Hobsonville Church

1 Scott Road And Clark Road, Hobsonville, Auckland

  • Hobsonville Church, Auckland. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Phil Braithwaite. Taken By: PhilBee NZ - Phil Braithwaite. Date: 16/03/2011.
  • Hobsonville Church, Auckland. View of exterior from graveyard with 1883 brick tomb commemorating Emma Vazey in foreground (right), looking south .
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Martin Jones. Date: 28/02/2019.
  • Hobsonville Church, Auckland. View of main interior from west end, looking east.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Martin Jones. Date: 28/02/2019.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 9796 Date Entered 28th June 2019 Date of Effect 18th July 2019


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 1 DP 192038 (RT NA119D/261), North Auckland Land District, and part of the land described as Legal Road, and the building and structures known as and associated with Hobsonville Church thereon (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the List entry report for further information).

City/District Council

Auckland Council


Auckland Council

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 192038 (RT NA119D/261) and Legal Road, North Auckland Land District

Location description

Additional Location Information

NZTM Easting: 1747667.5

NZTM Northing: 5926028.5

(approximate centre of church building)


Created in 1875 to 1876, Hobsonville Church is notable for its connections with community attempts to establish children’s schooling prior to the 1877 Education Act, and its close associations with a significant pottery industry in the upper Waitematā Harbour. Incorporating a graveyard and a small timber structure built as a combined meeting house and school, the place is important for its particular links with several brick, tile and pottery producers including R.O. Clark (1816-1896), a pioneering manufacturer whose family business became one of the largest in the country, and later a founding component of Crown Lynn and Ceramco. The place is also linked with important aspects of nineteenth-century women’s history including through the early election of a female member to the local school committee (1881) and use as a polling station for the first parliamentary election in which women exercised the vote (1893). Enlarged in circa 1895, the building retained strong community associations after ceasing to be employed as a Presbyterian church in the 1960s, with continuing use as a community venue.

Prior to the nineteenth century, the land was exploited for its food resources and is traditionally associated with Te Kawerau a Maki. A year after being obtained by the Crown in 1853, the land on which the church is located was part of a large holding granted to R.O. Clark – the first European settler in the area. Clark had come to Hobsonville after being acquitted of bigamy (1849) – the first case of its kind brought to the Supreme Court in New Zealand. He initially made ceramic tiles from local clay to drain and increase the productivity of his land for agricultural purposes, before undertaking commercial manufacture. Other potters including Joshua Carder (c.1815-1895) undertook similar production, with large sanitation and drainage pipes becoming a particular Hobsonville speciality for export throughout New Zealand and overseas.

By the mid-1870s, the growing community required dedicated facilities for education, worship and burial, which were accommodated for local Protestants by a graveyard and a combined church and school, both within a one-acre plot donated by R.O. Clark. Evidently substantially erected in early 1876 by John Danby (1849-1923), the weatherboard church and school was of simple, gabled design, with a steep, shingled roof and a small porch at its west end. After the 1877 Education Act ushered in a national system of free, secular and compulsory education for Pākehā children, the land was transferred to five trustees including Joshua Carder and R.O. Clark’s son and successor in the pottery business, R.O. Clark II (1854-1905). Early burials in the graveyard included several young children, indicative of high child mortality rates, which were at their recorded peak in New Zealand in 1875.

In addition to its use as a Protestant church and school, the main building was used as a library, polling station and meeting room. In 1881, the election of one of the first women voted to a school committee in the Auckland area (Barbara McLeod, 1881), occurred inside the schoolroom – a prelude to it being used during the first national parliamentary elections following women’s suffrage, an internationally significant event. After relocation of the school functions to a new, purpose-built structure elsewhere in Hobsonville in 1895, the building was enlarged for specific Presbyterian church use, and was employed for this function until 1967 – more than 35 years after the last pottery works closed. In the late 1990s, the building was renovated by a local community group, and has since remained employed as a venue for weddings and other events. The graveyard, which contains several monuments incorporating local brick and ceramic products, also remains in use (2019).

