The Burkes Pass Heritage Trust

November 2001

Members of the Burkes Pass Heritage Trust and residents  of the district  may be wondering what is happening to St Patrick’s Church at Burkes Pass. In this first news letter to all Heritage Trust members, we are delighted to inform you that the church property was purchased in March this year and significant steps have been taken to ensure the future wellbeing of this precious old building and its spiritual significance in the life of our community. Built in 1872 to the glory of God as a place of Christian worship it is a tangible reminder of the strength and courage of the early pioneers in an often harsh environment. The building will principally remain as a church and in addition be available for community uses and a place to obtain information on local heritage.

While there has not been visible change, significant progress has been made liasing with  community agencies and gaining support for securing and planning for the future of the church and heritage features of the village.

Celebration service for the Parish - record attendance


The Burkes Pass Heritage Trust was honoured to make its first official function, as owners of St Patrick's Church, the hosting of the 129th celebration service on a glorious calm and sunny autumn day in April. The church was full to overflowing, for the first time in many years, as residents, locals, identities from the area, and former residents gathered to celebrate. It reminded me of those old student challenges of fitting as many people as possible inside a mini (except in a much more dignified manner). Fifteen or more people had to listen to Reverend Michael Kerr's message from outside, while the little wooden church was bursting at the seams with more than 80 people inside. I don't know if this was a record but it was a great acknowledgement of the significance of the church to the people who have lived and worshipped there in the past and a tribute of goodwill for the future. It was a magnificent celebration, the first of many planned to ensure the spirit of the village continues to be fostered and thrives.


A photograph of the church, possibly taken in the 1930's, was presented to the Trust by the Parish and later at afternoon tea at Alma Cottage a framed watercolour print of the church by local artist, John Emery, was presented to the Parish in recognition of their stewardship during the many years. Further copies are available from the Trust as a fundraiser.




The Trust would like to thank and acknowledge the significant assistance received in the form of professional services from:


Mid and South Canterbury Trust, for a grant of $3000 towards the cost of purchase of the church.


Bruce Alexander, of  Bruce Alexander Surveyors, Christchurch, who has repegged the church boundary for the purposes of registering a heritage covenant and fencing.


Alan Chisnall, of QV Valuations, Timaru, who has given us a valuation for insurance purposes.

John Emery, local artist who painted a watercolour of  St Patricks which he then donated to the Trust to help raise funds.

Garry Harris, Fairlie builder, who appraised and provided a building report.

George Lucking, conservation architect, Christchurch, for an advisory visit and initial report.

NZ Historic Places Trust,  for sponsoring the conservation architect’s visit

Christine Ross, from Chapman Tripp, Christchurch, for legal advice and services.

NZ Community Post,  who have donated 200 freepost envelopes to help the Trust keep members informed of news, developments and tidbits.

Mackenzie District Council 


1.       In response to submissions presented to council meetings in March and June this year, the council have given the Trust a grant to employ a landscape and urban planner to assist with ideas for enhancement of the church and the heritage of Burkes Pass. It is hoped this will include a heritage walkway, providing a link from the cemetery through the village to Dobson Lodge, therefore offering an attraction for visitors and tourists to stop and soak up the history. Provision is to be made for any historic information and old photographs to be displayed at the church.


2.      Consultation with those living in the area and other interested parties is an important aim of the brief to planner Graham Densem, who has had strong family links to the Mackenzie area and is involved in other work in the district also. He is planning to make an initial visit to Burkes Pass "to kick the sod" in the next few weeks.


3.      The council has also given the Trust a grant to cover the local services component of  the local authority rates. This is a recognition of the church as a public building, which has many potential community uses, as well as its primary purpose as a church.


4.       Five specimen-sized oak trees have been donated via Jenny Rayne to replace some deceased examples along the roadside.

Church now open

St Patrick's is now open seven days, from 10 am to 4 pm, and by request. The key can be obtained from Helen or John Harry, who conveniently live next door.

Anyone organising a meeting are invited to "please use it". It is a community facility and available for use. Consider its use for any meeting, any appropriate function or gathering, and do not forget the building's spiritual significance. Suggestions for use are always welcome.


Current Projects


Establishing  security of funding and documentation of the church’s heritage status. This has involved applications to Lotteries for several tasks including a heritage architect conservation plan, displays inside the church, manufacture of some additional pews to match the original ones, and publishing an information brochure.

Formation of a local management committee to support the church in practical terms and hopefully give new life to the building in terms of planning for greater and wider community usage.

Fencing:  Two sides of the boundary with a stock-proof fence. Any assistance would be gratefully received.

Collecting archives:  An interesting group of old stamps and local postmarks, including Burkes Pass, have been donated by Tom O’Carroll and a summary of  the village's postal history from Robin Startup. Nancy McKinnon sent a lovely wedding photo of her and her husband standing on the church porch taken in 1950. Interestingly when enlarged it revealed in the background an original leadlight window. Does anyone remember what colour the border was? Intriguing photos, memories and memorabilia have also been contributed by others, including Shirley O'Connor, Joyce Binney, Marjorie Carmichael, Jo Holdem, Catherine Blaikie and Myra Wright. Many thanks to all of you. All contributions are very welcome.


Information and Newsletters


Trust information will be available at the following places:

Jan McCarthy, Phone 03 322 5171

David Reynolds, 03 329 6625

Jane Batchelor, Chair (contact below)

Best wishes,

Jane Batchelor (chairperson)

Alma Cottage
Burkes Pass
Postal Address: 41 Kirkwood Ave,
Christchurch 8004.
Phone: (H) 03 348-1531, (W) 03 355-8283, fax; 03 355-8289,