Site of Maori Church, Te Whare Karakia Ki Puari

Port Levy, Banks Peninsula

  • Site of Maori Church, Te Whare Karakia Ki Puari. Image courtesy of vallance.photography@xtra.co.nz.
    Copyright: Francis Vallance. Taken By: Francis Vallance.
  • Image courtesy of vallance.photography@xtra.co.nz.
    Copyright: Francis Vallance. Taken By: Francis Vallance.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7468 Date Entered 31st March 2000

Locationopen/close

City/District Council

Christchurch City

Region

Canterbury Region

Legal description

Pt Sec 5, Maori Reserve 874, Port Levy

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.

Historical:

The wharekarakia which stood on this site in Port Levy (Puari) in the 1840s and 1850s was not only the first Maori Anglican Church in the region, it was also the first Church of England building in what was to become the Canterbury province. The "vernacular" church was built in 1844 while Port Levy was enjoying a brief ascendancy as the centre of Ngai Tahu settlement activity. This was before the arrival, in 1850, of the Canterbury Association settlers and the movement of Maori back to the plains to the Kaiapoi Reserve.

In c.1864 a more substantial replacement church was constructed on the site of the original building and this remained in use until 1926. The loss of local population gradually caused it to fall into disuse. It was demolished in 1947.

The site also has important values of association with local iwi leaders, scholars, church men and administrators from the 1850s.

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.

Archaeological:

An archaeological report, Notes for Port Levy Anglican Church Site Registration Proposal, by Chris Jacomb of the Canterbury Museum, 27 June 1997, states that, "The site has the potential to provide significant information relating to the construction of early vernacular churches ...... the subsurface deposits could yield significant information relating to the period of earliest European contact between Maori and European in the eastern South Island."

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.

Traditional:

The site has important traditional values for the Tangata Whenua because of the early association with Christian worship here and the importance of this as an aspect of Maori adoption of European culture.

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 site's history represents the changing circumstances of Maori society from the late 1830s and trade with Pakeha whalers, followed by the sale of land to the Crown in 1849, into the early years of relationship with the Canterbury settlers and the Provincial Government. In the mid 19th century Ngai Tahu lived in settled communities, built churches and adapted to the changing world of colonial New Zealand. This site can be seen as a key element in marking a period of brief ascendancy of the Koukourarata/Port Levy in the history of Maori and Pakeha in the

region. The whare karakia, built in 1844, was the first Anglican church in what was to become the planned, Church of England fostered settlement of Canterbury in 1850.

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

Events: The principal event of significance associated with Port Levy was the establishment of the Anglican Church there. Though we do not know exactly when the whare karakia was built, there were church teachers, an Anglican congregation and regular worship established before the visit of Bishop Selwyn in 1844. Selwyn is believed to have chosen the site for the church which was probably built before the

end of that year, six years before the arrival of the formal Canterbury settlers.

Persons: Five prominent New Zealanders have had association with the Port Levy Site. These were:

- George Augustus Selwyn (1809-1878) who was bishop of the Anglican Church of the Province of New Zealand from 1841 to 1868:

- Henry John Chitty Harper (1804-1893), Anglican Bishop of Christchurch from 1856 to 1890 paid several visits to Port Levy, the first just six weeks after his arrival in Lyttelton:

- James West Stack (1835-1919) missionary, clergyman, writer and interpreter was appointed missionary for the Christchurch Anglican Diocese's Maori Mission in 1859, was closely associated with the Port Levy kainga and helped build the 1860s church:

- Tamihana Te Rauparaha (d,1878) Ngati Toa leader and evangelist for the Anglican Church first preached the Christian Gospel here in 1843 and accompanied Bishop Selwyn to Port Levy in 1844:

- Edward Shortland (1812-1893) also visited Port Levy with Bishop Selwyn in l844 while on his South Island tour of Maori settlements which led in 1851 to the publishing of his book, 'The Southern Districts of New Zealand: a Journal with Passing Notices of the Customs of the Aborigine'.

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

Although there is very little physical evidence of the site's use, a plaque and information board is planned to inform the public of the area's past significance.

(d) The importance of the place to the tangata whenua:

Port Levy now has few permanent residents but it remains a place of importance to Ngai Tutehuarewa hapu of Ngai Tahu. Regular runanga meetings and other activities such as church services occur there, as the runanga is eager to record and celebrate the site where the first church services took place.

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

The history and significance of the site is not yet well known beyond the runanga.

(f) The potential of the place for public education:

The notice board will alert members of the public to the site's history and the local runanga wish to ensure that wider education is achieved.

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

The Port Levy area overall and the church site in particular have key symbolic values to Ngai Tahu as it was their principal settlement in the 1840s when the church was constructed here.

(i) The importance of identifying historic places known to date from early

periods of New Zealand settlement:

This was the site of the first Anglican Church in Canterbury, built some 6 years before the formal settlement of the province in 1850.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape:

The site is significant as:

- a) An illustration of the early and enthusiastic adaption/adoption of European cultural forms by Maori.

- b) A typical example of how the development of roading led to the depopulation of locales originally established by the sea for access.

RECOMMENDATION: Category II, S23(2) a,b,c,d,e,f;h,i,k

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Report Written By

P. Wilson, L. Wallace. P. Thompson.

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.