Church on site of old Maori pa
This hand-coloured plan on linen, drawn by prominent Wellington architects Clere, Fitzgerald & Richmond, shows their design for St Alban’s church, on the corner of State Highway 58 and the Paekakariki Hill Rd.
The foundation stone was laid in 1875 and the finished church was consecrated in 1898 on June 17, St Alban the Martyr’s Day.
It was the second church to be built in Pauatahanui, and is on the site of the Matai- taua pa, which was built in 1846 by Ngati Toa leader Te Rangihaeata.
The church’s design is simple Gothic Revival, with notable lancet windows and external timberframed buttresses.
The bell from the previous Anglican church, which had also served as a schoolhouse, was moved to the new bell tower in St Alban’s.
The bell had been donated by John Plimmer and came from his barque Inconstant, which was wrecked at Wellington’s harbour entrance in 1849.
The church was more recently the subject of Robin White’s 1971 screen print, Church on a Hill, Pauatahanui.
The place name Pauatahanui was often misspelled as Pahautanui, as it is on this plan.
It was spelled this way on cadastral and topographic maps as late as 1943.
Ethnographer Elsdon Best, in his 1914 article The Porirua Road, compiled a list of different spellings of the name, and noted that ‘‘the usual pronunciation is Par-wer-ternui [nooi]’’.