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The place has historical value for its connections with the development of the brickmaking and pottery industry in the Auckland region, and particularly its close associations with key individuals such as R.O. Clark – Hobsonville’s first manufacturer and founder of a firm that became one of the largest brick and tile-making enterprises in New Zealand. Other individuals with whom it is closely connected include Clark’s successors R.O. Clark II and T.E. Clark, Joshua Carder and George Vazey.

The place is linked with the formal spread of low-church Protestant faiths in the Upper Waitematā, and especially Presbyterianism. A significant figure in creating and holding early services in the church was Robert Sommerville, significant as the first Auckland businessman to have been trained and ordained to the Presbyterian ministry, and Moderator of the General Assembly in 1883.

The place has strong assocations with the development of educational facilities for community use at a time when concerns about child welfare were rising within broader society. Through its use as a graveyard, it is also connected with high child mortality at this time. It has several links with important aspects of women’s history, including the early voting of women onto school committees after introduction of the 1877 Education Act, and use as a polling station for the first national election following the introduction of women’s suffrage in 1893.

Through its use to welcome local troops home in 1918 and commemorate individual community members who had died at Gallipoli and of wounds received in France, the place has some connections with the First World War. In its later use for religious worship by families attending Hobsonville air base and as a venue for Air Scout meetings, it also has associations with subsequent military activity in the area.

Archaeological Significance or Value

The place has archaeological significance for retaining evidence about the use of local Hobsonville pottery products for funerary commemoration. These include a ceramic marker, brick chest tomb, glazed ceramic building blocks, ornate ceramic edging and ceramic pots. In some instances, they may be linked with individual brickmakers or potters.

The place also has archaeological value for incorporating numerous other monuments, burials, and a nineteenth-century church, which show aspects of historical religious and other cultural practice such as east-west orientation, and interment and commemoration according to family affiliation.

Social Significance or Value

The place has strong social significance as a place of community gathering and commemoration since the 1870s, soon after the establishment of Hobsonville as a colonial European settlement. It has fulfilled a number of important social functions during this period, including as a school, church, library, polling station, meeting place and place of burial and commemoration. Its ongoing social value is demonstrated by its conservation by a community group in the late 1990s, and continuing use as a community-run venue and place of commemoration.

Spiritual Significance or Value

The place has spiritual significance for incorporating a place of religious worship that was used as a church for almost a century, and subsequently employed for weddings, funerals and similar events. The graveyard has been in continuous use for religious practice associated with burial since at least 1875 and, since 2007, the laying to rest of ashes.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history

The place reflects important aspects of nineteenth-century children’s history, including high rates of infant mortality and the growing importance of formal education in 1870s New Zealand. It especially reflects community efforts to provide the latter prior to the advent of the 1877 Education Act – the country’s first national system of free, compulsory and secular education. Expansion of the main building to include a Sunday School room in the mid-1890s demonstrates the importance of this form of instruction in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The place reflects the importance of religion in emerging settler communities, notably those linked with low-church Protestant faiths. It demonstrates nineteenth-century trends for early community buildings to be multi-purpose in function, prior to the more widespread emergence of structures of more specialised use and appearance. Enlargement of the main building in the 1890s reflects the particular importance of Presbyterianism within some communities at this time.

Through its graveyard monuments commemorating significant ceramic manufacturers and occasional use of ceramic products for commemoration, the place additionally reflects the nearby presence of a major brick and pottery industry at Hobsonville – important as a major centre of manufacture that exported products throughout the country.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history

The place is strongly connected with several individuals of importance in New Zealand’s brick and pottery industry, especially R.O. Clark, R.O. Clark II and T.E. Clark who respectively initiated ceramic production in Hobsonville, innovated new products and contributed to the formation of the Amalgamated Brick and Pipe Company, which later became Crown Lynn and then Ceramco. The place is also associated with other significant manufacturers, including Joshua Carder and George Vazey. Many of these individuals and their families were closely involved in activities connected with the place, including as trustees, and are buried and commemorated in the graveyard.

