History of the Churches of Tuahiwi, Waikuku & Woodend

St Stephen’s Anglican – 234 Tuahiwi Road, Tuahiwi

In 1859, the Christchurch Synod constituted the Maori Mission and a missionary was appointed to take pastoral charge of all Maori in the diocese.  The headquarters of the Mission was fixed at Kaiapoi and Maori agreed to allow the Rev. James Stack to select twenty acres as a site for the Mission.  The area chosen was at Tuahiwi in the middle of the Kaiapoi Reserve and was called St Stephen’s.  A cottage was built for the Rev. Stack and his wife in 1860.  A boarding school was built next to the cottage in 1863.

The subdivision of the Kaiapoi Native Reserve by the Government, and an allotment of 14 acres of land to each adult Maori, led the people to move from Kaiapoi to Tuahiwi.  There they built houses that formed a village round St Stephen’s.  It was at this time that the need for a church was felt.   After raising funds, the church was eventually built by Herbertson and Byres, who were builders of Saltwater Creek.

The laying of the foundation stone by Governor Sir George Grey on 9 February 1867 was a memorable day in the history of the Maori Mission.  The church was built from timber from the local forest.  It had a shingle roof and was the first church with a spire built in Canterbury.  St Stephen’s was completed later in 1867 and in the absence of the Bishop, the Very Reverend Dean Jacobs preached at the first service.

The cottage and boarding school were destroyed by fire in 1870.  A new vicarage was built, this being sold in the 1940s. Over the years the roof of the church has been repaired with tiles replacing the original shingles.

St Stephen’s is Category I on the Historic Places Trust register.

Methodist Church – 1403 Main North Road, Waikuku

The Waikuku Methodists were the last settlers of this faith to provide themselves with a church. This was a small building that accommodated 80 people and was erected in 1900 on land donated by Charles Skevington. The site was on the Main North Road (SH 1) near Gressons Road. 

The last Methodist service was held on 2nd December, 1990 and the property sold.  The Gospel Outreach group now use the building. This church is Category II on the Historic Places Trust Register.

Methodist Church – 86 Main North Road, Woodend

Early Woodend might almost be described as a Methodist settlement. The founders of the Woodend Church, Thomas Ayers, William Gibbs, and Charles Skevington, arrived in Woodend in 1857-8 and were soon walking to Kaiapoi to attend class meetings. About 1861 a building was erected to serve as a school, Sunday school, and church.  A proper church was opened in 1864, enlarged in 1877, and this served until 1911, when it was replaced by the existing brick church.

The present hall was moved from the Sefton Church to Woodend in 1972.  The kitchen and lounge were added, and the whole complex officially opened in 1973. A cemetery is on the site. The church is Category II on the Historic Places Register.

St Barnabas’ Anglican –  143 Main North Road, Woodend

The first St Barnabas’ church was built in 1860 on land donated by the Rev. John Raven who farmed 'Ravenswood'.  He was the first Anglican priest in North Canterbury and several Anglican settlers accompanied him to the Woodend district which had been settled mainly by Methodists.

The present concrete church was built in 1934.  Designed by Cecil Wood, the shingle-roofed church was consecrated on St Barnabas’ Day, 1938.  The renowned Christchurch carver, Frederick Gurnsey, sculptured the stone figure of St Barnabas that is set in a niche over the main entrance.  Inside the church, the font rests on a millstone from Archer’s flourmill that had been in Woodend.  

In 1903 the lychgate was erected in memory of Judge Henry Barnes Greeson, of 'Waiora' (a farm on Greesons Road), a warden, lay reader and prominent parishioner. A cemetery is on the site. St Barnabas’ is Category II on the Historic Places Register.


St Stephen's Church, Tuahiwi : centennial celebrations 1867-1967. 1967.