Hutt City Libraries Online Heritage Collection > Texts

Lower Hutt Past and Present (1941)



Surely the church is the place where one day's truce ought to bo allowed to the dissensions and animosities of mankind.—Johnson.


In 1840 the Rev. J. F. Churton held services in his own whare on the Petone beach, and later in Bethune & Hunter's store on the banks of the Hutt River. Services were also held' occasionally in Colonel Wakefield's house near the Pito-one pa.
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St. James's Anglican Church, Built 1880.

—Photo A. R. Hurst
In 1841 a church was built in Maori style near Aglionby, on a point of land on the western bank of the river about a quarter of a mile below the present bridge. This church, and the adjoining burial-ground, were washed away by floods before 1845, and services were then held in a small building which was also used as a school.
At this time there were several settiers at the Taita, and Christ Church was built there in 1845, on a site given by the Hon. A. G. Tollemache. This building, in an excellent state of preservation, is in occupation to-day.
On the 13th October, 1848, the "Old Church" was opened in Waiwhetu Road (now Woburn Road), and part of this building, though on a new site, is still in use as a schoolroom. Additional land was given by the Grown in 1853, E. G. Wakefield in 1855, and Captain Daniell a little later, enabling a parsonage to be built and a burial-ground to be established.
The bell which hung in the Old Church was given by Sir William Fitzherbert, who was a passenger on the "Sobraon" when the vessel was wrecked at the Heads in 1848, shortly after the big earthquake of that year. The present St. James's Church was opened in 1880, and the bell of the "Sobraon" was placed in the belfry of St. Augustine's Church School at Petone. Within the last twelve months this bell has returned to Lower Hutt, and is now used in St. Paul's Church at White's Line.
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Christ Church, Taita. 1940. Erected in 1845.

Little appears to be known of a Church of England School which stood opposite Queen's Road in High Street, except that it was used as a temporary day-school in 1869.
On the 21st March, 1880, the present St. James's Church was consecrated, and in 1888 a school hall was built at Taita on a section of land given by the Welch family. The hall was burnt down recently.
The Petone and Eastbourne Parishes became separated from Lower Hutt in 1885.
In 1920 the Church of the Good Shepherd was opened at Naenae, on a site given by Mr. and Mrs. Pitt.
St. Paul's, at White's Line, was opened in 1928.
The Rev. H. E. K. Fry is at present in charge of the Parish.


The Rev. John McParlane sailed from the Clyde with his first Scottish settlers in the "Bengal Merchant," and arrived on the Petone beach on the 20th February, 1840. Shortly afterwards he preached his first sermon on the beach to 30 or 40 people, under a grove of karaka trees.
"There was no Sabbath bell to call the congregation together, but the song of the bell-bird could be distinctly heard above all the songsters of the grove."
On the beach at Petone a beautiful Iona Cross was erected in 1940 to commemorate this event.
Mr. McFarlane had a house built in Clyde Terrace, which was described as being "one of the best in the Colony," and services were held there and in settlers' huts on the banks of the river.
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Knox Presbyterian Church on the Main Road, Built 1890.

(From a photo taken about 1920).
—Courtesy Tanner Bros., Ltd.
Mr. McFarlane went to Wellington in 1840, and established the Presbyterian Church there. Services were held at the Hutt occasionally, and in 1852, when the Rev. W. Dron resided permanently here, regular services were held.
The first Presbyterian Church was built in 1858 on the site occupied by the present Knox Church, which was opened in April, 1890.
The present minister is the Rev. J. Thomson Macky.
St. Stephen's, in Woburn Road, was opened in June, 1929, and the Moera Church Hall in the following year.


The first Baptist Church in the Hutt was opened in Puriri Street in 1929. Sunday Schools were started recently in the Epuni and Kingston Park areas and a Manse has now been built at Lower Hutt.

Roman Catholic.

