Christ Church (Anglican)

1-3 Church Street, Baker Street And Robertson Street, Russell

  • Christ Church (Anglican), Russell. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Shellie Evans . Taken By: Shellie Evans – flyingkiwigirl. Date: 7/10/2018.
  • Christ Church (Anglican), Russell. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Shellie Evans . Taken By: Shellie Evans – flyingkiwigirl. Date: 7/10/2018.
  • Christ Church (Anglican), Russell. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Shellie Evans . Taken By: Shellie Evans – flyingkiwigirl. Date: 7/10/2018.
  • Christ Church (Anglican), Russell. Interior 2015 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Auckland Libraries . Taken By: Bruce Ringer.
  • Chris Church (Anglican), Russell. C.1920 Township of Russell with the Anglican Christ Church on the left. Ref: 1/2-100983-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington New Zealand. /records/23148744.
    Copyright: Unknown. Taken By: Unidentified.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1 Date Entered 24th November 1983 Date of Effect 24th November 1983


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Allot 3 TN OF Russell SEC 12 (RT NA750/99), North Auckland Land District. The extent includes Christ Church (Anglican), its fixtures fittings and finishes, and its Churchyard, including the grave monuments, markers and picket fence.

City/District Council

Far North District


Northland Region

Legal description

Allot 3 TN OF Russell SEC 12 (RT NA750/99), North Auckland Land District


This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. The following text is the original citation considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration. Information in square brackets indicate modifications made after the paper was considered by the NZHPT Board.

Built in 1835, Christ Church is the oldest surviving church in New Zealand. However, alterations after 1871 transformed its appearance and its original simple and plain character was considerably lessened.

The church originally exhibited a highly ordered symmetrical façade. Rectangular in plan, without a proper chancel, it was clad in weatherboard with a hipped roof and Gothic arched windows. The church was built by Gilbert Mair, a former ship's carpenter, with money from public subscription.

During the battle in 1845 between British forces and [Maori toa (warriors), Kawiti and Hone Heke], the church became the centre of fighting and received a number of bullet holes. It also came under the line of fire from the naval ship, HMS Hazard, and was splintered by musket balls. The churchyard contains the graves of men from the Hazard who died in the battle, in addition to the graves of Tamati Waka Nene and Hannah King.

In 1971 the hipped roof was replaced with a gabled roof form and the old box pews were used for panelling, arranged as wainscoting on the walls. The church was named 'Christ Church' by Bishop Cowie in 1873, in recognition that it was the oldest surviving church. A porch and buttresses were added later in the 1870s and a belfry was erected in 1890. The additions had the effect of Victorianising the church.

Still a simple and unpretentious building, Christ Church is significant for its history and its setting.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Mair, Gilbert

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Shore-Bennett, Beverley (stained glass)

Beverley Shore Bennett MBE was born in Wellington in 1928, descended on both sides from New Zealand pioneers.

She became a full time student at Wellington Art School in 1946 after leaving Samuel Marsden Collegiate School. The course was a great all-round art training taken by F.V.Ellis. At that time he was designing glass for Roy Miller at Miller’s Studios in Dunedin and was so excited by it that he set his class a glass design project, which Beverley enjoyed. At that stage, however, she was determined to be a portrait painter, having studied portraiture with Betty Rhind.

In 1951 she travelled to England, spending two years at the Byam Shaw School of Drawing and Painting in London, training with professional tutors including Brian Thomas. While there she took part in several exhibitions including at the Royal Academy.

In 1953 Beverley returned home, married and a family of three girls followed, however she continued painting portrait commissions.

In 1969 she was asked by Dean Walter Hurst to design a window for Wellington Cathedral in memory of the founder of the Holm Shipping Company. The design was approved but Beverley needed a glass craftsman. She remembered that her Art School teacher, F.V.Ellis, had been working with Miller Studios in Dunedin on window commissions and contacted Roy Miller. His enthusiasm was most encouraging in that this was to be a totally New Zealand project. Until then Roy had been using English designer, Kenneth Gordon Bunton.

This began a wonderful collaboration with Roy Miller for over 10 years, producing over 170 single lights in over 57 commissions. Windows ranged in size from ten-foot church windows to small decorative panels for houses. It was a very happy, harmonious collaboration where Roy was able to achieve the effect she had planned in the original design.

Later, Beverley worked with glass craftsman Paul Hutchins, producing almost 60 commissions, some comprising of multiple windows. Paul had trained at the Swansea School of Art and was employed by Millers Studios in 1978. With further training in stained glass painting Paul became a very fine artist and eventually carried out all the window work at Millers Studios until Paul moved to Western Australia in 1987 and Millers glass studio closed to focus on shop design and sign painting.

Beverley also worked with Toronto glass artist, Stephen Belanger-Taylor, originally English and married to French Canadian hot glass artist, Denise Belanger-Taylor. Many significant window commissions, including the “I am the bread of life” window for Wellington’s Lady Chapel Cathedral, were completed by “mail order” across the Pacific before the Canadians moved permanently to Geraldine, New Zealand.

