The Ratana Church, Raetihi, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014.

The Ratana Church, Raetihi, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014.

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.



Splash of red on an eternal blue sky

12 thoughts on “Splash of red on an eternal blue sky

    • Thanks 🙂 Ratana churches are architecturally quite unusual (especially for NZ), and do make wonderful subjects for photos. Cheers, Su.


    • Thank you so much Doda. Your use of the word divine is very appropriate. What I love so much about church architecture is that it is so often the embodiment of divinity. So many modern churches seem to have forgotten that beauty can “wow the punters” as well as fiery sermons and threats of damnation. Beauty is divinity! Hope all is well with you. Su 🙂


      • According to your thoughts accompanying the splash of red on an eternal blue sky … I responded aptly … I could spend hours looking at your masterful photo,dear Su ; indeed beauty is divinity and it’s sad that many modern churches have forgotten that or have purposely ignored that for some reason … Stay well,my friend ♥, Doda 🙂


    • Thanks Raewyn. I was surprised at how many Ratana churches there are, and how infrequently I see them. Guess I need to get out of Auckland more!


      • I made a decision when I was away that I would stop every chance I get and take the photos that I “see” – it’s kind of a treat to myself. But of course, much more difficult when travelling with others. And I do use my cellphone for snaps quite a lot. Whatever did we do before them? 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s