St Augustine's Church (Anglican)

12 Britannia Street, Petone, Lower Hutt

  • St Augustine's Church (Anglican).
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Geoff Mew, Wellington Branch Committee of the NZ Historic Places Trust. Date: 16/01/2002.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1323 Date Entered 23rd June 1983


City/District Council

Hutt City


Wellington Region

Legal description

Lot 2 DP 383386 (CT 332789), Wellington Land District


The Anglican church of St Augustine's is one of Wellington's finest timber churches. The town of Petone was initially part of the Lower Hutt Parish of St James. Records dating to 1876 record that Anglican services and Sunday school classes were held in Petone at a builder's workshop belonging to W. J. Riddler. George Ashcroft, a lay preacher and manager of the workshop, conducted the services. In 1881 a hall was built in Victoria Street to provide accomodation for services and a Sunday school. Following Petone's constitution as a parochial district in October 1895, the parishioners began fundraising for a permanent church. The church was designed by Frederick de Jersey Clere (1856-1952) while in partnership with John Swan (1874-1936). At the time Clere was also the Diocesan architect for the Anglican Church. The land was acquired in Britannia Street and the Governor, the Earl of Ranfurly, laid the foundation stone on 12 July 1902. The church was dedicated in the following year, but it was not consecrated until 1921.

St Augustine's was designed in a Gothic style and is a well-resolved and striking design. Its dominate feature is the central tower, which once formed the base for a spire. When built St Augustine's had the tallest spire in New Zealand, the result of a donation by parishioner Thomas Price. (Price, an owner of a large mill in the Wairarapa and timber yards in Petone, also donated the timber for the church at cost.) The spire was a landmark in the Petone landscape, but it had to be removed in 1954, after being damaged in a storm. Apart from the removal of the spire, the only major alteration to the church was the addition of a Lady Chapel in 1936.

St Augustine's is historically significant as the first church of the Anglican parish of Petone, and has served that community for nearly 100 years. It is associated with the partnership of two notable Wellington architects, Frederick de Jersey Clere and John Swan. Architecturally it is a fine example of a relatively simple Gothic style church. The interior in particular is a very fine space, highlighted by the unpainted timber panelling and joinery. The square is a dominant local landmark, even without its spire.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Clere, Frederick De Jersey

Clere (1856-1952) was born in Lancashire, the son of an Anglican clergyman, and was articled to Edmund Scott, an ecclesiastical architect of Brighton. He then became chief assistant to R J Withers, a London architect. Clere came to New Zealand in 1877, practising first in Feilding and then in Wanganui. He later came to Wellington and practised there for 58 years.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1886 and held office for 50 years as one of four honorary secretaries in the Empire. In 1883 he was appointed Diocesan Architect of the Anglican Church; he designed more than 100 churches while he held this position. Clere was a pioneer in reinforced concrete construction; the outstanding example of his work with this material is the Church of St Mary of the Angels (1922), Wellington.

As well as being pre-eminent in church design, Clere was responsible for many domestic and commercial buildings including Wellington's Harbour Board Offices and Bond Store (1891) and Overton in Marton. Clere was also involved in the design of large woolsheds in Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa.

He was active in the formation of the New Zealand Institute of Architects and served on their council for many years. He was a member of the Wellington City Council until 1895, and from 1900 a member of the Wellington Diocesan Synod and the General Synod. He was also a member of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts.

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1902 - 1903

1936 -
Lady Chapel built

1954 -
Spire removed

Completion Date

4th February 2002

Report Written By

Helen McCracken

Information Sources

Bowman, 1996

Ian Bowman, 'St Augustine's Petone, Lower Hutt. A plan for its conservation', February 1996, Held at NZHPT, Wellington.

Butterworth, 1988

Susan Butterworth, 'Petone, A history', Auckland, 1988

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.