Naseby Presbyterian Church

24 Oughter Street, Naseby

  • Naseby Presbyterian Church.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Heather Bauchop. Date: 15/11/2010.
  • Sunday School addition.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Heather Bauchop. Date: 15/11/2010.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2264 Date Entered 23rd June 2011

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 2 DP 6605 (CT OT356/35), Otago Land District and the building known as Naseby Presbyterian Church thereon, and its fittings and fixtures. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information).

City/District Council

Central Otago District

Region

Otago Region

Legal description

Lot 2 DP 6605 (CT OT356/35), Otago Land District

Summaryopen/close

The Naseby Presbyterian Church, perched on a hill above an old hydraulic sluicing face overlooking the small Maniototo settlement, was built in 1872 using earth construction, reflecting the lack of timber in what was then a treeless mining landscape.

Following on from the construction of a Union Church for the common use of Protestant denominations, the Naseby Presbyterian Church reflects the eagerness of the Presbyterians to have their own place of worship. By 1870 parishioners had approached the Clutha Presbytery for support and by October 1871 had raised sufficient funds to support a minister and to work towards building a church. In October 1871 the Rev. James McCosh-Smith was ordained and took up the position he would hold for the next thirty six years.

By January 1873 the foundation stone of the Church was laid, and the reportedly ‘sod’ building constructed around it reflecting the lack of timber in this exposed place. Timber was saved for the interior work. The carpentry work, including the joinery and furniture was completed by Mr John Alves of Dunedin for a contract price £397. The Presbyterian Church was opened on Sunday 22 June 1873. The Rev. Dr. Stuart travelled from Dunedin to preach the sermon. The Church was declared ‘in all respects suitable.’ A correspondent to the Tuapeka Times noted that this, along with the imminent construction of a building for the Church of England boosted the town, the most populous of the Maniototo area.

The Church has served its community since its opening and provided a community meeting place, a place of worship and a centre for religious education. The centenary of the Church was held in 2 January 1972, with a large article published in the Otago Daily Times recalling the history of the Church and its establishment in Hogburn.

The main body of the Church is rectangular in plan with a small timber addition on the south-west elevation. The Church is oriented in a north-west/south-east direction, with the main entrance on the south-east gable end. The Nave of the Church is reportedly built of sod, while the addition is timber. There is a hooded belfry on the peak of the gable above the main entrance. The Church is plainly detailed with the only decorative elements on exterior being the belfry and the notional porch in the shape of a gable over the entrance doors. The porch is only as deep as the brackets which support it. The date ‘1872’ is inscribed over the door. The double doors are tongue and groove timber with a plainly detailed semicircular fanlight. The timber Vestry addition (used as a Sunday School) projects at a ninety degree angle from the body of the Church. Matching the design of the windows in the Nave, the addition also has round headed windows. There is a Venetian window on the gable end.

Matching the austere exterior, the interior is also plainly detailed. The earth walls have been rendered and painted. There is a timber tongue and groove Dado and a similarly detailed screen across the rear of the Nave, forming an entrance vestibule. Entrance to the Nave from the porch is through double four-panelled doors. The floors are also timber. The timber ceiling and king post trusses with curved braces are all stained a dark brown. There are tie rods between the braces.

The Naseby Presbyterian Church represents the history of Presbyterianism in small rural Otago townships. The history of the Church in Naseby tells the story of the importance of Christianity during the early years of European settlement. The building represents the efforts of the Presbyterian community, who were active in their faith from the mid 1860s. More than fulfilling the religious needs of the local community, the Church also represents the religious requirements of Presbyterian immigrants drawn by the gold rush.

In 2010 the Naseby Presbyterian Church forms part of the Maniototo Presbyterian Parish, a group who meet usually at the Ranfurly Church. A monthly all age Sunday School programme is held at the Naseby Church. The Naseby Presbyterian Church is also the centre of services for special events including services on Good Friday and Christmas Eve.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The Church has historical significance, representing the close to 140 year history of Presbyterian worship in the small Central Otago settlement. The building, built in 1872, illustrates the community putting down roots in the aftermath of the gold rushes and the establishment of a Presbyterian identity. The Church is also a physical representation of the importance of religion to the Presbyterian community in Naseby, and recalls the spiritual importance of the Church building in worship.

