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150th  Anniversary  of  First Church  5th and 6th of June  2021

Over Queen's Birthday weekend First Church celebrated in style – marking 150 years 
since our first church building was opened.

Like many good things our celebrations were in three parts: a dinner was held on 
Saturday evening with the church family, friends and supporters and introducing our 
special guests The Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand the Right 
Rev. Fakaofo Kaio and his wife Ruth. This was a very happy and relaxed occasion 
over a lovely meal, where the opportunity was taken to thank all those who are 
always ready to assist with our various church projects in the community. Our local 
historian Mate Higginson gave a light hearted talk on “How on earth did we make it 
to 150 years?” thus setting the scene for the rest of the weekend.

On Sunday morning we held a service of celebration in a full church, attended by 
invited guests from the National Church and the community – His Worship the 
Mayor of South Wairarapa, our MP Kieran McAnulty, and representatives of other 
presbyteries and churches in the Wairarapa. The service included a hymn written 
specially to commemorate this anniversary by our organist Bob Bargh. We were 
delighted to incorporate into this service a Renewal of Wedding Vows by Leonie and 
Ian Couper who were married in First Church in June 1967. As the congregation led 
by the Official party processed out of the church the bell was rung, and a piper played 
outside. It was a very memorable and uplifting occasion.

     Bring peace and joy to all today who face the future the past has made

      from Bob Bargh's hymn. 

 After the service, many enjoyed a time of fellowship and meeting of old friends over 
a light morning tea in our hall where there was an interesting display of photographs 
and memorabilia.

A lunch in the Martinborough Town Hall was the final part of our celebration 
weekend. The Official party was piped in to a waiting assembly of almost 100 seated 
locals and guests. John Harvey, First Church Parish Council member welcomed 
everyone and the specially invited guests, representing the Presbyterian Church of 
Aotearoa New Zealand, Presbytery Central and churches in the Wairarapa. Mate 
Higginson then spoke on “First Church: its story”, and other distinguished guests 
were invited to speak. Following a delightful lunch two anniversary cakes were piped 
into the hall, cut by the two oldest First church members and distributed with wine. A 
toast was raised to First Church – to its past, the present and to the future. This event 
concluded with all singing Auld Lang Syne.

 The weekend was a wonderful time of renewing friendships, recalling past 
connections and also looking forward with the hope of continuing to play our part in 
this community. We thank everyone who celebrated with us. The events of this 
weekend were only the start of a year in which we will continue to share our history 
with the wider community, and take stock of what has gone before and what is in the 
future. We hope to arrange opportunities for all interested to enjoy and reminisce with 
photographs and a video of this special time. Later in the year we are looking forward 
to the launch of Mate’s latest book on the history of First Church.

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