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St. Ninian's Hawea 75th Celebrations

St Ninian’s Presbyterian Church Hawea Flat

On the 29th of September 2013 St Ninian’s Church Hawea celebrated 75 years since the present building was opened in 1938. The celebration also marked the completion of the toilet extension for which generous funding was recieved from Central Lakes Trust and the Synod of Otago & Southland.  This was additional to local fundraising.

  Some of the families who came here in the 1880’s and 1890’s started a ‘church’ in homes and in the school long before St Ninian’s was built and opened in 1938.


The McLennan family, who bought property in the 1880’s gave the land where St Ninian’s now stands.  The first Minister for the Upper Clutha Presbyterian Parish was Rev Benjamin Drake.  He bought land in Hawea Flat in the 1880’s and his family married into the McLennan family.   

Three of the old families are now into the 6th generation and still have connections with the church.  They the Drakes, the Kanes and the Urquharts.  Some were Elders (among the first) others Managers and Sunday School teachers.  There are still descendants involved in St. Ninian’s. One, Ian Kane, present at the 75th celebration, was at the opening of the church in October 1938. Ian had served as a Manager in the congregation for 46 years. Another present, Sandra Harris, is the great granddaughter of that first minister Benjamin Drake and is a leader of the large group of Mainly Music children who now call this church ‘home’. 


There was standing room only at the service, led by Diane Gilliam-Weeks, the minister of the congregation and the challenging sermon, delivered with a light touch by Bruce Fraser (Moderator of the Synod of Otago & Southland), was well received.  At the conclusion, a group of past & present Mainly Music children sang ‘Jesus Loves me this I know’, which was a lovely witness and reminder of why the building was built in the first place!


The celebration was largely organised by Shona Lorimer – a long time resident and Elder.  She knows much of the history of the area and had collated information about the families which was on display in the church


The service was followed by afternoon tea where a commemorative cake modelled on the building was cut.


St Ninian’s Church is very proud of its history in Hawea Flat.

Presbyterian Synod Of Otago and Southland.
Phone: {03} 477 7365
Fax: {03} 477 6736
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Level 5, Evan Parry House,
43 Princes St, Dunedin.
P O Box 1131,
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