The place additionally has connections with Barbara McLeod, an early female member of a School Committee in Auckland. Employed as a polling station in 1893, the place is also directly associated with New Zealand’s first national parliamentary elections after women’s suffrage was achieved – an event of international importance.

The place is also associated with Robert Sommerville, notable as the first Auckland businessman to have been trained and ordained to the Presbyterian ministry, and a subsequent Moderator of the General Assembly. Sommerville contributed funds to the creation of the church and took early services in his role as resident Presbyterian minister in the area.

The place has close associations with a number of other early settlers in the area, many with close connections to the Presbyterian church, such as Joshua Ockleston.

(c) The potential of the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand history

The place has potential to provide knowledge about notable aspects of New Zealand history, including child mortality, mortuary behaviour, and methods of commemorating the dead. Demonstrating more than one phase of construction, the church building also has the potential to provide information about shifting community needs from a multi-purpose structure to one more specifically dedicated to religious observation – a change towards specialised forms that occurred more widely in New Zealand as communities expanded and increased in prosperity.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the place

The place has strong community association for its extensive history of use as a church, school, library, polling station, gathering place and place of burial. The esteem in which it is held by the community is demonstrated in two main ways: it has been a community-maintained property for more than fifty years, and, it has been restored and cared for by a formal community group since the mid-1990s.

(h) The symbolic or commemorative value of the place

The place has symbolic and commemorative value within a local context as a key surviving place connected with nineteenth-century community development, and as a place where members of this community are commemorated through graveyard monuments, plaques to early settlers and trustees, and other means.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural area

The place forms a significant component of a wider, remnant historical and cultural area that demonstrates the emergence and development of the brick and pottery making industry in Hobsonville, an activity of widespread importance due to its scale and distribution of products. Located close to remains of Clark’s brickworks, the intact Clark residence Ngaroma and other residences connected with the industry, the place has particular value as the main surviving site demonstrating community life linked with late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century activity in the area – when the brick and pottery making industry was at its height.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Danby, John

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Early history

The Hobsonville Peninsula is of significance to Te Kawerau a Maki, who occupied the area before European arrival. Place names reflecting the area’s importance as an ancestral and cultural landscape include Te Waiarohia o Ngariki, Tahingamanu and Te Taungaroa – the latter referring to land in the northern part of the peninsula available for resting after a long journey or during times of food-gathering. Major inlets and water sources were important to groups occupying the area during fishing and food gathering expeditions, with numerous archaeological midden sites recorded along the peninsula foreshore. Lands on the peninsula were also suitable for planting kūmara. Permanent kāinga and pā generally appear to have been located outside the peninsula, across the harbour channels to the east and north. Both before and after European arrival, these channels formed access routes between the upper Waitematā Harbour and lands to the northwest.

Early colonial activity in the area is likely to have included kauri logging and gumdigging. In 1853, Taiarua and Tinana of Ngāti Whātua transferred the peninsula to the Crown as the Waipareira block. The following year a 139-acre portion, Waipareira No.21, was granted to Rice Owen Clark (1816-1896), a relatively well-to-do immigrant from England who was a brother to notable British engineers Edwin and J. Latimer Clark. R.O. Clark had arrived in New Zealand in 1841 with ambitions as an industrial entrepreneur, but after marrying Louisa Felgate in Wellington in 1849 became the subject of the colony’s first Supreme Court case for bigamy – which he was acquited of. R.O. and Louisa Clark subsequently relocated to Auckland, farming Waipareira No.21 before diversifying into ceramic production using quarried clay on their land.

Initially manufacturing field tiles to drain and improve the farm’s potential, the family business may have formally begun commercial production in 1864 and by the 1870s was operating from additionally acquired property in Limeburner’s Bay. Other pottery works were established nearby, including Joshua Carder’s Waitemata Pottery (mid-1860s), and Carder Brothers’ complex at Scott Point (1872). Although these busniesses manufactured a range of ceramic products – including paving tiles, flower pots and earthenware ginger beer bottles – drain and sewer pipes appear to have been a particular speciality, with Joshua Carder exporting these to locations in the South Pacific from 1870, and Carder Brothers sending them to ‘all parts of New Zealand’ by 1872. By the mid-1870s, Hobsonville had developed into a thriving community of some 25 to 30 houses, with a mixed economy based on pottery production and farming.

