St Andrew's Church Complex (Anglican)

115 Victoria Street (State Highway 1) And Hamilton Road (State Highway 1), Cambridge

  • St Andrew’s Church Complex (Anglican). Image courtesy of -
    Copyright: geoff-inOz. Taken By: geoff-inOz . Date: 3/11/2009.
  • Interior looking east, St Andrew’s Church, Cambridge.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Bruce Mercer. Date: 6/11/2009.
  • St Andrew’s Church bell showing graffiti, Cambridge.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Bruce Mercer. Date: 13/07/2009.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 154 Date Entered 22nd November 1984


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Lot 4 DPS 69391 (CT SA55C/898) South Auckland Land District and the buildings and structures known as the St Andrew's Church Complex thereon, and their fittings and fixtures including the first St Andrew's Church, the new St Andrew's Church, the Parish Hall, and all of the grounds and notable trees. The list of chattels provided in section 2.3 of the report are also included in the registration. The buildings and additions to the first St Andrews Church known as St Andrews Parish Centre are also within the boundary of the registration although they are considered to be of limited significance. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information).

City/District Council

Waipa District


Waikato Region

Legal description

Lot 4 DPS 69391 (CT SA55C/898), South Auckland Land District.


St Andrew’s Church Complex, located on a prominent corner of State Highway One in Cambridge, has been in continuous use by the Anglican Church since 1873 and features its original church which is now the town’s oldest surviving building and St Andrew’s Church, a landmark of special aesthetic value.

The first church was built in 1873. It was designed by David Richardson, an early and prolific Waikato architect and is one of the few known remaining examples of his work. The original church remained on site and in use when it was replaced in 1881 with a much larger Neo-Gothic church of exceptional architectural value. The new church was design by noted architect Edward Mahoney. The ambience of the church was enhanced by many quality fixtures and chattels; in particular a peal of bells, only the second to be installed in New Zealand, and the addition of George Croft’s (1872-1955) first commissioned church pipe organ in 1898-99.

In 1931 a parish hall was built after a long period of fundraising particularly by the women of the church. Designed by Thomas Stephen Cray, who trained at the Dunedin School of Art and Design, the building is one of few Art Deco buildings remaining in Cambridge. The original church and the Hall were integrated into the Parish Centre in 1983 and were renamed ‘St Andrew’s Centre’. Today the complex as a whole provides the administrative and spiritual centre for what became the largest rural Anglican parish in New Zealand.

Much of the complex has a high level of architectural quality with the first church being a rare surviving example of a building by prolific early Waikato architect David Richardson and the second, 1881 church, being an elegant example of the Neo-Gothic churches of the noted architect Edward Mahoney. The 1881 building has outstanding integrity of original fabric (both interior and exterior), fittings and fixtures, demonstrating a high quality of design, craftsmanship and technical accomplishment, predominantly using very good quality building materials. Technologically it is believed to be the only church in the Southern Hemisphere with a set of cast steel swing-chimed bells currently in use, and has the only set of Vickers bells in New Zealand. It also retains the pipes and some mechanism of New Zealand organ maker, George Croft’s first commissioned church organ (1898-99).

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The complex includes the oldest surviving building in Cambridge, the original St Andrew’s church building (1873). It also incorporates the pipes and some of the mechanisms of New Zealand’s earliest organ maker, George Croft’s, first commissioned church organ (1898-99), starting a longstanding relationship with what would become one of New Zealand’s foremost organ building firms.

The earliest stained glass windows are intact examples of work by Whitefriars of London; the later stained glass windows are also thought to be by Whitefriars and not only commemorate key figures in the church, but also the roles of local citizens in the armed forces.

The site is associated with important aspects of the history of Cambridge, and includes many significant memorials of commemoration of events of local, national and international significance.

Aesthetic Significance or Value

The St Andrew’s Church Complex has special aesthetic value, with the steepled, St Andrew’s Church being a dominant and memorable landmark on a ninety degree corner of State Highway One. Visibility and awareness has been facilitated by it being featured on postcards and travel publications. The interior of the church is noteworthy for the stained glass, its intact timber fabric, the carved detail on many of the fittings such as the pulpit and the many commemorative fittings adorning the walls. The peal of bells and pipe organ add to the ambiance when in use. The complex’s aesthetic value is also evidenced by the large number of tourists visiting the site and by the high number of requests for the celebration of significant life events (marriages, funerals) on the site by people who are not part of the congregation, more than for Waikato's Anglican Cathedral or any other Anglican church in the Waikato Diocese, and more requests than St Andrew’s can actually accommodate.

Architectural Significance or Value

The buildings are of special architectural value, particularly the current (1881) church which is an elegant example of the Neo Gothic churches of the noted architect Edward Mahoney. It has a high level of architectural quality and of physical integrity including fittings and fixtures, demonstrating a good quality of design, level of craftsmanship and technical accomplishment predominantly using high quality building materials.

The original church, (although minus its steeple since mid 1800s), is a rare remaining example of the work of the prolific early Waikato architect David Richardson.

The Parish Hall is one of very few surviving Art Deco buildings in Cambridge, and a relatively rare example of an Art Deco church building. It is also a rare example of buildings known to be designed by Thomas Stephen Cray.

