Hobsonville Church & Settlers' Cemetery



History & Graveyard

Hobsonville had its European beginnings as a small, isolated settlement at the head of the Waitemata Harbour, and is named after the first Governor of New Zealand, Captain William Hobson RN, who sailed up the Waitemata Harbour to consider the comparatively level land of the Hobsonville peninsula for a township, but was deterred by the shallow water.

Crown Land Office records show that the original four allotments comprising Hobsonville district were granted in 1854 and 1855, and included Rice Owen Clark, one of the first European settlers in Hobsonville, and the first to make use of the district's clay deposits, producing hand-made field tiles to drain his farmland.  He imported machinery and by the 1890's the resulting company was the largest sanitary pipe works in the Southern Hemisphere.  They made a wide range of other products including chimney pots, bends, junctions, building blocks and drinking troughs.  This company was the basis of the Amalgamated Brick and Pipe Co, later Ceramco.

In 1863 Joshua Carder, a Staffordshire trained potter, set up the first commercial works, Waipareira Pottery, using a throwing wheel, and made a variety of products including sewer pipes, crockery insulators, and a variety of ornamental items.

Mr Carder's two sons later started their own pottery at Hobsonville (Carder Bros.and Co), and others followed including the Ocklestons (J & W Ockleston & Co), and Holland.

The site of these major West Auckland brickworks is opposite the Hobsonville Church, down Old Wharf Rd to the water, the area where Brickworks Bay Rd and Vazey Rd now are. The brickworks were in operation from 1863 to 1929.  It is one of the country's most important industrial archaeological sites, as well as a valuable part of our colonial heritage. 

In all, seven companies operated in the pottery industry, providing work for hundreds of men before local clay deposits were almost exhausted in 1931.

.A sideline with many larger brickyards was the burning of shells for lime, for mixing with sand to make mortar for cementing bricks together.  Limeburners Bay was so named because of the industry established there to utilise the extensive shell banks at the southern end of the bay.

All the land around the Upper Waitemata had been kauri forest before 1800.  After 1840 as more settlers arrived, several timber mills were established in the Upper Harbour districts.

Hobsonville Church was built in 1875 as a combined meeting place, church and school incorporating a graveyard in the grounds. School was held there for 18 years before Education Board land was obtained in Hobsonville Road for a new school building (Hobsonville Primary School at 104 Hobsonville Road). The Church is constructed of kauri, most of it pit sawn. Originally it had a kauri shingled roof, since replaced by corrugated roofing. The land was given by Rice Owen Clark, one of the firsHobsonville settlers. 

The Church was established as a Protestant Trust (non ­denominational) in 1877, with the first five Hobsonville settlers as trustees: Joshua Carder, Rice Owen Clark II, Joshua Ockleston, Thomas Scott and William Sinton. The Trustees are buried in the graveyard, along with members of other Hobsonville settler families, including Anderson, Boyd, Luckens, Midgley, Williams and Wiseley. 

In the earlier years, it was administered by The Whau Presbyterian Church, Avondale, along with Waikumete, Henderson, Helensville and Titirangi - a punishing round for any Minister on horseback.

The Avondale Presbyterian Board of Managers Report for the year 1896 states: "Hobsonville which has nearly doubled its Roll, has increased from 10 at the end of 1895 to 32 at present." 

By the 1920’s Henderson's St. Andrews Presbyterian Church had been upgraded and Hobsonville came under it.  In 1940 the two churches were amalgamated, Messrs R. H. and W. Ockleston serving on St. Andrews Session meetings until about 1950.

In 1879, the Hobsonville Public Library was registered under the Public Libraries Powers Act 1875, the library being a tall cupboard standing in the right hand corner of the church, as one comes in from the front porch.

The Church, as originally built, was 30 feet (approx 9m) by 18 feet (approx 5.4m), plus the porchThe roof was kauri shingles, the external walls kauri weatherboard of slightly varying widths.

The saw marks show both circular and straight saws were used.  When the additions were made, the added length would have caused the main building to become unstable because there was nothing supporting the side walls, or tying the structure together.  Early churches often display external buttressing, or internal bracing, like a ship's hull reversed.  The Hobsonville Church had neither of these, so a steel rod was installed across the middle, extending through the walls and threaded at each end.  Plate washers were fitted and the nuts then tightened on the outside, holding the walls in and giving the necessary stability.  It has worked well, and the Church easily withstood being jacked up and re blocked in 1995.

During preservation work between 1995 and 2000, most of the building proved to be sound.  The windows were in the worst condition and have all been replicated.  

Some joists, flooring and weatherboard  required replacing and some doors are newThe little porch has been rebuilt to original size and the internal double doorway returned to the single door size. The entrance gates are the original 1940's Hobsonville School gates.

125th Jubilee 1875 - 2000

Renovation of the Church was undertaken between 1995 and 2000 with numerous monetary donations and many hours of dedicated labour from volunteers. To celebrate completion of the works, a Dedication was held on 9 April 2000.  The Hobsonville Church & Settlers’ Cemetery Preservation Society Chair Bruce Anderson welcomed around 150 guests, with musical performances from Hobsonville School and Miriam Brooke, Plaque unveiling by Percy Midgley, and a Dedication by Reverend Stuart Lange, Address by Sir Tom Clark, Bell Ringing by Eric Ockleston, then guests were invited to view the Church & Cemetery.  Valmai Ockleston and Sir Tom Clark each planted a kahikatea tree which now grow either side of the front entrance gates.

The Graveyard

The earliest recorded burial in the graveyard is 1875, although it's suspected it may have been in use before then given European settlers were living in the district from the mid-1850's. 

A walk through the graveyard reflects the strong connection Hobsonville had to the brick and pottery making industry, with the graveyard monuments commemorating significant ceramic manufacturers, including Clark, Carder and Vazey, and other Hobsonville potters including Cater, Holland and Ockleston.

An interment list for the Graveyard can be found on the website: www.findagrave.com.

Photos of the individual headstones are also included on the site:  www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=cr&CRid=2321849

The website Gravestone Photographic Resource holds 154 grave and 407 person records for the graveyard:  www.gravestonephotos.com/public/cemetery.php?cemetery=1032&limit=1&scrwidth=1200 

A useful local history website is online at: http://www.localhistoryonline.org.nz/cgi-bin/PUI?a=d&cl=CL1&e=0--------0-----------0-1-0-0-