Parewanui Presbyterian Cemetery

Dalrymple Road, Bulls

  • Parewanui Presbyterian Cemetery, Bulls. Milner plot on left, Lumsden headstone leaning against Amon plot on the right. Scott and Bromley plot centre.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Rebecca O'Brien. Date: 1/10/2003.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7592 Date Entered 14th April 2005


Extent of List Entry

Registration includes the land comprised in Certificate of Title 342/175, Wellington Registry, and the graves, headstones, the remaining railings, and the original plantings such as the camellia on the Millner plot thereon.

City/District Council

Rangitikei District


Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region

Legal description

Pt Sec 29 Rangitikei SD (CT 342/175), Wellington Land District

Location description

To reach the Cemetery from Bulls, travel down Parewanui Road. Turn right into Dalrymple's Road and follow this road to its end. The Cemetery is part of the privately owned Waitatapia Station and permission to view the Cemetery must be obtained from the landowners.


Located in Parewanui, Bulls, a small Presbyterian Cemetery is all that remains to mark the nature of early Scottish settlement in the Parewanui District.

The Parewanui Presbyterian Cemetery is located on the original site of a Scottish Kirk (Category I), which was built in 1862 and is now located in Waikanae. The Kirk was the earliest Presbyterian church to be constructed in the lower Rangitikei region. The Cemetery contains the remains of members of at least 6 families that were among the earliest Pakeha settlers in the Rangitikei region. There are 4 family plots with elaborate iron palings and headstones, 2 free standing concrete headstones, and an unknown number of unmarked graves, some of which are defined with palings. The earliest extant headstone dates from 1868, and the last burial occurred in 1918.

Now part of Waitatapia Station, the Cemetery is protected from cattle by a new timber fence. However, the Cemetery is overgrown and in need of maintenance.

The Parewanui Presbyterian Cemetery provides insight into the nature of early Pakeha settlement in the Parewanui district. As a Presbyterian Cemetery used only by the earliest settlers and closed since 1918, the site reflects the strong local Scottish community that dominated early Pakeha settlement in the Rangitikei. It is the original site of the first Scottish Kirk erected in the Rangitikei area, a Kirk which stands as one of the few physical markers connected to the dispute between Ngati Apa and Ngati Raukawa over settler rents. The Cemetery is a permanent marker of the actual site around which this important event was played out. The Cemetery has added significance as the burial site of Thomas Scott, one of the earliest settlers in the district and a man of great prominence in the area.

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Historical Significance or Value

The Cemetery has historical significance. It serves to mark the original site of the Scottish Kirk, a building that is an intrinsic part of the history of the both the area and of wider events such as the inter-iwi warfare and advance of Riwha Titokowaru (? - 1888) in the 1860s. As such the Cemetery serves as a firm anchor for the history of both the Kirk, and the events of the 1860s, in the Parewanui region.

The Parewanui Presbyterian Cemetery is of social significance. It sheds light on the nature of early Pakeha settlement in the Parewanui district, reflecting the strong Scottish roots of the community that migrated to the area in the mid-nineteenth-century. These settlers constructed the first Scottish Kirk in the Rangitikei region (Category I Historic Place Reg No.7422) on land donated by one of their members. The consecrated ground around the kirk was gradually filled with their faithful dead and, in consequence, the Cemetery has spiritual significance. Closed since 1918, the Cemetery is the place in which those dead are both honoured and remembered. Of those buried in the Cemetery, the best-known and remembered is Thomas Scott, one of the earliest settlers to the district and a man of great prominence in the area during his lifetime. Scott's association with the Cemetery also contributes to its social significance.

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

The Parewanui Presbyterian Cemetery serves as a reminder of the origins of the first Pakeha settlers in the Rangitikei region, and the close nature of the settlement. In 1862 the Pakeha settlers in the area, who were predominantly Presbyterians who had emigrated from Scotland, communally constructed the first Presbyterian Church (Scottish Kirk) in the area. The Cemetery developed in the consecrated ground adjacent to it. While the church has since been removed and now serves the Anglican parish of St Andrew's in Waikanae, the Cemetery remains. Through the names and words of the headstones, the Cemetery recalls both the Presbyterian and the Scottish origins of the first Pakeha settlers in the region who collectively contributed to the development of the district.

As the burial place of Thomas Scott, the Parewanui Presbyterian Cemetery is also associated with an individual known for his personal contribution to the history of the Rangitikei district. Scott, one of the earliest settlers to arrive in the district, was held in high regard by local members of the community. He was most commonly known for his operation of the Scott's Ferry (Category I Historic Place Reg # 7421), a service he undertook from 1850 that transported settlers across the Rangitikei River mouth and after which the immediate area is now named. He also entered into agreements with local Maori, trading wheat, Indian corn and pigs, and ran a trading post and accommodation house at Parewanui. Scott's activities, not only raised his own profile, but also served to establish Parewanui as an important Pakeha settlement and the nearby Port of Rangitikei (at the mouth of the river) as an important conduit for the region's produce from 1850 and into the 1890s.

