Hororata Parish St John's Anglican Church

Under the Nor'west Arch

A Brief History of St John's Anglican Church, Hororata

Prior to 1875, church services were held in the home of Bentley Coton. Following the building of the first school in 1870 (across the road from the church) services were held there.

Three prominent runholders, John Hall of Terrace Station, John Cordy of Hororata Station and Samuel Bealey of Haldon Station, 3rd Superintendant of Canterbury with Bealey Avenue in Christchurch and Bealey Road (Aylesbury to Hororata) named after him, met in Bentley Coton’s humble clay house for worship.  John Hall, a layreader, conducted many of the services.

Rev. Pember of Burnham rode his horse to attend to the parish, which extended from the Waimakiriri River to the Rakaia River, from the outskirts of Christchurch to the mountains. It was the largest parish in New Zealand.

The First St John’s Church

A wooden church, built on the site of the present church, was opened in 1875. John Hall was in Europe at the time and wrote a letter to the Vestry. This letter was read out at a general meeting of parishioners…

“I regret that the church is not to be used by other denominations to hold services when not required by the Church of England. The Church of England is the only protestant body, which is so exclusive. I expect the time will soon arrive when men will laugh at such notions having ever been held. If the church is to be exclusively for Church of England services, I will give 10 guineas, but if it could be used by other denominations, I will give one hundred pounds.”

The meeting after some discussion accepted the ten guineas. Mr Hall’s views were not shared by members of the church.

The early runholders presented Mr and Mrs Coton with a clock in acknowledgement of the use made of their house for church services.

Sir John Hall

John Hall was involved in all the community activities in the Hororata area – hall committee, school, library etc as well as the church. He was the first chairman of the Christchurch City Council in 1863 (not called mayor at the time).

From 1879 to 1882 he was Premier of New Zealand, following which he was knighted. His last major political act before he retired from parliament was to pilot through the bill, which gave women the right to vote. This was achieved in 1893. His telegram to Kate Shepherd who led the women's suffrage campaign read “Bill passed by two – hurrah!”  He was honorary mayor of Christchurch in 1906/07 for the international Exhibition.

When Sir John Hall died in 1907 he left a legacy, three parts of which greatly affected the life of the church in this place. The first part was money to build a new vicarage, the second an endowment towards the vicar’s stipend, and thirdly the money to build a new church in memory of his wife.  Rose Hall's wish was, “that the building set apart for the worship of God should have beauty and dignity worthy of it’s sacred purpose.”

The existing wooden church was towed across the road to it’s present site in the summer of 1909/1910. It slipped off it’s runners on a Saturday (furniture still inside) and had to stay in the middle of the road until Monday. A service was held in the church on Sunday – the first “middle of the road church”. This building became the Parish Hall, and since the 2010 earthquake has been used for worship services. 

The Present St John’s Church

The new church, consecrated in 1911, was built with local stone, volcanic rock from the the Harper Hills. Before construction was started samples of the stone were sent to England for testing and pronounced to be of excellent quality. The inside is made from Oamaru stone. 

The stained glass window was given by Sir John Hall’s children as a memorial to him. It was made in England by Heaton, Butler & Bayne and installed in June 1914. The pulpit was added in 1961 for the 50th Jubilee. The organ, installed in 1970 was funded from a bequest of Herbert Thorne, a former parishioner. It came from St Augustines, Cashmere. This organ had been constructed with components from Christchurch Cathedral's first organ. 

NZ Major Earthquake hits Canterbury

 Earthquake Photo Library click here!

The 2010 Canterbury earthquake was a 7.1 magnitude earthquake, which struck the South Island of New Zealand at 4:35 am on 4 September 2010 local time. 

The icon of Hororata, the stone church built by Sir John Hall a hundred years ago is the central reference point for the people of Hororata.  People in Hororata expect to be baptized, married and buried from St John's.  They expect the Church to be there for their celebrations and for their solace and contemplation.  It was not the only building to be damaged. The pub and Te Waiora Retreat House were red stickered. The fire brigade’s building, the café and the hall and local garage were yellow stickered. Our historic homesteads, Hororata and Homebush, were destroyed completely. Terrace Station Homestead, Sir John Hall's home looked like a bomb had hit every room. Coton’s Cottage as well as several homes build of sod or rammed earth were uninhabitable. Our whole community took a severe hit. Amongst all this, the church and it's parish responded with the pioneering spirit of their forefathers and started to rebuild the community of Hororata:

  • Homebush homestead has been rebuilt and stands as a new testament to the Dean's family
  • Cotons cottage has been rebuilt by the Historic Places Trust
  • Terrace Station homestead has been lovingly restored
  • New and upgraded fire station has been built
  • Butcher's Pie Café - world famous in Canterbury
  • Lost a pub but the building is being used as a private residence.
  • Te Waiora Retreat House has been rebuilt and serves those who need.
  • Hororata Community Trust was formed and now hosts the renown Hororata Highland Games.