St David's Presbyterian Church

224 North Road And 4 James Street, North East Valley, Dunedin

  • St David's Presbyterian Church. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Ben Hill - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Ben Hill. Date: 31/07/2009.
  • St David's Presbyterian Church. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Ben Hill - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Ben Hill. Date: 31/07/2009.
  • St David's Presbyterian Church. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Ben Hill - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Ben Hill. Date: 31/07/2009.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4734 Date Entered 25th September 1986


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 5 DP 546 (CT OT73/163), Otago Land District, and the building known as St David's Presbyterian Church, thereon, including the attached hall.

City/District Council

Dunedin City


Otago Region

Legal description

Lot 5 DP 546 (CT OT73/163), Otago Land District


The imposing St David’s Presbyterian Church, designed by architect James Hislop in 1884, with additions by Edmund Anscombe in 1912, sits on a prominent corner on the main road in the Dunedin suburb of North East Valley. St David’s is a notable landmark in North East Valley and has spiritual, historical and architectural significance.

North East Valley started as a small community to the north of Dunedin’s main settlement. The Valley’s Presbyterians, cut off from Dunedin by the Water of the Leith and Lindsay’s Creek, had to make quite an expedition to services at Knox Church and so petitioned for their own church. In 1884, Reverend David Borrie was inducted as permanent minister. He worshipped with his parishioners in the North East Valley Borough Council chambers, and set about organising and fundraising for a new church. The newly formed building committee appointed James Hislop as architect. Thomas Newton won the tender with his contract price of £1475.

Dr Salmond laid the foundation stone on 15 November 1884. Early English in style, the slate-roofed brick and Oamaru stone North-east Valley Presbyterian Church was completed in 1885. The Otago Daily Times reported that the congregation had built ‘a handsome and commodious church,’ with seating for 350 people and noted that:

‘A … pulpit platform and choir space has been erected at the eastern end of the church. The pulpit stands under a … Gothic arch... The roof is lofty, with its principals resting on Oamaru stone corbels … carved in a variety of designs. The whole of the windows are glazed with obscured glass, except a wheel light in the eastern gable, which is glazed with coloured glass...’

Two temporary classrooms were partitioned off the west end of the nave. They were removed when the Sunday school was built. Kauri and rimu were the principal building timbers.

By the early years of the twentieth century, the congregation was growing. The growth is reflected in the building programme - a Sunday school hall was built in 1901. In 1911, Dunedin architect Edmund Anscombe was commissioned to extend the church, providing seating for 700, adding two classrooms under the nave and a spire. Dunedin businessman and valley resident Robert Glendining presented the church with a bell. In 1913, a pipe organ was installed and was opened by Jesse Timson, then the organist of First Church.

During World War Two, the church remained open during the day to provide a place of solace and comfort. The bell was rung at noon ‘to remind people to pray for victory and peace.’ On Armistice Day 1950, a plaque to those of the congregation who had died in the war was dedicated. Various changes and additions to modernise the building occurred in the 1940s and 1950s. The church was renamed St David’s Presbyterian Church in 1976, in honour of the first minister Reverend David Borrie. Over 200 people attended centenary celebrations in 1983. In 2014, St David’s remains a place of worship for North East Valley residents.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Anscombe, Edmund

Anscombe (1874-1948) was born in Sussex and came to New Zealand as a child. He began work as a builder's apprentice in Dunedin and in 1901 went to America to study architecture. He returned to Dunedin in 1907 and designed the School of Mines building for the University of Otago. The success of this design gained him the position of architect to the University. Five of the main University buildings were designed by Anscombe, as well as Otago Girls' High School and several of Dunedin's finest commercial buildings including the Lindo Ferguson Building (1927) and the Haynes building.

Anscombe moved to Wellington about 1928 and was known for his work as the designer of the Centennial Exhibition (1939-1940). Anscombe had travelled extensively and had visited major exhibitions in Australia, Germany and America. The practice of Edmund Anscombe and Associates, Architects, had offices in the Dunedin, Wellington and Hawkes Bay districts, and Anscombe's buildings include the Vocational Centre for Disabled Servicemen, Wellington (1943), Sargent Art Gallery, Wanganui, and several blocks of flats including Anscombe Flats, 212 Oriental Parade (1937) and Franconia, 136 The Terrace (1938), both in Wellington. As well as being interested in the housing problem, Anscombe held strong views concerning the industrial advancement of New Zealand.

(See also )

Hislop, James (1859-1904)

‘James Hislop (1859-1904) was born in Glasgow and came to New Zealand at a very early age. He was educated at North East Valley School and received his architectural training in the office of Mason and Wales. He also spent two years with the Public Works Department, as district manager of Nelson. In 1880 he entered into business with W.H. Terry who retired three years later. He established his own practice in Dunedin and later entered into a partnership with Edward Walter Walden. In 1889 Hislop designed and supervised the erection of the South Seas Exhibition among a number of prominent buildings both in Otago and elsewhere in the country.’

‘Among the significant buildings designed by James Hislop, or by the Hislop and Walden partnership are Crown Milling Co. building, Miller Place, Dunedin (c.1880); New Zealand Steam Shipping Co. office, Dunedin; DIC, Christchurch; Evans and Co. Mill, Timaru; National Bank, George Street, Dunedin; Napier Abattoirs (1902); Hallenstein Building, The Octagon; Dunedin City Abattoirs.’ Hislop moved to Wellington around 1903, where he died as the result of an accident in 1904.

Source: Heritage New Zealand Review Report for Ferntree Lodge, List No. 368, 27 Jun 2017, Heather Bauchop.

Newton, Thomas

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1884 - 1885

1901 -
Sunday school

1911 -
Extensions to church. Spire and bell added.

1913 -
Pipe organ installed

1948 -
Sound system installed

1952 -
Gas heating installed

1954 -
Hearing aids installed

1959 -
‘Lower Hall’ converted to church lounge. Ceiling lowered, kitchen upgraded and toilets built beneath the main entrance steps

Completion Date

26th June 2014

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Information Sources

Chisholm, 1898

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

St David’s Presbyterian Church, 1982

Presbyterians in North East Valley, St David’s Presbyterian Church, Dunedin, 1982.

Other Information

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Otago/Southland Area Office of Heritage New Zealand.

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.