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

Parewanui Presbyterian Cemetery has commemorative value for descendants of those buried within the Cemetery and as a place that recalls the people that shaped the development of the region.

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

The Parewanui Presbyterian Cemetery contains the graves of the earliest settlers in the Rangitikei Region, including that of Thomas Scott, who arrived in the area shortly after the sale of the Rangitikei block in 1849. It was also the site of the region's first Presbyterian Church (built 1862).

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

The Cemetery is part of an historical landscape of places associated with the wars of the 1860s both between Ngati Apa and Ngati Raukawa and between settlers and the Maori such as Riwha Titokowaru. Itself the site on which a church that doubled as a blockhouse was constructed, it is located near what is known as 'gunfighter pa' (Category II, Reg #6231) which include the remains of the trenches used by Ngati Apa and Ngati Raukawa during their disputes. It is also in the immediate vicinity of Ross's Redoubt, the site to which the church was dragged during Titokowaru's advance towards Foxton. While the Cemetery is the most evocative of all sites in the region that recall the Scottish nature of its early Pakeha settlement, it is part of a cultural landscape that includes places include Scott's Ferry, the relocated Scottish Kirk in Waikanae, the Fraserfield Cemetery, and places such as Pukehou (Category II, Reg #2824), the home of Scottish settler Duncan Fraser.


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Historical Narrative

From the mid 1850s a number of Scottish families moved to Parewanui, including Scotts, Frasers, McKenzies, Amons, McDonells and Campions. All of these families, except the McDonells, were Presbyterians. The year 1857 is thought to have been the time that Adam Keir informally donated land for the site of the Presbyterian Church. The formal deed of transfer is recorded as 6 July 1864, two years after the construction of the church. Keir donated 10 acres (4 hectares) of section 29 to James Duncan of the Presbyterian Church. Nine acres were set aside for a manse and glebe and one acre for the church and burial ground.

The church was erected in 1862, a year in which tensions escalated between Ngati Apa and Ngati Raukawa over the distribution of money made from illegal rental arrangements with settlers. To protect the Scottish settlers from the crossfire, the 'neat and suitable church' was constructed with double-skinned walls, and had two gun flaps in either side of the nave. The design of the church meant that it could be easily moved and it was later relocated to a nearby, more convenient location now known as 'Ross's Redoubt'. It is possible that the parishioners intended to move the church back to its original site when the danger had passed. Yet when the decision came to relocate the church, it was decided to transfer it to a site closer to the main road through the Parewanui settlement. It was later relocated to Tangimoana, and is currently serving as a church hall in Waikanae.

Despite the removal of the church, the Cemetery continued to be used. It holds the tombstones of at least six local families including the Amon, Bromley, Burne, Lumsden, Millner and Scott families. In the Parewanui Presbyterian Cemetery, there are 8 graves marked with headstones, some of which are further defined by concrete surrounds, and/or iron palings. There are also unknown numbers of unmarked graves, some of which are marked with iron palings. The child of Alex Brookie, for instance, was buried in the cemetery on 3 July 1891, in what is now an unmarked grave. It is likely that a number of the people buried there may have had wooden memorials over their graves that have since rotted away.

The earliest extant headstone in the Cemetery commemorates the wife and children of George Millner. Millner's daughter died in 1868 at the age of 12. Her brother and sister died three years later in 1871, aged 5 and 3 respectively. Their mother passed away 2 years after that at the age of 39. Their single headstone stands in an elaborately marked plot in the corner of the Cemetery. The next oldest headstone, a concrete slab with lead writing, stands alone. It commemorates Priscilla Amon, who died in 1878 at the age of 61. The Amon family also have their own plot on the opposite side of the Cemetery. The plot contains the graves of Arthur Amon, his wife Elizabeth, and their son, who died of typhoid at the age of 23. Next to this plot is the broken headstone that commemorates the Lumsdens. William Lumsden died at the age of 36 in 1885, just 4 years after his children Ellen, aged 6, and Catherine, aged 1 year, died within a month of each other. On the other side of the Amon plot is the Burne family plot. This contains the remains of John Burne and his wife Margaret, who was the last person to be buried in the Cemetery in 1918. Their son, Charles, who predeceased both parents at the age of 15, is also buried with them. The final plot in the Cemetery contains three headstones, which commemorate James Bromley, who died aged 40, Charlotte Scott, who reached 64 years, and Charlotte's husband, Thomas Scott.

