Te Henui Primitive Methodist Church
505 Devon Street East, Strandon, New Plymouth
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
1st September 1983
Extent of List Entry
Extent includes the land described as Pt Sec 91 Fitzroy District (DI TN4/332), Taranaki Land District and the building and structure known as Te Henui Primitive Methodist Church thereon.
New Plymouth District
Pt Sec 91 Fitzroy District (DI TN4/332), Taranaki Land District
Completed in 1907, Te Henui Primitive Methodist Church in the New Plymouth suburb of Fitzroy is a characteristic Gothic Revival-inspired timber church of the era. The site has considerable historic and spiritual significance for New Zealand’s Methodist community because Te Henui Primitive Methodist Church replaced the country’s first Primitive Methodist church building. This place has social, spiritual and commemorative importance for generations of its associated community, demonstrated through regular religious services and events, as well as fund-raising efforts and donations in support of maintaining, expanding and upgrading the facilities.
The site of Te Henui Primitive Methodist Church was said to be ‘a spot sacred to many’, because it was where the denomination’s first Southern Hemisphere church was constructed in 1844. Burials also took place in the churchyard from this period until the 1870s. The decaying original building was demolished at the turn of the twentieth century because repair was not feasible given the small congregation. Over the next several years a main focus of the resurgent community was to raise sufficient funds to construct a replacement building. The site’s legacy has been celebrated with anniversary services and publications, as well as in the church’s commemorative features. These include a centennial commemorative cross by the entrance and within the building there is stained glass and church furniture recognising the role of Reverend Robert Ward in establishing the Primitive Methodist church in New Zealand.
Te Henui Primitive Methodist Church’s foundation stone was laid in November 1906. The plans are said to have been prepared by FC Griffiths and the contractors were a local firm, Pikett and Wilkie. When Albert Arthur Pikett died in 1907, the year the church was completed, he was described as a respected builder and prominent public figure, having been a Borough Councillor and heavily involved in the Methodist community.
As constructed, the 1907 building included a gabled nave, two vestries and a front porch. In 1919 a Sunday School was added, which was further extended a few years later. Another change occurred in 1923 when notable New Plymouth architectural firm Messenger, Griffiths and Taylor designed a nave extension, aligning the building to the section’s front boundary. The original porch appears to have been subsequently relocated to the side of the building. A further concrete block extension was added in 1957. Te Henui Primitive Methodist Church is architecturally similar to several other examples entered on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero as Category 2 historic places, including: Assembly of God Church (Methodist Church) (List No. 4462); Church (Methodist) in Whirinaki (List No. 431); and Paparoa and Waima’s Methodist Church (List Nos. 3910 and 3883).
By the late twentieth century the local Methodist community was consolidating its facilities and selling Te Henui Primitive Methodist Church was proposed. However, this was contemporary with the establishment of a Samoan Methodist community group who opted to use the church as their place of worship.
Messenger, Griffiths & Taylor
No biography is currently available for this construction professional
Architech for the Te Henui Primitive Methodist Church, New Plymouth - 1907
Pikett and Wilkie
Builders for the Te Henui Primitive Methodist Church, New Plymouth - 1907
Churchyard burial ground in use
1906 - 1907
Additional building added to site
Sunday School addition
Sunday School extension
Reverend Robert Ward memorial cross constructed and pulpit, communion table and rail donated.
12th October 2017
Report Written By
Hodder, J E, The Methodist Church of New Zealand: Seventy-five years in Fitzroy, New Plymouth, Fitzroy Church Jubilee Committee, 1981.
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.