Hataitai Methodist Church
(originally Kilbirnie Wesleyan Church)
Kilbirnie School visible at left.
Services were first held in 1886 at Mr and Mrs Fear's house at 48 Hamilton Road, and later moved to Kilbirnie School. In 1895 the church paid Mr Plimmer £60 for a site next to the school (today's 111 Moxham Avenue). A wooden church seating 100 was built and opened on 21 October 1896. In the first few years only evening services were held. The Mission Band from Wesley Church frequently made the long trip from town to play at the services. In 1900 gas lighting was installed, and in 1906 the building was enlarged.
Then in 1908 the church bought a "more centrally located" site in Waitoa road for £500. In September 1913 the Moxham Avenue church was lifted and taken on rollers to the rear of the Waitoa Road site, and reopened there on 2 November 1913 after renovations. Services were held at Kilbirnie School while the work was carried out. The school headmaster wrote in his logbook on 9 September 1913 "On coming to school this morning we found a number of forms [ie pews or benches] and an organ on the premises. From the children we learn that the school is to be used for church purposes, but the committee have not notified me to that effect."
Fund raising continued after the church was moved, and on 3 November 1928 Mrs Fear opened the new brick church at Waitoa Road. The church was designed by architect and local resident William Fielding, and cost £5300 icluding furnishings. The old wooden church at the rear of the site continued to be used for Sunday school and as a hall. Golden jubilee celebrations were held in 1946 with members of the Fear family in attendance. The church got bells in 1950 and an organ in 1951. The organ was 25 feet long and had 600 pipes and 18 stops. In 1960 a new lounge and kitchen opened on land bought from the Poneke Football Club.
But times changed. In 1971 the Samoan Methodist Church was granted use of the church and hall on Sunday afternoons. Then in 1977 both buildings were sold to the Samoan church for $62,000. Hataitai Methodist Church joined with All Saints in Moxham Avenue to form the Hataitai-Kilbirnie Cooperating Parish. The organ installed in 1951 was donated to All Saints and reinstalled in that church. A service to mark the handover of the church was held in July 1979.
In 2002 a project worth over $300,000 was announced. The church would be spruced up and strengthened against earthquakes. The Samoan Methodist congregation raised about half the money, and the rest came from grants from the Lotteries Commission and the Wellington City Council. While the renovations were in progress there was a fire, but the building was saved and work continued.
Fifty years of Methodism in Hataitai, Jubilee Booklet 1946
Methodism in Wellington 1839 to 1989, edited by AL Olsson, pub. Wellington district Synod of the Methodist Church of New Zealand 1989
National Library photo 'Street scene in Hataitai, Wellington, with a Wesleyan Church, Reference Number: 1/2-075656-F http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=48570
Evening Post 2 and 4 Nov 1946
Dominion Post, 10 Jul 2002