The first record of the activities of the Catholic Church in the Hutt Valley commenced with Father O'Reilly, who arrived in Wellington in 1843 as chaplain to the Hon. Henry Petre, who settled at Lower Hutt.
In 1850 a Mission was opened at the Hutt by a French priest, Father Forest.
An area of about three acres on the western side of the main road was granted to Bishop Viard by Lord Petre and the Hon. Henry Petre.
The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul was erected on this site, the original building being consecrated by Bishop Viard on the 24th August, 1851. This well-known landmark was demolished in January, 1940, after the site had been sold to the Lower Hutt Borough Council.
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High Street, From the Borough Offices, 1937.

—"Evening Post" Photo
On the left is depicted the Catholic Church, which has now been demolished.
In 1886 Father Lane was appointed parish priest of Lower Hutt. In that year he built the old Presbytery in High Street, and some years later enlarged the church. Father Lane, who later became Dean Lane and was admired and loved by all, laboured at the Hutt for 38 years, dying on 16th March, 1924.
Father Leo Daly succeeded Dean Lane.
About this time, on account of the increasing congestion in the business area of Lower Hutt, it was decided to secure a new site for Catholic Church purposes. Three acres of the Lynch estate in Knight's Road were purchased, and on this site a modern brick school was opened in April, 1929, and a Presbytery in 1939. The new church will also be erected on this site.
On 23rd February, 1930, the Church Hall, Waiwhetu Road, was opened.


The Lower Hutt Methodist Church dates from the 26th January, 1840, when the Rev. J. Buller, a Wesleyan Missionary, conducted Divine service on the "Aurora." As with other denominations, services were conducted in private houses by lay preachers and ministers from Wellington, until the first chapel was opened near the old cemetery on the western bank at the old traffic bridge on 5th November, 1845.
In 1850 the Rev. J. Aldred came to reside in the Hutt, and in 1854 a new Church was opened on the Main Road (now High Street) on a site given by Captain Daniell.
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The Hutt Methodist Church, Laing's Road, Opened 1927.

The Shearer Memorial Porch, on the left, was added ten years later.
There are records of services being held at Waiwhetu in 1845, Taita in 1853, Wainui-o-mata in 1860, and Horokiwi, Silverstream and Stokes Valley in 1875.
The following buildings are still in use, though most of them have been added to since they were first constructed:—1858, Parsonage at the Hutt—now used as a dwelling. 1862, Taita Church, on a site given by Mr. T. Mason. 1863, Wainui Church, on a site given by Mr. R. Prouse. 1869, Sunday School at Hutt. 1875, New Church at Hutt. 1884, Petone Church, on a site given by Mr. E. Jackson. 1885, Whiteman's Valley Church, on a site given by Mr. Swanson. 1896, Belmont Church, on a site given by Mr. Kilmister. 1906, New Parsonage at Hutt. 1923, New Sunday School at Hutt. 1927, New brick Church at Hutt. 1928, Church Hall at Waiwhetu.
The Hutt became a separate circuit from Wellington in 1872, though the Board of Trustees which controls the Church property was established in the Hutt in 1856. In 1909 Petone and Wainui were separated from the Hutt Circuit. The Rev. F. J. Parker is the present Superintendent of the Circuit.

Church of Christ

This Church commenced in 1903, services being conducted in the home of Mr. Johnson in Waterloo Road, and later in the W.C.T.U. Hall in Queen's Road. In 1908 a Sunday School was opened, and two years later a Church was built. The first resident minister was appointed in 1914 and continued expansion resulted in the Church being re-modelled in 1935. The present minister is Pastor R. W. Simpson.

Trinity Congregational.

The first service was held in the old drill hall in Victoria Street on the 22nd June, 1906 and in the following year the Rev. W. A. Keay was appointed as the first minister. On the 28th June, 1907, the present Church, on a site in Central Terrace given by Mrs. (Capt.) Williams, was opened, and later a Sunday School was built by voluntary labour and a manse was erected. The Rev. K. A. Bell is the present minister.


