St Andrew's United Church (Presbyterian/Methodist)

66 Hampden Street And Fitzherbert Street, Hokitika

  • St Andrew's United Church (Presbyterian/Methodist).
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand . Taken By: N Jackson. Date: 24/10/2015.
  • St Andrew's United Church (Presbyterian/Methodist).
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand . Taken By: N Jackson. Date: 24/10/2015.
  • St Andrew's United Church (Presbyterian/Methodist). Interior September 1989. Image included in Field Record Form Collection.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand . Taken By: A E McEwan.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 5013 Date Entered 28th June 1990 Date of Effect 28th June 1990


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Sec 1129 TN of Hokitika (RT WS3A/268), Westland Land District and the building known as St Andrew's United Church (Presbyterian/Methodist) thereon. Refer to the extent map tabled at the Heritage New Zealand Board meeting on 3 September 2015.

City/District Council

Westland District


West Coast Region

Legal description

Sec 1129 TN of Hokitika (RT WS3A/268), Westland Land District


The grey and white church of St Andrew's at Hokitika was erected in 1935 as a memorial to the Presbyterian and Scottish residents of the area who died during the First World War, and as a replacement for the 1867 church. The town of Hokitika was established after gold was found in the area in 1864. As well as the hotels, shops and governmental agencies set up to service the miners, a number of religious organisations also settled in the town. When the town was surveyed in 1865 the government provided sections for various religious denominations. By 1866 a Masonic Hall, Jewish synagogue, Wesleyan church and a Roman Catholic church had been built and an Anglican church was near completion.

Presbyterian services were first held in the courthouse at Hokitika and then in the Fire Brigade Hall. The first Presbyterian church to be built in Hokitika was wooden, erected on a section originally set aside for a Congregational church. Opened early in 1867, this church survived until 1946 but was used for the last ten years of its life as a Sunday school only. Shortly after the signing of the Armistice in 1918 the Presbyterian congregation of Hokitika decided to erect a new church, which would serve as a memorial to the local Presbyterians and Scots who had fought and died in World War I. The first sod was turned at a ceremony on 19 July 1919 but difficulties with both funding and the site meant that construction on St Andrew's did not start until 1935 and, when it did, it was on a different section of land.

St Andrew's was designed by Christchurch architect Roy Lovell-Smith (1884-1972), one of a number of churches he designed throughout his career. It appears that Lovell-Smith was commissioned to design the church around 1931, the date of his first drawings. The construction of St Andrew's is relatively unusual, as Lovell-Smith designed it to be built from reinforced concrete with a timber ceiling and slate roof. The exterior walls mostly consist of two panels of four-inch reinforced concrete separated by a six-inch cavity and was constructed this way to 'resist earthquakes and exclude moisture'. Interestingly, although Lovell-Smith's first drawings show solid concrete walls, by 1935 his plans had evolved to include a cavity.

St Andrew's is Gothic in style, with a square tower, lancet windows and an apsidal end, which, unusually, contains the choir vestry. Inside the floor plan is non-conformist in layout and the furniture and fittings are rimu. These include the pulpit, choir rail, communion table, and the Minister's and Elders' chairs, all designed by Lovell-Smith. The end of the kneeling rails are decorated with a carved thistle while a representation of the St Andrew's cross decorates the chairs. The woodwork of the pulpit, communion table and choir screen mirrors the arches of the east window. At the time it opened the interior walls were plastered in white, and blue carpets covered the floors. The Roll of Honour, carved in marble, is mounted just inside the entrance.

As with other Presbyterian churches throughout New Zealand, St Andrew's united with the local Methodist church in 1970, and is now known as St Andrew's United Church.

St Andrew's was the first Presbyterian congregation to be established on West Coast. The church building itself is a significant example of Lovell-Smith's ecclesiastical work and one of only a handful of churches throughout New Zealand constructed in reinforced concrete prior to World War II. It is one of only a few churches to be specifically built as a war memorial. St Andrews is a distinctive feature of Hokitika and is still used for worship today.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

St Andrew's was the first Presbyterian congregation to be established on the West Coast. The present church serves as a visible reminder of the long association of the church with Hokitika, dating back almost to the town's foundation. The Church is a memorial to those local Presbyterians and Scots who died in the First World War.


St Andrew's United Church is a fine example of a small Gothic style parish church. One of a large number of churches designed by Roy Lovell-Smith during his career, it is an attractive building which is well-proportioned and in excellent condition. The church contains a very fine Roll of Honour, in marble.


Standing on State Highway Six, at Hokitika, St Andrew's United Church is a prominent landmark in a town with very few medium or high-rise buildings.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Lovell-Smith, Roy

Roy Lovell-Smith (1884-1972) was born and educated in Christchurch. He served his articles with A.H. Hart in the first years of this century. After qualifying in 1905 he established his own practice in the city and in the same year became the youngest associate member of the New Zealand Institute of Architects at that time. Nearly thirty years in private practice followed, during which time the architect designed a wide range of different building types for construction throughout Canterbury. Prompted by the continuing impact of the Depression, he joined the Valuation Department in 1933, attaining the position of district property supervisor for the State Advances Corporation before his retirement six years later. Lovell-Smith maintained a small practice during these years and continued his architectural work following the Second World War, becoming known particularly for the ecclesiastical and residential buildings he designed.

