Our history

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St Mary's is a church rich in history. Discover the stories that make this place so unique.




The first St Mary's, a small wooden building, was dedicated in April 1861.  It was the first church in South Canterbury. A new stone extension, incorporating chancel, transept and a small vestry, was opened on Christmas Day 1869.


1880-86:  New Construction

By 1877 the congregation outgrew the church, and it was decided to erect an entirely new building.  The foundation stone was laid in 1880, and the new church, filled to overflowing with eager parishioners, opened in August 1886.


Addition of the Chancel and Tower

Construction to complete the east end of the church and tower, including the chancel, a new side-chapel, vestry and the octagonal room now used as a choir-room, was begun in 1907.



Grand Opening

St Mary's opened in its present form in May 1909, including the new tower, which stands 32 metres tall.  The Timaru Herald noted at the time that the new church had seating for 900 people.


The Centenary

To celebrate the centenary of the parish, a new porch was added to the western entrance.


Canterbury Earthquakes

Following the first Canterbury earthquake in September 2011, the church and hall were closed as a precautionary measure, until detailed engineering analysis could be completed and the safety of the building could be assured.  For over three years, the congregation was kindly allowed to worship in the chapel at Craighead Diocesan School, until the church and hall were reopened in 2015.