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The beautiful little St. Mary's Church

This photo of St Mary, Esk Valley, was taken in late September 2005 by Paula

standing on the summit of a ridge overlooking
 Esk Valley,
(formerly Upper Otaio), South Canterbury

On the way to south from Timaru take a detour via Esk Valley, about six miles along the Blue Cliffs Rd, from St Andrews, and view the countryside.  Esk Valley,  is approximately 15 miles south from Timaru, about half way between St Andrews and Bluecliffs Station.  In October the valley is absolutely beautiful and the Church is really appealing.  On the main highway south to Dunedin just before St Andrews turn inland onto the Otaio River Rd which turns into the Esk Valley Rd and look for Church Hill Rd, take a right. Another way is to turn at St Andrews, turn inland at the old post office and go up the Blue Cliffs Road for a few miles and go across the 1st ford, Grays Crossing Rd [road name] turning at Creamery Corner [on Blue Cliffs Rd] and up Esk Valley Road to the Church Hill Road.

Do not use the Church Ford [on Church Hill Rd] across the Otaio River, it's not reliable, has a very soft bottom.

Very easy to find even for visitors. Drive up the hill to the church and park. There are closed gates often with magpies sitting in the trees lining a driveway down to The Anglican Church of St. Mary, Ryan's Road, Esk Valley. Open the gate and walk or and drive right up to the church.  The church and churchyard cemetery are still utilised and there are quite a few folk are buried in the cemetery in the lovely grounds of the church. The church is firmly locked. Church is held there fortnightly.

This small limestone church, designed by B.W. Mountfort (1825-98), a distinguished architect, was consecrated 11 May 1880 for the late Mr Charles Meyer, former owner of Blue Cliffs Station (1870-1878) to honor his wife's wishes.  She died 30 January 1878.  Mr Meyer died in Scotland on 30th August 1878 at Loch Inver, Scotland but before he left New Zealand, he made arrangements for a church to be built on five acres and left £6,000 as an endowment for the Waimate Parochial District and £1000 for building a church in memory of his wife. He never had the chance to come back to view his gift to the district.  Mrs Ellen M. Meyer would take walks over the sloping ground and view Esk Valley to the east and the Hunter Hills rising to the west. She had wanted a church to be seen from the original homestead site, seven miles distance, on the old Blue Cliffs Rd.  The Rev.  Laurence C. Brady arrived soon after and served this parish for thirty-six years.  In 1879 the estate was sold to Robert Heaton Rhodes and was appointed church warden along with John Bradshaw in 1880 by Bishop Harper. A church was built at St Andrews in 1887, followed by a vicarage, and a church at Pareora in 1915. In 1917 a motorcycle was provided for the vicar to travel around the parish. St Marys has remained the focus of the parish but in the 1950s a church hall at Maungati was built and dedicated and a combined Anglican-Presbyterian Youth Hall was built and dedicated at Pareora in 1971. The parochial district joined with the St Andrews Presbyterian Parish, and formed the St Andrews Co- operating Parish. Rev Straun Duthie conducted the inaugural service on July 13, 1975. With changing social patterns, and rural economic downturn and depopulation and in 1998, the parish lost the services of a full-time minister. Rosie Staite was the lay ministry supporter in 2005. 

Photo taken Jan. 2011 by JW.

Timaru Herald, 24 December 1878, Page 2
The Late Mr Meyer's Benefaction. The New Zealand Church News says This gentleman, who went home with the Primate, having lost his wife some months previously, died suddenly m England, as our readers are aware, not long since of disease of the heart. He has bequeathed by will the sum of £6000 for the endowment of the parochial district of Waimate, one-half of which is for the maintenance of the curate at Waimate, and the remaining half for an assistant curate to minister within the district. Before Mr Meyer's departure from the colony, he set apart the sum of £1000 for the erection of a Memorial Church, m memory of his wife, in the Otaio Valley, on a beautiful spot selected by himself, about six miles from the St. Andrew's railway station. The site, consisting, together with glebe, of five acres, was bought by Mr Meyer for £100, and the sum of £900 remained for the building of the church. B. W. Mountfort, Esq., was requested by the founder, before he left Christchurch, last April, both to prepare plans and to superintend the carrying out of the work. [Since the above paragraph was m type, we have received the following from a correspondent The late Charles Meyer, of Blue Cliffs, has bequeathed to the Parochial District of Waimate the sum of six thousand pounds, the annual income or proceeds of which he directs to be applied towards the payment of the stipends of the clergy who may minister at the present church of St. Augustine at Waimate, and at the new church to be dedicated to St. Mary, which, through Mr Meyer's munificence, is now being built at the Otaio. This very large and unwieldly district has long needed the services of a second clergyman, though owing to the circumstance of their being but one centre of population the town of Waimate it seems impracticable to form it into two districts. What is needed, and what Mr Meyer intended to provide for, is the appointment of a mission priest, who might relieve the curate of Waimate of the services at the Otaio and other outlying parts of the district. There is no need at present of a resident clergyman at the Otaio, the population being very scanty, but Mr Meyer, with generous forethought, has secured, adjacent to the site of the new church, sufficient land whereon to build a parsonage and for a garden."