Technological Significance or Value

St Andrews was only the second church in New Zealand to install a peal of bells. In 2009 St Andrew’s is believed to be the only church with a set of cast steel swing chimed bells currently in use in the Southern Hemisphere, and the church belfry is one of only eight in New Zealand with a set of change ringing bells. Of the 57 Naylor Vickers bells known to have been imported to Australia and New Zealand, St Andrew’s are believed to be the only set of Vickers bells imported into New Zealand (as opposed to single bells), and only two sets are known to have been imported to Australia, both of which are still in use (that is, only 3 sets of Vickers bells remain in Australia and New Zealand). It also contains the first commissioned church organ (1898-99) by New Zealand’s earliest organ maker, George Croft who went on to become this country’s foremost organ building firm. The carved detail on the church pulpit is an important example of the skills of William Andrews, a prolific New Zealand carver and carving teacher.

Social Significance or Value

St Andrews has been a prominent and popular Waikato meeting place for 137 years. Initially its social importance was as a place of meeting for Presbyterians and Anglican, but has evolved into a place of meetings, commemoration and celebration for a very wide sector of the local community and the wider Waikato. Music plays an integral part in these activities at the church, with its historic bells and organ contributing to an atmosphere of solace and comfort to those grieving or commemorating and at the celebratory end of the spectrum of emotions experienced within the complex, the joyful bell ringing and organ music celebrating marriages. The practice of campanology or bell ringing has been performed in the church for over 100 years, a tradition that continues to this day.

Strong community attachment to the place is indicated by it being listed on the District Plan, in several local heritage walk brochures as well as in national travel guides. Photographs of the church feature on the cover of brochures, mastheads, stamps and local marketing materials. Postcards of the Church have been used to fundraise for the Church over an extended period of its history.

Community support is also evident when funds have been required for expensive maintenance, with donations not only from members of the church but also from local individuals, other churches, and the local council and grant agencies.

The site includes a large number of memorial features and objects, including the stained glass windows, and is used on commemorative occasions.

Spiritual Significance or Value

The property has been in continuous use since 1871 by the Anglican Church, providing evidence of a long-standing support for Anglicanism in Cambridge. The complex continues to provide the administrative and spiritual centre for the largest rural Anglican parish in New Zealand as at 1994.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history

Parts of the building and many of the chattels have a memorial function, and the church is associated with ANZAC day parades, flying flags and ringing the bells on significant occasions, such as the celebration of Armistice/Remembrance day and the new millennium. Many of the structures are strongly associated with Cambridge’s military connections.

The first two churches are associated with Reverend Willis, the first long-serving vicar, who saw the church become a parish and become the first Archdeacon, affectionately known as the 'Grand Old Man of Cambridge'. He was founder of the Bible in Schools League, a version of which continues today. His wife, Mary, is also remembered in the first stained glass memorial window, affectionately dedicated to their work.

The early days of the church are also strongly associated for 32 years with the energetic, community-minded Thomas Wells, who among other things was heavily involved with fundraising for the church with his wife, Jane. Wells took a leading role in the opening ceremonies as Vicar's Warden, a role he held for over 30 years. Thomas and Jane are both remembered as instigators of the reredos and their contribution is recognised through the memorial set of internal doors in the Church.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the place

The property is listed on the Waipa District Plan as Category A, in a list of significant local buildings on the Cambridge Museum web site, in Dinah Holman’s Waipa District Plan Heritage Inventory. The site also features in many local walking trails, postcards and on postage stamps. An image of the church is the prominent feature on the cover of The Heart of Our Boutique & Country: An Insight Map of Cambridge, and the church is featured on the both the regional and local map the brochure contains. It also features on the masthead of the newspaper Your Cambridge News (2009- ) and on the websites of local businesses such as real estate agents.

The buildings are in frequent use for not only religious events, but also for valued personal and community events, celebrations and meetings, from birthday parties to Weight Watchers meetings. Annual fetes are well supported.

The complex receives press coverage when the buildings are being maintained or altered, reflecting public interest. Fundraising efforts for maintenance and improvement projects include public donations, also reflecting public interest and high regard for the complex’s place in the community.

(f) The potential of the place for public education

There is a heritage trail information panel at the site and the location of the complex on State Highway One between Auckland and major tourist destinations such as to Rotorua, provides an excellent opportunity for educational information about the structures, their use, events, religious background and people associated with the site. The bells, organ and carved pulpit provide particular opportunities for those interested in the history of New Zealand furniture, wood carvers, and musical instrument makers. Some public education already takes place through the various heritage walks and web pages. A bellringing pamphlet available in the church gives history of bellringing and the bell tower and a history of the organ for visitors has recently been published. Hanton’s booklet, St Andrew’s: Our Heritage, provides an historical and religious background to the church and its furnishings, it is used by the church guides and there is talk of seeing if it can be reprinted.

(h) The symbolic or commemorative value of the place

St Andrew’s Church Complex incorporates a number and variety of memorials and religious symbols including an Oamaru stone font from the first church that is a memorial to an early member of the vestry; a font cover that is a later memorial to a young Cambridge soldier mortally wounded during the Gallipoli Campaign; a set of windows in memory of the soldiers who died in World War One, depicting soldiers at Gallipoli and Le Quesnoy; a set of windows in tribute to the NZ armed forces; two hatchments commemorate the New Zealand Wars and the ‘Imperial and Colonial Forces’, reflecting Cambridge’s military origins, and the pulpit is a memorial to an early church warden.