Architectural Significance:

The Naseby Presbyterian Church has architectural significance as one of the larger buildings in the small settlement. Built using earth construction, reportedly sod, the Church is significant in its use of a vernacular material reflecting the lack of available timber in the treeless Maniototo of the 1870s. The timber ceilings and bracing also have significance.

Spiritual Significance or Value:

The Naseby Presbyterian Church has spiritual significance as the place of worship for Presbyterians for over 138 years.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:

The Naseby Presbyterian Church represents the history of Presbyterianism in small rural Otago townships. The history of the Church in Naseby tells the story of the importance of Christianity during the early years of European settlement. The building represents the efforts of the Presbyterian community, who were active in their faith from the mid 1860s. More than fulfilling the religious needs of the local community, the Church also represents the religious requirements of Presbyterian immigrants drawn by the gold rush.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history:

The Naseby Presbyterian Church is associated with many individuals who were significant to the small town, in particular Rev. James McCosh Smith whose long ministry was central to the life of Presbyterians in Naseby. Another notable individual was Hugh Wilson whose over fifty year service to the Church and also long administrative role as Naseby Town Clerk was also a significant person in the history of the town.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the plac:

The Naseby Presbyterian Church has been the centre for Presbyterian worship for close to 140 years showing the significance of the Church to the Naseby community. The Church continues to host services for Christmas and Easter, showing its ongoing role.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape:

The Naseby Presbyterian Church built on its prominent site is a significant element in the historical townscape of Naseby. Naseby is notable for its historic townscape (recognised by the Naseby Historic Area), which includes much of the historic town centre. The Church sits overlooking the town and makes an importance contribution to the town’s wider historic landscape.

Summary of Significance or Values

This place was assessed against, and found it to qualify under the following criteria: a, b, e, and k.

Conclusion

It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category II historic place.

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Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Maori History:

Maori had settlements in Central Otago, associated with early occupation. Six were known on Lake Hawea (Te Taweha o Hawea, Mahaea, O tu Purupuru, Turihuka, Te Taumanu o Taki and Pakituhi) and one near Cromwell (Wairere). The moa-rich area was known for camps where moa were butchered and cooked (for example there were large sites in the Hawksburn and Happy Valley areas, as well as the Nevis Valley), and there were quarries used for stone tools in the region of Tiger Hills and Mount Benger. Closer to Naseby, the swampy plains in the Maniototo provided eels and other food resources. There are no recorded Maori archaeological sites in Naseby.

Naseby and the Gold Rushes:

The history of gold mining in Central Otago began with Gabriel Read’s discovery of gold in Gabriel’s Gully, near present-day Lawrence, in 1861. Gold was quickly discovered in other parts of the region, including places such as Hogburn (renamed Naseby in 1874).

There were an estimated 78 goldfields in Central Otago, boom towns sprung up to service the gold diggings, and disappeared just as quickly as the gold returns for the itinerant miners. Little remains of these places. Historian John Angus writes ‘[w]hen the miners decamped so too did the commercial section of many of the early towns. This pattern was repeated many times, often at remote locations in Central Otago. But some settlements remained, undergoing a sort of metamorphosis to become service centres for the subsequent stages of more stable mining.’

Towns developed haphazardly. John Angus writes that gold mining towns were often an ‘incongruous jumble of handsome stone hotels and public buildings, ornate shop facades often masking bare corrugated iron sides, and ramshackle tin sheds.’ Naseby was typical of impermanent impromptu development.

