St James' Church (Anglican)

209 Kerikeri Road, KERIKERI

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Located on the site of an earlier place of worship, St James' Church is one of an important group of nineteenth-century places that demonstrate a long tradition of Christian activity at Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands (see also 'Kerikeri Mission House, Kerikeri', and 'Stone Store, Kerikeri'). The timber Gothic Revival building was erected in 1878 on a prominent knoll overlooking the historic nucleus of a Church Missionary Society (CMS) settlement. The settlement had been founded in 1819 in the shadow of Kororipo pa as the second CMS station in New Zealand. The CMS mission initially provided local Ngai Tawake inhabitants with practical skills of perceived civilising benefit, before shifting its policy to that of spiritual conversion. A structure completed close to the Kerikeri foreshore in 1824 (later demolished) is considered to have been probably the first building erected for Christian worship in New Zealand. A larger lath and plaster chapel was subsequently built on the site of the present church in 1829 under the supervision of the missionary George Clarke (1798-1875). With standing room for 200-300 Maori, this building was a ceremonial focus for the settlement and its mission. In 1830 it witnessed an early inter-racial church marriage between Karuhi and the Danish trader Hans Falk (also known as Phillip Tapsell, 1777?-1873). The Nga Puhi leader Hone Heke (?-1850) also married Hariata, daughter of Hongi Hika, there in 1837. Initial burials in a surrounding churchyard included those of missionary children. The present church replaced the chapel shortly after the CMS began selling its surplus land in the area, and after Kerikeri had been transformed into a quiet trading post. The new structure was part of the widespread rebuilding of Anglican churches in Northland in the later nineteenth century, and was opened in December 1878 by the Reverend H. P. Taua (1837-1887) and Edward Clarke (1831-1900), Archdeacon of Waimate, with a service conducted in Maori. Built by W. Cook of Waimate at a cost of £235, the church initially consisted of a nave, a small chancel, and a porch on its northern side. It was designed by Marsden Clarke who, like the Archdeacon of Waimate, was a son of the missionary builder George Clarke. Linked symbolically to the achievements and mana of the CMS missionaries, the building is said to have incorporated material from the earlier structure. Its Gothic Revival form, however, contrasted with the more simple Georgian style of its predecessor, reflecting different religious and architectural priorities. Like other churches of its era in northern New Zealand, its kauri frame was externally clad with vertical board and batten, while its interior was lined with vertical planks. Measuring 12.5m x 5.5m (41 ft x 18 ft), the church originally held a seated congregation of 75, indicating the modest size of the late nineteenth-century population at Kerikeri. It originally sat on puriri piles set on sandstone blocks. Subsequent modifications to the building included replacing a timber shingled roof with corrugated iron in 1910. In 1963 the nave, vestry and porch were enlarged after Kerikeri grew rapidly as a centre for the cultivation of tropical fruits. Six years later, the chancel was also extended. These 1960s alterations were consciously carried out in a sympathetic style. The church currently remains in use as a place of worship, surrounded by a large churchyard. The latter contains the burials and gravestones of CMS missionaries and their descendants, as well as Maori and Pakeha devotees. St James' Church is nationally significant as part of a well-preserved pre- and early colonial landscape, which contains the earliest timber and stone buildings in New Zealand and other important sites. The building is of special value as a visual reminder of the CMS mission at Kerikeri and its role in the introduction of Christian religion to New Zealand. The site has seen notable events in the early interaction between Maori and Pakeha, and is associated with people of considerable mana in both communities. The building is important for its links with the development of the Anglican Church, including its expansion and reorganisation in the 1870s. The structure reflects late colonial building techniques and the architectural preferences of the period, including through its internal appearance. The church has outstanding spiritual significance as a place of worship and communal gathering for approximately 130 years, and as the site of religious gatherings for an additional half-century. It also has special value for encompassing one of New Zealand's oldest churchyards, which includes nineteenth-century burials, gravestones and the probable buried remains of an 1829 chapel.

St James' Church (Anglican), Kerikeri. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Image courtesy of | Shellie Evans – flyingkiwigirl | 04/11/2018 | Shellie Evans
St James' Church (Anglican), Kerikeri. Taken from drone | Grant Sheehan | 07/02/2017 | Heritage New Zealand
St James' Church (Anglican), Kerikeri | Tatum Hoskin | 27/02/2021 | Heritage New Zealand
St James' Church (Anglican), Kerikeri | Grant Sheehan | 07/02/2017 | Heritage New Zealand
St James' Church (Anglican), Kerikeri. Interior | Tatum Hoskin | 27/02/2021 | Heritage New Zealand
St James' Church (Anglican), Kerikeri. Interior | Tatum Hoskin | 27/02/2021 | Heritage New Zealand



List Entry Information


Detailed List Entry



List Entry Status

Historic Place Category 1


Private/No Public Access

List Number


Date Entered

6th June 1985

Date of Effect

6th June 1985

City/District Council

Far North District


Northland Region

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Pt OLC 39 (RT NA1592/100), North Auckland Land District and the building and churchyard known as St James' Church (Anglican) thereon, and its fittings and fixtures. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 for further information).

Legal description

Pt OLC 39 (RT NA1592/100), North Auckland Land District

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