St Andrews Church memorials, Auckland

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St Andrews First Presbyterian Church on the corner of Alten Road and Symonds Street, was the first Presbyterian church built in Auckland and is today the oldest church building in the central city. The main part of the church was opened in April 1850. The tower and portico were added in 1882.

On 4 August 1915 the Presbytery of Auckland roll of honour was unveiled at the church. This was a framed and illuminated which listed the names, ranks, units, dates of birth and former parishes of 21 men from churches within the Presbytery who had given their lives during the first year of the war.

St Andrews no longer holds this roll of honour, although either the original or a copy is displayed in the chapel at St Andrew’s Church Centre, Howick. However, it does have a set of memorial bells. A plaque in the foyer reads: “‘We shall remember them’, 1914-18, 1939-45. The tower music in this church is dedicated to the glory of God and in sacred memory of those who fought and those who fighting fell.”

The marble baptismal font is also a Second World War memorial, presented to the church by the family of the late Lieutenant Malcolm Rolph-Smith. A plaque on the font is inscribed: “Dedicated / to / Malcolm / Squadron Leader D.M. Rolph-Smith, D.F.C. / and White Eagle of Yugoslavia, R.A.F. / who after 4 years of glorious service for the Empire he so loved / was called to higher service / November 18th, 1943, at Lydda, Palestine / aged 24 years. / ‘These all died in faith not having received the promise / but having seen them afar off.’ Heb. XI, 13 / With pride and love, we, his family present this font.”

Immediately outside the church is quite a different kind of memorial: the Tiananmen Square memorial boulder.

Sources: ‘War Anniversary’, Auckland Star, 31/7/1915, p. 9; Linley Wood, The History of St Andrews: The Pioneer Presbyterian Church of Auckland, 1847-1947, Auckland, 1947, p. 76; Lorna Laxon, Built to Last, Auckland, 1997.

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