Stained glass windows shed new light….
The St Aidan’s community has been so blessed to have had some wonderful families contribute to the completion of the stained glass windows for the church. Thanks to those families, and the following is a description from Gillian Reid of the works being donated…
The Nolan windows
These beautiful stained glass windows are a blessing in memory of Terence and Joyce Nolan, and were commissioned and donated by their children Derek and Peter Nolan and Cherry Fowler, and by Terence’s sister Barbara Nolan. They were designed and constructed by Glassworks, in close collaboration with Derek, Peter, Cherry, and Barbara.
When the Nolan family decided to commemorate the lives of Terence and Joyce, they were asked to identify Terence and Joyce’s most defining values and characteristics, so they might be represented in these windows. Both Terence and Joyce’s lives were epitomised by service to this country and to this parish; by their deep love of God, of each other and of those around them; and by their support of family, both their own and the wider family of the church. They were committed to New Zealand and especially loved our countryside and all of the elements appearing in the new windows. Visual images that encapsulated and expressed the Nolan’s lives, while complementing the central Baptism window, and incorporating earth, air, and water, have been woven together with narrative and symbolic components. Inscribed into the three windows are the keystones of Terence and Joyce’s life – Family, Service, and Love. The majestic kauri in the left hand window, so crucial to the early colonial economy, represents the tree of life and pillar of strength. It is beloved by all New Zealanders as quintessentially kiwi. Its roots and branches embrace earth and heaven. The wood pigeons are our kiwi doves of peace. The unfurling koru, in the second window, simple though it may appear, expresses New Zealand, the Holy Trinity, the three Nolan siblings, and the unending circle of life. It is familiar to us as a symbol of new life, and reflects the new life Terence and Joyce sought when they came to New Zealand and St Aidan’s in April 1946. Above it flies the petrel – “St Peter’s bird” – which flies above the oceans, carrying its call from shore to shore. Above these two windows shines Matariki – the constellation also known as the Seven Sisters – whose appearance on the horizon marks the turning of a new year, planting of new crops, and again, new beginnings for life.
In the tall, right hand window we see the Pohutakawa, Joyce’s favourite tree, the Christmas blossoming so entwined with family holidays and so unlike her original white Christmases in England. The Marsden Cross symbolises the Pakeha beginnings of this nation, the planting of the Gospel seed in this land, Terence’s distinguished military service in WWII, and Terence and Joyce’s deep love of God. Hovering above the Marsden Cross are the night skies of the Southern Cross, a reminder of God’s care for this land and its people. The water elements depicted here connecting these three new windows with the central baptismal window, represent the holy water, the river of life, and the seas that surround us in these Pacific islands. All these images bring together the important components of Terence and Joyce’s lives; their family, their service to New Zealand and this Parish, and the deep Christian love and faith they always carried with them.
The Barrett and Glenie Windows
The designs fort the final two pairs of stained glass windows have been completed and approved by the two families donating these wonderful additions to our church. While each pair is a separate gift, the families have worked together to bring some synergy to parts of the designs, as the windows will be sited next to one another. There are some elements which are intended to work together so that the overall result sits well in the whole wall. Firstly, in each pair of windows, the people depicted, are facing one another. Secondly, the stylised flower motifs in all four windows will be Pohutakawa blossoms, creating a New Zealand link across them. The Barrett windows depict the two Gospellers we don’t yet have in our collection – St Mark and St Matthew. While traditional in design, they have a New Zealand context association with the flowers in the top sections. The Glenie windows are more specifically New Zealand in their subjects and symbols, a clear and stated desire of the Glenie family, and agreed by Vestry at the beginning of this design discussion. The choice of females as the images was intended to provide some balance to the large number of male images in our other windows and continues the stories of first martyrs, young disciples, and teachers of the faith in the windows opposite. These two figures facing each other, imply a relationship such as that of teacher and pupil – particularly appropriate as Sarah Selwyn taught children for much of her time in New Zealand.