(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places

The complex incorporates the oldest surviving public building in Cambridge, making it locally significant.

St Andrew’s is believed to be the only church with a set of cast steel swing-chimed bells currently in use in the Southern Hemisphere, and the church belfry is one of only eight in New Zealand with a set of change ringing bells.

The original set of organ pipes are believed to be the earliest example of George Croft’s commissioned work. While the organ has been rebuilt several times, it represents the ongoing work of the George Croft and Co. organ building firm and reflects the changing styles and technology of pipe organs.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape

The complex's placement on the intersection where State Highway 1 turns onto Victoria Street, and setting amongst established trees and other historic structures (Thomas Wells memorial gates, a Victorian Post Box, and the former Presbyterian Church) add to its significant streetscape value. The collection of buildings, objects and trees provide tangible evidence of the growth of organised religion in New Zealand, and the parish activities in particular, covering a period of over 130 years. This includes the Selwyn Village that surrounds the complex on the south and west sides, a practical outworking of the parish’s social concern in this case for the elderly representing a period of more than fifty years.


It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category I historic place. This prominent site has been in continuous use since 1873 by the Anglican Church for the purpose of Christian worship and service. The complex includes Cambridge’s earliest surviving building, the Centre, a rare remaining example of the prolific Waikato architect, David Richardson. The 1881 church has exceptional architectural value, remaining largely true to the design of the noted architect, Edward Mahoney; its spire remains the tallest structure in the town and houses a rare set of Vickers bells. The building and its fittings exhibit a high level of craftsmanship. The Parish Hall is one of very few surviving Art Deco buildings in Cambridge, and a relatively rare example of an Art Deco church building.

The site incorporates a high density of memorials of local, national and international importance: the number of these memorials continues to grow, reflecting the community’s regard for and involvement with this place. Many of the early memorials are to people who were influential citizens in the developing town, including women. The site is visited by a large number of people: parishioners, tourists, those attending markets in its grounds and those celebrating significant events. It features prominently in many publications about the region.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Mahoney, Edward

Edward Mahoney (1824-1895)

Edward Mahoney emigrated from Cork, Ireland with his wife Margaret and three children. The Mahoneys arrived in Auckland in 1856 where Edward set up as a building and timber merchant. In 1876 he established the architectural practice that later became Edward Mahoney & Sons, which for over thirty years designed and supervised construction of many Catholic buildings as well as churches for other denominations.

The Church of St John the Baptist, Parnell (1861) and St Mary's Convent Chapel (1866) are two of the earliest surviving ecclesiastical buildings designed by Edward Mahoney and reflect the gradual evolution from simple Gothic Revival structures to more ambitious and creative use of the Gothic form such as may be seen in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Khyber Pass (1881); and St Patrick's Cathedral, the latter completed in 1901.

Edward Mahoney was a founding member of the Auckland Institute of Architects, attending the first meeting in December 1880 where he was appointed honorary treasurer. He became president of the Institute in 1883. His sons Thomas (1855?-1923) and Robert (1862-1895) joined him in practice in 1876 and the early 1880s respectively.

Upon Edward's retirement in 1885, Thomas and Robert carried on the practice. After Robert's death in 1895, Thomas changed the firm's name to E. Mahoney & Son. The Mahoneys designed a wide variety of buildings including the Auckland Customhouse, hotels, commercial buildings and houses, their best-known surviving domestic buildings being the Pah, at Hillsborough (1877) and the Dilworth Terrace Houses, Parnell (1899). Their ecclesiastical buildings included St Mary's Church of the Assumption, Onehunga (1888) and St Benedict's Church, Newton (1888).

The firm of Edward Mahoney & Son continued to practice for a short period after Thomas Mahoney’s death in 1923, but was eventually dissolved in 1926.

Source: NZHPT Registration Report for Bank of New Zealand (Former), Devonport (Register no. 4511).

Richardson, David

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

The First St Andrews Church - the Centre

Cambridge was founded in 1864 as a colonial military outpost in the Ngati Raukawa tribal area, part of the Tainui confederation. Although active in the Waipa district since 1835, Anglican involvement in the town did not begin until 1865. In 1871 a church committee was formed and a prominent site obtained on the corner of the main street and the road to Hamilton.

In 1872 David Richardson, a prolific early Waikato architect, drew up the plans and specifications for a small church in the colonial Gothic style. Few of Richardson’s buildings remain. A parishioner provided cut stone blocks for the foundations and the builder was Phillip Cooper. St Andrew’s Church opened in 1873, capable of seating 120 people. Within just five years there was insufficient space for the growing congregation.

By 1878 church furnishings included an Episcopal chair, a lectern and a memorial font. The first vicar was Reverend William Newcombe de Laval Willis (1846-1916), arriving in 1878 with his wife, Mary Agnes (‘Minnie’), (nee Clarke) (1854-1918), and staying 34 years. Willis became Cambridge’s first Archdeacon in 1882 and was involved in a wide range of community organisations, becoming affectionately known as the 'Grand Old Man of Cambridge'. Nationally, he was recognised as the founder of the Bible in Schools League.

