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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



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A New Approach

The population of New Zealand has increased by nearly three-quarters of a million people since the end of the Second World War. Existing towns and cities have expanded and new communities been developed, thus creating a need for many new churches. Scientific research in building has produced many new materials and methods of construction. A democratic society has in great measure levelled class incomes, and the resulting increase in building costs has focused attention on the maximum use of space and the elimination of all unnecessary decoration. Over the years aesthetic research has developed a better understanding of contemporary artistic expression and evolved principles of design based upon structure, function, and economy.

The age of indecision has passed and for a time there is unanimity in the methods of architectural expression. In consequence, the new churches being built throughout the Dominion are very different from the older ones. There is greater uniformity in pattern, but with distinctive individuality; they are free from traditional design and offer the opportunity of expressing artistically the contemporary age in which we live. Some will be rated good and some poor design, but all of them should have a common approach so noticeably lacking in the indecisive age through which we have passed. There is hope, too, that the emphasis now given to site and environment may encourage an indigenous character in New Zealand church architecture.

In conclusion, it can be said that all discussion or argument about church design revolves about the common purpose of building and equipping it to serve best its purpose and to express in its treatment the ideals of truth and beauty. The church is thus recognised as the pivot of human society. Its message remains constant and in this respect it stands apart from the dissensions of mankind, but submits with good grace to the changing pattern of human expression.

by Cyril Roy Knight, M.A., B.ARCH. (LIVERPOOL), F.R.I.B.A., F.R.S.A., F.N.Z.I.A., Professor Emeritus, University of Auckland.

  • History of the English Church in New Zealand, Purchas, H. T. (1914)
  • Making New Zealand, Vol. 2, New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs (1940)
  • History of Otago, McLintock, A. H. (1949)
  • The Story of Canterbury–Last Wakefield Settlement, Reed, A. H. (1949).