South Canterbury


Church Name: Immaculate Conception

The first church in Geraldine was built under the supervision of Fr Fauvel SM in 1878.

According to the 1892 parish returns, the Church of the Immaculate Conception was built at a cost of £850. In 1892 it had recently been enlarged, the additions costing £380.

Two early references to Catholicism in Geraldine have been found, one referring to this church. Both are from “Hearts, Hands and Voices”, the history of the Geraldine Anglican parish.

“Father Henneberry, a noted missioner, visited Temuka and Geraldine in 1878. The colourful effect of the long procession to mark the conclusion of the Geraldine Catholic Mission was marred by rain. However this did not prevent the march and crowds stood at vantage points to watch the worshippers, all wearing an Emerald green sash and many carrying banners proclaiming their faith, line up on foot and horseback to complete a circuit of the town.”

“When, in 1884, all the church plate was stolen from the Roman Catholic Church of St Mary’s in the Bush, as it was then known, Constable J. Willoughby who considered this a detestable and sacrilegious crime, suggested a combined churches concert for funds to replace the loss. Unfortunately, this was held in January in the middle of harvest and the response was disappointing.



Church Name: St Joseph or Sacred Heart

Most references and all parish returns refer to this church as St Joseph’s, but the Marist Yearbook 1927 refers to Sacred Heart church, Hakataramea

It was b uilt by Fr John Goutenoire in 1885, at a cost of £120,  and was initially not lined or furnished. The church was shifted to the Hakataramea township about 1900 by Dean Regnault. Parish Returns: 1892: “I have included Hakataramea, small church worth £120, not lined nor furnished.”

Parish returns mention it as follows: 1895: Hakataramea Church, cost £120, wood, condition poor; 1902: Hakataramea, St Joseph’s, wood, 40’ x 20’, built 1888, cost about £200. 1905. St Joseph’s Hakataramea, wood, good state of repair.

The local school history refers to the land the church initially stood on. “Across the creek [O’Briens Creek, between Farm Rd & Milne Rd] was the Chapel. No-one can remember it being there, although the adjoining land became known as the Chapel Paddock … it was built to serve the religious needs of many of the Haka Station workers employed by the Australian & NZ Land Company who were Catholic. A Mr John Godsell gifted the land on which the first church was built by Father Goutenoire. At about the turn of the century (1900) Father Regnault decided to shift it to the Haka township (or Sandhurst as it was then known). It was shifted by bullock teams onto a site donated by Mr and Mrs John Molloy, who owned the Haka Hotel and 300 acres around it. The Chapel was demolished in 1976. The Rabbit Board purchased the land where it had once stood and built the present [1984] house.”

In 1906 the Cyclopaedia of New Zealand described it. “St Joseph’s Roman Catholic church at Hakataramea is a small building of wood and iron and stands on part of a section of one acre of land. The building, which cost £200, has accommodation for 60 worshippers. The Roman Catholic church also owns a section of three acres in another part of the district. Monthly services are held by the clergy resident at Waimate.”



Church name: St Patrick

(Photo courtesy of Marist Archives, Wellington)

Kerrytown, three miles from Pleasant Point, had a school from the 1870s, but never had a church. The Sisters   of   St Joseph took over the teaching at the school from lay teachers in 1884. From 1927 Sunday Mass was celebrated in the Kerrytown schoolroom, with a permanent altar behind folding doors at one end. The school was destroyed by fire in 1937, but was rebuilt shortly afterwards, a two-roomed wooden building with a sacristy. The school finally closed in 1946, but the building continued to be used as a Mass centre until 1967 when it was moved to Pleasant Point as a parish hall.



Church name: St Mary’s



The first building to serve as a church at Morven was a corrugated iron shed built by Fr John Goutenoire SM. It served both as a church and a place to teach Catechism and was situated near the Morven Domain. It was surmounted by an Irish Cross. Later it was moved to Waimate where, as late as the 1960s, it still served as a shelter shed in St Patrick’s School grounds.


Church name: St Joseph

St Joseph’s Church was built in 1895 by Dean Regnault on five acres given by Allan McLean of Waikakahi. The architect was a Mr Petrie, the builder Mr Woods. While the site is some distance from Morven, Dean Regnault chose it because it was central to the Waihao, Waikakahi and Redcliff districts. The convent and school were built in 1916 in Morven township. Built of brick, the church cost £500. It was blessed and opened by Dean Burke of Invercargill, Bishop Grimes being in Rome at the time. A cemetery was also created, some distance from the church, on the main road.

The church was closed in the mid-1970s and sold with the new owner intending to convert it into a house,   but today [2007] it stands abandoned and deteriorating, surrounded by gorse and broom and inhabited by pigeons – an insult to the memory of all those who worshipped there.

(photo courtesy of Waimate Museum)



About 1952 an old hall was removed from Temuka to Pareora to a site donated by the Canterbury Frozen Meat Company. The three denominations had been provided with quarter acre sections by the Canterbury Frozen Meat Company.