Thomas (Tom) E. Wells (1842-1910), was an influential community minded businessman and vestryman in Cambridge from 1878. Wells and his wife, Jane (1843-1929), were involved in fundraising for the new church and in obtaining a number of the furnishings. Wells attended St Andrew’s church for 32 years, serving as churchwarden, treasurer, a member of both the diocesan and general synod.

By 1879 the original church was bursting at its (still unlined) seams and plans got underway for a more substantial church building. To allow the new church to be built on the prominent corner site of the property, the original church was moved back from the corner by about 18 metres (apse pointing west). The original church became known as the Schoolroom and was used for Sunday school, church meetings (including Waikato archidiaconal conferences) and public courses. When its spire became unsafe it was removed, the date of its removal has not been identified. In 1883, the original church was rented to the Cambridge Masonic Lodge and the money was used to finally line and ‘improve’ the building. A fireplace was installed in the building in 1901 for winter warmth. By 1916 the original church was also known as the Parish Hall, and a fund was started for renovating it.

The new St Andrew’s Church

Planning for the new church began with an invitation to the Auckland firm of Edward Mahoney (1824-1895) and Sons (Thomas (1854/5?-1923) and Robert) to submit plans. Mahoney’s ecclesiastical buildings reflect a gradual evolution from simple Gothic Revival structures to a more ambitious and creative use of the Gothic form such as is demonstrated in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Khyber Pass (1881) - Willis’s old Parish, under construction at the same time as St Andrew’s. The firm designed at least nine structures in Cambridge, but only St Andrew’s and a house called Whare Ora (1901-2) are known to be still standing.

After further fundraising, including a bazaar, the contract for the new building was awarded to W.G. Connolly of Auckland. The foundation stone was laid in January 1881 by the Governor. Willis and Wells were both intimately involved with the building process to ensure its workmanship and quality. The spire was topped by a St Andrew’s fish weathervane. Due to the financial depression, the nave was shortened from the original plan, but enough pews were made to seat 300 people and the church can hold 500. Some 450 people attended the building’s consecration in August despite foul weather. In 1916 it was still ‘one of the finest buildings in the diocese’.

Cambridge was the first New Zealand rural district to possess a peal of bells. St Andrew’s Church bells were only the second set installed in New Zealand and the first in the North Island. Bells were supplied by Vickers and Company, England, in steel, being cheaper and lighter than bronze. The bells were installed on sturdy kauri framing with elm wheels and yokes, overseen by Richardson and dedicated in 1882. The bells came with a chiming mechanism allowing one person to ring the bells, though no evidence has been found of it being used.

From the outset it was noticed that the Church’s wooden tower vibrated vigorously when the bells were rung, and that the two smallest bells were discordant, so in 1884 the bells were replaced by Vickers. They weighed in at 55 hundredweight (2495 kilograms), almost double the original set, at the church’s request. It was discovered that the new bells were too large to be rung all the way around (i.e. swung up), so they were fitted for ringing down, i.e. swing change chimed.

In 1898 after two years fundraising, George Croft (1872-1955) was invited to discuss building an organ for St Andrew’s versus importing a second-hand organ from England, departing with a contract to build a modest two manual pipe organ. Croft was largely self-taught; his only work prior to this was for the Wellington (1896-97) and Auckland (1898-99) Exhibitions: the St Andrew’s instrument was his first church organ. He was a prodigious organ builder, completing about a third of the New Zealand organs built by 1930 and some sixty instruments over his working life, leaving a respected legacy. Timber was of the best quality and the front pipes of rolled zinc were ‘slightly decorated’. Some of the 398 pipes were made in England. The organ chamber was constructed where the chaplains’ vestry had been, requiring changes to the tower, bell chamber, and seating. The resulting instrument exceeded expectations, described as being of excellent workmanship and elegant design: it was dedicated in 1899.

In memory of the South African War a carved reredos screen was obtained through Wells, at the instigation of his wife, and installed in 1900.

Edward (Ned) Hewitt (d.1901) had served on the initial Anglican Church committee in 1871, was church warden for 20 years and was the instigator and a major contributor to the cost of the bells. He was renowned as a fundraiser for the church. He owned the local Criterion Hotel for 30 years and was involved in a variety of community organisations. The pulpit was designed and built in Cambridge in his memory, with carved panels produced by Mr Andrews, probably William H T Andrews, installed in 1902. In 1903 Cambridge was gazetted as a parish and the Centre was enlarged with a lean to room over nine metres long, other lean-tos and sheds were added over time. In 1905 the £3000 for land, fencing, church building, bells and church furniture was finally paid off: some donations even came from overseas, ‘so that the building is truly a people’s work.’

The roof of the church was in bad repair by 1910, but it was not replaced until 1913. Wooden shingles were no longer legal and slate was considered too expensive, so the church employed local builder Fred Potts to reroof in corrugated iron.