The Brethren built a small Hall in Waterloo Road about 1908 and this has been considerably enlarged since. In 1926 another Hall was built in Randwick Road, serving the needs of the Moera people.

Salvation Army

The Hutt corps of the Salvation Army was formed in 1913 under Capt. Lister and Lieut. Collier, and in January of the following year a hall was built in Laings Road. This was later shifted back and a larger hall opened on the same spot on the 30th April, 1927. A Junior Hall was opened in Trafalgar Street, Waterloo, on the 21st. December 1929. During the depression in the early 'thirties the band lapsed, but largely due to the efforts of Major Calcott it has been reformed and is now progressing favourably.

Commonwealth Covenant.

This church is continuing the work commenced by Mr. A. J. Ferris in August, 1932. The name of British-Israel was used orginally, but in 1939 the Church was affiliated with the Commonwealth Covenant Church.
At the western end of the bridge a church seating 700 persons, with an adjoining hall, was erected, largely by voluntary labour, and opened on 28th July, 1940.
Mr. F. R. Wilson is the present minister.

Lodges and Friendly Societies

The first friendly society to be established in the Hutt District appears to have been the Independent Order of Oddfellows, Manchester Unity, which opened the Loyal Rose of the Valley Lodge No. 4319 on the 1st January, 1849.
Many lodges in those days met at inns and took their names from them, and this was an example. Its meeting-place was the Rose Inn which stood at the south-eastern corner of Marsden Street and Railway Avenue. As the lodge grew more accommodation was needed and it met in a skittle-alley adjoining the inn. Sir Wm. Fitzherbert afterwards gave the trustees of the lodge a piece of land on the Main Street and a lodge room was built there by public subscription. The building with all records was destroyed by fire in 1892. A new place was built and was sold in 1919 and the lodge now occupies premises built in 1922 in Knight's Road.
Outstanding long memberships were those of Messrs W. O. Williams, from the inception of the lodge until 1914, and Mr. John Cudby from 1850 until his death in 1920. Mr. G. A. H. Hall has been financial secretary for fifty years.
Another early lodge of this order was the Good Intent, of which little is known except that it met in the Albion Hotel, Taita, in 1857 and became amalgamated with the Rose of the Valley Lodge.
Other Oddfellows Lodges are Bellevue No. 126 (Independent Order of Oddfellows) established in 1925, and Ngatiawa Lodge, 1929. Star of Lower Hutt (Grand United Order of Oddfellows) was opened in 1924.
The earliest Masonic Lodge in the Hutt Valley was opened on the 15th February, 1877, in the Oddfellows Hall and met afterwards at the house of Mr. G. E. Barton in Petone Avenue. The Hutt Lodge (No. 1667 E.C) operated for only about two years owing to the Charter having been mislaid. In 1882 efforts were made to resuscitate this lodge, without success, and shortly afterwards Ulster Lodge was founded in Petone. It was not until the 26th October, 1910, that Waiwhetu Lodge (No. 176) was founded in the Huia Street premises in Lower Hutt. The Hutt Valley Royal Arch Chapter (No. 41) was consecrated on the 6th April, 1921, the Lower Hutt Lodge No. 299 on the 21st June, 1929, and the Lower Hutt Rose Croix Chapter No. 279 on the 19th March, 1930.
The United Ancient Order of Druids Lodge Star of New Zealand, No. 46 was established in 1880, and the Pride of Moera Lodge in 1928.
The Loyal Orange Order established the No Surrender Lodge No. 36 in 1899.
The Ancient Order of Forresters Court Bloomfield was established in 1891.
The Hibernian Australasian Catholic Benefit Society of Sts. Peter and Paul was commenced in 1905.
The Independent Order of Rechabites established its Progress Tent in 1910. It is on record, however, that a Rechabite Lodge applied for the use of a hall in Lower Hutt in 1874.
The Independent Order of Good Templars opened the Templars Retreat Lodge No. 39 at Taita in 1893.

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