Hawkes Bay Presbytery Records

The Hawkes Bay earthquake of  1931 [http://www.hastingsdc.govt.nz/Libraries/featureHBearthquake.htm] caused serious damage and loss of life in the area, particularly in Napier which also suffered from subsequent uncontrolled and devastating fires which engulfed the central area of the town. The Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand, the Rev George Budd, visited the region shortly afterwards and wrote : "The magnitude and seriousness  of the disaster is difficult to realise". He went on to add that : "It seems almost certain that from the public  funds little or nothing is likely to be given for the reconstruction of Churches, etc." The total damage to Church property in the region was later estimated at £40,000
A 'Hawkes Bay Earthquake Relief Appeal' was immediately launched by the Moderator : "It behoves us to do our utmost to relieve the distress of our fellow Church members and our fellow citizens in this unprecedented disaster. Your prayers and practical co-operation will be of great service in this overwhelming catastrophe."


Clive Presbyterian Church -

  • Church engulfed in a serious flood in 1938. Unknown if any records destroyed. 

Havelock North Presbyterian Church -

  • The Congregation received £372 from the Church Earthquake Relief Fund towards restoration of damage to Church property after the 1931 earthquake
  • The Parish noted in 1957 that some minute books had been lost. These may or may not have been subsequesntly found.
Iona Girl's College, Havelock North (which was owned by the Presbyterian Church) : The College suffered earthquake damage amounting to between £10,000 and £12,000

Knox Presbyterian Church, Dannevirke -

  • The tower cracked in an earthquake on the 6 March 1933 and had to be taken down due to safety reasons.

Eskdale Memorial Church (Jointly used by Presbyterians and Anglicans since the 1920's) -

  • The Church suffered earthquake damage in 1931 and had to be closed for some months.
  • The Church was engulfed in a serious flood in 1938 which left over five feet of silt in the Church and surrounding area. Hymn books destroyed. Unknown if any Church records destroyed. 

Maraekakaho Presbyterian Church -

  • The Church and manse were "considerably battered" in the Hawkes Bay earthquake of the 3rd February 1931. £80 was paid to the Parish from the Church Earthquake Relief Fund.

Napier South Presbyterian Church -

  • The Congregation received £39.3.2  from the Church Earthquake Relief Fund towards restoration of damage to Church property after the 1931 earthquake.

Port Ahuriri Presbyterian Church -

  • The Congregation received £55 from the Church Earthquake Relief Fund towards restoration of damage to Church property after the 1931 earthquake.

St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Hastings -

  • The elegant spire fell through the Church roof in the devastating Hawkes Bay earthquake in February 1931, casuing a great deal of damage. The congregation received £225 from the Church Earthquake Relief Fund towards restoration of damage. It is believed that no records were lost.

St Columba's Presbyterian Church, Taradale -

  • The 1966 Parish history states that except for a Session minute book from 1896, no records survived for the period from the inception of the Parish in 1866. The history also states that "Unfortunately on account of a fire at the house of Mr Elbourne [The Church Treasurer], the records of the congregation were destroyed....". The date of the fire is unknown although the first Board of Manager's minute book commences on the 11th October 1905. Mr Elbourne's house was also noted as being flooded in 1924. Mr Elbourne retired as Treasurer in 1924 and died in 1925.
  • The Church was thrown off its piles in the devastating Hawkes Bay earthquake of  1931, with the manse being badly damaged.
  • Two Marriage registers covering the period 1933 to 1939 damaged by fire also with water damage; Marriage register Nov 1923 to Jan 1933 partially burnt also with water damage and is very fragile; Cash book covering the period (?) to 1915 damaged beyond repair and mostly illegible, being caused by fire and water. (The last two items are held by the Presbyterian Archives in Dunedin). The date and nature of this second fire is unknown.

St John's Presbyterian Church, Hastings -

  • The Church hall was gutted by fire in the earl\y morning of the 1st August 2010, the result of arson. The remains were subsequently demolished. Many Church records stored in the hall were either destroyed, saturated with water, and/or heavily smoke / fire damaged.

St Paul's Presbyterian Church, Napier -

  • Many records were lost when the old Church was totally destroyed by fire on the evening of the 5th April 1929. 
  • An imposing new brick Church was only just finished when the devastating Hawkes Bay earthquake struck at 10.47am on Tuesday the 3rd February 1931, measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale. Although the new Church stood up to the earthquake remarkably well, it was completely burnt out in eensuing uncontrolled fires which engulfed much of central Napier. The damage to the Church and associated buildings amounted to £25,000 Unfortunately, £2,250 was still owed to contractors and £800 to the Architects for work actually done prior to the earthquake and the congregation were being pressed for payment. £1,500 was paid to St Paul's from the General Assembly Earthquake Relief Fund as the Government Rehabilitation Committee expected Churches to draw on their own resources from throughout New Zealand as the Committee had other funding priorities.
    After representations from Hawkes Bay Presbytery an additional payment of £2,200 was made by the Presbyterian Church Property Trustees : "The Presbytery is anxious that St Paul's, the Mother Church of the Presbytery should maintain its status and that it should receive every assistance to enable it to stand."  
  • Marriage Registers have survived from 1859 up to the present date however the Parish have confirmed that the following records are missing : Baptismal Registers from 1859 to 1899; Communion Rolls from 1859 to 1887; Session Minutes 1859 to 1939; and Board of Managers Minutes 1859 to 1931.
  • According to a record dated 1938, all Parish communion tokens (which would have been made of soft metal) were destroyed, presumably in the first fire of 1929, and none could be located.

Please Note : Annual Financial statements covering the period 10 Feb 1865 to 31 Dec 1868 and annual Management Committee reports 1 Jan 1866 to 31 Dec 1868 along with other period correspondence survives in the Rev D Sidey Papers in the Presbyterian Church Archives Research Centre in Dunedin.

Takapau-Norsewood Parish -

  • Session minutes c.1891 to 1916 missing; Baptism register prior to 1917 missing; no Communion rolls prior to 1932 (all noted missing in 1954).

Tamumu Church Hall -

  • The Church Hall at Tamumu (near Waipawa) burnt down in 1905. An insurance claim of £133 was paid.

Wairoa Presbyterian Church -

  • The Congregation received £100 from the Church Earthquake Relief Fund 'for general purposes' after the 1931 earthquake.

Waipawa Presbyterian Church -

  • The Congregation received £55 towards restoration of damage to Church property after the 1931 earthquake.

Woodville Presbyterian Church -

  • Baptismal roll c.1891 to July 1904 missing; no Communion rolls prior to 1898 and from Sept 1936 to Dec 1941 (all noted missing in 1954).

Presbytery of Hawkes Bay -

  • Presbytery minutes 1883 to 1891 missing.

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