In 1914 a second section of reredos screen was completed. The same year Archdeacon Philip Walsh (?-1914), a recognised local artist, painted two hatchments to commemorate The New Zealand Wars, unveiled by Dr (later Sir) Maui Wiremu Piti Naera Pomare (1875/1876?-1930), MP, and the ‘Imperial and Colonial Forces’ of 1869-70, unveiled by General Sir Ian Standish Monteith Hamilton (1853-1947), Inspector-General of the Overseas Forces and Planner of the Gallipoli landings.

In 1916 the prominent Waikato architectural firm of John Willing Warren (?-1936) (FNZIA) and John Craster Blechynden (1881?-1954) redesigned the reredos, incorporating the three existing panels, installed in 1917. They also designed a font cover around this time in memory of a Cambridge soldier mortally wounded on 25 April 1915 in the Gallipoli Campaign.

?The first stained glass windows were dedicated in 1919, a memorial to the Archdeacon and Mrs Willis. All stained glass windows in the church were designed and manufactured by Whitefriars of London, also known as James Powell and Sons 1834-1962, producing coloured stained glass seen in churches all over the world from 1850. A set of windows in memory of the soldiers who died in World War One and paid for by parish members whose relatives had died in the war, was unveiled by Viscount John Henry Rushworth Jellicoe (1859 – 1935), admiral of the fleet, in 1921. They depict soldiers at Gallipoli and Le Quesnoy: New Zealand’s first and last battles during the war.

From 1920 planning began to wire the church for electricity; however the New Zealand made electric chandeliers were not fully installed until 1925. In 1923 an electric organ blower was installed, and tuning and basic repairs were done locally until the contract was returned to Croft in 1930. As a birthday present to the Church, a new altar was commissioned in 1931.

The fish weathervane was replaced with an iron cross in 1952, and in 1953 the World War Two memorial window was dedicated, featuring the three branches of the New Zealand armed forces.

1961 saw the relocation of the organ by New Zealand makers, G. Croft and Sons, run by George’s son, William (Bill) Croft (1914- ). The organ pipes and mechanism were moved into a gallery over the Western entry. The organ was increased to three manuals with the console positioned in the South transept where the organist could easily view the choir. The Chapel of St Francis was built in 1962 in the area vacated by the organ.

A fire in the Chancel in 1964 saw choir pews scorched and a hole burned in the floor. Pockets of flame reached the ventilators in the belfry. Despite a rapid response and minimal water damage, smoke filled the entire building and approximately nine square metres of flooring had to be replaced.

Two flags, the Queens Colour and the Regimental Colour associated with the First Armoured Regiment (Waikato) Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps Association (RNZAC), were installed in the church in 1970. New Church entry doors from the porch were designed by architect and parishioner Edward (‘Ted’) Hill in memory of the Wells in 1971. The 1973 centennial of the Centre saw another stained glass memorial window unveiled, dedicated to St Andrew’s vicars.

The Church received an upgrade as part of its centennial in 1981 funded by the broader community, not just parishioners. The spire was resheathed in copper, and the cross replaced with one in brass. The pipe organ was again reduced to two manuals by the Crofts firm, overseen by Ken Aplin. Aplin had trained in England, joining Crofts in 1964, buying the firm in 1969 when he built the firms first large mechanical action organ credited with setting ‘the scene for the classical (neo baroque) organ revival’ in New Zealand. Aplin traded under the Crofts name until 1989 and continues to maintain the organ.

The Parish Hall

Despite the Depression, Thomas Stephen Cray was commissioned to design a Parish Hall in 1927. Cray trained at the Dunedin School of Art and Design at a time when it was associated with the Arts and Crafts style. From at least 1912 he was based in Hamilton, working with John Anderson, Frederick C. Daniell and John (Jack) Edward Chitty. He became an Associate New Zealand Institute of Architects, and a Registered Architect. In 1927 he moved to Cambridge. The Parish Hall was built by the productive Cambridge firm, Speight Pearce Nicoll and Davys (SPND). Pearce was a parishioner who served on the vestry for a time, often providing advice on building matters.

Fifty years after the consecration of the Church, the Parish Hall foundation stone was laid in August 1931 and the Hall opened in November. The building was described as ‘modern in every respect’, showing a blend of Arts and Crafts and the Art Deco movements, having a pitched roof, but rectangular rather than pointed windows, and the use of reinforced concrete stucco. It could seat 200 and featured under floor heating, a strong room for the church archives, a stage with changing rooms and a supper room cum Ladies Guild room off the western side. A parishioner gathered seed from Italian cypress trees (Cupressus sempervirens) in the Garden of Gethsemane on his way back to New Zealand from serving in World War Two. In 1956 seedlings from this were planted around the Parish Hall. A lounge wing was added to the western wall of the Parish Hall in 1959. In 1964 the Hall served as the church for a time to facilitate restoration of the Church following a fire.

St Andrew’s Parish Centre

Major reorientation of the site in 1982 was undertaken to enable further growth of the Complex. The 1959 additions to the Centre were removed and the building rotated ninety degrees (apse faced north) in 1982. The Centre was connected to a new administrative block and an open cloister run along the north side, connecting to the Parish Hall forming St Andrew’s Church Centre, now known as the Parish Centre, which opened in 1983.

