140-year-old Ohariu Valley church gets heritage recognition


Press Release – Historic Places Trust
The oldest Anglican church in the Wellington region still holding regular services has been given heritage recognition.

Built in 1870 within a few years of the road being constructed through the Ohariu Valley, Holy Trinity Church is closely associated with the settlement of the Valley, and has remained remarkably unchanged since the late 19th century. It has been registered as a Category 2 Historic Place by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

Archdeacon Octavius Hadfield (1814–1904) opened the church on Trinity Sunday, 12 June 1870, an appropriate day given the name of the new Church. Holy Trinity, when first built, had no interior linings or bracing and according to the Diocesan Year Book in 1877, it ‘creaked like a ship in a gale and often the Minister’s voice could not be heard.’ But with fundraising efforts the church was soon lined and braced and with the addition of a vestry and porch took on its current shape.

“This little country church is set in an idyllic rural setting, and has unusual architectural details, both of which add to the special character of the building”, says NZHPT researcher Vivienne Morrell.

As with many rural colonial churches Holy Trinity is built of native timbers, predominately rimu and totara. Inspired by Gothic Revival architecture, it has a simple design consisting of a nave, porch, and vestry. It also features another characteristic of New Zealand’s early country churches – a limited use of exterior and interior decoration.

“This was mainly dictated by the limited budgets available, which meant the functionality of the building was the highest priority,” says Ms Morrell.

Despite this, the church has some idiosyncratic features including window heads designed as simple triangles to imitate the pointed Gothic arch, perhaps because its builder George Kilsby was a blacksmith rather than a carpenter.

Adding to the church’s rural charm is a flock of sheep keeping the grass ‘mowed’.

“While there is now a small congregation and services are only held monthly, the church is a local landmark and has a lot of community support. The community has rallied around it through various fundraising efforts to ensure its survival”, says Ms Morrell.

The Ohariu Valley Ladies Guild, formed in 1955, has taken a particular interest in fundraising and caring for the church and parishioners have contributed various bequests over the years. It has been well loved during its long life.



BACKGROUND NOTES

Registering historic places.

Registration is the inclusion on the NZHPT Register of a place or area that is considered part of New Zealand’s historical and cultural heritage. Places may be included on the Register if they possess aesthetic, archaeological, architectural, cultural, historic, scientific, social, spiritual, technological or traditional values. Under the Historic Places Act (1993), places registered may be accorded a ranking of Category 1 or 2 status. The NZHPT also registers wahi tapu and wahi tapu areas.

Registration does not provide any direct protection to historic places or wahi tapu. Protection comes through local authorities protecting their local places by scheduling them in their district plans under the Resource Management Act 1991. In this case resource consent is often required from the Council to modify any scheduled place. About 90 percent of places on the Register are also scheduled in District Plans. More than 5,600 sites are included on the Register, which can be searched online at www.historic.org.nz/TheRegister.aspx

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