Historical Significance or Value
The Church of St John the Baptist Sunday School (Anglican) has historical significance as a relatively rare and early surviving example of a New Zealand Sunday School. The Sunday School movement was significant worldwide in the late eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries in many parts of the Christian world. Samuel Marsden's building of the first Sunday School in Australia at Parramatta in 1815 and the creation of Sunday Schools in New Zealand from the beginnings of organised Pakeha settlement indicate how significant an institution they were seen to be in colonial society. For generations, very many New Zealand children attended Sunday School, even when their parents were not practising members of a church congregation. Attendance at Sunday School, often under duress, or teaching Sunday School, formed part of the experience of many New Zealanders and is a subject addressed in both fictional and biographical accounts of growing up in New Zealand.
As a small rural Sunday School, Waimate North cannot be said to have played a prominent part in this on a national scale. However, as patterns of religious observance have changed, patterns of Sunday School attendance have also changed, and there are many fewer Sunday Schools in existence. There are very few Sunday School buildings on the Register of New Zealand Historic Places Trust, and none of them is a purpose built, rural, building.
Architectural Significance or Value:
The Church of St John the Baptist Sunday School (Anglican) is a plain and simple structure, with little pretension to architectural merit. At the same time, it is typical of very many simple rural wooden buildings, especially in parts of New Zealand where timber was plentiful. Its unlined finish enables its structure and construction to be viewed, analysed and understood. Because it has survived while other contemporary examples have been demolished or modified, it provides access to architectural information that is not otherwise readily available. Although it dates from after the close of the CMS Mission at Waimate North, it also stands as an example of the quite numerous timber buildings that were built at the Mission station from 1830 onwards, and thus provides an appreciation of now extinct building types there.
Social Significance or Value:
Although purpose built for religious education, from its very early days the Church of St John the Baptist Sunday School also served as a social centre for its community, whether they were members of the congregation or not. In the absence of any other hall at St John's, the Sunday School has been used almost since its inception for functions and events, for catering associated with funerals, weddings and other church occasions, as well as serving the community as a meeting room and a polling booth in General Elections.
Spiritual Significance or Value:
The Spiritual value of the Church of St John the Baptist Sunday School has many of the same attributes as its Historical significance. It was purpose built as a building for religious education, and it continued to fulfil that function for a century. It has also provided, in its role as a quasi church hall, support to religious observance in the nearby Church of St John the Baptist. Even though no longer serving as a Sunday School for religious education, its use is still central to the religious observances of the congregation of Waimate North.
(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:
The Sunday School movement was an important element in Christian education and the more general acculturation of children in New Zealand society for more than a century. Because there appear to be relatively few surviving purpose built Sunday Schools buildings, the Sunday School at Waimate North serves in its small way to reflect a much wider nationally significant aspect of New Zealand society.
(c) The potential of the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand history:
Because it is part of the complex of heritage buildings remaining at Waimate North, which are the focus for considerable and increasing heritage tourism, the Sunday School is exposed to a much wider audience than would normally be anticipated in such a small rural place. Thus its place in the life of the community at Waimate North and its links to the earlier history of the Mission there give it a significance beyond its modest scale.
(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the place:
There is a strong community attachment to the Sunday School, brought about especially by its role in life-cycle events for the community of Waimate North and the wider Bay of Islands. This is evidenced by the care that is given to its maintenance, conservation and upkeep. It is also reflected in the very strong level of protection that is afforded it in the Far North District Plan, putting it on a par with some of the best known heritage buildings of Northland.
(f) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places:
The Register of NZHPT contains sixteen entries that have the name 'Sunday School'. Of these, two have been removed from the Register and three are deficient registrations. There is very little detail given for several of the entries, but very few appear to have been purpose built as Sunday Schools. For that reason, and because of its location in a small isolated rural community, it would appear that the Church of St John the Baptist Sunday School is quite a rare type of historic place, and indeed possibly unique.
(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape:
The Church of St John the Baptist Sunday School sits literally half way between Te Waimate Mission House (Record no. 3 Category I) and the Church of St John the Baptist, Waimate North (Record no. 64, Category I). It is an integral part of the historic landscape of Waimate North, and is the first building to be encountered by visitors to either the church or the Mission House.
Summary of Significance or Values:
This place was assessed against, and found to qualify under the following criteria: a, c, e, f, k.
It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category II historic place.