The St Andrew’s Memorial Wall was unveiled in 1990, initiated by Willis descendants. In 1993 a flag pole was installed, generally flying the flag of St Andrew, but also the New Zealand, English and French flags. A lych gate was designed by Smith Pickering Architects of Hamilton in 1998 and installed on the Victoria Street entrance to the complex. It commemorates the eightieth anniversary of the liberation of the French town of Le Quesnoy, and the sister relationship between Le Quesnoy and Cambridge. The Parish Hall kitchen and toilets were altered in 2000 and the archives moved. By 2002 about 21,000 people were using the Complex yearly. In 2003 the Church’s roof was replaced with Coloursteel.

In 2009 the St Andrew’s Parish Centre is still sited on one of the busiest intersections in Cambridge. The earliest building in the complex, the Centre is the oldest surviving building in Cambridge and like the Hall remains in everyday use. The market day fundraising tradition continues. Postcards of the Church have also been used for fundraising purposes. Community support has been evident when funds have been required for expensive maintenance, with donations not only from members of the church but also from local individuals, other churches, and the local council and grant agencies.

The Church remains the tallest building in Cambridge and features the town’s only pipe organ. It is enhanced by a complete set of memorial stained glass windows. The World War One window and Lych Gate are thought to be the only memorials to the Le Quesnoy battle in New Zealand. It is the only church with a peal of cast steel swing chimed bells currently in use in the Southern Hemisphere, and the church belfry is one of only eight in New Zealand with a peal of change ringing bells. The St Andrew’s Parish Centre provides the most recent evidence of the growth of the parish and its ministry. The first Church, new Church and Parish Hall are all listed on the District Plan. The Church appears in several local heritage walk brochures as well as in national travel guides. Photographs of the Church feature on the cover of brochures, mastheads, stamps and local marketing materials, including the masthead of local newspaper ‘The Cambridge News’, and the website of a local real estate agent.

Physical Description

The church site was and is one of the most attractive sites in the town of Cambridge, bound on two sides by State Highway One, surrounded by established trees including those of the Domain across the road, and in a broader setting with many historic structures. It is just outside the commercial hub and is surrounded by the Selwyn Retirement Village. The railway line that used to go past it along Cambridge’s main street is no longer extant. The Church spire still dominates much of the surrounding town. All the buildings in the complex are painted in colours that tie in with the flag of St Andrews, i.e. white with blue trim, and are roofed with grey coloursteel. The layout of the buildings and key memorials are indicated on the site plan in Appendix 1 of the registration report.

The First St Andrews Church - the Centre (1873)

The building that was the original church is in an Ecclesiologist Gothic Revival style, single storey, gable roof in rusticated weatherboard. It no longer has a belfry and has been moved twice within the church grounds, so that the half-octagonal faceted apse now faces north rather than east. As part of the relocation it has been re-piled, rewired and reroofed. It measures 44 feet (13.4 meters) by 22 feet (6.7 metres). The lancet windows have intersecting tracery and fanlights. An original entry still exists on the eastern side, but the building is more commonly entered through the parish centre administration block.

The connection to the administration block involved the removal of a door and fanlight on the northern end of the western wall which was replaced with a lancet window. A third lancet window and an arched door were removed; the latter have been replaced with double doors. The wall coverings and floors have been altered, but the open ceiling appears original with vertical sarking boards and exposed rafters. An entry on what is now the northern end of the western wall was removed, and two lancet windows (re-)installed. The south wall features a set of three stepped lancet windows, with a single smaller lancet window in angle of the gable above.

St Andrew’s Church (1881)

The weatherboard Colonial gothic church dominates the corner and is of high quality building materials, principally heart kauri. All openings in the external walls have label mouldings with decorative label stops. There is a decorative continuous sill around the building. Apart from a rose window in Cathedral glass at the western end, the windows are of lancet shape, with a set of three stepped windows under the north and eastern gables. Decorative gable brackets and shaped bargeboards echo the internal ceiling structure. The end of each gable is a wooden finial in the shape of a cross. The roof is pierced by a number of ventilators of trefoil pattern set into triangular dormers. Ventilation in the top of the tower and spire is through lancet shaped openings.

The church has been partially repiled: all of the wooden piles and most of the brick piles have been replaced. Broken slate tiles have been reported under the church, some having been used to pack the piles pre 1995. Around the same time it was noted that the skirting boards were very deteriorated due to dry or wet rot, and appear to have since been replaced.

The gabled west end porch retains its original doors (apart from some repairs where there was dry rot) and original wall linings. The internal Wells memorial double doors remain. With the exception of the bell tower and the mezzanine organ loft above the western entrance, the building is single storied. The organ is about three times as big as the original which had a much brighter sound. The interior is notable for the stained glass memorial windows, all believed to have been designed and manufactured by Whitefriars in London. The public area is a cruciform shape, measuring 80 feet (24.38 meters) by 55 feet (16.76 meters) across the transept, with the tower and vestry tucked between the northern transept and the chancel, and the chapel of St Francis between the southern transept and the chancel. The roof ridge is 38 feet (11.6 metres) high, creating a sense of the loftiness of the church and the smallness of the people in it. The interior is all in varnished timber with a 16 foot (4.88 metres) wall stud. The open ceiling reveals both structural and decorative beams, maximizing the sense of height. The wall and ceilings lining as well as the floors are of wooden tongue and groove, running vertically in the wainscoting, with horizontal match lining above, then with vertical roof sarking. The exception is the newer St Francis Chapel where the vertical tongue and groove runs to the roofline, above which the sarking is of plywood. All joinery is timber. The pointed door in the vestry is braced with a timber cross.

