The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]
St. Matthew's Church, Masterton, stands on a block of ground one acre in area, purchased in 1863 from the Wairarapa Small Farms Association for the sum of £5. In the very centre of the town, at the intersection of the two main streets, and opposite the post-office, there is probably at the present moment no more valuable acre of land between Wellington and Napier. The church, built in 1864, originally small, but enlarged and consecrated in 1874, is quite unworthy of the site. It has accommodation for some 230 worshippers; but further enlargements are about to be made. The area of the parish is about 300 square miles, the population being about 8000, of whom 3600 are in the borough, and about 2000 are resident in what may be called the suburbs. As a parish, Masterton is of recent formation. In the sixties the resident clergyman was the Rev. W. Ronaldson, the C.M.S. missionary to the Maoris. Mr. Ranaldson's circuit extended from the Rimutaka Range to the Hawkes Bay province, and from Palliser Bay to the Tararua Range. On his tramp from pah to pah, Mr. Ronaldson attended to the spiritual wants of the European settlers, and is still held in affectionate remembrance by the old Maori and European residents. Mr. Ronaldson's mission work in the Wairarapa lasted from 1855 to 1868. In 1868 the European population was placed under the spiritual charge of the Rev. A. Knell, whose death is attributed to the hardships of his work in this district. Prior to his death Mr. Knell was placed at Greytown, and the huge district previously worked as one was divided, the Rev. J. F. Teakle being placed in 1875 at Masterton in charge of the North Wairarapa, then a parochial district. In 1880 the Diocesan Synod constituted the parish of Masterton, restricting the area, and forming the northern portion of its original area into the separate parochial district of Tinui. Upon the formation of the parish the nominators made choice of the Rev. W. E. Paige to the cure of the parish of Masterton, and Mr. Paige remained in charge from 1881 to 1894, when he retired and returned to the Old Country.
Rev. Alexander Campbell Yorke, the Vicar of St. Matthew's Church, Masterton, was appointed in 1894. Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, Mr. Yorke was ordained deacon in 1883, and priest the following year, and filled the office of curate at Rockhampton, Queensland, in 1883, becoming curate-in-charge of St. Laurence, Rockhampton, in 1884. The reverend gentleman was successively appointed to Bodalla, New South Wales, St. Mark's, Fitzroy, Victoria (as assistant curate), St. Matthew's, Dunedin, and St. Peter's, Queenstown.
The Masterton Presbyterian Church was established over thirty years ago, the present wood and iron building, which was erected in 1871, having been twice enlarged. It occupies a capital site of an acre in extent at the corner of Queen and Hall Streets, and is seated for 250 people. Behind the church there is a very comfortable ten-roomed manse. It is probable that at an early date this building will be removed to a good site of an acre and a half in extent, which has been secured in Worksop Road. That the whole of the Church property owned by the Presbyterians in Masterton should be free from debt is a fact worthy of record. At Dreyerton, about eight miles from Masterton, there is a branch Church which will hold 100 people. Services are also held at two other country preaching places. The total attendance at the services of the Presbyterian Church in the district is some 420. In connection with the Masterton Church there are three Sunday schools with 240 children and twenty-three teachers.page 950
Rev. Robert Wood, the Minister in charge of the Masterton Presbyterian Church, was born in 1853 in Leith, Edinburgh, where he received his primary education. In 1877, per ship “Wanganui,” he arrived in Port Chalmers as a student to assist the Rev. Lindsay Mackie in Congregational work in connection with First Church, Dunedin. Mr. Wood took the full literary course at the Otago University and the Theological Hall, Dunedin, and became licensed in November, 1884, being called and ordained six weeks later. During his residence in the southern city, Mr. Wood organised congregations at South Dunedin and Mornington, which are now independent churches. From 1884–1890 he was minister of Lower Mataura Congregation in Southland. Since 1890 Mr. Wood has ministered to the Church in Masterton, the congregations having made steady progress, and the balance of old debts having entirely disappeared. The new Church at Pahiatua, lately established, has been greatly assisted in its establishment by Mr. Wood's efforts. For three years the reverend gentleman was convener of the committee of the Presbyterian Assembly on the state of religion and morals, and for the last two years he has acted as northern editor of the Christian Outlook. Mr. Wood was married in March, 1888, to a daughter of the late Mr. James Miller, coffee planter, of Ceylon.
St. Patrick's Church, situate in Quueen Street, Masterton, is a fine wooden building, having a spire which contains a single bell. The services prior to 1878 were held in a small cottage, the district being under the care of visiting clergy. The church, which will accommodate 300 people, is built on an acre section, and the grounds are well kept. Behind the church stands the minister's residence, a comfortable nine-roomed house. There is also a day and Sunday school, the roll number of pupils being eighty-five. The rector has charge of St. Mary's (Carterton), St. Theresa (Featherston), St. Anthony of Padua (Martinborough), the Sacred Heart (Greytown), and St. Joseph's, Tinui, besides the Masterton Church, the total adherents in his district numbering over 500, exclusive of children.
The Very Rev. Father John McKenna, Irremovable Rector of St. Patrick's Church, Masterton, was born in 1860, at Newpark, Kilkenny, Ireland, and educated at the Carmelite College, Knocktopher, and at St. John's College, Waterford. Ordained in 1883 at Waterford, he came to the Colony via Australia, and was first stationed at St. Mary's Cathedral, Wellington as curate. He spent some time in Rangiora, and returning to Wellington in 1887, was appointed to Masterton, being made irremovable rector early in 1896.
The Masterton Wesleyan Church is situated on a valuable section at the corner of Hall and Chapel Streets. It is a comfortable wooden building with an iron roof, seated for about four hundred. There is also a large schoolroom adjoining, the attendants at Sunday school being reported as nearly 250. Besides the local church, the ministers-in-charge holds services at Wangaehu, Rangitumau, Weraiti, and Taueru, the total number of attendants at public worship being 850, the members of the church being returned as ninety-eight.
Rev. Joseph Smoult Smalley, the Minister-in-charge of the Masterton Circuit, was born in 1845 in London, and was educated at the Highbury Normal School, and at Didsbury College. The reverend gentleman arrived in Auckland per ship “City of Auckland” in 1870, and was ordained in Edinburgh two years afterwards. He has successively ministered in Port Chalmers, Wellington, Napier, Christchurch, Springston, Dunedin, Waimate, and Kaiapoi, having been appointed to Masterton in 1896. For one year Mr. Smalley was connexional evangelist for the Colony, and for three years he was in England. During his trip he visited Palestine and Egypt for educational purposes, and since his return to New Zealand has delivered popular lectures as the result of his tour. In 1874 Mr. Smalley was married to the third daughter of the late Mr. John Donald, J.P., of Edinburgh. Mrs. Smalley, who, like her husband, is a temperance advocate, is an accredited local preacher in the Wesleyan Church, and large audiences are attracted when she is announced to preach.