Pressure evidently developed among its inhabitants, said to have been mainly young in age, for purpose-created facilities for education, religious devotion and burial. Prior to 1875, religious services in Hobsonville were held in private houses, and a temporary school established in April 1875 similarly occupied a two-roomed residence attached to a carpenter’s shop near Clark’s works. Moves to create a burial ground and combined church and school occurred at a time when New Zealand had its highest recorded rate of infant mortality, and general interest in child welfare – including education – increased. Traditionally poor in its provision of education, Auckland Province’s first public or common schools were established in 1872, and by early 1875 107 full-time and 34 part-time common schools were in existence.

Creation of Hobsonville cemetery, church and school (1875-6)

As the first settler in the area and a major employer, R.O. Clark took a leading role in creating new facilities. Demonstrating both philanthropic and pragmatic approaches, he evidently supplied an acre of land within his Waipareira No.21 property for a Protestant graveyard by mid-1875, and also generated funds by charging community members for use of his scow for transporting farm produce to Auckland, utilising this profit for construction of a combined church and school on the land.

Physically and symbolically located at the centre of the settlement, the provided site was positioned on the crest of a ridge overlooking Clark’s works at Limeburners Bay, and at a junction between roads leading south to the works, east to Carder Brothers’ complex at the end of Scotts Road, and north to the main public wharf for connections with Auckland. The northern part of the property was evidently reserved for burial, the earliest recorded instance of which occurred in June 1875, being that of newborn child. An infant son of pottery works owner Walter Carder might have been buried there a few months earlier. R.O. and Louisa Clark’s own fifteen-year old son, Charles George Clark, was probably interred there in late 1875.

The southern part of the site, nearest the road junction, formed the location for a new church and school building. Construction of a small timber structure appears likely to have mostly taken place in early 1876. It was probably substantially complete when the Auckland Education Board approved funds for school furniture in June and July 1876. Additional work may have continued into 1877.

The structure was erected by Mr Danby – believed to be John Danby (1849-1923), an Albertland settler of Primitive Methodist faith who had purchased land in the district in 1871. Danby married a daughter of pottery works owner Joshua Carder in 1879, and later became a businessman, borough councillor and Sunday School leader in Thames. The new building was of simple, gabled design with a rectangular ground plan measuring some 9.15 x 5.5m (30 x 18 feet) and broadly orientated with its main axis orientated east-west. Its walls were externally clad with horizontal, overlapping weatherboards, and incorporated three pairs of opposing sash windows of twelve-pane type. The roof had a steep pitch and narrow eaves, and was shingled. The building interior was unlined. A small, gabled entrance porch was situated at the west end.

The building’s simple, Gothic-influenced design was similar to other schoolhouses and meeting houses of this period linked with low-church, Protestant faiths. Services subsequently held in the building included those by Presbyterian and possibly Primitive Methodist congregations. Conceptually, use of the building as a church and school was interconnected, respectively providing moral and practical instruction. Its construction broadly coincided with the arrival of a resident Presbyterian minister in the district, Robert Sommerville, who had previously been chairman of Devonport’s District Education Committee – overseeing enlargement of the Devonport school in 1875. A contributor to the fund for church construction, Sommerville was the first Auckland businessman to have been trained and ordained to the Presbyterian ministry, and also became notable as a Moderator of the General Assembly in 1883.

The school initially operated on a part-time basis under the auspices of the Auckland Education Board. In 1877, 23 children were on the Hobsonville roll: fourteen boys and nine girls. Also in 1877, a public library opened inside the building, with R.O. Clark as librarian. Reflecting its value to the wider community, library trustees included a cross-section of Hobsonville society, including local farmers, pottery works owners, potters and labourers.

