential to be extended in future – which will be available to people involved with the community.
People like those whose links with St Stephen’s are primarily around the regular market day.
The berm skirts around a sprawling Sir Robert Peel rhododendron tree which is showing its age – it was planted in the late 1800s – and is subject to some ongoing care.
Sunday’s service led by Sir David Moxon also celebrated the 140th anniversary of St Stephen’s.
The berm is named after the late George Dingle, who was active role in the parish life and fought for the rebuild of St Stephen’s on the same site.
George died last year aged 92. He was baptised at St Stephen’s in 1930 and his maternal grandparents, Martin Pickering and Catherine Barugh, were the first couple married there almost 50 years earlier. Their descendants are still prominent in the St Stephen’s community.
The berm also features a naming stone with a depiction of the wrought iron cross which survived the 1970 fire and is now on the wall of the sanctuary, behind the altar of the present church.
The church’s cemetery committee chair Don Law told The News last week that the berm would address long-standing restrictions on access for burials and the interment of ashes.
“We hope the new memorial berm will meet a need for those who want to leave an enduring memory of themselves right here in Tamahere.”