This haphazard development was particularly true for Hogburn. The site of the Mt Ida goldfields and the associated township was originally part of a depasturing license, Run 204, called the Sowburn. After the discovery of gold the Otago Provincial Council cancelled the license and proclaimed the Mt. Ida Goldfield. While the original canvas town was set up in the Hogburn Gully, when the official town of Naseby was surveyed it was situated at the mouth of the gully, about a kilometre from the original location. The nascent town was built largely of iron and canvas structures. The suggestion of a new location resulted in angry outbursts and a memorial signed by 350 miners and business people protesting the injustice of such a decision. Businessmen protested that their ability to carry on their trade was dependent on being located near the customers, and there were 150 storekeepers in the existing township, and only 40 allotments surveyed in for businesses in the new survey, let alone that the ground under the new town had not been worked and was likely to be auriferous. Despite objections the town was established in the new location.

The town of Naseby grew steadily with the fortunes of its gold miner population during the 1860s and 1870s. Even in these early years Naseby was seen as the quintessential goldfields town. A correspondent for the Timaru Herald wrote in 1874 that it was ‘one of best specimens, I should say, of a goldfield town; on all sides, in the streets themselves, round the very church which is perched up on a bit of ground only just preserved sacred from the pick and shovel, there are signs of the destructive miner. Acres of land turned over in all directions and the muddy waters of tailraces running down the main thoroughfares, present altogether a curious picture, not the less odd by the funny collection of the small sheet iron shanties which for the most part make up Naseby.’ There were eighteen public houses at this time.

The Presbyterian Church in Naseby:

Soon after the rush to the Hogburn in 1863 Rev. John Christie, settled at Waikouaiti, found himself in charge of the wide district which included the new goldfield. Christie in his first summer in the parish explored the interior districts and preached to as many mining centres and pastoral stations as he could.

The first Church in Naseby was a Union Church, a practice common in the goldfields districts where protestant denominations banded together to build a place of worship which all could use. After meeting at the Victoria Hotel in August 1865 the twenty two attendees passed a motion that ‘steps be taken immediately to erect a Union Church.’ The Church was to seat 150 people of the various Protestant denominations and to provide a venue where any visiting ministers could preach. The Union Church was used until November 1872 when the trustees of the Church resolved that the building should serve the community as an Athenaeum.

The Naseby Presbyterians were keen to build their own Church where they could hear a minister of their denomination preach, and as early as September 1870 pleaded before the Clutha Presbytery for a regular charge in the Mount Ida and St Bathans districts. Rev. James Chisholm recalled fifty years later the need for a settled minister: ‘The Divine barrier against secularism, the Sabbath day, had been broken down. The tide of business and pleasure flowed on with hardly any pause.’ He considered that lack of ‘ennobling influences’ led people in these frontier mining districts to become ‘mere human moles burrowing in darkness among the perishable things of earth.’

The Church Extension Committee in Dunedin sent Rev. G. Sutherland up to Hogburn to pave the way for a new Church. Presbyterian residents presented the Dunedin Presbytery with a list of subscriptions to the Sustentation Fund and a promise of £200 per annum, along with a letter from James McCosh Smith stating his willingness to accept the call from Naseby. The Trial Discourses in Naseby were successful and Rev. James McCosh Smith was ordained at the Masonic Hall at the beginning of October 1871. The need for a church became urgent and fund raising began for money to build a suitable church and manse.

Hugh Wilson, a founding member of the congregation, recalled introducing Mr and Mrs Smith to their temporary residence: ‘It was an elegant sod hut built in the ‘mudieval’ style of architecture, with a commodious drawing-room of the large dimensions of about eight feet square. Mr. Smith did not at all grumble at the accommodation provided for him in that sod hut. He seemed rather to enjoy the change.’

In December 1871 the trustees of the Presbyterian Church applied to the Waste Land Board for a section on which to build a church. The Board resolved that the trustees could purchase a site in Naseby at a rate of £12 an acre and the survey would be at their own expense. Mining was still going on around the site of the Church as a photograph showing the building perched above a sluicing face with hoses at work indicates.

