St Columba's Anglican Church

Mcdougall Street And Upton Street, Wanaka

  • St Columba's Anglican Church.
    Copyright: Advertising & Art. Taken By: Stewart Robertson.
  • St Columba's Anglican Church. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Shellie Evans. Taken By: Shellie Evans - flyingkiwigirl. Date: 17/04/2014.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7465 Date Entered 31st March 2000


City/District Council

Queenstown-Lakes District


Otago Region

Legal description

Sections 4 & 5, Block XXI, Wanaka Town

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

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


The late dates of both churches reflects the slow and late development of Wanaka as a settlement. As such the churches represent the earliest buildings in the township still standing.

The following details are taken from Erik Olssen's History of Otago, 1984 and Irvine Roxburgh Wanaka Story 1957.

Robert Wilkin and Archibald Thompson, settlers from Canterbury, first took up the Wanaka runs in 1858. Successive managers for the station can be regarded as the chief founders of the Wanaka settlement in the 1860s. These holdings were very isolated. By the 1920s, the Lakes

District was dominated by the traditional industry, sheep farming (and rabbits). Pembroke was first established as a tourist destination in the 1870s. An influx of tourists and holidaymakers first injected small amounts into local economy in the 1920s. But since this time, tourism has

become a major industry in Wanaka.

The Wanaka settlement was originally named Pembroke. Theodore Russell formed Pembroke in the late 1860s, establishing a hotel at the foot of the lake. The town was surveyed in 1863, and sections offered for sale and settlement.

Pembroke was officially recognised as a postal centre in 1873, as the town began to grow during this decade. It acted primarily as a service centre for the local rural community. It was renamed Wanaka in 1940.

The first minister to preach at Wanaka was the Presbyterian Reverend Charles Connor, who visited the district from 1864 to 1879, when he settled at Pembroke. In 1880, the Presbyterian parish was formed and plans were made to build the settlement's first manse. The first church

building to be constructed was the Roman Catholic Church at Hawea Flat. In 1900, the Pembroke Anglican's were formed into their own diocese, having previously been incorporated into the Queenstown parish.

It appears that the two parishes (Anglican and Presbyterian) traditionally enjoyed a close relationship. This is illustrated by the close location of the churches built within the township and the subsequent amalgamation of the buildings of two different denominations.

As St Andrew's was no longer needed and St Colomba's was expanding the use and survival of these/this church(es) as a combined structure still being used for its initial purpose is unusual.

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


The physical joining of two church buildings (St Andrews and St Colomba's) in 1988-89 bought together two buildings originally sited several hundred metres apart and long used for spiritual worship and social gathering They have been important buildings to Wanaka and its

environs. They are both simple modest buildings but are pleasant and are representative of the style of the era in which they were built (1900's colonial).

The bringing together of the two buildings has not compromised their original simplicity (Since 1905 St Andrews was described as quaint and picturesque) The amalgamation has been handled sympathetically as is illustrated by the use of features from each church, such as St Andrew's gothic styled doorway being modified and incorporated into the new complex as a window farming the view of the lake.


The buildings separately were significant elements of local architecture in keeping with their settings, even before their unusual amalgamation. Photographs show them as being dominant features in Wanaka in the early years of the C20th.

St Colomba's nave of timber was opened in 1902 with the porch added in 1905. The architect was Mr Burnside (Dunedin). The church was completed in 1911 with funds raised by the community, which paid for a chancel and vestry.

Its design is simple with pitched roof and gothic shaped windows and doors. Later William Morris-patterned linoleum was used to cover interior walls. This was a most unusual feature which was practical for cleaning as well as being attractive St Colomba's stained glass windows are still a feature. They commemorate, as well as the usual religious Christian iconography, early pioneers, WWI casualties and a striking contemporary view of the lake. They have been donated by members of the parish and date from 1916 through to 1994.

St Andrew's opened on 31 December 1905. The building was described in 1905 in the paper 'as a most attractive one. In its original site it occupied at the time one of the most prominent locations in Wanaka. The architects were Messrs, McKenzie and Wilson (Invercargill). The

Presbyterian community paid for their church.

