Baptist Tabernacle

429 Queen Street, Auckland

  • Baptist Tabernacle, Auckland.
    Copyright: Phil Braithwaite. Taken By: PhilBee NZ - Phil Braithwaite. Date: 16/09/2011.
  • Baptist Tabernacle, Auckland. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Phil Braithwaite. Taken By: PhilBee NZ - Phil Braithwaite. Date: 16/09/2011.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7357 Date Entered 13th December 1996

Locationopen/close

City/District Council

Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)

Region

Auckland Council

Legal description

Allots 23 & 24 Sec 29, Auckland City

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Place Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Historical:

The Baptist Tabernacle, Queen Street, Auckland, was built in 1885 for the city's small Baptist congregation that had first met 30 years earlier. The building has considerable historical significance for having served the denomination for more than 110 years and for being the centre of the church's activities in New Zealand" It has close associations with Charles Hadden Spurgeon, an influential 19th century English Baptist theologian and with New Zealand Baptist Ministers who were influential at the national level.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Place Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Architectural:

The Baptist Tabernacle, Auckland, (1885) is a Roman Basilica in style and form. The Order of the main facade, is Corinthian - an order devised by the Greeks, but developed by the Romans and hence passed on to the nineteenth century via the Renaissance. The Roman Basilica form of this building can be specifically identified in the following design features:

(1) A Basilica floor plan, which, as found in the Baptist Tabernacle, has at the entrance a Narthex flanked on either side by two square wings or truncated towers; a nave with two flanking aisles; a very definite, Classical, segmented apse.

(2) An entrance porch, or Portico, of six Colossal Order columns, originally in the Corinthian Order (since stripped off) which support an entablature and pediment with academically correct Classical detailing in the form of denials and bracketed cornices.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Place Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Social:

The Tabernacle played an important role in religious education and provided members and visitors to the church alike with means of socialisation free of the influence of more worldly amusements and entertainment. It also cared for the needy of its own and the wider community.

Spiritual.

The Tabernacle has been a major centre of the Baptist faith in Auckland since 1885.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Place Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

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

Organised religion has played an important role in the 19th and 20th century history of New Zealand. The Baptists were (and remain) a minority sect. In contrast to several of their larger Protestant rivals, they centred their activities on Auckland where they first met formally in 1855. The Queen street Tabernacle, completed in 1885, served as the flagship for the church as its reach spread slowly south. Baptist histories show that it is exerted considerable influence on the church's national activities, funding other suburban churches from rental income derived from adjoining properties and providing the first base for the church's Bible College in 1926. It remains the largest Baptist church building in Australasia.

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

Events:

In addition to such mundane matters as construction and building alterations, the Tabernacle was the scene of religious schism on two occasions. The first in 1890/91, was over a doctrinal dispute that led to the resignation of the minister, William Birch. He formed a splinter church, the Union Free Church, which reapplied for membership seven years later, after running an inter-city mission in the meantime. On the second occasion, in the 1940s, the Rev. Alexander Hodge fell out with his congregation. After bitter infighting and a lengthy internal inquiry - over what the church history does not state - Hodge was dismissed. Extracts from the church histories on file, show that the Tabernacle, well-funded by virtue of the church's ownership of adjoining properties, played a leading role in the history of the Baptist Church in Auckland, and therefore New Zealand.

Persons:

In common with usual Baptist practice, this building is not given a saint's name. In addition to assisting the construction of this particular church and guiding the theology of its ministers until well into the 20th century, Charles Hadden Spurgeon appears to have influenced the theological thinking of many people throughout the world, Catherine Birch's DNZB essay on Brethren dairy manufacturer William Corpe (1836-23), for example, describes how Birch "built a Chapel where each week he read one of C.H Spurgion's sermons until he himself learnt to preach" The 'Spurgeonic' preaching tradition dominated the Tabernacle until well into the 20th century. Thomas Spurgion, Charles's son, was a figure of considerable importance to the history of this building and the Baptist Church in New Zealand, helping to raise money for its construction, officiating in it and recruiting missionaries from his father's London parish in 1887 when attendances declined temporarily. Joseph Kemp, minister during the 1920s, was a highly successful evangelist. Artist Charles Blomfield was a member of the congregation. Neither Shaw nor the Buildings Classification Committee Glossary list him, Alexander Wiseman, responsible for the 1908 additions and alterations, is best known for the Ferry Buildings (1912) and the AHB offices (1909).

Ideas:

In addition to the usual ideas associated with the spread of any Christian denomination in New Zealand, the Tabernacle appears to show an unusually pronounced link between a specific metropolitan and colonial congregation. Pound notes that the building was a reduced version of the Metropolitan Tabernacle, London. The British congregation assisted the Aucklanders both during construction and afterwards first when London minister Thomas Spurgeon supported his son, Charles, who officiated at Auckland and later when the congregation continued to seek his advice about appointments. This is an unusually direct link between specific metropolitan and colonial congregations.

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Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1885 -

Other Information

A copy of the original report is available from the NZHPT Northern region 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.