Ongoing use as a church, school and library (1878-1894)

On 28 November 1877, the 1877 Education Act introduced free, secular education for all Pākehā children between the ages of seven and thirteen, and made attendance compulsory if living less than two miles by public road from a school. Almost immediately, Clark formally conveyed the land and building to five trustees, consisting of his son R.O. Clark II, Joshua Carder, Thomas Scott, William Sinton and Joshua Occleston (or Ockleston) – all described as farmers. The property was ‘to be used occupied and enjoyed as a place of public religious worship for the service of God by all Protestants residing in the District within a radius of Two miles from the land hereby conveyed and for a Protestant School for the said District…’. The building was to be employed for services at least four times per year and was not to be used ‘for dancing or other frivolous amusement’. The cemetery was similarly for ‘the interment of protestants having been resident or who should die within the aforesaid radius…’

Improvements to the property following its transfer included internal lining for the main building in 1879, the addition of a water tank (since removed) in 1880 and construction of a post and wire fence with associated ditch around the property by 1881. In 1883 the building was painted, and repairs, including to closets and the water tank, were undertaken in 1889. In 1885, the school became full-time.

Multi-purpose use expanded to include employment as a room for gatherings of the Hobsonville Band of Hope – an organisation connected with the temperance movement; a polling station for elections to the Waitemata County Council and the House of Representatives; and a venue for school committee elections. Respective leaders of the school committee included R.O. Clark, another potter George Vazey (who owned Vazey’s works at Hobsonville between the mid-1870s and late 1880s) and building trustee Thomas Scott.

Through these uses, the place gained connections with notable aspects of women’s history. Considered advanced internationally in allowing parent participation in educational affairs, the 1877 Education Act enabled women to stand on school committees, and an early example in Auckland was Barbara McLeod, elected to the Hobsonville School Committee in 1881: the vote of local householders took place inside the building. In 1893, the building was also used as a polling station during the first parliamentary elections in which women exercised the vote – the earliest occasion internationally in which a self-governing country had provided this right. The relatively elevated social status of women connected with Hobsonville’s business community may be indicated by a substantial graveyard monument to Emma Vazey – the wife of manufacturer George Vazey and a daughter of Joshua Carder – who was commemorated by a large brick tomb, prominently placed near the building’s front porch after her death in 1883. Women as well as men were engaged in Hobsonville’s brick and tile manufacture.

During the economic depression of the late 1880s and early 1890s, several of pottery works closed and that of R.O. Clark’s son R.O. Clark II became pre-eminent. In 1890, New Zealand’s first Liberal government was elected, committed to improving the lives of the less privileged, and in 1894 passed the Schools Attendance Act which sought to strengthen the number of children attending classes. At Hobsonville, a larger, purpose-built school separate from the church was planned with a capacity for 50 pupils. This opened in early 1895, as the economic recession began to lift.

Expansion and use as a Presbyterian Church (1895-1967)

Following relocation of school activities, the community soon raised funds to enlarge the 1870s building as a church, which may have been undertaken by late 1895. The building was lengthened eastwards, and had two transepts added – one evidently for use by a minister and the other for Sunday School classes. The latter was initially without a ceiling and otherwise unlined. Reflecting its more specific religious function, the changes provided the building with a more distinctive and impressive church-like appearance.

Several individuals connected with the building were buried in the graveyard in 1895 and 1896, including R.O. Clark, Joshua Carder and Joshua Ockleston. As the economy continued to improve, R.O. Clark II’s firm won gold medals for socket glazed pipes and other products at the Auckland Industrial and Mining Exhibition in 1898, and also developed new products such as the ultimately unsuccessful ceramic blocks used to build his nearby residence Ngaroma (1897-1902) and other buildings. By the early 1900s, Clark’s works was ‘one of the largest producers in the colony of bricks, pipes, tiles and other clay products…’ In 1905, R.O. Clark II also died, after which the company underwent a brief period of further expansion under R.O. Clark III before consolidating under the management of another of R.O. Clark II’s sons, Thomas Edwin Clark.

