Christ Church (Anglican)

1-3 Church Street, Baker Street And Robertson Street, Russell

  • Christ Church (Anglican). Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Bernard Spragg – volvob12b. Taken By: Bernard Spragg – volvob12b. Date: 18/06/2012.
  • Christ Church (Anglican). Interior.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Martin Jones. Date: 28/04/2002.
  • Chrust Church (Anglican). Russell showing Christ Church.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Unknown.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Registered List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1
List Number 1 Date Entered 24th November 1983


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Allot 3 TN OF Russell SEC 12 (CT NA750/99), North Auckland Land District. The extent includes Christ Church (Anglican), its fixtures fittings and finishes, and its Churchyard, including the grave monuments, markers and picket fence.

City/District Council

Far North District


Northland Region

Legal description

Allot 3 TN OF Russell SEC 12 (CT NA750/99), North Auckland Land District


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

Built in 1835, Christ Church is the oldest surviving church in New Zealand. However, alterations after 1871 transformed its appearance and its original simple and plain character was considerably lessened.

The church originally exhibited a highly ordered symmetrical façade. Rectangular in plan, without a proper chancel, it was clad in weatherboard with a hipped roof and Gothic arched windows. The church was built by Gilbert Mair, a former ship's carpenter, with money from public subscription.

During the battle in 1845 between British forces and the Maori rebels, Rawiti and Hone Heke, the church became the centre of fighting and received a number of bullet holes. It also came under the line of fire from the naval ship, HMS Hazard, and was splintered by musket balls. The churchyard contains the graves of men from the Hazard who died in the battle, in addition to the graves of Tamati Waka Nene and Hannah King.

In 1971 the hipped roof was replaced with a gabled roof form and the old box pews were used for panelling, arranged as wainscoting on the walls. The church was named 'Christ Church' by Bishop Cowie in 1873, in recognition that it was the oldest surviving church. A porch and buttresses were added later in the 1870s and a belfry was erected in 1890. The additions had the effect of Victorianising the church.

Still a simple and unpretentious building, Christ Church is significant for its history and its setting.


Additional informationopen/close

Notable Features

The brass crucifix on the reredos behind the altar has an engraved inscription ‘AMDG and in memory of HTAS who died in South Africa 11 January 1903 Aged 23 RIP’. Heather Lindauer identified HTAS as Henry Tapua Athelstane Stephenson, a member of the Stephenson family who had served in the South African War, but had remained there after the war and had died there. The crucifix and candlesticks were donated to Christ Church in his memory by his family. The church contains rolls of honour for both World War One and World War Two, as well as war memorial tablets for Clement Wood 1916 and John Rivers 1918. (Stuart Park, NZHPT Northland News, 4 December 2011).

Auckland Weekly News

Auckland Weekly News

March 29, 1873

Boese, 1977

Kay Boese, 'Tides of History: Bay of Islands County', Whangarei, 1977

Cairncross, 1994

Craig Cairncross, 'Conservation Study and Maintenance Plan: Christ Church, Russell', Wellington, 1994 (held by NZHPT, Auckland)

King, 1992

Marie King, A Most Noble Anchorage: A Story of Russell and the Bay of Islands, Kerikeri, 1992

King, 1967

Marie King, 'Christ Church, Kororareka, Russell, Bay of Islands, New Zealand', [Russell], 1967

Ross, 1967 (6)

R. M. Ross, 'Christ Church, Russell', unpublished ms., Auckland, 1967 (held by NZHPT, Auckland)

Porter, 1983 (2)

Frances Porter (ed.), Historic Buildings of New Zealand: North Island (2nd edn.), Auckland, 1983