I’m not religious – nor even particularly spiritual. If asked I’d probably describe myself as a Presbyterian aethiest with catholic tendencies. I like the socialism of christianity — and I absolutely love old churches.
I encountered this Ratana church in the North Island town of Raetihi on a still, perfect morning. The Ratana Church is unique to New Zealand (although there is a branch in Australia). It was founded in the early twentieth century by Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana, a Maori prophet who had a vision instructing him to unite the Maori people in a single Christian church.
This particular church — perhaps because of its hilltop location — is an almost iconic example of Ratana architecture (sort of Romanesque revival), and has been extensively photographed so I felt as though I already knew it. I was on my way to see my dad, not quite sure where I was going and a bit pushed for time. Normally, I’d drive on by and “promise” myself that one day I’d come back and take a photograph, knowing that actually, I probably never would.
I’m not sure why that day was different; why I turned around and made a detour. The church gates were closed and it was difficult to find a good photographic vantage point on the side of a busy road, but I was happy with this shot. I don’t mind that my image is only one of thousands; it’s mine and it will always remind me of a good day; a day of stillness and joy and some reconciliation. A day of eternal blue sky.