Holy Trinity Anglican Church (est. 1875 - 1999 then rebuilt 2003),
(1875-1999) | 2003). Archdeacon Alfred Nesbit Brown begun holding local services in 1838. In 1872 the site for a new church was chosen and building completed in 1875. Three years later lightning struck, and the belfry was destroyed. Then, 123 years after it was consecrated, the church was destroyed by an arsonist. In 2003 a new building or auditorium was opened on the site which also serves as the Anglican Church of Holy Trinity,Tauranga.
Map No. 68.
215 Devonport Rd (west),
The early History of Holy Trinity Anglican Church
Archdeacon Alfred Nesbit Brown held services from January of 1838 until Rev. Charles Jordan arrived in Tauranga 35 years later, on 1 January 1873 on board the ‘Southern Cross’.
By this time Alfred was 70 years old. Charles gave his first sermon in the Te Papa Mission Station chapel on 5 January 1873. A site for a new church has been selected in September 1872 fronting Devonport Road between Third and Fourth Avenues where the modern building of Holy Trinity stands today.
In June 1873 architect Arthur Washington Burrows had finished plans for an early decorated Gothic design with an open truss roof that could accommodate 350 people. By February 1874 a tender for the work had been received from builders Lundon and Conway, but in May 1874 the plans had to be amended to keep costs down. The church was completed in October 1875 and congratulations given to Lundon and Conway and to the painter, Mr Scott. Consecration took place on 14 November 1875.
Three years later, in the early hours 23 November 1878 a very heavy thunderstorm with hail and rain passed over the town. At 2.20am a ‘dazzling flash and deafening rain’ was followed by the sound of cracking timber heard by those living at the top of Devonport Road. In the morning, serious damage was discovered. The centre of the pillar supporting the belfry on the southern side had been struck by lightning, destroying the belfry. Deprived of its support, the bell was left resting on the ridge of the roof. Half the boards on the western gable were torn from their places and ‘splintered to pieces,’ and the ridge boards wrenched off the roof. On the 26th of November 1878 a Bay of Plenty Times reporter wrote, “What a stampede there will be from the church should the rumble of distant thunder ever be heard during service time.”
Many years later the historic church would be listed by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga as a Category 2 Historic Place. Sadly, after 123 years of serving the town and being the place where many marriages and funerals were held, Holy Trinity became the victim of an arson attack at around midnight on 29 June 1999. The fire had been lit at the eastern end of the church and engineers found that the church had sustained too much damage to undergo restoration. Four years later a new church was built on the site and opened in June 2003. The new church with its 866-seat auditorium won an NZIA Local Award in 2003.