Sunday Schools: Robert Raikes (1735-1811) is traditionally credited as pioneering Sunday Schools in England in the 1780s, though teaching Bible reading and basic skills on a Sunday was an established activity in a number of eighteenth century Puritan and evangelical congregations. In 1780, Raikes, a Gloucester newspaper publisher, took thirty children off the street and began to teach them how to read. He gave them clean clothes and taught them that vice is preventable and that a good example can draw others. Other children were indeed drawn so that the one school grew to seven schools; and after three years, he published to the world the effects of his experiment. He called it 'botanizing in human nature.' In a letter to a friend, he explained that his vision was to 'create a new race out of what others called waste.' By the time Robert Raikes died in 1811, over four hundred thousand children were enrolled in Sunday Schools in the United Kingdom.
Through the evangelical movement, interest in Sunday Schools travelled to Australia and New Zealand in the early nineteenth century.
Believing, as he did, that the one hope for the regeneration of the Colony lay in the religious education of the young, Marsden had always taken it that the training of youth was an essential part of his clerical duties. He was thus attracted to the Sunday School movement inaugurated at the end of the eighteenth century by Robert Raikes of Gloucester, and in 1815, upon his return from his first New Zealand voyage, opened a Sunday School at Parramatta, the first Sunday School in Australia...Marsden's enthusiasm for this work among the young remained constant throughout his life. 'The Church Sunday School,' wrote the Rev. William Woolls in 1844, ‘was, for many years, a most useful and flourishing institution in Parramatta, and at one period it numbered no less than 150 children on its books.'
It is much less clear that Marsden and his Church Missionary Society (CMS) missionaries in New Zealand established Sunday Schools as such. They certainly created schools for both adults and children among their Maori prospective converts, as well as schools for the education of their own children and other Pakeha children. The first school was established by Thomas Kendall at Oihi, having been sent out by the CMS as the schoolmaster. The first schoolhouse was opened there on 12 August 1816. New Zealand's first cricket match was played by the boys at the Paihia Mission as recreation after the rigours of one cycle of examination of the children, both Maori and Missionary. The building of schools was a significant element in the establishment of the early CMS mission stations (for example at Paihia school building activity took place in 1827, 1831, and 1832 ). In 1834, the English Boys' school was relocated to Waimate , and continued there in several different buildings and under several different teachers. After the disruption caused by the Northern War of 1845-6, the missionaries at Waimate North managed with some difficulty to re-establish the schools with 146 pupils, though from then on a series of difficulties meant the rolls declined, 22 in 1854, 17 in 1861, with the fire of 1861 bringing this period to a close. These schools were not Sunday Schools, but ‘everyday' schools, they were the principal medium of education for their pupils, even if religious education was part of the curriculum.
Once colonisation began in New Zealand, Sunday Schools were some of the first institutions created. In Wellington, Wesleyan minister Rev John Aldred commenced a Sunday school in 1841, initially holding it in the first church, in a hall, in another church and eventually in purpose built schoolrooms in Manners Street. This pattern was widely followed elsewhere, with Sunday School often being held initially in the church, then in a hall, and finally, sometimes, in a purpose built building.
The Church of St John the Baptist Sunday School (Anglican) is a rare and early surviving example of a rural New Zealand Sunday School. The Sunday School movement was significant worldwide in the late eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries in many parts of the Christian world. Samuel Marsden's building of the first Sunday School in Australia at Parramatta in 1815 and the creation of Sunday Schools in New Zealand from the beginnings of organised Pakeha settlement indicate how significant an institution they were seen to be in colonial society. For generations, very many New Zealand children attended Sunday School, even when their parents were not practising members of a church congregation. Attendance at Sunday School, often under duress, or teaching Sunday School, formed part of the experience of many New Zealanders and is a subject addressed in both fictional and biographical accounts of growing up in New Zealand.
As a small rural Sunday School, Waimate North cannot be said to have played a prominent part in the Sunday School movement on a national scale. However, as patterns of religious observance have changed, patterns of Sunday School attendance have also changed, and there are many fewer Sunday Schools in existence. There are only ten Sunday School buildings on the Register of New Zealand Historic Places Trust, and none of them is a purpose built building in a rural setting.
At the Thames School of Mines (NZHPT Record no. 132, Category I), a Wesleyan Church and Sunday School was built in 1869 to serve the developing mining town of Grahamstown, and were subsequently incorporated into the School of Mines that was established in 1886.
The former Christian Science Sunday School on The Terrace in Wellington was built as a city doctor's residence, and used for a period in the twentieth century as the Christian Science Sunday School (NZHPT Record no. 220 Category I).
The Auckland Sunday School Union Building (NZHPT Record no. 2613, Category II) is a five storey central city brick building, built in 1925 to provide a concert hall seating 400 and rental office suites for the Auckland Sunday School Union.
