St John’s College Archive – College Life Collection

To celebrate recent reunions for students who have attended St. John’s College between the years 1983 and 1985, we have put up a display in the library.  This display is comprised of college photographs for those years as well as college handbooks and some related ephemera from the time. These items were selected from the College Life Collection in the St. John’s College Archives held here at the John Kinder Theological Library.

The College Life Collection has been collected over the years to reflect the social side (as opposed to the studious academic side) of theological study at the college. It is an eclectic collection that includes ephemera, circulars, students handbooks, personal reminiscences and illicit handmade publications from students. These are mostly tongue-in-cheek and serve to weave an irreverent tapestry of College life.

Here are some examples from this collection:

Addition to ‘Bound for a New Land’

The latest issue of Anglican Toanga (Advent 2014 , no 47) has an article (Bound for a New Land, p26) about the discovery of an inscription inside a book held in our Rare Books Collection.

This 1617 edition of Richard Hooker’s Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie was a gift from Henry Bobart to Bishop Selwyn and includes the original owners name, Bobart’s father-in-law, Samuel Marsden.

Images of the actual inscription were not published so here they are for those who are curious about this fascinating piece of New Zealand history.

World War One Memorial Plaque, St John’s College Chapel

In the Chapel, here at St John’s College, there is a memorial plaque dedicated to the students who had given their lives during World War I. The memorial was placed by the St. John’s College Association, a group of the College’s alumni, as well as friends and loved ones of the deceased.

St John's Chapel World War One memorial plaque

St John’s Chapel World War One memorial plaque

Today, we are able to link these names to the Auckland Museum’s Cenotaph Database, which also links to their service record held at Archives New Zealand and to their entry on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. The plaque reads:


To the glory of God & in memory of students of this College who died in the Great War


Ernest Claud Cook, Deacon

Neil Ruffell Russell

Herbert Lewis Morgan

Paul Graham Clark

Jack Rose

Neil [Neale] Fitzgerald Eagar

Eric Hardwick Tayler

Edward Oliver Ruddock

James Dalton Dinneen

Placed in this Chapel by members of the S.J.C. Association & friends of those who died.


If you have further information please feel free to comment on this post or contact us here at the Library.

Drake’s Cross (aka The Prayer Book Cross), Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Our recent blog post focusing on the history of Marsden’s Cross at Oihi Bay has bought to our attention a link to another commemorative Celtic Cross. This is the Prayer Book Cross, or Drake Cross, situated in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco which was erected in 1894 to mark the occasion of Sir Francis Drake’s landing and the first Church of England sermon on the American continent. This Cross served as inspiration for Archdeacon Walsh to create and raise funds for a monument to Samuel Marsden’s landing and first sermon in New Zealand.

Here is a Diocese of Auckland Church Gazette article from 1905 which gives the background to the Marsden Cross and mentions the cross at Golden Gate:

“Through the generosity of Mr G. W. Childs of Philadelphia, the Bishop of San Francisco was able to place, some years ago, at the “Golden Gate”, a gigantic monument known as “The Prayer Book Cross”, to mark the spot where Francis Drake’s chaplain held the first Anglican service on the Pacific Coast of America. It is not likely that we should be able to afford a monument on the same scale, but we could easily manage a substantial stone cross of sufficient dimensions to be a conspicuous landmark plainly visible from the ships entering the Bay of Islands.”

Another earlier article from the Church Gazette describes the Drake Cross and it’s unveiling, likely this was read with enthusiasm by Archdeacon Walsh:

“It was at first intended to have the monument erected at Drake’s Bay, but when the Park commissioners tended a site on an elevation of up to 300 feet above the ocean, where the monument would be visible to observers from the ocean, from the Golden Gate, and from the city, and be a conspicuous landmark, it was decided to accept the offer. The monument is in the shape of a Celtic cross and is known as the ‘Prayer-Book Cross’. It is the largest cross in the world, and is one of the most notable pieces of stonework in the American continent.”

1912 Maori New Testament dedicated to the 1914 and 1964 Marsden celebrations

A small and fragile 1912 Maori New Testament and psalms, ‘Ko Te Kawenata Hou’ was given to the Library some years ago.  Inside it has an interesting story to tell, as the donor or his antecedents have collected signatures relating to the Marsden Centenary celebrations in 1914 and later events.


Maori New Testament and Psalms from 1912 showing dedication and signatures. [Archives ref.: KIN 254/1/1].

