CherishToko Toru Tapu

AWARDS: NZIA National Award winner, 2016, NZIA Gisborne Hawkes Bay Architecture Award winner, 2016

Innovation saved the day for Toko Toru Tapu, arguably the most historically significant Maori church in New Zealand. The 1913-built church had received little maintenance since the 1960s and when the restoration was about to start in 2010, the Christchurch quakes rocked the country.

A review of earlier engineering reports highlighted significant concerns but consultants Spencer Holmes devised innovative earthquake strengthening solutions using Gisborne-made fibreglass reinforcing bars donated by Pultron Composites.

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The project involved replacing the decramastic roof with new imported diamond-shaped, pressed metal tiles more like the asbestos originals; reinstating the bell tower, which had been down since the 1960s; fully restoring the windows; painting the interior and exterior with colours based on the originals, found by scraping back the existing paint; stripping back the floor and hand waxing; installing new lights and a fire sprinkler system.

A team of carvers restored the many carvings, fixing cracks, touching up each work and replacing paua eyes.

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NZIA Gisborne Hawkes Bay Architecture Awardwinner, 2016

For more than 15 years, the architect has made a contribution that goes well beyond a typical design engagement. Heritage preservation, the drafting of funding submissions and physical contributions to the internal preservation work were all part of a role that has resulted in an enhanced building preserved for future generations.

… this discreet structural upgrade retains the integrity of the original building. Carbon-fibre, inserted behind exceptional whakairo (carved wooden panels) helps bring the church up to code.

NZIA National Award winner, 2016

… thorough research, extensive consultation, determined fundraising and careful construction have resulted in the inspiring revitalisation of one of New Zealand’s most important Māori churches.

Faith and works, combined, have proved to be the salvation of a significant heritage building.