Samuel Marsden first preached the gospel in Aotearoa on Christmas Day 1814 at Oihi Bay – an event made possible by the hospitality of his friend Ruatara. Every year, on the Monday after Christmas, St James holds an outdoor Christmas service at the Marsden Cross, Rangihoua Heritage Park, Oihi Bay. The first Church Missionary Society missionaries settled there at Rangihoua, but after a difficult few years, they came to settle at Kerikeri in 1819, under the protection of Hongi Hika and the people of Kororipo Pā.
The present building is the third church built here and was opened in 1878. An extension was added in 1963. The church is dedicated to St James the Great of Compostela, whose symbol is the scallop shell, and who is associated with the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain.
There are many stories and local history to discover about Kerikeri and St James. St James is part of the historical precinct of Kerikeri, at the upper end of the Kerikeri Inlet, and close to the Stone Store, Kororipo Pā, Rewa’s Village, and Kemp House. The church is kept open during the day – you’re welcome to come and have a look!
A booklet entitled “Chapel to Church” is available in the Church porch for a small cost and delves into the history of St James.