St Matthew's Church (Anglican)

28 Hope Street And Stafford Street, Dunedin

  • St Matthew's Church (Anglican).
    Copyright: Advertising & Art. Taken By: Stewart Robertson.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2212 Date Entered 27th July 1988


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Pt Sec 20 and Sec 21 Blk VI Town of Dunedin (CT 456195), Otago Land District, and the building known as the St Matthew's Church (Anglican) thereon, and its fittings and fixtures.

City/District Council

Dunedin City


Otago Region

Legal description

Pt Sec 20 and Sec 21 Blk VI Town of Dunedin (CT 456195), Otago Land District

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

By 1872 the population of the southern part of the city and towards Mornington had increased to a point where there were sufficient numbers to support a church to the south of St Pauls. Bishop Nevill convened a meeting on Christmas Eve 1872 at which it was decided to build a new church near the Market Reserve. Bishop Nevill chose a site higher up the hill on Stafford Street and the foundation stone was laid with full masonic honours 11 July 1873. The contractor, James Gore, built scaffolding to accommodate the spectators and a plan of the church was drawn in sand. The church debt was not paid off until 1901 and it was not consecrated until 1924. Around 1905 there was agitation to have the church declared the Cathedral since old St Pauls had lost its spire and looked insignificant by comparison. St Matthews was at the time the largest and noblest Anglican church in the city. The parish declined the suggestion and eventually the present St Pauls was built.

Architectural Significance:

This is one of the most successful of Mason's ecclesiastical commissions, built just prior to retirement. It accords closely with accepted practice in England and the United States at the time, following reaction against French and Italian models. Mason subscribed to the journal 'Building News' where he would have seen drawings of English designs for such parish churches.

Townscape/Landmark Significance:

The church has become hemmed in by buildings such as the four storied Sew Hoy building next door, and so is less prominent that it was. It still remains an important building in the increasingly commercial area between Stafford and High Street.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Mason, William

Mason had been in New Zealand for 20 years when he first set up as an architect in the gold mining boom town of Dunedin in 1862. He had been an official under Governor Hobson and was a respected Member of Parliament. He designed the old Post Office building which became the Exchange Building, the former Bank of New Zealand and the Bank of New South Wales - all now demolished. He also designed the 1864 Exhibition building which became part of the Dunedin Hospital. Mason had retired briefly in the late 1860s but returned to work with Wales (1871-1874) and during this time designed Bishopscourt and the extension to All Saints. He then retired to live at Glenorchy.

In 1863 William Mason took W H Clayton into partnership and formed Mason and Clayton. Buildings designed by Mason and Clayton (while Clayton was in Dunedin) included All Saints Church, Edinburgh House, the Bank of New South Wales on Princess Street and the old Provincial Chambers. Of these only All Saints Church remains.

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

Architectural Description (Style):

This adapted Gothic church is rather sombre in appearance because of the dark colours of the stone. Brown breccia was used where other buildings used white Oamaru stone but the rough finish of the breccia shows off its qualities much more effectively than in sawn blocks. The great end gables and the spire are simply finished and not lavished with extra pinnacles, though the plan is more elaborate than two previous Anglican churches of All Saints and old St Pauls. The tower is neatly buttressed and the spire rises smoothly with only dormer gables and no extra pinnacles or decorations.


The church was built in its entirety at once. The only addition to the structure is a small brick Sunday School room added right out of sight on the north east corner. Interior modifications have been minor, consisting of such things as the addition of oak chairs and reading desks, an oak table and the screens separating the transepts from the nave. The altar has been brought forward to accord with modern thinking of worship.

Notable Features

Its well proportioned gables and spire and its unmodified nature.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1874 -

Construction Details

The walls are dark Leith Valley andesite with the corner quoins and door and window frames in a light brown, rough finished Port Chalmers breccia. The roof is slate. There are label moulds of Oamaru stone over doors and windows. The church is cruciform in plan with a well proportioned spire and tower at the south-west corner of the nave over the main entrance porch. Internally the nave has octagonal columns rising to pointed arches, a timber roof with simply decorated braces, single lancet windows on the aisles and triple lancets, the middle one taller than its neighbours, lighting the end of each transept and the west end. The clerestory above the aisles is lit by quatrefoil windows in circular openings. The interior woodwork is Kauri and Rimu.

Information Sources

Porter, 1983

Frances Porter (ed), Historic Buildings of Dunedin, South Island, Methuen, Auckland, 1983.

Other Information

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

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.