Key Details

Toko Toru Tapu Church restoration

Manutuke Church Trust

City Construction

Architects 44 & Spencer Holmes

Gisborne, New Zealand


The Toko Toru Tapu church in Manutuke, Gisborne, is one of the most important Maori churches in New Zealand. The church has a rich history and is adorned with work by renowned carver, Rukupo. Rukupo is regarded as one of the most illustrious carvers from the 19th century, and his whare is on display in Te Papa Museum on loan.

With the current fourth church dedicated in 1913, built from bricks and mortar, time has taken its toll. A complete restoration was required. Mateenbar™ was specified for the work of seismic stabilizing and crack stitching.

“An economic product with zero risks of deterioration and can be near-surface mounted.” James Blackburne – Architects 44

Structural engineer, Peter Smith of Spencer Holmes and local architect James Blackburne of Architects 44 considered other reinforcement solutions and decided on Mateenbar™, as it met all key properties and ensured a build that will last. Unlike steel that can corrode and cause concrete and masonry to rupture, Mateenbar™ is non-corrosive and has a 100-year design life.

James Blackburne considered all traditional options but specified mateenbar™ “because it was best for the job”. All the key requirements lined up and, being locally manufactured, mateenbar™ was a perfect solution.

Peter Smith commented, “Mateenbar was the best choice as it doesn’t corrode.” This will ensure that the restoration work is one that will last. Mateenbar is corrosion-free and unlike black steel will not rust or cause spalling in the porous, alkaline conditions of the masonry.

City Construction enjoyed working with Mateenbar noting: “it’s lightweight and easy to cut”.

Toko Toru Tapu church's new structural strengthening was done as part of the work to bring the church back to its former glory. It continues to be enjoyed as part of the rich heritage of New Zealand.