Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.
Whilst on a visit to Poverty Bay, at the instance of the Hawke's Bay Presbytery, in May, 1872, the Rev. George Morice, of St. Paul's, Napier, advanced the sum required to buy the Matawhero church from Captain Read. The Rev. W. Hevington Root (formerly an Anglican minister), who was sent out to Poverty Bay by the Free Church Colonial Mission, arrived at Gisborne on 25 February, 1873. He held his first services on 2 March, 1873, preaching at Ormond at 11 a.m., Matawhero at 3 p.m., and at Gisborne at 6.30 p.m.
When Mr. Root moved from Matawhero into Gisborne towards the close of 1873 he opened a campaign for funds to enable a church to be built. He promoted the first bazaar and the first promenade concert to be held in the township. The church site at the corner of Childers Road and Cobden Street, which had been allotted, by ballot, to the members of the Presbyterian faith by the Auckland Provincial Council, was enlarged by the gift of 1½ acres, which A. Graham, A. Blair, J. Ferguson, M. Hall and W. B. Mill had purchased for £25. On 25 October, 1874, a church—the main body measured 44 feet by 22 feet—was opened, dedicated and named St. Andrew's by the Rev. David Bruce, of Auckland. It was the first wooden church to be built within the limits of the township. The present St. Andrew's was dedicated by the Very Rev. Dr. J. Gibb, of Wellington, on 26 October, 1913.
Ministers: Rev. W. Hevington Root (1873 till August, 1878); Rev. John McAra (14 May, 1879, till 23 January, 1890, when his buggy overturned on the Peel Street bridge and he was fatally injured); Rev. Robert Middleton Ryburn, M.A. (October, 1890, till September, 1897); Rev. James Gillies Paterson (June, 1898, till his death, which occurred suddenly on 10 August, 1906); Rev. William Grant, who was one of page 336 the first ministers in the Dominion to offer his services as a chaplain for the first Great War, and who was killed in the trenches on Gallipoli (October, 1906, till 28 August, 1915); Rev. James Aitken, M.A. (March, 1916, till January, 1935); Rev. Alfred James Henry Dow (1935 till 1942); Very Rev. John Davie (1942–47); Rev. J. Kingsley Fairbairn, B.A., M.B.E. (1948—).
Knox Church, Mangapapa, was built in 1913, and St. David's, Kaiti, in 1923. Country churches are as under: Matawhero (acquired in 1872), Ormond (opened in 1895), Patutahi (1901) and Te Karaka (1908).
Fifty years' service as a Sunday School teacher at St. Andrew's was completed by Miss F. M. Witty in October, 1947.