St John's Church (Presbyterian)

166-176 Willis Street, Wellington

  • St John's Church (Presbyterian). CC BY-SA 4.0. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Pear285. Taken By: Pear285 - Wikimedia Commons. Date: 11/01/2015.
  • St John's Church (Presbyterian), Wellington. Interior CC BY-SA 3.0. URL:
    Copyright: Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand . Taken By: Emily Tutaki.
  • St John's Church (Presbyterian), Wellington. Ref # PAColl-8215. Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.
    Copyright: Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Taken By: Wigglesworth and Binns.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 228 Date Entered 18th March 1982


City/District Council

Wellington City


Wellington Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 72762


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.

Dating from 11 December 1885 this fine large wooden church designed by Thomas Turnbull is in the Gothic style. It has a stately spire which enhances the visual emphasis of the church on its elevated corner site.

The interior is noteworthy for the large gallery which returns along both sides being supported on splendid columns. The very fine organ located behind the central pulpit becomes a focal point.

As a piece of townscape St John's Church can be visually related to St Peter's a few hundred metres along Willis Street. However, it stands on its own merits as an eccliastical building of considerable importance.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Turnbull, Thomas

Thomas Turnbull (1824-1907) was born and educated in Scotland and trained under David Bryce, Her Majesty's Architect. He travelled to Melbourne in 1851 and after nine years there moved to San Francisco. He arrived in New Zealand in 1871 and soon established a thriving business. His son William, a distinguished architect in his own right, became a partner in the firm in 1891.

Turnbull was a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects. He was a pioneer in the design of buildings to withstand earthquakes and he was responsible for breaking down prejudice against the use of permanent materials for building construction. He specialised in masonry construction for commercial purposes but was also responsible for some fine houses.

Among his most important buildings were the Willis Street churches of St Peter (1879) and St John (1885), the former National Mutual Building (1883-84), the General Assembly Library (1899) and the former Bank of New Zealand Head Office (1901), all in Wellington.

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1885 -

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.