Methodist Church (Former)

1104 State Highway 1 (Levin-Manakau), Manakau

  • Methodist Church (Former). From:
    Copyright: Rachel Hamilton-Williams. Taken By: Rachel Hamilton-Williams. Date: 4/06/2007.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4051 Date Entered 5th September 1985


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Pt Lot 15 DP 415 (CT WN88/206), Wellington Land District, and the building known as Methodist Church (Former) thereon. Extent does not include the other buildings on the land parcel.

City/District Council

Horowhenua District


Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region

Legal description

Pt Lot 15 DP 415 (CT WN88/206), Wellington Land District


The former Methodist Church at Manakau was constructed in 1918 as a replacement for a timber church lost in what was probably an act of arson. The manner of loss and associated anxiety resulted in the use of reinforced concrete for the rebuilding. The church is of architectural and technological significance as an interesting example of early-twentieth-century concrete construction, and historical value as a former centre of worship for the local Methodist community.

On 12 March 1918, a fire destroyed the ‘substantial’ and ‘commodious’ Methodist church at Manakau. The fire was believed to be arson and one of a series around the time seemingly targeting Methodists. Within a month of the fire, the congregation had plans for a new church and ‘hoped to commence re-building without delay.’ The congregation unsurprisingly planned to rebuild largely in concrete.

Though not fully finished, the new building was complete enough for a service in mid-December 1918 and the church held a social to celebrate the official opening on 8 January 1919. Only ten months after the fire, the Methodists of Manakau dedicated a ‘splendid edifice’ constructed principally of hollow, rock-faced concrete blocks. In 1899, American Harmon S Palmer patented a machine that moulded concrete blocks with interior voids to both lightened the blocks and as a means of promoting air circulation and lessening dampness. Two years later, he received a second patent for a construction system for block walls and his technology soon spread throughout the world, arriving in New Zealand by 1904.

The church’s design and construction is attributed to Albert Kofoed, a builder originally from Otago who, like many of his contemporaries worldwide, seems to have been drawn to the potential of concrete. At Manakau, Kofoed appears to have utilised a variation on conventional block and cavity wall building methods. Instead of single courses of large hollow concrete blocks, he utilised ‘two-inch concrete slabs pressed out in a machine’ that were rock-faced on the exterior and smoothly finished on the interior. The slabs were laid up in two parallel, load-bearing walls with a cavity in between, which was filled with concrete and steel reinforcing rods resulting in a ‘homogenous mass’ of wall. The exterior rock faces were ‘coloured’ and the joints ‘pointed in black’ to give ‘the building its solid, rock-faced stone appearance.’ The foundations are said to be kerosene tins filled with concrete. The concrete blocks remained visible on the interior walls; the wood used for the frames of the diamond pane stained-glass windows, the ceiling, and fittings was simply oiled and ‘finished flat.’

No longer in use for worship, the Methodists sold the building in 1974 for use as a residence. At some stage after 1985 a new entrance porch was added to the front (east) of the building. An engineer’s report in 1987 found that two major cracks in the west end wall occurred because of ‘poor workmanship and inadequate reinforcing.’ This wall was taken down when a one-and-one-half story residential accommodation was added to the rear of the church in 1989. The deteriorated steeple was also rebuilt at this time. While the historic church is fully readable from the exterior, this addition functionally extended into what had been the ‘front’ of the sanctuary with an added upper-level mezzanine, alterations that reduced the open space within the church by about a quarter. Since 2000 the building has housed Kirk Wood Café and gift shop.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Albert Kofoed

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Albert Kofoed

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

New entrance porch added

1989 -
Rear addition with loss of west end wall and associated alterations to the west end of the former sanctuary; steeple replaced

Original Construction
1918 -

Completion Date

9th November 2016

Report Written By

James A. Jacobs

Information Sources

Horowhenua Chronicle

Horowhenua Chronicle

‘The Levin Chronicle,’ Levin Chronicle (formerly Horowhenua Chronicle), 4 January 1919, p. 2

Isaacs, 2012

Nigel Isaacs, ‘Building History, On the Block,’ BRANZ Build 127, December 2011/January 2012, pp. 86-87.

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.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Central Region Office of Heritage New Zealand.