St Josephs Catholic Church

26-28 Wilkin Street, Temuka

  • St Josephs Catholic Church.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Melanie Lovell-Smith.
  • St Josephs Catholic Church. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Francis Vallance. Taken By: Francis Vallance.
  • St Josephs Catholic Church. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Google Maps 2013.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2033 Date Entered 2nd April 2004


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 1 DP 51041 (CT CB46A/102), Canterbury Land District, and the building known as St Josephs Catholic Church thereon, and its fixtures and fittings.

City/District Council

Timaru District


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 51041 (CT CB46A/102), Canterbury Land District


The Roman Catholic parish of Temuka was founded in 1876, with Marist Brother Father Louis Fauvel appointed parish priest. A native of Normandy, Fauvel came initially to assist in the Timaru parish after a decade spent as a missionary in Fiji. He was to serve the Temuka parish for 28 years; and this Marist connection was maintained until 1957.

A small wooden church seating 150 was erected in 1876, but by 1879 proved too small. Fr. Fauvel designed a new larger building reputedly based on his parish church in Constances, France, where he had attended seminary. St. Josephs was constructed during 1879-82 of donated limestone from the Upper Waitohi district, some 14 miles away. The 60 ft tower contains a peel of bells cast in New York, which were installed in 1881 and apparently last rung in 1960. One is dedicated to Fr. Fauvel, and the other to Bishop Redwood. The tower also contains a four-faced clock, manufactured by famous clockmakers Dent and Co. of London in 1881.

The chief glory of St. Joseph's is its set of 31 stained glass lancets, containing full figural representations of selected saints in the paired widows down each side of the nave. These were donated by parishners. The windows were designed and produced by George-Nicholas Dufêtre of Grigny, France, in circa 1881. George-Nicholas Dufêtre (1841-?) founded his first studio in Lyons in 1866. In 1871 he moved to Grigny, Rhône. In about 1885, he returned to Lyon and set up studio again. He ceased work in 1897. The French origins of Fr. Fauvel, and many other of the Roman Catholic clergy in Canterbury at this time may have influenced the choice of this studio.

Following Vatican II in the 1960s, changes were made to the church to accommodate the new liturgy. Most of these were internal; with the altar, sanctuary, and confessionals repositioned. Following the demolition of the sacristy, however, a new stone sacristy was built outside at the rear of the church.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

St Josephs, Temuka, has historical,spiritual and social value as the centre for Catholic worship in Temuka for 120 years.

It is also important architecturally, because of the connection between the church's plan, design and decorative elements, and the French clergy who used to serve the area.

(a) because the significance of the church for the Temuka Catholic community and the manner in which it commemorates the French connection in nineteenth century New Zealand Catholicism reflects an aspect of New Zealand history.

(e) The church is held in high esteem by its parishioners and the wider Temuka community because of its history and its prominent position within the town.

(g) The quality of its collection of French stained glass adds technical values.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Fauvel, Louis

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

St Joseph's is a commodious but simple stone Neo-Gothic church capable of seating 600. It is a simple rectangular structure topped by a pitched roof with decorative pinnacles defining each corner. Buttresses range along each side supporting the barrel vaulted nave. Externally there is no definition of the chancel. The 60 foot entrance tower is topped with four corner pinnacles, and contains a peel of bells and a clock with four faces. The tower is topped with a lofty, tapering spire that dominates the skyline of the town.

Internally, the austere plastered semi-barrel vaulted nave is relieved by its windows, which consist of 31 paired figural lancets and a floral grisaille quatrefoil. The west end contains an organ loft accessed by an iron spiral stair.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1879 - 1882

Construction Details

Stone with an iron roof.

Completion Date

7th September 2004

Report Written By

Pam Wilson

Information Sources

Anon, 1976

Reaching Out: St Joseph's Parish, Temuka, 1876-1976 (1976)

Ciaran, 1991

F. Ciaran, Stained Glass Windows of Canterbury, New Zealand University of Otago Press, 1991.

pp 58, 176-7, 196

Wilson, 1991 (2)

J. Wilson, South Canterbury historical guide : including the towns of Timaru, Temuka, Geraldine, Pleasant Point, Fairlie and Waimate, their surrounding country districts, and the Mackenzie Country, Timaru, 1991.

p 20

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

BCC Notes 21/7/74

Other Information

A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Southern Region Office.

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.