St Bride's Church (Anglican)

Findlay Road, Mauku

  • St Bride's Church (Anglican). From:
    Copyright: Lisa Truttman. Taken By: Lisa Truttman.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 81 Date Entered 15th February 1990 Date of Effect 15th February 1990


City/District Council

Auckland Council


Auckland Council

Legal description

Pt Allot E98 Parish of Waiuku East (RT NA757/283), North Auckland Land District


From 1860 unrest in the area between Auckland and the Waikato increased. In 1861 the newly built church was garrisoned by the male settlers of the district while women and children were placed in safety on a schooner in the harbour. In July 1863 the Maori of the area were ordered to take an oath of allegiance to the Queen and once again the settlers feared war. On this occasion women and children moved into the church before being taken to safety in Auckland.

The church was then stockaded with split-logs set closely against the walls and rifle slits cut through exterior walls. The church became an important military post with as many as two thousand men being camped there.

Other churches in the district - All Souls' Church (Clevedon), St John's (Drury) and St Peter's in the Forest (Bombay) - were also stockaded and acted as havens for the settlers.

After further improvements to the interior of the church in 1884 it was finally consecrated by Bishop Cowie on 22 February 1885.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

St Bride's, at Mauku is historically significant because of its use as a refuge for local settlers, and as a stockade and camp site for soldiers during the wars which began in the Waikato in 1863.


St Bride's reflects ecclesiological canons of church design. The fundamental structures of the church are exposed and there are no ceilings to conceal the rafters and trusses. It eschewed plaster and stucco although the exterior was painted white. The church was faithful to other ecclesiological precepts relating to the presence, proportions and placement of the nave, chancel porch and vestry, and the pitch of the roof.


St Bride's with its tall spire, dominates the surrounds from its elevated site. It presents a fine view from the main approach.

Links between the church and others with which Purchas was associated can be seen. It has been suggested that Purchas designed Holy Trinity, Otahuhu (1863). Its design closely resembles that of St Bride's in the placement of the entrance porch with the tower over it. Purchas favoured the tower detached from the nave, and altered St Peter's, Onehunga, to achieve this effect.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Purchas, Arthur Guyon

The Rev. Dr Arthur Guyon Purchas (1821-1906), who was born in England, settled permanently in Auckland in 1846. Although his father was an architect, Purchas himself had no formal training in architecture, having graduated in medicine. Nevertheless, he left an indelible mark on the early ecclesiastical building of New Zealand. Bishop Selwyn, Purchas and another clerical architect, Frederick Thatcher, devised the style of building known as the 'Selwyn Churches' and created the distinctive chapels which are renowned for their architectural quality as well as for their historical association. While the Ecclesiologists in England imposed their standards on the design of the parish church, it was Selwyn, Purchas and Thatcher who transplanted their ideas in New Zealand.

Purchas gained building experience with Selwyn's architects at St Johns College, and in particular, with the temporary chapel at St Andrews, Epsom in 1846. He designed the original church for St Peter's at Onehunga 1847-48 and was also responsible for enlarging the nave and moving the tower. The design of the stone church of St James at Mangere (1857) has been attributed to Purchas and it is also possible that he was the architect of Holy Trinity Church, Otahuhu. Later in his life he designed a block of shops erected in Karangahape Road.

Purchas' interest and talents also extended to music. He also invented a surgical instrument and the first machine for the preparation of New Zealand flax.

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description


St Bride's is an example of a Gothic Revival church in the Selwyn style. It adheres to the principles laid down by the Ecclesiological Society which believed that a building should be truthful and without pretence. The most influential architect of the Victorian Gothic Revival, A.W.N. Pugin (1812-1852) desired a return to medieval order, and more ritualistic and symbolic forms of worship for which he believed Gothic buildings were best suited. The ecclesiologists followed his teachings. Pugin based his architecture on the precept that there should be no features about a building which were not necessary for convenience, construction or propriety and that ornamentation should consist of enrichment of the essential construction of the building.

Today, the building is lined with horizontal kauri boarding, but it is probable that, in conformity with Ecclesiological precepts, it was originally unlined with the timber framing and trusses exposed.

The church is dominated by its broach spire which is directly above the entrance porch. The steeply gabled roof over the chancel, nave and vestry was originally clad with wooden shingles.

The building has cusped windows with trefoils, arranged in twos, or, on the chancel, in threes. The louvered windows of the belfry also have trefoils. These windows and vents, tower and steep roof together with the vertical board and batten sheathing of the exterior, contribute to the impression of verticality, in keeping with the Gothic ideal that a Christian building should express 'upwardness'.

The external walls still have the loopholes cut in during the military scare of 1863.

Notable Features

Two original oil lamps (now wired for electricity); rifle loopholes; stained glass windows in chancel.

Construction Dates

1863 -
Fifty-four loopholes for rifles cut into exterior walls.

1884 -
Interior clad with horizontal boarding. Clear glass windows in chancel replaced with stained glass windows for church centenary. Pulpit and font installed.

1961 -
Wooden shingles on roof replaced by fibro-cement shingles.

Original Construction
1861 -

Construction Details

Original puriri block foundations replaced in 1953 by concrete blocks. Totara framing with kauri joists and flooring. Roof structure of scissor trusses and kauri sarking. Roof and spire shingled. Exterior cladding of kauri vertical board and batten. Interior originally unlined, but later clad with horizontal kauri boarding.

Information Sources

Lownsborough, 1961

I J Lownsborough. 1961 A History of St Brides Church, Waiuku

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.