 Archbishop Walter Averill has written:

“A. W. Auckland, In remembrance of the Marsden Centenary XMAS Day, 1914.  Laus Deo.”

It is also signed by Marion P. Marsden, A M Betts, mayor of Goulburn, NSW, and Lizzie Betts, as well as Hilda Marsden Venables, great neice of Dr Marsden, from Southwell, England.

In 1964, the little book came out again to be signed by R. E. Mardsen, great great grandson of Samuel Marsden “150th anniversary celebrations, 1964”.

In the front pages are pasted a photograph of the Cross at Oihi, and a card in Maori “He Whakamaharatanga mo Te Kirihimete”, 1914 (In Remembrance of Christmas 1914).


Maori New Testament and Psalms from 1912 showing description of the 1814 sermon in Te Reo and photograph of the Marsden Cross. [Archives ref.: KIN 254/1/1].

The Landing of Samuel Marsden at the Bay of Islands on Christmas Day 1814 by Captain M. T. Clayton

The Landing of Samuel Marsden at the Bay of Islands on Christmas Day 1814. Painted by Captain M. T. Clayton, 1914.       John Kinder Theological Library.

Currently on display at the John Kinder Theological Library is a painting by Captain Matthew Thomas Clayton, depicting Samuel Marsden’s landing at the Bay of Islands to preach a Christmas Day sermon in 1814.

An article in the December 1914 issue of Church Gazette states that “[…] a few months before his death, Archdeacon Walsh gave to Captain Clayton a sketch in chalk of the landing of the Rev. Samuel Marsden, at the Bay of Islands, on Christmas Day, 1814.” From that sketch, Captain Clayton created his painting which was then hung at an Auckland art exhibition. The painting failed to sell and was offered to the members of the Synod for purchase to present to the Diocese and was later gifted to St. John’s College.

The painting also has a copper plaque attached to the frame, the inscription reads: – ‘The Landing of Samuel Marsden, at the Bay of Islands on Christmas Day, 1814.’ The copper was given to Clayton by the Captain W. Farquhar, of the ship ‘Clansman’, which was claimed to have come from the sailing ship ‘Boyd’, attacked by local Maori in the Whangaroa Harbour in December 1809; five years previous to Marsden’s arrival in the Bay of Islands.

Inscription plaque attached to frame. John Kinder Theological Library.

Inscription plaque attached to frame. John Kinder Theological Library.


Church Gazette, December 1st 1914. John Kinder Theological Library.

NB. The Church Gazette is currently under going digitisation and will be available on Church Papers Online in the near future. 

The Cross at Oihi

Marsden Cross at Oihi Bay with broken piece in foreground. Taken from 'Church & People' December 1964.

Marsden Cross at Oihi Bay with broken piece in foreground. Taken from ‘Church & People’ December 1964.

The original cross was erected in 1907.  It was formally unveiled March 12 by his Excellency the Governor, with a crowd of around 300, and many others watching from boats offshore.

At that time the monument was described as

The monument is in the form of a Celtic cross standing on a massive “die,” over a base and sub-base. The whole structure is of hard stone, the cross and die being of Melbourne bluestone, from the Malmesbury  quarries, Victoria, and the bases of local volcanic stone. On the front of the die is a slab, bearing the inscription, in deeply—cut Roman‘ letters.

It was designed by Archdeacon Walsh and made by Mr Bouskill of Symonds Street and cost about 225 pounds.

The fundraising for the cross was first publicised in the Church Gazette of the Diocese of Auckland, November 1905, the matter having been the subject of a resolution of the previous Diocesan Synod.

Archdeacon Walsh wrote “The scale of the cross would of course depend on the funds available, but the object being one that appeals so strongly to every Christian in New Zealand, there should be no difficulty in obtaining a sum sufficient to erect a really worthy monument.  I have already received a promise of 100m pounds and three promises of 5 pounds each, on the condition that the memorial be in the shape of a stone cross, to be erected on, or as near as possible to the spot on which the service was held …

In April 1918, the Bishop visited Oihi and noted at the Standing Committee meeting, that the top part of the cross had fallen off after a recent storm.  After fundraising again, it was later repaired with a new top section added.  The photograph shows the cross with its replacement top section and the old part lying on the ground.

Marsden Cross at Oihi Bay. John Kinder Theological Library. Archive ref: SJC 28/1/164 [A0164]

Marsden Cross at Oihi Bay. John Kinder Theological Library. Archive ref: SJC 28/1/164 [A0164]


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