At the time of opening St. Andrew's could seat 100 adults and was regarded with pride. As stated by the newspaper of the time:

'All the internal woodwork is of figured red pine oiled, and the walls painted with a pretty shade of kalsomine, all the windows are glazed in diamond shaped panes of coloured glaze, which blend well with the other colours.

St Andrew's was moved in 1988-89.The churches retained their own significant features and St. Colomba's interior remained unchanged. Wooden doors now separate the two churches in winter and flooring and skirting boards were repaired and modified. With the new space, St

Andrew's vestry became a meeting room, kitchen and toilet facilities. St Andrew's belfry was also relocated to St Colomba's.

The use of two historic buildings retaining the individual architectural styles as one building is unusual.


The churches are simple and modest in design. It is not considered that their design or construction as individual buildings illustrates any technological significance. However, the move of St Andrew's and its incorporation with St Colomba's in 1988:

a) demonstrates a dedication to the reuse of historic buildings by using late 20th century engineering methods

b) illustrates a fairly common NZ practice of relocating buildings made possible because the predominant mode of rural building is in timber.

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


The two amalgamated church buildings is indicative of the dedication of the local Anglican community to this particular building (St. Colomba's) and the importance of the church as a place of worship. They consider that St Colomba's and its expansion show the important role the church plays in the community. Both churches in the past have played pivotal roles in bringing a predominantly rural community together for social as well as religious purposes. Now combined into one Anglican church the amalgamation continues to be a focus for a rural tourist-based town as one of the very few heritage buildings.


The churches were a place to worship as well as to gather as communities. The physical combining of the churches does not bring together the separate Anglican and Presbyterian congregations. However, it does serve to illustrate the continued importance of the Anglican church in Wanaka. Where other churches (although the Presbyterian church has a new building), in small communities around the South Island are closing because of falling numbers in congregations, this church has expanded.


The obvious use of the church as a place to worship the Christian faith in the Anglican tradition gives it a significant spiritual focus. The expansion reflected in combining the two buildings illustrates the importance of the Christian faith in Wanaka.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. This report includes text 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:

The original building and subsequent integration of these two churches demonstrates the role of churches as community centres in rural New Zealand. As built they exemplified the then more sectarian nature of New Zealand in that many small settlements had several churches for

each denomination considered it necessary to have their own place of worship. In more recent times a more interdenominational approach combined with the practical solution to the problem of dwindling congregations has meant that many churches now serve united


St Colomba's is unusual in that Presbyterian Church (St Andrews) is now facilitating the spiritual and social functions of the Anglican community.

Although their architectural integrity as individual and isolated buildings has been modified, it is the fact that after relocation and alteration that they are both being used for a continuation of their original purpose that is unusual. Often redundant churches end up serving commercial purposes such as craft shops, etc.

It should be noted that the Trust has no other registered buildings or sites within Wanaka which adds to the significance of the church(es).

(c) The potential of the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand history:

The church(es) provide(s) a knowledge of the importance of religion in CI9th and early C20th New Zealand social and community life and the development of a practical vernacular architecture based on the use of timber.

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

It is clear from the papers of the day and minutes from the church meetings that from the beginning both churches were a focus for the community. The community's support financially provided the funds to build them and provide additions. The amount of voluntary work and financial support provided by Wanaka's Anglican community in the 1980's to integrate the two buildings reflects the ongoing high public esteem for the church.

The esteem for the place is further evident in the parish's desire to have the Trust recognise the building.

(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place.

See Technological in Physical Significance

(h) The symbolic or commemorative value of the place:

The church building includes a number of stained glass windows gifted by families of the district. This symbolises the spirit, effort of time and money provided by the community.

(i) The importance of identifying historic places known to date from early periods of New Zealand settlement.

Using the churches as places of worship as they were first intended adds to their importance as historic buildings. The churches bought the community together scattered by distance. This is still the case and the church remains as a focal point.

(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places:

The integration of two separate church buildings is unusual.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

McKenzie & Willis

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1902 -

Other Information

A copy of the original report is available from the NZHPT Southern 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.