St James' Church (Anglican)

209 Kerikeri Road, Kerikeri

  • St James' Church (Anglican), Kerikeri. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Shellie Evans. Taken By: Shellie Evans – flyingkiwigirl. Date: 4/11/2018.
  • St James' Church (Anglican), Kerikeri. Taken from drone.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Grant Sheehan. Date: 7/02/2017.
  • St James' Church (Anglican), Kerikeri.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Tatum Hoskin. Date: 27/02/2021.
  • St James' Church (Anglican), Kerikeri.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Grant Sheehan. Date: 7/02/2017.
  • St James' Church (Anglican), Kerikeri. Interior.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Tatum Hoskin. Date: 27/02/2021.
  • St James' Church (Anglican), Kerikeri. Interior.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Tatum Hoskin. Date: 27/02/2021.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 68 Date Entered 27th June 1985 Date of Effect 27th June 1985


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).

City/District Council

Far North District


Northland Region

Legal description

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


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.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Clarke, Marsden

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Cook, W

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Notable Features

Registration covers the building, its fixtures and finishes. It also includes recent modifications. The structure is associated with gravestones, inhumations and the buried remains of an 1829 chapel in its churchyard.

Construction Dates

1829 -
Site of chapel

1835 -
Churchyard in use for burial

Original Construction
1878 -
Construction of St James' Church

1910 -
Roof shingles replaced by corrugated iron

1963 -
Extension of nave and vestry/porch

1969 -
Extension of sanctuary/chancel

2013 -
New roof.

Public NZAA Number


Completion Date

25th June 2008

Report Written By

Martin Jones and Joan McKenzie

Information Sources

Church of the Province of New Zealand, 1969

Church of the Province of New Zealand Bay of Islands Parochial District, A Lamp Still Burns in Kerikeri, Whangarei, 1969

Pickmere, 1994

Nancy Pickmere, Kerikeri: Heritage of Dreams, Russell, 1994

Pickmere, 1986

Nancy Pickmere, Whangarei: The Founding Years, Whangarei, 1986

Ross, 1967 (5)

R. M. Ross, 'St James' Church, Kerikeri', unpublished ms., Auckland, 1967 (held by NZHPT, Auckland)

Watson, 1997

A P B Watson, Chapel to Church: An Account of the Setting Up of the Mission Station at Kerikeri in 1819 and of the Events that Followed During the Years 1824-1997, 3rd ed., Kerikeri, 1997

Porter, 1983 (2)

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

Other Information

St James' Church (Anglican) is part of a cultural site considered to be a high priority for immediate world heritage listing and which has been included on New Zealand's Tentative World Heritage List.

A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Northern Region Office.

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.