By 1911, Sunday School classes were said to have averaged 70 to 80 children. In 1918, the church was used to welcome soldiers home from the First World War (1914-18). Two grandsons of R.O. Clark, P.L. and H.L. Midgley, respectively died at Gallipoli and of wounds received in France, and were commemorated in the graveyard. Community concerts were occasionally held, with timbers for a stage stored in the rafters of the Sunday School room. Further improvements to the building included lining and ceiling the latter space, and replacing roof shingles with corrugated iron. Another economic depression saw the Clark’s works finally close in 1931 – by which time the family had become prime shareholders in a new combined company based at New Lynn known as the Amalgamated Brick and Pipe Company Limited, which later became notable as Crown Lynn and then Ceramco.

Decline of Hobsonville’s pottery industry broadly coincided with the establishment and growth of the Hobsonville air base a short distance to the north – subsequently used during conflict in the Pacific in the Second World War (1939-45). In 1940, the church property was formally transferred to the Presbyterian Church, when Hobsonville church merged with St Andrew’s Church, Henderson. During the 1950s and 1960s, some families from the air base attended the church, when the initial porch was replaced by a larger structure. After further reorganisation by the Presbyterian authorities, the church closed in 1967. For a period, the building was used by an Air Scout group, with maintenance carried out by community members. In 1971, land beside Scott Road that had been used as part of the church property was found to be formally within the road reserve and although still retained within the fenced site, a corresponding strip was added to the northern part of the property.

In 1998, the land was transferred to Hobsonville Church and Settlers’ Cemetery Preservation Society (Inc.), a community group with close connections to the area that sought to maintain and restore the building. Restoration work by the society had begun in 1995, when notable industrialist Sir Tom Clark (1916-2005) and David Harre, both descendants of R.O. Clark, planted two commemorative kahikatea at the entrance to the property. Works in the late 1990s included repiling, replication of the earlier porch in place of the later modification, and reinstatement of a narrow doorway from the porch to the main body of the church.

The building is still in use as a community venue for weddings and other events (2019). Its graveyard also remains in use, with a cremation wall added in 2007.

Physical Description

Current Description


The place is situated in Hobsonville, previously a rural settlement in the upper Waitematā but now a suburb on the northern fringes of Auckland. Hobsonville Church is situated at the junction of Scott Road and Clark Road in the eastern part of the suburb, on the top of a low ridge and some 280 metres from the Waitematā Harbour. Hobsonville contains a number of archaeological sites linked with pre-European occupation, significant remains of nineteenth- and twentieth-century industrial pottery manufacture, and some notable buildings associated with European settlement – including structures built of ceramic products. It also contains important remains linked with the former Hobsonville air base – one of a small number of mid-twentieth century installations of this type in the country.

Intensive residential redevelopment at Hobsonville includes the construction of large housing estates immediately to the west of Hobsonville Church, as well as other nearby areas such as beside the former Clark pottery and on the former air base. A small amount of rural pasture survives, well as part of the site of the Clark pottery works on nearby Ngaroma House Road forms a Council-owned reserve. This contains displayed evidence of kilns and other material linked with brick, tile and pottery production, exposed as a result of extensive archaeological investigations. Adjoining this is the site of the Carder pottery and brickworks.

Other identified heritage in the immediate vicinity includes the former Clark residence, Ngaroma (List No. 126; Category 1 historic place), erected of Clark patent ceramic blocks in 1897-1902; and a smaller house built of similar blocks for Clarks’ chief engineer in circa 1908, both in Clark Road. A manager’s house of similar construction, Duke House (built prior to 1909) exists in the western part of Hobsonville. Workers’ housing of timber construction for other Clark employees has also been identified in Clark’s Lane. Other surviving housing for Hobsonville’s residents include a structure said to have been erected by John Danby at 1 Williams Road, and a house near the church at 4 Scott Road.

Recognised heritage places within the former Hobsonville air base include the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Headquarters and Parade Ground (Former) (List No. 9711; Category 2 historic place) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Institute Building (Former) (List No. 9710; Category 2 historic place). The former base also contains surviving hangars, housing and other notable elements linked with its functioning as a military installation. Gun emplacements on land to the east of the church have also been formally recognised as heritage places.


