The history of St Saviour's rests on the foundation stone of the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ, brought to the Far North of New Zealand in late 1832 by Joseph Matthews of the Church Missionary Society. Matthews' first visit resulted in the leading chief of Te Rarawa, Nopera Ngakuku Panakaraeo, extending an invitation for missionaries to come and establish a mission station at Kaitaia. At the beginning of October 1833 Joseph Matthews took up permanent residence in Kaitaia.

Joseph Matthews

He brought with him two flags - the Union Jack to fly over his home and the Rongo Pai (Good News) to fly over the rush building that was to serve as a church. On the first Sunday after his arrival Matthews started regular services; he also began the work of evangelising the Maori with the aim of establishing trained Maori teachers to assist in the mission work. In this way God's church (His body on earth) was soundly and widely established in the Far North. From 1833 to the present day God's people have gathered for worship in various church buildings on the site. At the mission station in Kaitaia the first church was a 25 foot by 18 foot raupo building which was used until 1841. It became too small for all those attending Sunday services and was replaced with a wooden church which was used until the late 1880's. This building became unsound and during its final years of use was strengthened with a row of puriri pillars down the centre aisle to support the roof, with two props on either side of the exterior walls. 


By 1887 sufficient funds had been gathered to rebuild the church and the second wooden church was consecrated in 1887. This building remained in use for nearly a century untilit was destroyed by fire in the winter of 1985. Worship services continued in the church hall (which was separate from the old church and untouched by the fire) until the present day building was consecrated in September 1988.


God's hand was clearly on the rebuilding of St Saviour's Church. The diocese was initially reluctant to grant a Faculty because it was thought the planned building was too large for Kaitaia and there would be difficulty funding it. However, after the Faculty was granted pledges and donations flowed into the Vicarage letterbox on a daily basis. One day the flow abruptly ceased, but when the funds collected were added to the insurance monies paid out, the total was the exact amount of the tender accepted for the rebuilding. The Vicar at that time believes God's blessing was released in part because the parish decided to gift a church building in Awanui to folk on Great Barrier Island. When the building itself was completed a new flow of materials for furniture and furnishings began, with a number of items being constructed and gifted by parishioners. St Saviour's remains faithful to the vision imparted by Mathews and God continues to make His name known and Te Rongopai is constantly declared in the Far North.