St Peter's Anglican Church

One of the latest historic buildings in Christchurch to be successfully restored following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes is St Peter’s Anglican Church in Upper Riccarton, now the oldest Anglican stone church in the city.

First consecrated back in 1858, the Gothic style church suffered major damage to the stone walls on the north and south transepts and the eastern gable of the sanctuary was also badly impacted. The slate roof – although suffering some damage in the quakes – was able to be repaired. The engagement of Tennent Brown Architects to repair and strengthen the church enabled some new thinking on how St Peter’s would function and serve its community in the future.
It was the inclusion of new extensions to increase the amenities offered by St Peter’s – these extensions constructed from Port Hills Basaltic rock – that have set the church apart as a place for community engagement and to meet its needs in the 21st century.

The main addition (betterment) to the church is the glassed atrium and its simple, modern form and blends in well with the original stone building without detracting from it. A new chapel, the Nurse Maude Chapel of Compassion, was dedicated on 28th February 2021 by the Right Rev’d Dr Peter Carrell, Bishop of Christchurch. This chapel is the previous lesser damaged sanctuary at the eastern end of the nave. The more spacious nave, chapel and atrium can seat 299 people. Most importantly the damaged vicar’s vestry has been turned into toilets which old churches never seemed to have. 

Generous amounts of natural light are brought into the body of the church from new glazing in the northern transept of the rebuilt church. All stained glass windows, after remedial work, have been replaced in their original position or now hang on rods and are backlit by daylight in the southern transept and atrium. 

The $1 million Rieger organ, one of only two Riegers in New Zealand, has been replaced to the south of the chapel. The acoustics of the church are deemed second to none by the musical director and there is much interest in holding concerts in this beautiful building. 

Zinc wall cladding

The introduction of new extensions to be clad in zinc with laminated timber columns was an opportunity for one of Dimond’s RoofingSmiths in the area, CS Roofing Canterbury Ltd, to provide expertise in the installation of wall cladding to areas of the five newly created extensions.

Rhienzink from Germany was supplied in coil form and rollformed by Dimond into standing seam with trays ranging in length from 3m to 9m in length – last year’s shipping delays caused by the pandemic – not making life easy when a European imported product was specified to inject new life into the landmark Christchurch building.

CS Roofing Canterbury’s Dustin Van Biljon led a team to install the Rhienzink trays to the project over a period from 3 to 12 months, the installers also providing a solution around the windows of using welded aluminium to give the appearance of zinc to match the vertical Rhienzink trays. In addition to the wall cladding new zinc parapet cap flashings were installed to two church gables.

A fundraising target (over and above insurance) for the strengthening, restoration and betterment of St Peter’s Church was circa $2,400,000 and the Parish Fundraising Committee and Church Property Trustees (CPT) of the Christchurch Anglican Diocese committed to a range of activities to raise funds both here and overseas to ensure the project would happen. Parishioners who were keen to maintain their family’s 150 year plus links to the church and other interested parties were invited, for example, to purchase blocks ($500) or stones ($1000). Living bequests of $25 a week over a six-year period were made by many – often in the names of their children. A donor’s board to recognise this generosity has been erected in the church. 

CPT insists that a building project cannot begin until the funding is present. To enable this the parish borrowed from its Glebe Funds to serve as guarantee for the then deficient amount. Fundraising continues to allow this ‘borrowed’ money to be paid back to the Glebe Fund which was established after the sale of residential sections many decades ago and supports the clergy and parish activities. 

The church was to have been re-dedicated on 28th February but Covid restrictions means this became a restricted event and a repeat of the service will now take place on 27th June. Vicar’s Warden Dr Corin Murfitt commented that the betterment of St Peter’s and the addition of soft seating with a reduced number of pews has proved popular for the parishioner’s comfort. 

“The attractive atrium has a kitchen included and parishioners mingle here after a service for a time of fellowship. The ten-year wait without a church to worship in has finally arrived and is celebrated even though the parish hall served well during this period”, he said. 

Seismic award finalist

St Peter’s Church is one of six finalists in this year’s Seismic Award sector of the Canterbury Heritage Awards to be announced at Christ’s College on 11th June. The Seismic Award recognises commitment to investment or a unique solution to earthquake strengthening which has saved or will now protect a heritage building or structure. Among the six finalists is the Christchurch Town Hall, the Muse Art Hotel, the Public Trust Office building and the Rakaia Gorge No 1 bridge. 

Tennent Brown Architects

Main Contractor:
Higgs Construction
Telephone: 03 343 1995

Wall Cladding Provider
Dimond Roofing
Material: Rheinzink
Profile: Eurotray Double Standing Seam

Wall Cladding Installer
CS Roofing Canterbury Ltd
Nathan Maxwell
Telephone: 03 338 0400

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