John Shedden Adam, along with his sisters, helda large estate comprised of lands in what is nowthe New Windsor and St Georges Road areas,and even parts of the present shopping centre.On 4 January 1859, from Sydney where he thenlived, Adam formalised the dedication of justover 1
acres of his land at Allotment 13 of theParish of Titirangi to the Crown for use as partof the Great North Road. This however cut off asemi-triangular piece of land bounded by the Great NorthRoad, Allotment 86, and a“road to the Manukau” (StGeorges Road). This was to become the site of thedistrict’s Presbyterian Church.
It is likely that St AndrewsChurch dealt directly withAdam with regard to obtain-ing possession of that piece of property. While traditionallythe Avondale parish hadasserted that church eldersJohn Lamb and JohnBuchanan donated the land,this is incorrect. John Lambwas not in the country at thetime that tenders were adver-tised for the building of the Whau church, arriv-ing in Auckland in August 1859 to settle inFreeman’s Bay and then Riverhead by Novem- ber that year. As for John Buchanan, he did notreach New Zealand until 1861. Instead, newspa- per reports of the opening of the church describethe site as
“the liberal gift of John S Adams, Esq.”
[sic] The “liberal gift” was the transfer of the title of the 3
acre piece of land from Adamand his sister Margaret to Rev Bruce for the sumof five shillings in October 1859, just beforeconstruction commenced the following month.Initially, the Whau district was part of theOnehunga parish, but with the arrival of RevAndrew Anderson in 1865, he arranged to holdservices as far away as Riverhead andHelensville, as well as West Auckland, and theconnection with Onehunga ceased. From thetime of the church building’s opening until thecompletion of the Whau Public Hall across theroad, the church was used as a schoolroom for the district’s children.
“A hinged table fastened along the eastern side of the Church waslowered against the wall out of the way for theSabbath services.”
In 1872, the church was lined and a new pulpitadded. A vestry was added in 1889, causingsome controversy as Rev Alexander McKenzie(see page 11) apparently insisted on placing hiswife’s grave
“on the one place which the man-agers of the church had told him would be re-quired for additions to thebuilding.
” The church wasrenamed St Ninian’s in the1930s. The kauri church building originally rested onlarge scoria boulders, andwas reblocked prior to the1960 centennial celebra-tions. In 1950 a portion of the church was divided off to form a minister’s room.The two front frosted glasswindows were replaced byecclesiastic-styled memorialwindows supplied by theIngram family in memory of Mr and Mrs Christopher Ingram, and Mr and MrsWilliam Ingram c.1949.These were later removed by the Union Parish authorities and installed inthe Avondale Union Parish Church on Rosebank Road in 1984.
On 8 October 1972, the churches at St Ninian’sVictoria Hall on the corner of Orchard Streetand Rosebank Road, and Avondale MethodistChurch on upper Rosebank Road agreed to become one parish after several years planning.
St Ninian’s closed for services on 18 August1984. Two years later, the Union Parish advisedthat they’d have to sell the old church, and thelocal community made an effort to prevent the building’s demolition and removal. AucklandCity Council purchased the church site andadjoining cemetery later that decade, andconverted the old building as a communitycentre.
In 2007, the building closed again, and to date(April 2010) remains closed. The 150th anniver-sary year is overshadowed by questions raisedas to its structural integrity and concerns regard-ing lead contamination of the surrounding
The Presbyterian Church in Avondale
St inians Church: 150 Years 1860-2010