In February 1872 the secretary of the Building Committee advertised for tenders for the erection of a ‘Presbyterian Manse Building’ at Naseby. Plans and specifications were available from the office of W. and G. Scoular in Dunedin.

By January 1873 the foundation stone of the Church was laid. A correspondent to the Tuapeka Times noted that this, along with the imminent construction of a building for the Church of England boosted the town, the most populous of the Maniototo area. Within a month the Bruce Herald joined the clamour reporting that the church was ‘fast approaching completion’, situated on a ‘well selected and commanding site adjoining the manse.’ At the beginning of February 1873 tenders were called for the carpentry work at the church.

The carpentry work, including the joinery and furniture was completed by Mr John Alves of Dunedin for a contract price £397. A John Alves, described first as a contractor and later as an engineer was working in Dunedin until the mid 1880s when he shifted to Victoria, Australia. He died in London in 1910. Alves had other projects with the Presbyterian Church, including for a church in Timaru. He worked alongside architects David Ross and Robert Arthur Lawson on other buildings, as well as dabbling in engineering matters, patenting several inventions, though his financial path was far from straight.

The Presbyterian Church was opened on Sunday 22 June 1873. The Rev. Dr. Stuart travelled from Dunedin to preach the sermon. Though the day was, as the Otago Witness reported, ‘most unfavourable - snowing at intervals, and the roads sloppy - the congregation was very good.’ The church was full at the evening service. The Church was declared ‘in all respects suitable.’

Minister Rev. James McCosh Smith congratulated the congregation on the completion of their ‘ecclesiastical fabric’ and the efforts of the congregation in fulfilling the project in such a peaceful and harmonious manner. The entire debt to the parish for the construction of the church and the manse was only £350, which the treasurer, Mr Glen, was sure would be cleared within the next two or three years. The congregation then planned to plant the grounds of the church and manse with trees from the government nursery. The floor of the church is raked to prevent dancing.

The work of Rev. McCosh Smith covered a large area of the Maniototo. An 1880 management report indicates that McCosh Smith’s stations included Cambrians, St Bathans on the west of the Maniototo Plain, but also Eweburn, Kyeburn Hundred, Kyeburn Diggings and Mount Burster, holding eight or ten different services in different places each month. Sunday Schools also operated at Kyeburn Diggins, Eweburn and Cambrians as well as Naseby itself.

In 1907 Rev. McCosh Smith and his wife retired after thirty six years of service to the Naseby Presbyterian community. The Naseby Church was full of congregational representatives of the many churches under his charge, as well as representatives of the Dunstan Presbytery. The congregation presented him with a framed illuminated address and the Sunday School teachers presented his wife with a silver toast rack and a jelly dish on a silver mounted stand for all her years of supporting their work.

Hugh Wilson (1823-1925) was another prominent churchman, whose dedication to the Church is memorialised by a plaque. He was one of the founders, for many years secretary and treasurer for the church committee, and an elder for fifty years. He also played an important role in Naseby itself, having been the town clerk. Alexander Don describes Wilson as the ‘keystone of the arch in Naseby in both Church and in civic affairs.’

During the ministry of Rev. R.S. Heenan alterations were made to the interior layout of the church. The single door entrance at either end of the porchway with narrow isle down each side of the church was replaced by double entry doors. The larged arched recess was originally a window. Above which hung a brass pole with crimson curtains, the carved pulpit was placed below the window, with three steps from either side. The original long pews have been halved. The panelling was added, the pulpit removed, and the front platform constructed. The alterations allowed a wide centre isle more suitable for weddings and funerals. The vestry was also panelled at this time. The window behind the Altar area was closed in and the Cross added before the 1963 Naseby centennial. The church was heated by two pot bellied stoves, with the indentation in the wall where one chimney went out high up on the front left hand wall, and the second exit point through the rounded top section of the front window, evidenced by the tin sheet still in place there.