Churches designed by Lovell-Smith include St Ninian's Presbyterian Church, Riccarton (1926), St Paul's Presbyterian Church, Timaru (1926-27), St John's Methodist Church, Bryndwr (1928-9) and the Kaiapoi Methodist Co-operating Church (1934). In addition to the large number of commissions he received from Presbyterian, Methodist and Anglican congregations, Lovell-Smith also designed countless rural, urban and suburban houses, and a smaller number of commercial and county council buildings.

(See also Margaret Lovell-Smith, Plain Living, High Thinking: The Family Story of Jennie and Will Lovell-Smith, Christchurch, 1995.)

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative


On 30 April 1866 the first Presbyterian service on the West Coast was held in Hokitika. In January 1867 the Reverend John Gow was brought out from Scotland to be the first minister of the Hokitika parish. A month later the first St Andrew's was completed at a cost of approximately £700. In 1918 the congregation decided to erect a new church in permanent materials to commemorate those who fell during the First World War. On 19 July 1919 the first sod was turned on the proposed site of the new church but financial difficulties meant that St Andrew's Scots Memorial Church was not built until sixteen years later when it was erected on another site.

It appears that Roy Lovell-Smith was commissioned to design the memorial church in 1931, however further problems concerning finance and the choice of a new site delayed construction for a further three and a half years. Tenders were finally called in January 1935 and on 24 November of that year St Andrew's was officially opened, free of debt, at a cost of over £2,540. The original church continued to be used by the Sunday School until its demolition in 1946. In 1970 St Andrew's United Parish was established following the unification of the local Presbyterian and Methodist churches.

Physical Description


St Andrew's United is a modest Gothic style church with a picturesque exterior and non-conformist floor plan. The main body of the church is five bays long and lit by paired lancet windows which alternate with false buttresses to create an ecclesiastical appearance with a minimum of ornamentation. Paired lancets also light the apsidal end. A slightly more decorative effect is achieved by the use of triple lancets in the light tower and liturgical west wall. The tower introduces a vertical element to the composition and contains the Minister's vestry and a secondary entrance. It is notable for the wide Gothic arch windows on all four sides beneath the parapet, each containing three lancets within the width of the architrave. A similar, decorative triple lancet is found in the west wall. A Roll of Honour to the dead of World War I, finely executed in marble in the form of a tablet, is mounted inside near the entrance.

The principal entrance is the gabled porch which echoes the form of the main roof. The door and window surrounds, buttress copings and bargeboards of the nave and porch are highlighted in white paint to create a pleasing contrast with the dark grey colouring of the roughcast walls and slate roof.

Inside St Andrew's, what appears to be the apse of the church is in fact the choir vestry, and the chancel and nave are both contained within the gabled section of the building. Raised slightly to separate it visually from the nave, the chancel features an illuminated cross which hangs in the shallow arched recess behind the communion table. Four king-post trusses support the roof structure. The simple plaster finish of the interior is complemented by the rimu fittings and furnishings which were also designed by the architect.


Post 1970 - Rearrangement of interior fittings. Cross hung in chancel.

Notable Features

Westland Scots Memorial was carved in marble 'In Loving and Grateful Memory of Our Fallen in the Great War 1914-1918'. It lists forty names beginning with that of a nurse, M. Jamieson and finishes with 'Lest we forget'.

Wooden ceiling and supporting knee braced trusses.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1935 -
Tenders called January 1935. Church officially opened November 1935

1931 -

Rearrangement of interior fittings. Cross hung in chancel.

Construction Details

Reinforced concrete foundation and double walls with exterior roughcast cement plaster. Slate roof and wooden bargeboards. Plaster interior; oiled rimu ceiling timbers, fittings and furnishings.

Completion Date

16th August 2002

Report Written By

Melanie Lovell-Smith

Information Sources

Canterbury Museum

Canterbury Museum

Roy Lovell-Smith, Drawings and Plans, 304/1-15, 110/2

Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1906

Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol. 5, Nelson, Marlborough, Westland, 1906

Elder, 1940

John Rawson Elder, The History of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand 1840-1940, Presbyterian Bookroom, Christchurch, 1940.

Johnston, 1966

Joy Poingdestre Johnston, Consider the years: St Andrew's Presbyterian parish, Hokitika and Kumara: a centennial history, Hokitika, 1966

MacLean, 1990

Chris MacLean and Jock Phillips, The Sorrow and the Pride: New Zealand War Memorials, Wellington, 1990


Architectural Drawings/Plans

Fifteen drawings, on cartridge paper and blueprint, signed by the architect August/October 1931, January/ March/May/June 1935; Pictorial Archives Department, Canterbury Museum, Christchurch.

St Andrews, 1941

St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Remember the days: St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Hokitika, through seventy-five years, Hokitika, 1941


The Press

30 January 1935, p.19.

Thornton, 1996

Geoffrey Thornton, Cast in Concrete: Concrete Construction in New Zealand 1850-1939, Auckland, 1996

University of Canterbury

University of Canterbury

NZ Architects and Architecture Files

Orchard, 1985

J.M. Orchard, St Andrew's United Church, Hokitika - 50th Jubilee Scots' Memorial Church, 1935-1985, Jubilee Committee St Andrew's Church, Hokitika, 1985.

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.