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 in 1882, 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 the 1990s in a cool white and pastel blue.  It's thanks to donations and a lot of hard work by Islanders that it's been 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 from island elders

Chilean peso
Left:  The magnificent colours in which the church was orginally painted are 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
        The rainbow church is now a more fitting name...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 years, its magnificence was hidden and only restored in 2008
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The colourful interior of Mauke's Ziona Church
Pulpit in the Ziona church Mauke
Mauke Ziona church ironwork
Mauke church ceiling
Mauke church pulpit painting
Colourfully patterned posts
A close up of a pattern on one of the posts.  Some other motifs are said to be pre-Christian in origin
Deacon Mataira Ake helped repaint the pulpit which you can see in its glory on the right. When the church was divided back in the 19th century, the preacher stood in the pulpit with one foot on either side and there's still a dividing line visible on the ground
The Ngatiarua archway is 30 feet (9 metres) high and topped with three crosses. The Areroa entrance has two spearlike columns topped with figures whose heads represent the first European women to come to islands. An early photo shows those columns used to be joined together.
'The Divided Church'