17 March 2016

Former Methodist Church, Manakau

Located on State Highway 1, Manakau, Manawatu-Wanganui, this building now houses the Kirk Wood Arts and Craft Cafe.


This church was built in 1918, on the site where the original Methodist Church once stood. The original Church, built of timber, opened on 12 November 1897, and was burned to the ground on 12 March 1918, as a result of  a suspected arson. A series of suspicious fires had occurred around that time, with Methodists being the preferred targets, possibly due to their non-tolerance of alcohol.

The new church (this building) is made from reinforced concrete, mainly because of its fire resistant properties. The builder and designer was Mr. Albert Kofoed (1886-1977). This was some years before earthquake regulations were introduced. Mr Kofoed was later to build the present Manakau Hotel (across the road, in the Manakau Village). The concrete exterior of the rectangular gabled church consists of 2 inch slabs, which have been pressed in a machine to form a rock-faced external surface, and a smooth internal surface. The result is the solid rock-faced appearance that is striking to passers-by.

The windows are stained glass. The bottom half of the windows are the "Queen Victoria" commemorative glass. This special commemorative glass incorporates The Rose of England, Thistle of Scotland and Shamrock of Ireland.

This church opened in January 1919; it had cost £446 to build. The Church served the local congregation until  1970 when it was closed due to falling membership. The remaining 4 members of the congregation combined with the Anglican Church in Otaki.

In 1974 the building was sold into private ownership, as a residence. A report on the building's condition was carried out in 1987, when its then owners wished to expand the back of the building for use as a home. The report showed that the only faults were 2 large cracks in the western wall,  attributed to the weight of the block wall above them, the roof load, poor workmanship, also inadequate reinforcing of that wall.

The present owners, David and Diane Campbell, purchased the building in December 1998.


References: Kete Horowhenua