Swallows choose holy nesting spot


In the compact town of Amberley, in North Canterbury, many people drive past without noticing one of the oldest churches in New Zealand.   

The church is possibly the second oldest functioning church in the country.   

The Holy Passion Of Our Lord, Amberley

Unfortunately, recent application to put up a “Historical Church” road-sign was turned down by the LTSA.    

Built in 1866, it was originally located at Brackendridge, but was relocated to its present location in in the 1950s. In 2019, after it was beautifully restored, it was awarded the Resene Total Colour Heritage Award.   

This beautiful church, however, was not missed by a pair of breeding swallows. Since the restoration, they have been attempting to build a nest on top of the main entrance, and the chosen spot is within arm’s reach!   

There is Mass every day in the church (7.00am Monday to Saturday, and 9.00am Sunday) but this does not seem to deter them.   

One swallow will stay and watch outside the church, and if there is any human within 10metrees, a “chirp” will see them both taking off and circling the church high up in the air!   

Because of the mess they leave at the doorsteps, there have been minor attempts to discourage them from building their nest at their spot of choice.  This year, however, Fr Michael Pui, the parish priest and his parishioners decided to let the swallows have their way, placing a cardboard at the doorstep to collect their mess!.   

As of early November, they have four chicks in their little nest ready to fly away!….. 

As the Psalmist wrote:  “Even the sparrow has found a home, the swallow a nest to place its young: your altars, Yahweh Sabaoth, my King and my God” (Psalm 84:3) 

The Psalm 84 ends with: “Yahweh Sabaoth, blessed is he who trusts in you”. 


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NZ Catholic Staff