The site is rectangular in plan, and occupies relatively flat ground. It includes a church building in its southern part closest to the junction between Scott Road and Clark Road, a graveyard containing numerous remains including burials and monuments in its central and northern parts, and other features such as plantings and entrance gates.

The graveyard contains a relatively large number of burials and associated monuments, laid out in irregular rows. Spatial organisation linked with family plots is present. Some of the first burials may have been near the end of rows closest to the church entrance. One of these is marked by a large brick monument to Emma Vazey, wife of brickmaker George Vazey and daughter of Joshua Carder, who died in 1883. Charles George Clark, who died aged fifteen in 1875 is also commemorated on the later monument to his father R.O. Clark at this end of the graveyard. In addition to R.O. Clark, all five of the original trustees of the land in 1877 are buried and commemorated with surviving grave markers. R.O. Clark II and his family have monuments in the northwest corner of the site; Joshua Ockleston and his family in the northeast; and Joshua Carder, Thomas Scott and William Sinton have monuments or other grave markers in the southern part of the graveyard.

Several monuments and grave markers other than Emma Vazey’s directly reflect connect connections with Hobsonville’s pottery industry through their physical materials. One, to Susannah Armistead (d.1902), contains diagonally-set bricks beneath a railed enclosure, which collectively define the burial plot. The corners of another iron-railed enclosure, around the burial of a child, are set in glazed ceramic blocks – possibly of a type manufactured at Clark’s works – and associated with vertically-set ceramic tiles of ropework design, which edge the plot beneath the railings.

A particularly unusual monument is that to May Annie Nicklin, which incorporates a rare example of a ceramic marker in the form of a gravestone, in which laying out lines for an inscription were incised and individual letters and numbers evidently stamped in the wet clay during production. Also incorporating decorative rosettes, the marker may have been made by her husband, potter Charles Nicklin, in 1898. It additionally commemorates two of their infant children, Olive and Victor, who died earlier in the 1890s. The current monument includes additional ceramic pots believed to have been created by their son Charles Nicklin junior, and son-in-law Charles Moody.

The graveyard contains a relatively large number of child burials, reflecting high infant mortality rates in the nineteenth century. Two that are individually marked are twin gravestones to Fanny and Mable (or Mabel) Holland, who both died in 1897, respectively aged three and one year old.

The graveyard also contains monuments to individuals who died in both the First and Second World Wars, including P. L. and H.L. Midgley who respectively died at Gallipoli (1915) and from wounds received in France (1918), and E.C. Thompson of the Royal New Zealand Air Force (1944). A 2007 cremation wall in the northern part of the graveyard incorporates ceramic pipes from the Hobsonville potteries. A number of recent ceramic markers identifying the burial places of otherwise unmarked graves have been added since 1995.

The site also contains an in-ground septic tank with a ceramic mushroom pipe stamped ‘H CRUM NEW LYNN’ of twentieth-century date; and wrought iron entrance gates that formed part of the 1895 Hobsonville School prior to its demolition in 1982. Immediately inside the gateway are two commemorative kahikatea trees, planted in 1995.

Church building

The visually well-preserved church is a relatively small timber building of simple, Gothic-influenced design. Incorporating a T-shaped ground plan with a main body and two transepts at its east end, it has a weatherboard exterior with a steep, gabled roof. The latter is clad with corrugated iron. A small, gabled porch at its west end is of recent construction, erected to the same design as an early feature that was removed in the mid-twentieth century. Exposed framing in the west wall of the main body indicates that the latter was constructed of machine-cut timber.

The main entrance is though the porch and another narrow doorway into the main body of the building. Two additional entrances exist in the west walls of each transept. The main body of the church incorporates three sets of opposing windows of double-hung sash design. Two transepts at the east end also incorporate double-hung sashes.

The interior contains three main spaces and the porch. The main church interior is lined with tongued and grooved boards. The join between the building initially lined in 1879 and that extended in the 1890s is visible in the walls, floor and ceiling boards. Wall and ceiling boards in the later element differ in being beaded. The ceiling of the earlier portion incorporates circular ceiling roses.

