St Paul's Church (Anglican)

25 Ngakoti Street, Urenui

  • St Paul's Church.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: B Wagstaff. Date: 28/09/2010.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 817 Date Entered 1st September 1983


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Sec 51 Township of Urenui (CT TN129/184), Taranaki Land District and the building and structures known as St Paul’s Church (Anglican) thereon.

City/District Council

New Plymouth District


Taranaki Region

Legal description

Sec 51 Township of Urenui (CT TN129/184), Taranaki Land District


Constructed in 1888, St Paul’s Church is a modest timber church in Urenui, Taranaki. The building has architectural value as a characteristic late nineteenth century proponent of the Gothic Revival style of New Zealand church architecture and was designed by respected local architect Edward Wickham. As well as spiritual significance for generations of Anglican parishioners attending regular services and associated religious events, the church has local social significance as a longstanding focal point and commemorative location for that community.

Urenui township grew up in association with a military redoubt which was established in 1865. By the 1870s the settlement had a school, hotels, a store and local industries included brickmaking. The community had reached sufficient size by 1879 to justify an Anglican church in the town and a committee was formed. However, tenders for the church were only called for in 1888. Waitara contractor Caleb Cooper, assisted by Wickham and his sons, completed its construction by late November.

Wickham seems to have begun as a carpenter and was advertising his architectural services in Waitara by 1880. He later became the Waitara Harbour Board’s architect as well as designing Inglewood’s Wesleyan church and other local buildings. His professional ability is said to have been ‘well recognised and in demand’. Following on from helping to build St Paul’s Church, Wickham’s sons continued their family’s involvement in the local building industry by forming a construction company, Messrs Wickham Brothers, who went on to build other churches in the district.

Upon completion, St Paul’s Church was said to be ‘quite an improvement to our little township’. However, the church’s interior was only lined in 1900. The building has board and batten cladding and a cross and small belfry on opposite ends of the gable apex. Most of the church’s fixtures and features are the result of subsequent community fund-raising efforts or donations, some as memorials to parishioners. For example, the east wall’s St Paul stained glass was purchased from All Saints Church in Ponsonby in 1958 and the concrete boundary wall and churchyard oak tree were donated as memorials to members of the Carr family. In 1969 a vestry was created and utilities installed. The following year Reverend John Holland, the Bishop of Waikato, dedicated the timber lychgate.

St Paul’s Church is the oldest remaining church in what was the Parochial District of Waitara. In 2017 it continued to be noted as one of the Parininihi Archdeaconry’s rural churches and was the location for wider community events, such as Urenui Country Market.

The church is an example of the modest late nineteenth century timber Gothic Revival churches constructed around the country. Some comparable Category 2 historic places entered on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero include: Christ Church at Clifton and Kihikihi (List Nos. 2450 and 744); Motupiko’s St George’s Church (Anglican) (List No. 1655); Church (Presbyterian), Mangere (List No. 684); and Church (Methodist) at Omanaia (List No. 429).


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Edward Wickham

Architect and builder of St Paul’s Church (Anglican), Urenui.

Caleb Cooper

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Interior lining installed

- 1958
St Paul stained glass installed in east wall

- 1968
Vestry constructed and utilities installed

Additional building added to site
- 1970
Lychgate constructed

Completion Date

22nd September 2017

Report Written By

Karen Astwood

Information Sources

Alexander, 1976

Alexander, Ada, St John the Baptist, Waitara: Centenary 1876–1976, New Plymouth, Taranaki Newspapers, 1976.

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.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Central Region Office of Heritage New Zealand.