St Mark and St Matthew
The symbol of St Mark is a traditional view, and he is carrying a cross to recognise his renown as a preacher. Below him is a winged lion, as with the other symbols of the gospellers (lion, ox, eagle and man – all with wings). These are usually taken as an apocalyptic reference back to Ezekiel’s vision of the creatures around the throne of God, each representing one of the evangelists.
Again, the symbol of St Matthew is a traditional one, and he is holding a copy of the first English translation of his Gospel.
Below him is an image of an Angel, reflecting both the traditional belief that an Angel was his guide for writing the Gospel, and also providing the fourth creature reference to the Ezekiel vision, completing the traditional symbolism of the Gospellers. The tiled floor beneath both Gospellers not only reflects a traditional tiled floor that would have been common at the time they lived, but also links across to the geometric Maori designs in the other two windows.
Tarore and Sarah Selwyn
The choice of Tarore as one of the subjects for these windows is intended to identify an important incident in the process of God bringing about His purpose of spreading the word of Christ among the Maori tribes of New Zealand. Tarore was a young Maori girl, converted to Christianity, who always carried a copy of the Gospel of Luke, in Maori, with her. She was killed by a warrior from another tribe during a raid, and her Gospel was stolen from her body by the killer. Her father refused to seek revenge (utu) for her death. Her killer was transformed, became a Christian through the effect of the Gospel he had stolen, and an evangelist for the furthering of Christianity among his people. Thus, Tarore could be considered the first Christian martyr in New Zealand. The three lizards at the top of the window can be seen as symbolic connection to the Trinity, as well as symbols of forest (Tarore came from a tribe of forest dwellers), and of Maori. The flower image is more open and unformed than that in the Sarah Selwyn window, reflecting the youth and unformed nature of Tarore herself. It also has lends to similar images Maori painted on the rafters in early Marae buildings, around the time of the development of Christianity in New Zealand. Tarore herself is taken from a very old photo of a young Maori girl. The final glass image will look less anxious and more calmly reflective. She is holding a copy of the Gospel of Luke in Maori. The words around her head are the Maori of ‘Peace be with you’, depicted in English on the Sarah Selwyn window. Below her is a representation of the tree of life – the Joshua tree – the ladder to Heaven, also linked to early Christianity in New Zealand.
The dove in the top panel is a symbol of love, peace and spirituality. The stylised flower is more formal/symmetrical than the Tarore one, reflecting the more structured nature of her European source. The image used here is taken from a painting of Sarah Selwyn in her later years. Her dress will be purple, not black, a colour that widows wore as well as black or grey, and better for the glass light effect on the window. As well as looking towards Tarore, Sarah Selwyn is also facing towards the Bishop Selwyn window diagonally across from her, in the Sanctuary. The words around her head are the English version of the Maori ones around Tarore. Below Sarah Selwyn is the familiar Maori symbol of the three baskets, representing knowledge, ritual memory and prayer, and self awareness; all characteristics which can be associated with Sarah Selwyn, plus a link to the Maori context she was involved in for so much of her life. The fact there are three is also associated with the Trinity, as are the three lizards in the Tarore window. Gillian Reid
A booklet describing the stories behind the stained glass windows in the church is available through the office for a $5 donation. There are also a few copies that you are welcome to borrow (it is designed to be read while you make your way around the church looking at the detail of each window) and then return before you leave.
St Aidan’s – Lych Gate Refurbishment Project
This project started in March 2008 with the seemly simple task of replacing the stolen gates from the Lych gate structure. However on closer inspection of the structure the poor condition was highlighted with rotten timber at the base on the structure, broken tiles, and graffiti. The structure had been neglected for some time. It was then decided that some much needed maintenance was required. It soon become apparent that the $10,000 Lych gate fund and insurance for the gates was not going to cover all the costs involved in repairing the structure. As a listed Heritage Structure we required Auckland City Council approval for the repair work and were eligible for a Cultural Heritage Grant. We applied to Auckland City Council for a heritage grant and received $8,000 towards the cost of the repairs. The final project cost was $34,300.
Before and after: The old Lych Gate complete with missing gates, faded and graffitied wood work and decaying roof ; and below, the recently restored Lych Gates looking very sharp, with repaired and cleaned roof, restained and restored wood work and brand new gates.