St Mark's Anglican Church Sunday School in the South Taranaki town of Kaponga (NZHPT Record no. 2722, Category II) was built in 1911 as a substantial Parish Hall, though used for Sunday School purposes from that time.
The Methodist Sunday School in the rural town of Tuamarina was built as a church, and only later adapted to Sunday School use (NZHPT Record no. 2934, Category II).
The former Dundas St Methodist Sunday School Hall (now the Academy Cinema) was added to the church on the same urban site in 1905 (NZHPT Record no. 3367, Category II).
The Hanover St Baptist Sunday School building built in 1880 also has an inner city Dunedin location. (NZHPT Record no. 4719, Category II).
St Peter's Anglican Church, the main Anglican church in the Hawkes Bay town of Waipawa, has a Sunday School Hall (NZHPT Record no. 4873, Category II). The Church was built in 1877 and then substantially enlarged after the 1931 earthquake. The Sunday School Hall would appear to have been built about 1900.
The Sunday School of St John's Methodist Church, Nelson City (NZHPT Record no. 5162, Category II), was built in 1911.
The Presbyterian Church and Sunday School are part of the Winton Historic Area, the commercial centre of Winton in Southland (NZHPT Record no. 7527),
All of these Sunday Schools in the NZHPT Register were built in an urban setting to serve an urban population. Most of them are later in date than the Waimate North Sunday School.
Waimate North: As a result of the decline of the Mission, the establishment at Waimate was transferred to the administration of a local Trust in 1850. One of the activities of this Trust was the replacement of the dilapidated 1839 chapel, but on a smaller scale. In its place they built, in 1870 -1871, the present Church of St John The Baptist (NZHPT Record no. 64, Category I). Unlike the previous structures, it was created for a largely Pakeha congregation, who had increasingly settled in the region, though there were Maori worshippers as well. Although administered by the London-based CMS, the Church building was erected at the same time as the mission district was formed into an Anglican parish. The third church on this site, it was opened in April 1871 by William Cowie (1831-1902), the first Bishop of Auckland, who was responsible for a period of Anglican expansion in the Auckland Diocese. Bishop Cowie also presided over a public meeting held in the Court House at Waimate North the same evening. The Parish Minute Book records that the following report was read by the Archdeacon:
Report of the Waimate Church Building Committee. Your Committee congratulate the Congregation at the Waimate on the successful completion of the Church, which was opened for Divine Service by the Lord Bishop yesterday [sic].
..the total cost of the building, including the Reading Desk, Communion Rails and seats amounts to £374/8/2 leaving a debt of £59/5/11½. The congregation are indebted to Mrs Wood for the Communion cloth, cushions, chancel carpet, Chairs and kneeling stools.
At a public meeting held in ‘the Library' (possibly the front room of the current Mission House) on December 31 1871, the Report for the year ended December 31 1871 stated:
...We strongly urge the necessity of continuing the weekly offering as more is still required to complete the comfort of our church; such as folding door at the entrance, Book rests before the front seats, kneeling stools, tuning the organ etc. The fence round the Churchyard will require to be entirely renewed - A School House to stand within the Church fence is also greatly needed as the present building used for Sunday School purposes is beyond repairing.
There is no other surviving information on the need for a Sunday School at Waimate North, nor any information about the operation of the Sunday School at that time. What this minute does reveal is that the operation of a Sunday School was from the beginning an integral part of the operation of the church, and that a specific building for it was seen as essential. It was also, from the beginning, designed to be placed ‘within the church fence' i.e. within the churchyard cemetery.
The Church Minute Book contains the records of subsequent Annual Meetings of the congregation in the 1870s. The Meetings in 1873, 19 January 1874, 27 January 1875 and 1 February 1876 are recorded as being held in the Native School House, which seems likely to have been the ‘present building used for Sunday School purposes [that] is beyond repairing' referred to in 1871. The Annual Meeting on 1 February 1877 was held in the Church. There is no reference in the Minute Book to the building of the Sunday School, but the Annual Meeting held on 11 January 1878 was held in the ‘Sunday School House' . It seems most likely therefore that the Sunday School was built between February 1877 and January 1878. There is however no reference in the record of the January 1878 meeting to the erection or opening of the Sunday School, or to its cost. The accounts were approved, but no detail of them was recorded. However, at a meeting of the Vestry held in September that year, payment was approved of ‘£7 for paying off the debt on the School house'.
Over the next twenty years, the Minutes of General Meetings report, usually favourably, on the operation of the Sunday School classes. In January 1888 it is recorded that ‘the Report of the Sunday School which was presented by Mr W Bedggood Superintendent shewed a Roll of 22 boys and 17 girls, total 37. The average attendance during the year had been 18.6, being an increase on the year before of 6. The increase being especially marked in the younger class.' The following year it was agreed that ‘2 dozen cups and saucers and 3 dozen mugs be purchased for the use of the Sunday School, and that a subscription list be now opened to defray the expenses of the same'.
