St Peter's Church (Anglican)

10 Rue Balguerie, Akaroa

  • St Peter's Church.
    Copyright: Akaroa Civic Trust.
  • St Peter's Church.
    Copyright: Suky Thompson.
  • St Peter's Church.
    Copyright: Suky Thompson.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 267 Date Entered 28th June 1984


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Pt RS 200 (CTs CB400/25, 400/284), Canterbury Land District and the building known as St Peter's Church (Anglican) thereon.

City/District Council

Christchurch City


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Pt RS 200 (CTs CB400/25, CB400/284), Canterbury Land District


This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. The following text is amended from the original citation considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Built in 1863 and consecrated the following year St Peter's church replaced the 1852 building situated in Church Street.

The original St Peter's was designed by Samuel Charles Farr, one of Canterbury's most industrious pioneer architects. John Watson, a magistrate, donated land off Rue Balguerie for a replacement church when the original became too small for the congregation.

The architectural records for this second church were burnt. [It is possible that A G Purchas, was the architect but this has not been verified]. In 1877 it was enlarged by the addition of transepts and an extended sanctuary designed by [Benjamin W Mountfort. The builder for that extension was Mr Penlington].

St Peter's is an elegant design with vertical timbering and high Gothic windows. It is well sited in a slightly elevated position where the finely-proportioned tower creates a focal point in that part of the township.

The interior has a fine gallery at the West end. The church possesses a chalice and paten believed to have been used on one of the first four ships, and a pipe organ dating from 1869.

St Peter's has historic significance and is greatly admired for its architectural qualities.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Mountfort, Benjamin Woolfield

Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort (1825-98) trained as an architect in England, in the office of Richard Cromwell Carpenter, a member of the Cambridge Camden Society (later the Ecclesiological Society). He arrived in Canterbury in 1850.

Mountfort was New Zealand's pre-eminent Gothic Revival architect and, according to architectural historian Ian Lochhead, 'did most to shape the architectural character of nineteenth-century Christchurch.' The buildings he designed were almost exclusively in the Gothic Revival style.

During his career he designed many churches and additions to churches; those still standing include the Trinity Congregational Church in Christchurch (1874), St Mary's Church in Parnell, Auckland and the Church of the Good Shepherd in Phillipstown, Christchurch (1884). In 1857 he became the first architect to the province of Canterbury. He designed the Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings in three stages from 1858 to 1865. The stone chamber of this building can be considered the greatest accomplishment of his career. He was involved in many important commissions from the 1870s, including the Canterbury Museum (1869-82) and the Clock-tower Block on the Canterbury College campus (1876-77). He was also involved in the construction of Christchurch's Cathedral and made several major modifications to the original design.

Mountfort introduced a number of High Victorian elements to New Zealand architecture, such as the use of constructional polychromy, probably first used in New Zealand in the stone tower of the Canterbury Provincial Government Buildings (1859). Overall, his oeuvre reveals a consistent and virtually unerring application of Puginian principles including a commitment to the Gothic style, honest use of materials and picturesque utility. The result was the construction of inventive and impressive buildings of outstanding quality. He died in Christchurch in 1898. A belfry at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Phillipstown, the church he attended for the last ten years of his life, was erected in his honour.

Purchas, Arthur Guyon

The Rev. Dr Arthur Guyon Purchas (1821-1906), who was born in England, settled permanently in Auckland in 1846. Although his father was an architect, Purchas himself had no formal training in architecture, having graduated in medicine. Nevertheless, he left an indelible mark on the early ecclesiastical building of New Zealand. Bishop Selwyn, Purchas and another clerical architect, Frederick Thatcher, devised the style of building known as the 'Selwyn Churches' and created the distinctive chapels which are renowned for their architectural quality as well as for their historical association. While the Ecclesiologists in England imposed their standards on the design of the parish church, it was Selwyn, Purchas and Thatcher who transplanted their ideas in New Zealand.

Purchas gained building experience with Selwyn's architects at St Johns College, and in particular, with the temporary chapel at St Andrews, Epsom in 1846. He designed the original church for St Peter's at Onehunga 1847-48 and was also responsible for enlarging the nave and moving the tower. The design of the stone church of St James at Mangere (1857) has been attributed to Purchas and it is also possible that he was the architect of Holy Trinity Church, Otahuhu. Later in his life he designed a block of shops erected in Karangahape Road.

Purchas' interest and talents also extended to music. He also invented a surgical instrument and the first machine for the preparation of New Zealand flax.

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Transept addition

Original Construction
1863 -

Other Information

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.