Story: Presbyterian Church

The Scotch kirk

The Scotch kirk

The Scotch kirk (church) on Wellington's Lambton Quay was the first Presbyterian church in New Zealand. It opened in January 1844, but the congregation had been founded four years earlier by the Reverend John McFarlane, who had come out to New Zealand with a group of Scottish settlers. Soon after arriving McFarlane held New Zealand's first Presbyterian service on an immigrant ship. The church depicted here was later replaced by a larger edifice, but rising land values saw the congregation move in 1878 from Lambton Quay to The Terrace, where they built a new church – St Andrew's.

St Andrew's was the only New Zealand congregation founded before the 1843 'Disruption', which split the Church of Scotland and led to the creation of the Free Church. St Andrew's remained aligned with the Church of Scotland until 1874, when it joined the New Zealand church. Now known as St Andrew's on the Terrace, the congregation is well-known for its social activism and radical theology.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: A-109-035
Hand-coloured engraving by Samuel Charles Brees

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Ben Schrader, 'Presbyterian Church - Church building and missions', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 21 May 2022)

Story by Ben Schrader, published 5 May 2011, updated 1 Mar 2017