As you approach Mauke from the air, the brilliantly white Ziona Church - to give it its proper name - is the only visible structure.   It's almost dead centre of the island, and gets it's nickname from the fact that when it was built at the end of the 19th century, it was literally divided in two.  

The villages of Ngatiarua and neighbouring Areroa got together and decided on the design and a builder, but they couldn't agree on the interior.  As a result, a wall was built across the middle of the church cutting it into two squares, with the pulpit positoned in the middle.  

Separate entrances were also constructed for each village...and they're still used to this day, even though the dividing wall inside has gone.  Visitors, I was told, can sit wherever they like.

Calm and peaceful interior of the Divided Church
The Divided Church pulpit
On the instructions of a former pastor, the rainbow colours were painted over in cool white and pastel blue.  It's thanks to donations and a lot of hard work by Islanders that it is now being restored to its former glory.   Note in all the pictures the huge supporting timbers which were hewn from sacred trees that were felled with special permission.

Chilean peso
Left:  The magnificent colours in which the church was orginally painted are still reflected in the stained glass windows.

Right:  Nine silver coins from Chile were embedded at the front of the pulpit.   Eight are pesos dated between 1870 and 1881.  The ninth is an unidentified "sol".  Chilean coins were common currency in the Pacific in the 19th century, but I haven't been able to find out why they were put there in the first place.

The Divided Church from the air
The unique Divided Church
Don't forget to look up
Stained glass window
Ziona church, Mauke interior 1
Ziona Church, Mauke interior 2
Some call it the rainbow church...the interior is a stunning mix of colours.   A 19th century New Zealand architect said it was one of the 20 most important churches in the world.  But for decades its magnificence was hidden.
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