The headstone of Thomas Scott, the first Scottish settler in Parewanui and a prominent figure in the Rangitikei, is inscribed with the words 'In loving memory of Thomas Scott who died at Scott's Ferry 16th January 1892, aged 77 years'. Scott, along with his first wife and son, arrived in New Zealand on the Olympus in 1841 and came to Parewanui shortly after the sale of the Rangitikei block in 1849. Thomas Scott is most commonly known for his operation of the Scott's Ferry, which was named after Scott. Located near the mouth of the Rangitikei River, the Ferry allowed access to the only route between Wellington and Wanganui. Along with the Ferry, Scott and his wife also accommodated the needs of many settlers through their management of a general store and hotel in the area. Scott was also known in the Rangitikei for his work as a contract mailer in the Wanganui and Rangitikei areas between 1844 and 1845 along with his police service in other areas for which he received a medal in 1872. Annie Scott passed away in July 1879, and it is thought that she is buried in the Cemetery, possibly in the unmarked plot defined by palings next to the Scott family plot. In March 1881, Thomas re-married, to Charlotte Bromley. Upon his death in 1892, Thomas Scott left the ferry to be operated by his wife and son. Charlotte died one year after her husband and is buried beside him. Scott's Ferry was eventually taken over by the Manawatu County Council and, now part of the Rangitikei District Council region, is a registered historic site (Category I, Reg #7421).

Other Pakeha settlers chose to be buried in the nearby Fraserfield Cemetery, which remains open and, in 1984, included 121 tombstones, with the earliest dating from 1858. Local Maori were buried in private cemeteries and around the Anglican Wheriko Church (Category I, Reg #188).

Until recently, the Presbyterian Cemetery remained in the ownership of the Presbyterian Church. It is currently 'land-locked' in Dalrymple's farm, with access only being available through the privately owned farm. The tombstones are overgrown and are difficult to view. There are two fallen headstones along with a cross, which appears to have been detached from the Burne grave.

Physical Description

Located within a privately owned farm on Waitatapia Station, the Cemetery is 'land-locked', and access is via a paddock used for cattle and sheep. The Cemetery is protected from the stock by a newly erected timber fence. Within this fence, the extant headstones are laid out in a semi circular fashion. The graves are in close proximity to each other. The graves are typically surrounded by either elaborate iron palings and / or concrete surrounds. A number feature plants that are presumed to have been planted at the time the gravestones were erected. On the Millner grave there is a camellia tree and, according to a former resident of Parewanui, a number of the other graves also featured camellias. The Millner camellia has been identified as a 'Contessa Calini' by camellia expert Vonnie Cave. It is possible that these plantings were intended not only to serve an aesthetic function, but were also practical means of preventing stock from trampling on the graves. It should further be noted that the graves might have originally featured white pebble coverings, which have since been covered by weeds. There are no known burial records for the Cemetery. However, the Cemetery includes the marked graves of members of from six local families including the Amon, Bromley, Burne, Lumsden, Millner and Scott families. It also contains the graves of a number of unknown persons. The earliest headstone in the Cemetery commemorates Alice Patience Millner who died on 4 January 1868 at the age of 12. The newest headstone in the Cemetery commemorates Margaret Bromley, who died on 3 March 1918.

Notable Features

Registration includes the land comprised in Certificate of Title 342/175, Wellington Registry, and the graves, headstones, the remaining railings, and the original plantings such as the camellia on the Millner plot thereon.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1862 -
Scottish Kirk thought to have been constructed.

1864 -
Land officially donated for Kirk and Cemetery.

1868 -
Earliest burial date recorded on extant headstones.

1918 -
Latest burial recorded on extant headstones.

Construction Details

The Parewanui Presbyterian Cemetery was formed around a Scottish Kirk that had been constructed in 1862. A modern timber fence that was erected to prevent cattle from damaging the site surrounds the Cemetery. Within that boundary fence are 8 graves marked with headstones. Some of these graves are further defined by concrete surrounds, and/or iron palings. There are also unknown number of unmarked graves, some of which are marked with iron palings. It is likely that a number of the people buried there may have had wooden memorials over their graves. The majority of the headstones are made from concrete. The lettering of these graves is either engraved or marked out in lead. Some are made from marble with lead lettering. The shapes of the headstones include crosses, rectangles, blocks and a number of rounded top structures.

Completion Date

21st September 2004

Report Written By

Rebecca O'Brien / Laura Fair

Information Sources

Dreaver, 2000

A. Dreaver, 'A Gypsy Church, Otaki Historical Society Historical Journal, vol.23, 2000, pp.2-16

O'Brien, 2004

Rebecca O'Brien, 'Scottish Kirk', Research Report for NZHPT, June 2004

Parewanui Centennial Committee, 1979

Parewanui Centenary Committee, History of the Parewanui District and Schools 1819-1857-1979, Parewanui, 1979

Other Information

Provisions relating to Archaeological Sites under the Historic Places Act 1993: As a site associated with human settlement prior to 1900, the Cemetery is classified as an archaeological site under the Historic Places Act 1993. This means that it is an offence to destroy, damage, or modify the Cemetery without first obtaining an archaeological authority from the NZHPT.

A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Central 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.