The nave contains two brass plaques, one created at the building’s diamond jubilee commemorating ‘the early pioneers’ who erected the structure, and another the five initial trustees. A hinged hymn board survives near the northeast corner. A flagpole linked with scout use of the building is situated near a four-panel door to the former Sunday School room, now a kitchen with new facilities. An opposing door of similar type leads to the former minister’s room, now a cloakroom and toilet area.

Early remnants of the building that were removed during restoration in the late 1990s have been retained inside the structure, including a finial attached to the southwest corner of the nave interior. Loose artefacts of note that have been retained inside the church include wooden shingles, two types of sash window fittings and ceramic grave edgings of varied design. The latter include some stamped ‘CARDER BROS Co PONSONBY HOBSONVILLE AUCKLAND NZ’ and ‘CARDER BROS Co PONSONBY’. Retained wrought nails evidently used in construction include machine-made examples of Ewbank type, including at least one of star-head variety produced from 1869 onwards. Two four-pane window frames are also displayed in the porch.

Construction Dates

- 1875
Earliest known burials in graveyard

Original Construction
- 1876
Original construction – Main building

- 1879
Internal lining added

- 1880
Water tank added to property

- 1883
Main building painted

- 1889
Repairs to main building

- 1893

- 1895
Main building extended and transepts added

Repairs to interior lining of main building

Structural upgrade
Shingles of main building replaced by corrugated iron roof cladding

Replacement of porch by larger entrance structure with monopitch roof; insertion of double-door entrance to main body of church

Structural upgrade
- 1995
Repiling of main building

- 1995
Planting of two commemorative kahikatea flanking entrance gates

1996 - 2000
Porch of main building rebuilt; internal double-doorway returned from double- to single-width; finials, windows and some doors replaced by replicas; some floorboards, joists and weatherboards replaced; wall sconces relocated from side to altar wall; vestry redesigned

Former Sunday School room, later a kitchen, redesigned

Construction Details

Church: timber with corrugated metal roof cladding

Grave markers: mostly stone, some with iron railing surrounds; one ceramic marker

Public NZAA Number


Completion Date

16th April 2019

Report Written By

Martin Jones

Information Sources

Auckland Libraries

Auckland Libraries

Smithies, Len, ‘The Hobsonville Presbyterian Church’, n.d., Hobsonville Cemetery and Church, Hobsonville vertical file, Research West, Henderson Library, Auckland Libraries.

Clough, Macready and Plowman, 2008

Rod Clough, Sarah Macready and Mica Plowman, ‘R.O. Clark’s Pottery (1864-1931), Limeburner’s Bay, Hobsonville: Archaeological Investigation’, Clough and Associates Monograph Series No.3, Auckland, 2008.

Felgate, 2016

Felgate, Matthew, ‘Archaeological Authority Report 2015/713 Volume 1: R11/1508, Clark Brickworks, Limeburner’s Bay, Scott Road, Hobsonville, Auckland’, unpublished report by Opus International Consultants report for King Kylin Holding Ltd, Auckland, 2016.

Hobsonville School Committee, 1935

Hobsonville School Committee, Hobsonville District School Diamond Jubilee, Centennial, 1875-1935, [Auckland, 1935].

Mossong, 1976

Mossong, A.L., Transcriptions from Tombstones at Hobsonville, Upper Waitemata, Auckland, [Auckland], 1976.

North, 2000

North, Laurel V. (ed.), Up the River: Stories of the Settlers of Hobsonville, Titirangi, 2000, n.p.

Shaw, 1975

Shaw, Owen (ed.), Hobsonville Primary School Centennial, 1875-1975, [Auckland, 1975].

Other Information

A fully referenced New Zealand Heritage List report is available on request from the Mid-Northern Office of Heritage New Zealand.


Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero 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.

Archaeological sites are protected by the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014, regardless of whether they are entered on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero or not. Archaeological sites include ‘places associated with pre-1900 human activity, where there may be evidence relating to the history of New Zealand’. This List entry report should not be read as a statement on whether or not the archaeological provisions of the Act apply to the property (s) concerned. Please contact your local Heritage New Zealand office for archaeological advice.