On display . . . Mike Mountz displays the Tarras Church kneelers. PHOTO: MARK PRICE

One of the most unusual ecclesiastical collections in Central Otago is attracting another round of attention 27 years after it was created.

It consists of 78 colourful, hand-stitched kneelers that are part of the fabric of the Tarras Presbyterian Church.

The kneelers to kneel while saying a prayer in 1993 by members of the Tarras branch of Women’s Division of Federated Farmers.

They were a community project for New Zealand Women’s Suffrage celebrations that year, and involved needlework groups meeting at different homes each week through the winter to work on their designs.

Since then, they have been stacked inside the church.

However, over recent months, American businessman Mike Mountz has been turning his hand to woodwork, and with the assistance of wife Rhoda has created wooden brackets so the kneelers can be on show.

“On occasions I would complain to myself,

ladies took to make these things and I thought I have no room to complain.”

Mr Mountz said the kneelers were “stunning” and a “high spot” of the church.

Many of the most well-known family names of the district are stitched into the kneelers, including the Perriams, of Bendigo, who donated the merino wool.

The church is now owned by the Tarras Community Church Trust which was set up with funding from Mr Mountz and community funding organisations.

One of the three trustees, Felicity Hayman, said the kneeler project was before her time in the district but there were members of the community still in the district who were involved.

The picturesque church surrounded by trees on a hillside above Tarras is still used for services and other functions.