(Photo courtesy of Marist Archives, Wellington)



Church Name: St Joseph

(Photo courtesy of Marist Archives, Wellington)

In 1878 Fr Fauvel SM built a small wooden church with a shingle roof. It had a small nave with two smaller transepts and a tiny rounded sanctuary, seating about 150. The choir loft accommodated a harmonium and a choir of ten singers.

In 1879 Father Henneberry OSD, the noted Catholic Missioner, visited Temuka and his mission was given wide press coverage. He proposed to build a new Catholic Church in Temuka costing £3000 and at the close of his sermon subscriptions were canvassed and £2000 was promised on the spot. The Press immediately suggested that other faiths would do well to emulate what they saw as a most successful ‘Shut the door and stick up the congregation’ tactic.

Another source says the church was built by Father Chataigner: “Temuka grew as part of the Timaru Mission under the care of Fr Chataigner and Father John Goutenoire. The former energetic missionary built a tiny wooden church in the district west of Wilkin Street. The small church was a wooden building with a roof of shingles. It possessed a tiny body and two small wings. There was a tiny rounded sanctuary with three small steps mounting to the altar. It would hold about 150 in all. It had a tiny balcony that served as a choir loft. It accommodated a harmonium and a choir of ten.

From 1883 when the new church was built, the little church, somewhat enlarged, served as a school until 1914 when it was moved and then became part of the parish hall. It was demolished in 1965. Fr Fauvel designed the new church as a replica of his own parish church at Coutances in France.




Church Name: Sacred Heart

Designed by Christchurch architect Benjamin Mountfort, this church was opened on October 25, 1874. It was completed in 1877. Stained glass windows were set in Gothic frames and a rose window was placed in the sanctuary. Wooden beams supported a high arched roof. The ceiling was painted sky blue and spangled with bright gilt stars. Choir stalls were erected each side of the sanctuary. Bishop Redwood blessed the church on June 24, 1877.

The church was destroyed by fire towards the end of 1910. A hall was built and used as a temporary church until the present basilica, designed by Frances Petre, was opened by Bishop Grimes on October 1, 1911.

Mountfort enlarged the church to three times its original size in 1876 (Lyttelton Times April 25, 1876)

The fire that destroyed the church was caused when a man threw a lighted cigarette butt in the church grounds. A branch of the old bluegum tree in the girls’ school leaned over the little wooden church. The fire from the cigarette butt lit the branch and the burning branch set the wooden church on fire and it was burnt to the ground. Mass was celebrated in St Patrick’s Hall for a few months.



Church Name: St Patrick

Built by Fr John Goutenoire and opened in 1876 by Bishop Redwood. Mass was originally celebrated in the home of Mr Tooher, later, as congregations grew, in the Temperance Hall. In 1909 the church was replaced by the present St Patrick’s church. The building was moved to Washdyke on the northern outskirts of Timaru in 1936 where it became a church in the Timaru North parish.

(Photo courtesy of John Foley, Waimate)



Church Name: St Patrick

Built in 1876 in Waimate, this building served as parish church there until 1909. It was moved to make way for the building of the present Waimate church, becoming a hall. In 1936 it was sold and moved to Washdyke, but while in the course of reconstruction the tower and spire were blown down in a force eight gale on November 4. The structure was broken in three, the spire beyond repair. The tower and belfry were repaired and erected and topped with an octagonal wooden ‘drum’ with a smaller spire to bring the whole to the original 60 foot height.

These additions were removed at a later date, leaving a flat roofed tower. The church was opened by Bishop Brodie in March 1937, having been moved and re-erected at a cost of £980. The church was closed on June 7, 1998, with the final Mass being celebrated by Bishop John Cunneen.




Church Name: St Mary

Built during 1953 and 1954 on the main road on the site of the old Winchester Hotel of hand made concrete block. Closed in 1982, sold and converted into a house.

Three of the stained glass windows were re-used as interior windows in the Tinwald church, the remainder going to Green Island church in Dunedin.

The church was built by a co-operative effort among parishioners under the leadership of Fr P.P. Cahill SM.

The section was bought off Ray Armstrong of Timaru for £130. Part was sold to Geraldine County for £25.100 Guineas was paid by Temuka parish. 3300 blocks measuring 18 inches by 8 inches by 4 inches weighing 42 lbs each were made beside St Joseph’s church in Temuka. 90 more had to be made to finish the job.

The design was done by Fr T. Liddy and Mr E.E, Leeming of Christchurch. The foundations were started on November 30, 1953. The stained glass windows were made by Bradley Brothers, designed by Leslie Taylor with advice from Fr T.J. Liddy. One depicted St Pius Xth, another St Peter Chanel, this one donated by Bishop Joyce.

St Mary’s Church, debt free, was dedicated by Bishop Joyce in 1954 and the seven beautiful stained glass windows were donated by parishioners.

When the church closed in 1982 these windows were given to the Green Island parish [Dunedin] as their original church had been destroyed by fire. In 1986 St Mary’s became a private residence.