Cemetery transcription -13 Nov. 2009 and updated March 2011.

St. Mary's, Esk Valley, September 2005. Taken by Paula 

Photo taken Jan. 2011 by J.W.  
In the NE sanctuary is a set of three English cinquefoil windows, Alpha, An Angel with a scroll and Omega, the symbol,  c. 1879, placed here when the church was built.

St Andrews Co-Operating Parish
St. Mary's Church, 95 Church Hill Rd, Esk Valley, South Canterbury
Minister Enabler: Rev. Joan Clark
Services fortnighly
One service a month is held at St James, Maungati, and one at Hunter Presbyterian Church with an occasional service at Pareora. The parish has plans to build a replacement for the old Sunday School at St Mary's, with the new building to be used for meetings and social gatherings.

Thieves target rural churches
The Timaru Herald 2 March 2010

"Scumbag" thieves have struck at two historic South Canterbury churches. The two rural stone churches, St Mary's at Esk Valley and St David's Memorial Church, near Cave, both lost portions of their antique copper spouting some time during the past week. The St Mary's theft was discovered on Friday when a parishioner went to the church to start preparing it for a wedding to be held there later this week. The woman had a feeling something was not right, but it wasn't until she saw a spouting bracket lying on the ground and looked up that she realised what had happened. It appears the thieves had simply ripped off the spouting and down pipes they could easily get to. About two-thirds of the spouting was missing. Still in place was 15 metres of spouting on the highest part of the roof. "We are dismayed, we just hope they get the people who did it," parish council treasurer Barbara Ford said of the reaction of the dozen or so parishioners at yesterday's morning service. The small church meant a great deal to the local community. "Even people who now live in town come out for special occasions, it is a special place." Mrs Ford said church members were more interested in dealing with church matters than insurance claims, as would now be required. Parish minister, the Reverend Joan Clark, said the theft was a reflection of society, with younger people having no understanding or contact with the church. "They have no connection with the church and little understanding. To them `Jesus Christ' is just a slang word. "A church [to them] is fair game because they are lord of their own life." Ms Clark said the church was not only important to her congregation, but also had a New Zealand Historic Places Trust category one listing – an indication that the building was of significance to the whole country. St Mary's was built 130 years ago after an early landowner, Charles Meyer of Bluecliffs Station, donated land for it to be built on. Made of Albury stone, it is valued at $560,000. As part of the St Andrew's Presbyterian and Anglican co-operating parish, the church's services are held there twice a month. Special services such as Easter and Christmas can attract 40 to 60 people. St Andrew's police officer Tim Hartnell described those responsible for the copper spouting theft as "scumbags". "Isn't a church a place of respect? But some [offenders] have no respect for anyone, not even themselves." Even if they were able to sell the scrap metal, the offenders would only get "petty cash" for it, Mr Hartnell said. Those responsible for the theft of the copper spouting from the Otaio Hall last year received only $200 for it, while the quote for replacing the spouting and down pipes was $25,000. Mr Hartnell only learnt of the theft on Saturday, but planned to speak to all the local scrap metal dealers today.
    The second theft was discovered only yesterday. St David's minister, the Reverend Les Gosling, said it was the second time the spouting had been stolen from the church, which was built 80 years ago, in November 1930. "The trouble is that there is no-one close around to keep an eye on them," he said. In 1934, the architect of St David's Church, Mr W H Hall of Timaru, was awarded a gold medal by the New Zealand Institute of Architects for the building of best design in New Zealand since 1930.

Ellen Mary Meyer's headstone at Barbadoes St. Cemetery in Christchurch. Photo taken by Bev. Evans.Timaru Herald February 1875 Marriage
MEYER – LAYARD – On the 30th Sept, at Combe Hay Church, Bath, by the Rev. C. Villiers, Layard, brother of the bride, assisted by the Rev Richard Moorgart [Mooyaart], rector of Amberley, Charles Meyer, Esq., of Blue Cliffs, Canterbury, to Ellen Mary (Nellie), second daughter of the Rev C. Clement Layard, Rector of Combe Hay, Somerset.

Timaru Herald February 1878 Death
MEYER - On the 30th January, at Armagh-street West, Christchurch, Ellen Mary, the beloved wife of Charles Meyer, Blue Cliffs.

Barbadoes St. Cemetery, Christchurch 2015 photo
to the memory of
Ellen Mary
the beloved wife of
Charles MEYER
Died 30 January 1878
Aged 26
"Looking for that blessed
Hope and the glorious

also to the memory of Charles MEYER, of
Bluecliffs, Timaru, who was born 18 June 1832 and died at Loch Inver, Scotland N.B. on 30 August 1878
"If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature"

Timaru Herald  November 1878 Death
MEYER - On August 30th at Loch Inver Hotel, Lairg, N.B., of heart disease, Charles Meyer, late of Blue Cliffs.