It seems quite likely that this purchase in 1889 documents the beginning of the use of the Sunday School building for a wider range of parish functions than simply the holding of Sunday School classes themselves - mugs and cups and saucers not normally being part of a Sunday School programme. Probably since that time, and certainly to the present, the Sunday School building functions as a small church hall, with refreshments being served there to the congregation after services, for the holding of Parish and other community meetings, and for serving refreshments associated with life-cycle events held in the church such as funerals and weddings.
In 1890, the General Meeting considered the cost of maintaining the churchyard, and the suggestion was made that ‘occasional grazing with sheep would avoid much needless labour'. However, another parishioner made reference to ‘the strong scruples of the Maoris as to allowing livestock to feed in a place consecrated to the dead'. It was resolved to consult the Maori congregation (no outcome of that discussion is recorded). It is apposite that this discussion took place in the Sunday School building which was itself erected within the boundary fence of the church cemetery - see discussion below.
In 1893 the Parish undertook the painting and repair of the Sunday School , and in 1908 it was resolved ‘that a subscription list be opened for the covering of the Sunday School roof with Iron'. This reference suggests that until that time the roof had not been iron but was shingled, though there is no independent confirmation of that. In 1910 it was agreed that ‘the deficiency in funds for repairs to the Sunday School to be made up from cemetery fees in hand', and again in 1930 when Mr Cook undertook repairs, it was agreed that his ‘account for £1/10/- for repairs to Sunday School Room be paid from cemetery account'.
At a date that has not been able to determined precisely, the Sunday School was removed from its position within the churchyard cemetery to its current location in Church Lane, adjacent to the churchyard but outside it. Displayed in the Sunday School are three colour photographic prints of the relocation being undertaken. The fact that these are colour prints and the model of the bulldozer being used to haul the building suggest that this work was undertaken after the Second World War. Unfortunately, there appears to be no other documentation of this move, nor is there any specific recollection of members of the congregation or community at Waimate North that would enable this to be dated more precisely. A general response to questioning has been that those who would have known are now deceased. A date of 1950 has been agreed as being a reasonable estimation. That same oral history indicates that the purpose of relocating the Sunday School was to remove it from the cemetery.
The Sunday School has served many functions for the congregation of St John the Baptist's and the community of Waimate North. For over a century it provided for the religious educational needs of the congregation of St John the Baptist and the Waimate North community. Members of the congregation spoken to in the course of preparing this report referred to their childhood memories of attending Sunday School in the building. As the congregation of St John's has aged and diminished in numbers, there is no longer an active Sunday School as part of the worship at St John the Baptist church. But the Sunday School building serves as a small church hall (in the absence of any other hall at St John's) for functions and events, for catering associated with funerals, weddings and other church occasions, as well as serving the wider community as a meeting room and a polling booth in General Elections.
The Church of St John the Baptist Sunday School is located between Te Waimate Mission House (Record no. 3 Category I) and the Church of St John the Baptist, Waimate North (Record no. 64, Category I). It is an integral part of the historic landscape of Waimate North, and is the first building to be encountered by visitors to either the church or the Mission House.
The land on which it stands, as well as the site on which it formerly stood, was part of the purchase of land by the CMS for Te Waimate Mission Station. Samuel Marsden had been contemplating the purchase of land for an inland mission for some time. In March 1830 he visited the Waimate district and selected the site for the Mission. Negotiations with the Maori owners of the land followed. The first deed for some 735 acres was signed on 11 September 1830, with a second purchase of some 300 acres on 7 October 1830. Several smaller purchases followed, the last in May 1839. The CMS made a claim to the Land Claims Commissioners for land at Waimate North in 1842, and a Crown Grant for 977 acres was issued to trustees on behalf of the CMS in 1850.
Before the withdrawal of the CMS from New Zealand in 1892, the remaining land at Waimate North, including the sites of the Mission House, Church and Sunday School, were transferred to the Anglican Church of New Zealand in 1886.
The Sunday School at Waimate North is a simple rectangular kauri timber building with a gabled shingle roof, with a more modern 'lean-to' kitchen added at the rear. The timber walls are board and batten construction. The original structure is 9.25 metres long and 5.28 metres wide. The lean-to at the rear is 6.5 metres long and 2.87 metres wide.