The Chancel area includes many chattels serving both ceremonial and memorial functions, such as the reredos screen and curtains. The stained glass windows and almost all the chattels in the rest of the church also have memorial significance. The memorial font of Oamaru stone is based on the one at the Anglican Church of Old Sodbury, England. The wooden spire shaped font cover is suspended from the roof. The painting next to the Le Quesnoy window appears to be a copy of Capture of the walls of Le Quesnoy by George Edmund Butler, which he painted in 1920. It is one of a number of chattels that relate to the military associations of the church and the Cambridge area.

Both the pulpit and altar are heavily carved, featuring pillars, pointed arches and grapevines, drawing on the Gothic traditions revived via publications by Ruskin, Pugin and Glazier, symbolic of John Chapter 15, in which Jesus starts, ‘I am the true vine.’

The church pews feature carved trefoils on the exterior ends, some with decorative metalwork inset showing a row number, presumably dating from the early period when pews were rented out as a fundraising activity. While Willis had wanted the pews to be based on the design of those at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the gothic trefoil decoration appears to be their only major common decorative element.

The graceful octagonal spire is sheathed in 6G copper and is 107 feet (32.6 meters) high including the tower, on a 14 foot (4.27 meters) square base, topped with a brass cross. The interior of the belfry has wooden stairs going up three stories in total. The first two stories are lined with horizontal tongue and groove timbers, with the third storey (the bell chamber) lined with timbers set at a forty-five degree angle. Only the first floor timbers are varnished. Graffiti is on both the walls and in the bells themselves, comprised mostly of the names of bell ringers covering a long period, e.g. ‘D. Harrison, November 1924’ and a list of those who rang in the third millennium. On the second floor is the cast iron chiming mechanism which was made in London; it is not connected. The bells are hung on the original timber framing in one chamber, with the two smaller bells above the larger: the tenor bell measures four feet (1.22 meters) across. The iron bells are showing some rust, particularly on their exterior probably exacerbated by various leaks over the years also evidenced in stained timbers, and periods when pigeons etc have managed to nest in the belfry. There is a small door giving access to the roof.

The names of bell ringers from over a long period are also scratched into the rear pew. Similarly, the south wall in the St Francis Chapel has the names of the bellow boys scratched into it, from the time when the organ was situated in this area.

Ceiling pendant light fittings are of copper and feature repoussé flowers and enamelwork in an Arts and Crafts style, probably dating from the original electrical installation in 1925.

The combination of architecture and fittings in the church evoke a strong sense of a long religious tradition.

St Andrews Parish Centre

Working from west to east, the Parish Centre is composed of: church lounge (1959), supper room and parish hall (1931), covered walkway, seminar room, vicar’s office, parish office (1983), the original church or Centre (1873). All buildings in the Parish Centre are single storey.

Parish Centre Administration Block (1983)

A kitchen servery and double doors connect the southern end of the western wall of the Centre to the 1983 administrative block, with an open cloister running along the north side, connecting to the southern end of the eastern wall of the parish hall. The administrative block includes a kitchen, toilet facilities, the church office, the choir’s robe room and meeting rooms.

Parish Hall (1931)

The original section of the parish hall measures 52 feet (15.85 metres) by 30 feet (9.14 metres) and is built of that Art Deco favourite: reinforced concrete, with a roughcast finish. The roof has no eaves, rather a crenellated parapet, but unlike most Art Deco buildings it has a high gabled roof, perhaps to link it to the other ecclesiastical structures on site, with their tradition of drawing the eyes heavenwards. The front gable features a stepped five light window - squared off befitting an Art Deco building rather than the more traditional arched or pointed windows seen in the Church. The Parish Hall windows are of diamond shaped leadlights in steel frames with label moulding.

There is a string course around the top of the building. The symmetry is continued with centrally placed double doors topped by a blind arch with shields featuring the arms of the Diocese and St Andrew’s Cross on the spandrels. A pair of four paned windows flanks the doors. The west and east sides feature buttresses, with sets of six paned windows between.

Entering through the front doors leads into a small vestibule, with two small storage rooms either side (one now the archives store): originally the vestibule measured 28 feet (8.5 metres) by seven feet (2.1 metres). The main hall features an open ceiling exposing a cross between a king post roof and arched beam roof: the dark stained wooden beams are partially supported by curved and stepped braces connecting the wall to tie beams. Combined with a sarked ceiling, the effect nods at a long English tradition, appropriate to an Anglican ecclesiastical building. At the southern end is a stage, the proscenium arch surround is of fibrous plaster. The internal bungalow-style doors (single panel over two) are topped with Art Deco style door frames featuring a simple stepped motif. The original under floor heating grills are no longer in evidence in the polished wood floor.

