Our story at St Mary's Church so far...
We are Nick & Jo Collins, Organic Dairy farmers who live 1 km away from St Mary's Church Piopio, on our small 140 hectare farm. We have lived in and around the area for 28 years and have thoroughly enjoyed bringing up our 3 daughters in the great little community of Piopio.
Driving past St Mary’s, we started to notice that it was in need of some attention and didn’t want to see such a lovely and important building become derelict. Enquiries were made but it wasn’t until a year later that we were notified that it was to be sold. Ideas were already hatched and after many trials and tribulations, St Mary’s was ours! We began with removing some very large trees which were growing onto the building, a terrifying decision as we knew that local parishioners had planted them and we did not want to upset or offend anyone. Suddenly the Church was very visible and there was much interest as to what was happening, and by who.
With calving time only 2 months away and knowing that we would have little available time to get to work on the Church, we started by painting out some of the dark timber match lining to brighten up the interior. It’s always a difficult decision to paint native timber but the result was well worth it, as was painting the joinery to enhance the shape of the windows. We then discovered that the roof over the pulpit area was leaking so reroofed and relined the ceiling. As could be expected, more issues arose. After many years of downpipes discharging straight onto the ground, we found that the piles in the rear of the pulpit had sunk 100 mms! By now, we had found a great young builder who thought we might have a months or so’s work for him. Fortunately he is very adaptable and has some great ideas too. As ideas arose and developed... and changed... he is still toiling away on the final stages. To speed the project up, we have also had another local builder helping, his strength being the ability to make old like new, so we have been very lucky.
We’ve created 2 queen sized bedrooms, a new bathroom and a deck leading off the Pulpit through some large French doors. We saw an opportunity to utilise the scaffolding erected by the roofers and started painting the exterior. We had intended to get the painters in, but once we’d started, we just carried on!
Next came the fun part... setting up the interior with all the vintage items that I have been collecting for years. It’s very satisfying to feel so connected to this beautiful place, having painted, wallpapered, sewn curtains, bedcovers and cushions, planted gardens and so on. Best of all though is having locals and friends calling in, making such positive comments and being so pleased to see new life being breathed into the Church. Many have memories and it’s great to hear them and understand a bit more of the history.
We hope you enjoy your stay!