The front of the building, which faces north, has a central single four panel entrance door, sheltered by a small porch, approached by three concrete steps and a concrete landing. The porch has a gabled, shingled roof, its gable at right angles to the main gable of the building, and joining the building immediately below the line of the main roof. At the apex of the porch gable is a small white painted wooden cross.
The relocation of the Sunday School from its original position 50 metres away has been discussed above. It seems likely that the concrete steps date from this relocation around 1950. The building is now supported on concrete piles, and is higher from the ground than it was originally. In its location in the churchyard, the timber porch landing was reached by a single timber step.
In the front wall, one each side of the door, are two double hung sash windows, each sash having six rectangular lights. These windows were replaced in 2006 because of rot in the previous windows; they were carefully made to match the previous design.
Both end walls are plain board and batten, without fenestration. However, the western end of the lean-to has a single modern wooden door in vertical tongue and groove, which is at the top of a small square landing reached by two wooden steps, with a simple wooden handrail. The eastern end of the lean-to addition has a small square four pane window to give light and ventilation to the toilet. The back wall of the lean-to has a rectangular single pane opaque window to light and ventilate the toilet, and a two pane casement window in the kitchen. A freestanding plastic water tank collects rainwater from the lean-to roof.
The rear wall of the Sunday School has one remaining external window at the eastern end to match the sash windows at the front, but the second window has been removed to provide a service hatch from the lean-to kitchen into the Sunday School itself. In the centre of the rear wall is a doorway giving access into the kitchen and lavatory. It is not clear if this opening replaces an original rear door, or, more likely, replaces a third sash window in the original rear wall.
The interior of the Sunday School is unlined, with the natural oiled surface of the vertical wall boards revealed behind the timber framing. Similar boards provide sarking in the gable of the roof, which has no ceiling. The three trusses have simple cross braces for strengthening.
The plain and simple appearance of the building, internally and outside, is typical of many Northland churches and other public buildings. While not identical, it has strong similarities with the Waimate North Runanga Courthouse, which formerly stood in Courthouse Lane slightly to the northwest of the church, across Te Ahu Ahu Road. The Courthouse was built in 1862 for use by the first runanga of Sir George Grey's native administration , and subsequently used as a courthouse until 1913. In 1974 to save it from demolition, the Courthouse was relocated to the Pioneer Village in Kaikohe, where it now stands.
A recent publication has suggested a Scandinavian influence in the design of the Sunday School, but that seems unlikely. Rather it reflects a solid tradition of vernacular architecture in timber, in a part of the country where timber was readily available.
The Sunday School currently has a shingle roof, replaced relatively recently. This reflects the view, discussed above, that it originally had a shingle roof that was replaced with iron about 1910.
Current Church of St John the Baptist opened at Waimate North, with the need for a dedicated Sunday School building identified.
1877 - 1878
Sunday School built between February 1877 and January 1878 on the southern fence-line of the churchyard at St John the Baptist.
Sunday School re-roofed with iron
Sunday School relocated in Church Lane to remove it from the churchyard cemetery.
Kauri timber framing, cladding, flooring, roof originally shingled, subsequently clad in iron, now replaced with cedar shingles
8th April 2009
Report Written By
Anglican Diocesan Archive
Anglican Diocesan Archive
Waimate Church Minute Book 1871 - 1946, Anglican Archives, Auckland
J. Elder, The Letters and Journals of Samuel Marsden 1765-1838, Dunedin, 1932
Rev. William Morley, The History of Methodism in New Zealand, Wellington, 1900
M. W. Standish, The Waimate Mission Station, Wellington, 1962
Judith Binney. The Legacy of Guilt: a life of Thomas Kendall, Bridget William Books, 2005
Jan Harris. The Waimate Mission Station NZHPT Research Report 1984
Vincent O'Malley. Agents of autonomy: Maori committees in the nineteenth century, Huia, 1998
Peters, 2008 (2)
Michael Peters, Robert Raikes: The Founder of Sunday School 1780, WinePress, 2008
L M Rogers, The Early Journals of Henry Williams, Pegasus, 1961
Philip Saunders. 'Te Waimate Remembers Fenwick Barrett', The Anglican, September 2007
F.M.L. Thompson (ed). The Cambridge Social History of Britain 1750-1950 Volume 3: Social Agencies and Institutions, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1990
G.Sutherland, 'Education' in F.M.L. Thompson (ed). The Cambridge Social History of Britain 1750-1950 Volume 3: Social Agencies and Institutions, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1990
A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Northland Area Office.
The Sunday School is specifically identified in the Far North District Plan 2007. A Rule in the District Plan provides that the demolition or removal of the Sunday School is a prohibited activity. This is the highest level of protection provided in the Far North District Plan, applying to only 17 buildings in the whole District.
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.