The original supper room on the western side of the hall measured 29 feet (8.8 metres) by 13 feet (4 metres) and was renovated in 2000 to create a larger kitchen area and improved access to the toilets cum dressing rooms behind the stage. The lounge wing is entered through double doors from the supper room and also from the supper room vestibule at the northern end. The lounge has had little done to it since it was built in 1959. It features wood panelling and built in seating around most of the walls, with an open fireplace halfway along the western wall. The windows in the southern wall are diamond shaped leadlights possibly dating from the creation of the parish centre in 1983, providing continuity when viewed from the south. The other banks of windows in the lounge are more typical of the 1950s.


Gate posts of the current style are similar to those in the earliest photographs of the 1881 church, but they are shorter and of concrete. The Dr Stapley memorial seats flank the corner entry to the property.

The Lych Gate was designed in sympathy with the 1881 church, mirroring the gable brackets. It uses existing posts and matching brick to provide a link with the Dr Stapley memorial seat. The gate’s wooden shingles are a reminder of the church’s original roofing. Various memorial plaques are in the gardens between the seat and the gate.

On the north side of the Parish Centre is a flag pole. There are many established trees providing shelter, they add to the beauty of the setting and contribute to the sense of age. Some have symbolic meaning, such as the two Italian Cypress trees presented by the Hewett’s. The cypresses are west of the Lounge and are protected by the Waipa District Council. A camellia pilada planted about the time the church was established, presumably one of the plants supplied by Sharp, is on the eastern side of the centre. Beneath it is a memorial park bench; another memorial bench is under trees on the Hamilton Road edge of the property. A memorial sundial is also in this area, missing the brass dial.

Construction Dates

1902 -
Pulpit and lectern built

1913 -
Shingles replaced with corrugated iron on second church

1914 -
Second section of reredos completed; Hatchments installed

1916 -
Font cover installed

1917 -
Further extensions and alterations to the reredos; World War One Roll of Honour installed

1918 -
Organ’s mechanical blower installed

1919 -
First memorial windows dedicated to Willis’s

1923 -
Electric organ blower installed; World War One memorial window dedicated

1925 -
Electric chandeliers installed

1931 -
Parish hall opened by Bishop Cherrington; Altar commissioned

1946 -
World War Two memorial window dedicated

1950 -
Partial repiling of second church

1952 -
Repair of steeple; Weathervane replaced with cross

1953 -
World War Two memorial window dedicated

1956 -
Cypress trees planted

1959 -
Lounge wing added to parish hall

1961 -
Repiling of tower; Rebuilding and relocation of organ

1962 -
St Francis chapel built

1964 -
Repairs after fire in Chancel

1970 -
Cambridge Regimental Colours installed

1971 -
New internal entry doors from church porch fitted

1981 -
Spire resheathed in copper; Iron cross on top of spire replaced with brass; Organ rebuilt and reduced to two manual.

1982 -
Centre rotated 90 degrees

1983 -
New Parish Centre opened with renovated 1873 church building

1988 -
Sprinklers installed

1990 -
St Andrew’s Memorial Wall unveiled

1993 -
Flag pole installed

1995 -
Partial repiling and re-levelling of second church

1998 -
Memorial lych gate built

2000 -
Parish Hall kitchen and toilet areas remodelled

2003 -
Second church roof replaced with coloursteel; Spire ventilators altered.

Original Construction
1873 -
First Church opened

1878 -
Episcopal chair, font and lectern installed, camellia likely to have been planted.

1880 -
First Church moved to make way for new building

Original Construction
1881 -
Foundation stone laid, Church consecrated

1882 -
First peal of bells installed

1883 -
Centre lined

1884 -
Bells replaced

Steeple removed from first church

1899 -
George Croft Organ installed

1900 -
Reredos screen installed

1901 -
Partial repiling of second church

Construction Details

Timber, weatherboard, corrugated iron and copper roofing, reinforced concrete with roughcast finish.

Completion Date

20th October 2010

Report Written By

K Mercer, G Henry, L Pattison

Information Sources

Parker, 1986

S K Parker, Cambridge: An Illustrated History 1886-1986: The Centenary of Local Government in Cambridge, Cambridge 1986

Watson, 1981

W Watson, Sermons in Wood: Waikato Hauraki, 19th century wooden churches, Norton Watson, 1981

St Andrew’s Parish Office, 2000

The Bells of St Andrew’s Church, St Andrew’s Parish Office, Cambridge, circa 2000

Carter, 1964

Carter, Harry G., Cambridge Centenary 1864-1964: A Concise History of Cambridge and Surrounding Districts, Waikato Independent, Cambridge, 1964

Hanton, 1981

Hanton, Lilian M., St Andrew’s: Our Heritage, Hanton, 1981

St Andrew's Church, 1941

The Story of St Andrew’s Church, Cambridge: Diamond Jubilee Celebrations, St Andrew’s Church, Cambridge, 1941

Vennell, 1939

Vennell, C.W., Such Things Were: the Story of Cambridge, N.Z., AH and AW Reed, Dunedin, 1939

Vosper, 1996

Vosper, Margaret and George Marshall (comp.), Church at the Crossroads: 1871-1996, Parish of St Andrew, Cambridge, New Zealand, St Andrew’s Parish, Cambridge, 1996

Other Information

A fully referenced version of the review report is available from the NZHPT Lower Northern Area Office

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.