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The Reverend's gift

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The Reverend's gift

A whāriki is a distinctive woven mat used not only for sleeping and sitting but for significant life journeys.

This whāriki dates from the mid-1800s. The maker is unknown.

This whāriki dates from the mid-1800s. The maker is unknown.

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira. AM 1903.

This whāriki was given to the Reverend Jasper Calder by Māori who wanted to recognise his mana or status. The mat could have been used as an altar cloth, given its small size.

Have whāriki, will travel

The whāriki plays an important role in significant life journeys. They are used as floor mats on special occasions, for instance during childbirth or under the coffin during a tangihanga. 

Contemporary artists including John Bevan Ford, Colleen Urlich and Areta Wilkinson view whāriki as a temporary space to occupy no matter where we are - a safe place for investigation and enquiry.

The finish and technique varies according to the purpose. 

Reverend Calder

Rev Jasper Calder was well known for helping Aucklanders who had fallen on hard times.

Rev Jasper Calder was well known for helping Aucklanders who had fallen on hard times.

Photo by Frederick William Young. New Zealand Free Lance.Ref: PAColl-9531-04. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

The dynamic Reverend founded the Auckland City Mission in 1920 and made sure it was not just a religious enterprise but a social one too.

Rev Calder was born in Ponsonby in 1885, and attended the local Ponsonby and Auckland Grammar schools. He followed his father, who was Archdeacon of Auckland, into the church.

He established the City Mission of the Anglican Church (now the Auckland City Mission) in 1920. For 26 years, Rev Calder led the City Mission, providing social services and support for Aucklanders in need. He set up health camps for children, soup kitchens and ran other social initiatives "including a doss house, which he managed most effectively thanks to a full understanding of rough characters and their ways" (Alfred Fearon Grace​ in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, 1966).

"When one's mind travels back to the 10th June 1920, when the Mission was first launched, amazement is the only emotion which is possible … when we began our ministrations we had no set programme, other than that we were out to help the underdog in his grim battles against life's difficulties ... We started with no money, no rules, but with an excellent committee, a lot of enthusiasm and a mighty big faith."Rev Jasper Calder, Auckland City Missioner, 1934

Cite this article

Dix, Kelly. The Reverend's gift. Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira. First published: 25 July 2016. Updated: 25 July 2016.

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