Naseby Athenaeum

Derwent Street, Naseby

  • Naseby Athenaeum. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Shellie Evans. Taken By: Shellie Evans – flyingkiwigirl. Date: 5/08/2015.
  • Naseby Athenaeum. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Shellie Evans. Taken By: Shellie Evans – flyingkiwigirl. Date: 5/08/2015.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4369 Date Entered 26th November 1987 Date of Effect 26th November 1987


City/District Council

Central Otago District


Otago Region

Legal description

Sec 18 Blk II Naseby Town

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The Naseby goldfield was discovered in 1863 and this building was erected only two years later as a Union church. By 1870-1873 there were sufficient ministers and supporters of each faith to have their own separate churches and the Union church fund and the building were transferred to an Athenaeum committee in 1870. In 1873 the citizens of Naseby voted 200 pounds to buying books for the Athenaeum. Though miners worked long hours, reading books from lending libraries seems to have been a popular alternative leisure activity to drinking in public houses, and nearly every small mining settlement had its athenaeum. Some, such as the one at Moonlight, remained long after most of the miners had gone.


One of the simplest of early church building showing early use of vertical corrugated iron walls.


An early building in a streetscape with several other nineteenth century buildings.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

George, E.

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Campbell, John

(Union Church Naseby)

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description


Style is simple barn-shape with a front porch repeating the shape of the front gable.


One of the gothic side windows has been replaced with a modern rectangular casement window, the two outside doors have been modernised and the interior lined out with plywood and modern shelving. The roofing iron has been replaced. A small porch has been added.

Notable Features

One of the few athenaeum buildings which looks like a church since it still retains six of its seven gothic patterned windows.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1865 -

Construction Details

The church is a very simple, single gable building of rectangular plan (about 6.5 x 14m) with a porch symmetrically arranged on the front wall to repeat the pattern of the roof gable. There is a window in the front wall of the porch with a nice gothic arch and a tracery of small panes repeating the arch. There are five similar windows in the side walls. The windows make it look like a church still.

Information Sources

Cowan, 1948

Janet. C. Cowan, Down the Years in the Maniototo: A Survey of the Early History of Maniototo County and Naseby Borough, Otago Centennial Historical Publications, Whitcombe and Tombs, Dunedin, 1948

Don, 1936

A. Don, Memories of the Golden Road. Reed, Dunedin, 1936

Other Information

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

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.