The 40 or so people from the combined churches of Otaki took part in the annual Good Friday hikoi, from the Baptist Church on the Main Highway to St Mary’s Church on Convent Road. They walked to all the Christian centres stopping at each for a reading of the Easter story and a song, before walking onto the next centre.
Several carried banners, most walked, a few followed on bicycles, young children and teens, to parents, grandparents and great grandparents, sharing their faith and fellowship along the way. They completed their three kilometres journey a couple of hours later at St Mary’s. At All Saints Anglican Church, vicar Ian Campbell had laid out a tableau of the Holy Week events on the front lawn. A 1.9 metre wooden cross was carried by the walkers to Rangiatea Church and then on to St Mary’s, where everyone was greeted with a karanga calling them up to the church followed by a welcome and morning tea and hot cross buns for everyone.
On Easter Sunday a crowd of about 50 climbed to the top of Pukekaraka Hill, behind St Mary’s, using torches to guide their way up through the darkness for the 6am Sonrise service. They were joined by the first bird songs as they sang and heard the bible readings of that first Easter morning, and as the new day dawned the township and surrounding areas came into view. Members of the Otaki Ecumenical Choir and two guitarists accompanied the singers, too.
Following the half service, the worshippers; children to those 80 plus years, made their way back down the hill, for breakfast of hot porridge and toast, prepared by St Mary’s parishioners, before heading to their own services later in the morning
This was the 24th year the combined churches early morning celebration had been held.