All Saints’ Restoration
Thin Place- Wahi Tapu
“Thin places abound if we have the eyes to see them, and the patience to wait for them to show, and the faith to expect them.
I believe that All Saints’ is a thin place. As the oldest place of worship in the city, as the cradle of so much of Dunedin’s history, as a place of connection between our past and our future, as a junction between city and university, church and community, as a stopover on the highway that links our country from north to south, this ‘long place’ that we call home, this church is a treasure house for our identity and our belonging as Christians, as Anglicans, as Dunedinites, as New Zealanders – choose any one or all of the above.
This is a place with something for you. It is our wahi tapu , our sacred place, however you choose to fill out that definition. Māori have given us all permission to be creative and inclusive and imaginative in the way you define such places, so long it is somewhere that has been hallowed by long and reverent use and occupation.
And All Saints’ certainly qualifies on that score.
Just as some doorsteps and stairs are worn round and smooth by constant use, so too are some churches. When you kneel in them you feel the wear of all the prayers that have been prayed there for generations before you. Some answered. Some not. Some prayed out of desperation and despair, but all with great expectation. The web of all that energy will enfold you if you let it. That’s what thin places do… Hallowed by spiritual wear and tear, they host the chorus of the cloud of witnesses who surround us on every side.
The acoustics for that chorus are fine tuned in places like All Saints’.
The skills we need to help people listen to that music, to welcome newcomers who haven’t found such places before, to offer hospitality and acceptance to all who come and go, to speak of a God who meets us in our going out and coming in.
The community of All Saints’ holds this experience and knowledge within its walls. And if this restoration programme serves to nurture and protect those spiritual skills as well as it protects the bricks and mortar, then this will continue to be a thin place for all God’s people.
And Dunedin will be the richer for it.”
Bishop John Bluck
“All Saints’ Church is a building of exceptional significance” Salmond Reed Heritage Architects
North Dunedin landmark, All Saints’ Anglican Church, was built in 1865. It was the first building designed by architectural firm Mason & Wales and is a rare example of Gothic revival architecture with polychromatic bricks and Oamaru stone.
Standing in the heart of the university precinct, All Saints’ is the chapel for Selwyn College and the parish church for North Dunedin. Not only of significance to the locality and the city, however, All Saints’ is also regarded as nationally significant and has a Category 1 ranking from Heritage New Zealand which describes it as “a place of ‘special or outstanding historical or cultural significance or value.”
All Saints’ is also artistically, musically and culturally significant. The church houses an internationally important collection of stained glass windows and sculpture from some of New Zealand’s finest sculptors. The fine Bevington & Sons pipe organ dates from 1877. The stories of many fascinating characters and people important to the stories of Dunedin and New Zealand are also intertwined with All Saints.
All Saints’ is the oldest church still used as a church in Dunedin and its presence and story are important in the history of the city of Dunedin, the University of Otago and the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Heritage New Zealand and the Dunedin City Council is working with Dunedin North Parish Vestry and All Saints’ Trust Board to restore All Saints. In 2017 the Trust Board engaged heritage architects Salmond Reed who have identified the following aspects of All Saints’ Church that are in need of attention:
- Bringing the building up to current earthquake standards.
- Replacement of storm water drains, rainwater pipes and spouting.
- Repairs to decayed roof trusses and installation of connections between all
- trusses and walls.
- Re-roofing all slopes with natural slates in original pattern.
- Repair of walls.
- Repointing and repairs to brickwork in lime mortar.
- Cleaning and repairs to parapet stone cappings and reinstatement of missing finial to east gable.
- Repairing, rebuilding and conserving windows.
- Installing fire detection and alarm systems.
- Replacement of exterior window mesh with glass protection leaving ventilation gap and using discrete bronze fixings.
- Removal of steel tie bars and square pattress plates.
- Undertaking physical investigations into the survival of any paint history of the interior of the Chancel and Chancel arch.
- Replacing old light switches with suitable modern copies.
- Thoroughly checking high level light fittings.
Restoration of All Saints’ will take hundreds of thousands of dollars. All Saints’ restoration committee is spearheading fundraising for restoration. Some individuals and trusts have already given generously and the committee is making applications to major funding sources.
Donations from individuals are also needed to restore All Saints. Donations to support this work may be made by:
- direct credit to the account: 06-0901-0401135-00
Enquiries about restoration please contact:
For enquiries about the restoration of All Saints’, please contact