Westland-Buller Presbytery Records

Brunnerton [Brunner] Presbyterian Church -

  • Services were first held at Brunner as early as 1873. 
  • The first church, which had been built on Brunner Hill on the junction of the roads to Reefton and the Railway Station and the bridge to the Brunner Mine, was destroyed by a tornado. the second Church was built on a new site in wallsend and dismantled "some years" prior to 1969.
    Many Church members and Elders were killed in the Brunner Mine disaster of 1896 -"There were few Church families that had not been affected by the disaster. The congregation did not regain its former strength and enthusiasm. Many families left the district and others lost touch with the Church entirely. For over 12 months no minutes appeared in the Church books" (Parish history, 1969)
  • The Church buildings were scorched and windows shattered due to a fire in an adjoining building in 1937. 

Central Westland Parish -

  • Some early minute books have suffered "extensive pest attacks" at some time in the past. 

Cobden Presbyterian Church -

  • The Sunday School Hall was damaged by fire c.1958-59.

Denniston Presbyterian Church - (this church operated as a Home Mission Station)

  • Session minutes c.1906 to 1950's missing.
  • Ladies Guild minutes, Sunday School minutes, Young Women's League minutes, and Bible Class records missing.

Granity Presbyterian Church - (This Church operated as a Home Mission Station)

  • An entry in the Management Committe minute book on the 9th April 1968 records "notes lost in flood and book destroyed 9th April 1968". This is assumed to just mean that the minute book itself is badly water damaged but not actually "destroyed".
  • Bible class, Sunday School, Boys Brigade, Ladies Guild, Presbyterian Women's Missionary Union, and financial records all missing.

Hector Presbyterian Church -

  • The Church Hall was totally destroyed by fire in 1938.

Ikamatua - Totara Flat Parish -

  • The Church was completely destroyed by fire in 1928.
  • The Reefton Session Clerk advised in 1955 that "The earlier [Management Committee] books were lost in a fire some years ago. If they had a Session book it must have been in the fire too."
  • Marriage registers from 1909 to 1911 and from 1924 to 1927 missing; no Communion roll prior to Oct 1917; Baptism register c.1892 to 1917 missing.

Knox Church, Reefton -

  • No Communion roll 1884 to Oct 1917; Baptismal roll 1884 to 1917 missing; Board of Manager's minutes 1892 to 1902 missing (all noted as missing in 1954). 

Kumara Presbyterian Church -

  • A cyclone in either 1912 or 1913 "practically wrecked the Church". " Mr Johnson, who was a Carpenter, [was given] the job of restoring the edifice at an estimated cost of £70. Two ladies, Mrs Aitken and Miss L Jamieson collected £100 in an afternoon and worship was resumed in a fortnight. The liberality of the gold miners was amazing. The collection plate contained more half-crowns than any other coins". (from the memoirs of the Rev John Newlands)

Roa Presbyterian Church -

  • The Church Committee Minute 1910 to 1913 has had one edge badly eaten away my mice (well we hope it was only by mice!)

No Town Presbyterian Church -

  • A Church and manse were built in this town (of which nothing now remains) in 1871. No records remain from this once 'boom town'.

Runanga Presbyterian Church -

  • The new Church, which had only been opened on the 14th July 1911, was accidentally destroyed by fire in 1912, being a total loss. A new Church was built on the same site. It is unknown if any records were lost.

St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Ross -

  • According to a 1986 New Zealand Society of Genealogists Register, a fire about 1900 destroyed the (first) Church building. Our records indicate however that the old Church was declared unsafe after a severe gale on the 21st July 1907 and a new (second) Church opened on the 28th July 1909.
  • There is no baptism register from 1870 to 1912 nor any marriages between Sept 1876 and Jun 1907. However, as the Parish was vacant from 1876 until 1907 due to the declining number of goldminers in the district, it cannot be assumed that records have been lost - or even kept. The only thing that could be missing is a Baptismal register from 1870 to the time the Rev Hogg left the district in 1876.

St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Westport -

  • Baptismal register 1879 to Oct 1886 missing (noted as missing in 1954).

St John's Presbyterian Church, Greymouth -

  • A fire at St John's Church was reported in the "Grey River Argus" of the 6th June 1884, an "open verdict" being given on the cause. The extent of damage is unknown.
  • Some early records were lost on the 1st April 1892 when a great fire destroyed buildings in the lower part of Mawhera Quay which included the Bank of Australasia where the Church records had been stored. A list was made of all records lost and this entry will be updated once the Parish records (including the list) are removed from off-site storage in Christchurch. We understand that all minutes from the date of the first gathering of Presbyterians from about 1864 to 1869 were destroyed.
  • A second unspecified fire (pre June 1870) destroyed the Deeds of the section on which the Church was to be built ; "The destruction of these Deeds left a scar which proved very difficult to heal".
  • The following later are also missing : Board of Manager's minutes March 1893 to February 1928; Baptismal rolls 1870 to date; Communion rolls 1870 to 1877 and 1885 to 1919; Presbyterian Women's Missionary Union minutes 1921 to 1932.

Seddonville Presbyterian Church -

  • The Church minutes of September 1929 record a flood caused by an earthquake at Murchison. A landslide dammed the Mokihinui River which burst and resulted in serious flood damage in Seddonville. It is unknown at this stage if any Church records were lost.

Totara Flat Presbyterian Church -

  • A history of the parish written by the resident Minister, the Rev Reg Seaton, in 1941, states that records "were lost in a fire which destroyed a private residence some time in the past", the residence referred to apparently belonging to an office bearer. We have been unable to confirm the accuracy of this information however we do now know that the Totara Flat Presbyterian Church itself burnt down on the 18th February 1928, the insurance payout of £120.0.0 being put towards the cost of a new Church. What records were lost in this fire - and the office-bearer's fire if this actually did occur - is unknown. We note that most parish records commence in 1917. There is a possibility that some early records could be amongst Greymouth records who held oversight of Totara Flat until about 1913. (May 2010)

Woodstock Presbyterian Church -

  • A scrub fire in 1940 caused damage to the Church building.

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