Mayor's eyes forward as church looks back

Presbyterian minister the Rev John Sinclair preaches to a packed Pukehiki Church on the Otago...
Presbyterian minister the Rev John Sinclair preaches to a packed Pukehiki Church on the Otago Peninsula yesterday. The church is 140 years old this year. Composite photo by Gerard O'Brien
Similarities between the building of the Pukehiki Church on the Otago Peninsula and the Awatea St stadium were noted by Dunedin Mayor Peter Chin at celebrations to mark the church's 140th ''birthday'' yesterday.
Mr Chin told more than 150 people at the festivities he presumed the church was built according to the decreed budget of 250 pounds.

He also appreciated that the numbered pews in the church were originally rented by families as a way of raising money for

''I'm very much aware the city is planning facilities that will hopefully come in on budget, and parts of that will be paid on an occupancy basis. Hopefully, history will repeat itself here,'' he said.

The Rev John Sinclair, in his sermon during the celebratory service, had referred to the cost of the church and the pew rental.

The almost spartan design of the church was the result of the split within the Church of Scotland. The free church administration declared money must not be wasted on needless ornamentation because the church had more important things to do with ts funds.

The contract for the church building was given to a local carpenter and farmer, Walter Riddell, in 1867. It was officially opened in April 1868 and its first minister was Scottish-born, the Rev Alexander Greig.

Mr Greig's great-great-great-granddaughter, Jacqui Clark, who lives in the Catlins and married husband Lyndon in the church in 1995, gave an old testament reading at the service.

Trustee Derrick Railton said the next major job for the trust would be repiling the church, a project expected to cost about $50,000.

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