A Church, and particularly a Maori church, seemed a very appropriate place to commemorate Mrs Royal, an Otaki Caterer of yesteryear. At the Wellington on a Plate event hosted by Ruth Pretty Catering and Rangiatea Church, her kindness was noted, with special mention of the Maori families she used to help by selling goods from her bakery at below cost.
The guests who travelled to Otaki for the event not only got fed by an afternnon tea inspired by Mrs Royal but were also welcomed to Rangiatea Church. Andre Baker gave a compelling talk about the history of the church including minute details about the rebuild after the church was burnt down in 1995 by arson (he was one of the key project managers). It is seldom I hear someone talk with such humbleness and depth of knowledge.
Louise Carkeek (who had just turned 90) was also introduced to the audience. She along with Marie Hakaraia was instrumental in renewing the embroided kneeler cushions that were destroyed in the fire. We were told they got bored with the delays in the rebuild and just got on with it. Sixty three cushions were destroyed but there were at least twice as many replacements on display.
1953 was the year Ruth Pretty selected to recreate Mrs Royal's time and once the guests entered the church hall they were greeted by food and royalty (it was the year the Queen was coronated). Even with the two Bishops available there was some confusion (and amusement) about who was going to say Grace. I am sure Mrs Royal would have would have been both thrilled and humbled by this tribute.