Wakatipu churches cel­e­brate 150 years

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - SUE FEA

More than 250 past and present Wakatipu Pres­by­te­ri­ans from around the South Is­land will pack into St Mar­garet’s Church in Frank­ton on Jan­uary 8 to cel­e­brate 150 years since the church ar­rived in the Wakatipu.

The Pres­by­te­rian Church fol­lowed other de­nom­i­na­tions ar­riv­ing in the re­gion dur­ing the gold rush in 1862. One min­is­ter was re­spon­si­ble for a vast re­gion stretch­ing from Kingston to Lake Hawea, Clutha and Glenorchy, all cov­ered on horse­back.

Wakatipu Com­mu­nity Pres­by­te­rian Church min­is­ter Rev­erend Ian Guy said the Wakatipu’s pop­u­la­tion then was about 20,000, sim­i­lar to its present one. It was ‘‘all hands on deck’’ with the dif­fer­ent clergy tak­ing turns on the cir­cuit, which took them into Mace­town and Skip­pers.

‘‘They would ride into min­ing camps to take wor­ship ser­vices, bap­tise chil­dren, and of­fi­ci­ate at wed­dings and fu­ner­als,’’ he said. The clergy were highly re­spected so min­ers al­ways made room for them.

Ser­vices were held in huts, school halls, court­houses and out­doors. Cross cul­tural ser­vices be­came the norm, with 29 eth­nic­i­ties rep­re­sented in the re­gion dur­ing the gold rush.

On Jan­uary 10, 1867, the South­land Pres­bytery de­clared the Wakatipu a Pres­by­te­rian Par­ish, in­stead of a mis­sion field.

‘‘In those days Frank­ton was cen­tral Queen­stown, and the first build­ing the church owned in the area was the old court­house be­side the Kawa­rau Falls in 1863.’’

The Pres­by­te­ri­ans soon moved into cen­tral Queen­stown, build­ing the first St An­drews Church in 1870 at the top of Queen­stown Mall, where Star­bucks is now, for 360 pounds. It was ded­i­cated by Rev­erend Ron­ald Ross, a Scots­man who was called to New Zealand to pi­o­neer the Pres­by­te­rian Church in the Wakatipu in 1869. Prior to that Queen­stown parish­ioners wor­shiped in the Methodist Hall.

The present day St An­drews Church in Stan­ley Street opened in 1968. Ar­row­town fell un­der the Cromwell par­ish for many years, and was only brought back into the Wakatipu in 1997.

The Jan­uary 8 ser­vice will be fol­lowed by a pic­nic at Lake Hayes. More than 200 peo­ple will at­tend an an­niver­sary din­ner on the 150th birth­day – Jan­uary 10 - at Ry­dges Ho­tel, where Gibb­ston Val­ley wine­grow­ing pi­o­neer Alan Brady will speak.


Rev­erend Ian Guy checks out an al­bum scrap­book of the early days of the Pres­by­te­rian Church in the Wakatipu.

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