Laurence Aberhart has been photographing in and around the Northland area for over four decades. His series of images of Northland churches, begun in 1982, represents one of the most instantly recognizable and critically acclaimed bodies of work in New Zealand photography. ‘Whare Tapu Taonga’ is an exhibition drawn from this series, exemplifying Aberhart’s ability to capture not only the architecture of these buildings but something of their social and spiritual significance as well.
Aberhart’s use of an antique Korona view camera, last commercially manufactured in the 1930s, lends his work a sense of atmosphere and substance that perfectly expresses the feeling of stillness and reverence for the past found in historical buildings.
The observation has often been made that the people of the Tai Tokerau were the first Māori to hear the gospel proclaimed, and the first to take up Christianity in its various forms. This is why one encounters so many houses of faith throughout the North, where almost every hapū built their own church or temple.