Matawhero Historic Church


St Andrew's Presbyterian Church

Matawhero Historic Church

Built in 1865 or 1866 as a schoolroom for the European settlers, the building was also used for church services also by the Anglican community. Involved in the campaign waged by Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki (Te Kooti) against Europeans and Maori who had over-ridden his were land claims, supported the government in land and sovereignty issues or personally offended him in some way. In July 1868 the schoolroom served for a short period as a military hospital for colonial forces and volunteers injured in the first encounter with Te Kooti after his escape from imprisonment in the Chatham Islands.
In November 1868 Matawhero Church was one of only a few buildings left standing and unharmed by Te Kooti and his troops when they raided Matawhero and Makaraka. At least 51 people, both Maori and Pakeha killed the raid.  In 1870 militia camped in the church and its grounds when anticipating another attack by Te Kooti. In 1872 Matawhero Church (then Matawhero Schoolroom) was purchased by the Presbyterian Church and became the first Presbyterian place of worship in Poverty Bay. For the last 136 years as it has served continuously as a Presbyterian church as well as being a meeting place and social venue for the rural community. Its excellent condition is due to the high value placed on it by the Presbyterian congregation to whom it has spiritual and social values.

Matawhero Historic Church is a beautiful venue for weddings
and one day retreats.

Historic Places Trust

St Andrew's Presbyterian Church

The rapidly expanding number of immigrants, mainly from Britain, settling in the Gisborne district led some dedicated Presbyterians in 1872 to arrange for the formation of a congregation and the appointment of a Minister. The initial request was made to the Auckland Presbytery who then requested the Hawkes Bay Presbytery to assist. The Rev. George Morice who came from Napier in 1872 purchased ten acres (4.05 ha.) including the school house at Matawhero, which had been used sometimes by the Anglican Church. After the Rev. G. Morice left in 1873, the Rev. H. Root took his place and then he moved in to the township of Gisborne, as it was clearly to be the future centre of population. The Presbyterian Church was the first church to hold regularly organised services in Gisborne.

The Provincial Government had donated half an acre (.2 ha.) on the corner of Childers Rd. and Cobden St. in 1873. Five founding members of St Andrews purchased an additional contiguous one and a half acres (.8ha.) facing Cobden St.

A wooden church was build on the latter site and opened in October 1874. a manse was built in 1876 facing Childers Rd. Worship services were held at many country areas by the various Ministers based at St Andrews. 
Under the leadership of a succession of enthusiastic Ministers and Elders over many years, the membership expanded. A new manse was built at 466 Childers Road in 1910. The present day church was built on in 1913. The original church building continued to be used for Sunday School and Youth Bible Class activities and social occasions. The old church was demolished and replaced by the Memorial Hall in 1954 dedicated to the twenty five men from  the congregation who were killed during World War II (1939-45).

St  Andrew’s leaders have always been very aware of their responsibility to serve and witness to the central city, although, as the city has expanded fewer people live in close proximity to the church. The Ministers and members continue to serve in many community organisations and our church and Hall are used extensively by many groups. In recent years, several factors such as a multiplicity of competing attractions and changing working times have made the Church’s mission more difficult. However all members are committed to promoting the focus of our Mission Statement of welcoming everyone in worship, prayer, and social activities and enabling them to explore their faith with integrity.

Click here to read information from the 2007 earthquake.

The Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa/New Zealand

Home Contact Us