The landscape of Central Otago was changing by the early decades of the twentieth century. The Central Otago Railway had bypassed Naseby, as had State Highway 8, both routed through nearby Ranfurly. As Naseby’s importance declined, the population dwindled and services were relocated.’ Historian Janet Cowan writes that there was ‘something peculiarly sad about the way an upstart, unattractive town can draw the blood from a romantic gold-mining centre whose whole life has been nourished by enterprise, loyalty and pride of miners and early settlers.’ Written in 1948 this comment illustrates the local rivalries, and also foreshadows the future identity of Naseby as ‘2000 ft above worry level’, a romantic sleepy backwater, something that it has built its reputation on in the harried twenty first century.

The centenary of the Church was held in January 1872, with a large article published in the Otago Daily Times recalling the history of the Church and its establishment in Hogburn.

In 2010 the Naseby Presbyterian Church forms part of the Maniototo Presbyterian Parish, a group who meet usually at the Ranfurly Church. A monthly all age Sunday School programme is held at the Naseby Church. The Naseby Presbyterian Church is also the centre of services for special events including services on Good Friday and Christmas Eve.

Physical Description

Setting:

The Naseby Presbyterian Church is located on a hill on Oughter Street overlooking Derwent Street, the main thoroughfare into Naseby from the nearby town of Ranfurly. The Church sits above the road, adding to its commanding position. The surrounding buildings are small houses with mature gardens set against the backdrop of Naseby Forest and the Hawkdun Ranges.

Exterior:

The main body of the Church is rectangular in plan with a small timber addition on the south-west elevation. The Church is oriented in a north-west/south-east direction, with the main entrance on the south-east gable end. The Nave of the Church is reportedly built of sod, while the addition is timber. Both have corrugated iron roofs. There is a hooded belfry on the peak of the gable above the main entrance. The walls have been roughcast. There are three round-headed windows evenly spaced along the Nave. Each is divided into four lights with plain glass.

The Church is plainly detailed with the only decorative elements on exterior being the belfry and the notional porch in the shape of a gable over the entrance doors. The porch is only as deep as the brackets which support it. The date ‘1872’ is inscribed on a plaque over the door. The double doors are tongue and groove timber with a plainly detailed semicircular fanlight.

The timber Sunday School addition projects at a ninety degree angle from the body of the Church. Matching the design of the windows in the Nave, the addition also has round headed windows. There is a Venetian window on the gable end.

Interior:

Matching the austere exterior, the interior is also plainly detailed. The earth walls have been rendered and painted. There is a timber tongue and groove Dado and a similarly detailed screen across the rear of the Nave, forming an entrance vestibule. Entrance to the Nave from the porch is through double four-panelled doors. The floors are also timber.

The timber ceiling and king post trusses with curved braces are all stained a dark brown. There are tie rods between the braces.

The panelling around the altar is varnished ply. Behind the altar a large arched recess with a plain crucifix matches the round windows on the rest of the building. The original pews are in place. There is a memorial plaque to James McCosh Smith mounted on the wall, recalling his ‘long and faithful services.’

The Sunday School has ply panelling to Dado height with painted tongue and groove timber above. The ceiling is also lined with boards and has an ornamental architrave. The door to the Sunday School is also ply.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1872 -

Addition
-
Addition of Vestry

Modification
1948 - 1954
Panelling of church and vestry, removal of pulpit, construction of stage, reconfiguration of interior layout

Construction Details

‘Cob’, timber, corrugated iron

Completion Date

5th April 2011

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Information Sources

Cowan, 1948

Janet. C. Cowan, Down the Years in the Maniototo: A Survey of the Early History of Maniototo County and Naseby Borough, Otago Centennial Historical Publications, Whitcombe and Tombs, Dunedin, 1948

Don, 1936

A. Don, Memories of the Golden Road. Reed, Dunedin, 1936

Chisholm, 1898

James Chisholm, Fifty Years Syne: A Jubilee Memorial of the Presbyterian Church of Otago, J. Wilkie and Co., Dunedin, 1898

Other Information

A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Otago/Southland Area 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.