Beverley designed all of the thirteen windows for Napier’s St Johns cathedral and both Paul and Stephen collaborated with her at different times on this. Paul’s first job was to complete four huge windows in the west end, while Stephen completed the final two in 2004. There are now over three hundred of her window designs in New Zealand including all the windows in Wellington’s Lady Chapel.

Beverley has also designed and made church vestments and hangings, the largest being the dossal in Wellington Cathedral.

She is the only New Zealand woman to be an elected Fellow of the British Society of Master Glass Painters. Stephen was already a Fellow when they met, and Roy was also honoured with this title. Currently, in 2010 these three artists are the only New Zealand fellows of this society. Stephen died in 2009 and Roy died in 1981

While Beverley is no longer actively involved in design she is kept busy with consultancy work and with family life, and as a lay minister in her Waikanae parish.

Miller Studios, Dunedin (stained glass)

Roy Miller came from a family of artists and craftstmen. His grandfather Henry Miller was a Master Coachbuilder whose handsome-cabs won several championship awards at the Melbourne Exhibition. Roy’s father Oswell set the standard of signwriting in Dunedin with his firm O G Miller which started in 1913 and became Miller Studios in 1958.

Roy’s brother Ralph Miller also worked in the family firm, establishing modern design techniques and was a talented artist, but tragically died aged 37 in 1956.

Roy started working with his father as a signwriter after leaving primary school in the days when paint was mixed each morning from powder. Acid etching on glass was a large part of the work in those days and Roy spent a large part of his time with this work. It was very specialized with various effects being obtained by using different acids over each other, resulting in badly burned hands at times.

Robert Fraser who was the first glass painter in New Zealand had a room next to O G Miller in Rattray St and in 1942 he offered to teach Roy the art of stained glass, as he was about to retire. In 1943 O G Miller purchased Fraser’s Art Glass Works and Roy Miller started producing his own stained glass window beginning initially with about one commission a year.

A progressive change came when the design work for Roy’s stained glass windows was done by Frederick Ellis A.R.C.A.of Wellington who produced designs from 1948 - 1961. Then to match competition from the English Studios Roy used designs from Kenneth Bunton (from 1959 - 1969) who lived in England. Roy, however, was always sure the ultimate was to be able to produce the complete window in New Zealand and he achieved this in 1969 when he combined with designer Beverley Shore Bennett to produce the Holm window in the Wellington Cathedral. Beverley produced designs for Miller Studios from 1969 top the studio closed in 1987.

Roy Miller and Beverley Shore Bennett were made the first New Zealand ‘Fellows of the British Society of Master Glass Painters’, a society formed approximately 500 years ago. Roy Miller’s stained glass windows can now be seen all over New Zealand from small churches to leading churches and cathedrals.

Paul Hutchins from Wales joined Miller Studios in 1977 and worked with Roy for several years. Roy retired in the early 1980s but came out of retirement to work with Paul on three windows in the Christchurch Cathedral. He died just before the windows were completed.

Miller Studios closed the glass department in 1987 following a recession and consequent drop in orders from churches.

Additional informationopen/close

Notable Features

The brass crucifix on the reredos behind the altar has an engraved inscription ‘AMDG and in memory of HTAS who died in South Africa 11 January 1903 Aged 23 RIP’. Heather Lindauer identified HTAS as Henry Tapua Athelstane Stephenson, a member of the Stephenson family who had served in the South African War, but had remained there after the war and had died there. The crucifix and candlesticks were donated to Christ Church in his memory by his family. The church contains rolls of honour for both World War One and World War Two, as well as war memorial tablets for Clement Wood 1916 and John Rivers 1918. (Stuart Park, NZHPT Northland News, 4 December 2011).

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1835 - 1836
Construction of chapel (now Christ Church) and first use of churchyard

Information Sources

Auckland Weekly News

Auckland Weekly News

March 29, 1873

Boese, 1977

Kay Boese, 'Tides of History: Bay of Islands County', Whangarei, 1977

Cairncross, 1994

Craig Cairncross, 'Conservation Study and Maintenance Plan: Christ Church, Russell', Wellington, 1994 (held by NZHPT, Auckland)

King, 1992

Marie King, A Most Noble Anchorage: A Story of Russell and the Bay of Islands, Kerikeri, 1992

King, 1967

Marie King, 'Christ Church, Kororareka, Russell, Bay of Islands, New Zealand', [Russell], 1967

Ross, 1967 (6)

R. M. Ross, 'Christ Church, Russell', unpublished ms., Auckland, 1967 (held by NZHPT, Auckland)

Porter, 1983 (2)

Frances Porter (ed.), Historic Buildings of New Zealand: North Island (2nd edn.), Auckland, 1983

Other Information

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.