St Georges Anglican church is now over 100 years old. It has taken a few names and shapes in its time and is an integral part of Papatoetoe's history.
54 years after the Presbyterian Church was established in Papatoetoe, the Anglican Church established a permanent presence in St. George Street and thus begins the full story of what is now called 'The Church of St. George the Martyr'.
The first Anglican Church building on the present site was dedicated on the 13th August 1922. This is now the Church Office and Counselling rooms.
In 1959, Sunday 20 September, a procession was made to the spot selected for the laying of the Foundation stone. Some 400 parishioners were assembled on the grass and the procession was led by Ron Amodeo. The building - the present church - was completed in 1961.
The name for the area was Papatoitoi (spelling later changed to Papatoetoe) meaning 'undulating area where the toitoi grew'.
Maori settled in the area during the 13th century at strategic locations on the shores of the Manukau Harbour.
William Thomas Fairburn, a lay catechist of the Church Missionary Society, established a mission station at Maretai in 1836. In order to keep the peace amongst the Maori living in the region, William acquired an area of about 40,000 acres from Tuiri of Ngati Tawhaki, Herua of Urikaraka and Hauauru of Matekiwaho, being a block of land extending from the Wairoa River to the Tamaki River and stretching as far south as Papakura. It was known as 'Tamaki Block', but also later referred to as the 'Fairburn Block'.
In 1837 William undertook to return approximately one third of the land to Ngati Paoa, Ngati Tamatera, Ngati Terau, Te Akiti and Ngati Whanaunga.
In 1840 he made a further offer to hand over another third to the Church Missionary Society.
On 18 September 1842 Auckland was declared the capital of New Zealand, European settlement began in Howick and Otahuhu in the 1840s but the Papatoetoe area remained comparatively untouched.
On 27 August 1854 the Reverend John Macky held his first service in the storage shed by Bairds Wharf on the banks of the Tamaki River. In 1855 Thomas Baird gifted some land for a church to be built. This church was located where St. John's Presbyterian Church stands beside Great South Road near Hunters Corner in Papatoetoe today.
This church was known as the 'Otahuhu Charge'. It covered not only Otahuhu, Howick and Panmure but also Mangere, Otara, Papatoetoe, East Tamaki and Flat Bush.
In 1885, Papatoetoe belonged to the Parochial District of Otahuhu, when it was reported to the Synod to include Papatoetoe in its boundaries.
By 1906 there was a community of Anglican families worshipping in a local state school building (the old Papatoetoe Central school building).
In 1910, when the parish split up, it became St. Johns Presbyterian Church, Papatoetoe.
The Friedlander brothers purchased the Paton block in St. George Street and reserved a quarter acre for an Anglican Church. The parishioners purchased an adjoining quarter acre, and a Church Hall was built by Mr Butterworth in 1911/1912.
54 years later after the Presbyterian Church established in Papatoetoe, the Anglican Church established a permanent presence in St George Street.
St George was born about 170 A.D. at Lydda about 16 kms inland from the important seaport of Joppa, now Jaffa near Tel Aviv.
Very little is known about his life, but it is said that he served as a soldier in the Roman army during 245-313 A.D. The Emperor Diocletion sent a proclamation throughout the Roman Empire in 303 A.D. commanding that the Christian churches be demolished and Christian books be burned.
Saint George, the son of Christian parents, tore down the Emperor's proclamation of the persecution. For this he was tortured and on 23 April finally martyred for his faith.
The stories of St. George fighting a dragon are purely fictitious.
St George the Martyr has always been held in very high respect by the Eastern Orthodox Churches and he is one of the supreme saints of the Greek Orthodox Church.
During the crusades in about 1100 A.D. Kind Richard the Lion Heart of England proclaimed St. George as the patron of the Crusade and after his success St. George became a popular saint of the English, later becoming the patron Saint of the Order of the Garter by King Edward III in 1349.
The famous flag of St. George, the red cross on a white background, is still used as part of the Union Jack, as the white ensign of the British navy, and in the flag flown from many Anglican churches on chief Holy days.
Lead light Coloured Glass windows
St Georges church's walls are lined with beautiful glass panels, each with a decorative coloured glass centre depicting a story from the Bible. You have to see them to understand their beauty.
The large window shown above is behind the congregation, in the East wall. (This would traditionally have been the West wall but in fact the rising sun shines warmingly through it on many at the 8am Sunday Communion Service.)
If one stands well back from it and thinks imaginatively one can see the pattern of a large, colourful cross just above the centre.
The Twelve Apostles
The next two groups, one each side of the Nave, nearest the doors, depict symbols of the Twelve Apostles. They are listed at Matthew 10:2-4, Mark 3:14-19, Luke 6:14-16, Acts 1:13
Five writers of New Testament and our patron saint.
Six symbols of the Being of God.
Lady Chapel windows.
The dragon is at the centre of the large window on the South Wall of the sanctuary.
In its centre is the mythical dragon in its death throes on the end of a spear thrust, we are to imagine, by our patron Saint George, whose coat of arms - a red cross on a silver background - is seen superimposed on the blade towards the left end. The picture shows the victory of good over evil.
In the ancient legend, whose origins are now lost in the mists of time, St.George defeated a terrible dragon before it could consume a local princess, in a far away Middle Eastern country.
In the story of Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 22) God tests Abraham's faith by telling him to sacrifice his son, and then promises him a long line of descendents. The test showed that it was faithfulness rather than descendents that was Abraham's top priority. Here are wood, and embers in a jar to start the fire for burning the sacrifice. He was given a ram to use instead of his son.
Noah's Ark, built according to God's instruction, enabled the few who chose to honour God to survive the flood through which he brought the world to a fresh, clean start. (Genesis 6 - 8)
This puzzling window refers to Genesis 37:9-10 where Joseph tells his brothers of his prophetic vision indicating his future destiny saving his people from starvation through his influence in the nation of Egypt. (Genesis 38-50) This vision was of the sun, moon and stars (representing his parents and brothers) bowing down to him. In all this we see God's priorities can often surprise us.
Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden. A flaming sword prevented them from re-entering and possibly becoming immortal. (Genesis3:24)
The rainbow is God's recurring reminder to us that his plan is for mankind to live, not perish. (Genesis 9)
As a sign of his presence with them God instructed Moses to tell his people to make a box called the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:10-22) shown in this window, to hold the stone tablets on which the 10 Commandments were written. It became a sacred place in front of which Moses met with God.
The phoenix was a magnificent, mythological bird in ancient Egypt and Arabia, famous for dying and rising to life again sometimes shown as through fire. Christian writers have used this memorable symbol for Jesus rising from the dead on Easter morning. However, the phoenix myth is not mentioned in the Gospel accounts of the resurrection. (eg John 20).
The Ascension, forty days after his resurrection, was when Jesus finally went up into heaven to reign as King of all. Here is a tall crown and a rod or sceptre of royal authority. (eg Acts 1:1-12 and Revelation 1:5)
St.Matthew's Gospel is represented by a winged man. In St.John's vision of heaven (Revelation 4:7) four, winged creatures - a lion, an ox, a man and an eagle - constantly give glory to God. In Christian art these have been assigned to the four Gospels. The usual (though not exclusive) order is as in these windows. St.Matthew's Gospel begins with Jesus' genealogy and often emphasises his humanness. So the winged man was assigned here.