Building Rangiātea Church

Local (Ngāti Raukawa) oral history tells the story of how important the Waitohu Stream was as a water “highway”.

Before the 1855 earthquake which raised the Wellington coastline by 1.5 metres and eventually drained much of the coastal land, the Waitohu stream was a big river and an important way of moving people and materials from the coast further inland. When Te Rauparaha decided that he wanted to build a church for his people at Ōtaki, he instructed his warriors to bless and fell selected huge totara trees from Ohau. These logs were then dragged down the coast and floated up the Waitohu Stream close to where the church is today.

There is a log in the estuary which is said to have been felled at Ohau and dragged down the coastline, but was too big for the warriors to guide it all the way to where the church was being built. It is said that this very special tree was going to be a “pou whenua” (very important, showing the stories of the people) for Rangiātea church.
Sometimes when you visit the estuary at low tide you can still see this totara.