Upper Otaio

It is only in recent times that the valley has been Esk Valley. Two generations ago the church was known as St Mary's, Upper Otaio. The school was also known as Upper Otaio. There was also a Lower Otaio district and the Otaio Cemetery is just the other side of the Otaio river, about a mile south of St Andrews, right beside the coast.

1912 Wise's New Zealand Index: Every Place in New Zealand
OTAIO, Canterbury. 15 miles south by rail from Timaru ; in Waimate County. A sheep and grain district: has a fine climate. Good level roads: but neither hotel nor accommodation. Has a post and telephone office. Is half a mile from sea coast, separated from beach by lagoon, over which splendid duck shooting is to he had. Named after River Otaio close by. 

Timaru Herald, 22 September 1880, Page 2 Birth
Collins — At the School Residence, Upper Otaio, on Tuesday, September 21st, the wife of E. J. Bruges Collins of a son. (Leonard Jack).

Timaru Herald, 4 May 1893, Page 2 Marriage
Martin — Shave— On April the 26th, at St. Mary's Church, Upper Otaio, by the Rev. L. C. Brady, Albert, youngest son of Robert Martin, Kent, England, to Laura, second daughter of Thomas Shave, Brookly Villa, St. Andrews. Home papers please copy.

Evening Post, 21 August 1929, Page 13 Wedding
A wedding took place on Monday at St. Mary's Church, Upper Otaio, when Natalie, elder daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R. B. Morris, of "Sunridge," St. Andrew's (formerly of Wellington), was married to Kenneth Wilfrid John, only son of Mr. and Mrs. Wilfrid Hall, of Hororata. The church was effectively decorated by Mrs. P. E. Woodhouse (Bluecliffs) in a colour scheme of soft pinks and mauves, which was carried out in stylotis and blush pink roses, augmented by sprays of prunus and white heather. The wedding service was conducted by the Rev. J. Hay. The bride wore a beautiful dress of deep cream cobweb lace, with delicate traceries of silver thread running through it. The frock was cut on very simple lines with a long close-fitting bodice and tight sleeves, and a very full skirt with a scalloped hem over layers of soft tulle. The long veil of white tulle was caught round the back of the head, and arranged at each side with sprays of orange blossom. A bouquet of freesias completed her toilet. Miss Vivienne Morris (sister of the bride) was bridesmaid, and wore a frock of powder blue chiffon faintly traced with pink roses. The bodice was close-fitting, and the skirt was of two flared flounces, and finished by a sash of the same material tied in a bowed front. Her hat of the same shade of blue was finished round the wide shady brim with powder blue ribbon. She carried a bouquet of pink sweet peas, shading from palest shellpink to deep rose. Mr. Tristrim Reeves, of Hororata, was best man. After the wedding a reception was held at "Sunridge," where the rooms were gay with spring flowers. Mrs. Morris received her guests, wearing a frock of black georgette finished with fine beige lace, and a wide black hat. She carried a bouquet of vivid anemones. Mr. and Mrs. Hall left later in the afternoon by motor for Auckland en route for Suva and the Islands. Mrs. Hall was weaving a frock of the softest apple-green figured georgette. Over this a long green coat of dull crepe do chine was worn, and a becoming hat of green felt.

Evening Post, 23 January 1934, Page 11
JOHNSTONE—CHAPMAN. A picturesque wedding, took place at St. Mary's Church, Otaio, South Canterbury, on Saturday afternoon, when Helen Learmouth, only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Harold Chapman, of Wivenhoe, Essex, England, was married to Harry Bell Lewis, eldest son, of Mr. and Mrs. H. B.S. Johnstone "Springbank," Otaio (states the Christchurch "Press"). The Rev. E. F. Saunders officiated and Mr. A. W. Vino (Timaru) was at the organ. The church had been decorated with white lilies, pink Dorothy Perkins roses, and blue clematis. The bride, who was escorted by Mr. H. B. S. Johnstone wore a Victorian frock of silk net and Chantilly lace. The pointed bodice, which was moulded to the figure, had a low neckline; worn off the shoulders and the graceful folds of the skirt were caught at the kneeline with rosettes of satin. Her embroidered veil of silk net, which fell from a circlet of orange blossom, formed a train and she carried a bouquet of white carnations. The quartet of bridesmaids—Misses Catherine and Janetta Johnstone (sisters of the bridegroom), Mary Rolleston (Timaru) and Pamela Riddiford (Wellington) wore Victorian frocks of white satin. The high-waisted bodices were ruched at the neckline to match the tiny puff sleeves of frilled silk net. Three deep flounces formed the bouffant skirts beneath which peeped pantalettes of frilled silk net. They wore white net mittens, and wreaths of pastel yellow, pink, and blue shaded, flowers on their heads. Their posies of the same tones were mounted on stiffened net and were tied with blue satin ribbons. The two page-boys - Masters Hector and Owen Johnstone (brothers of the bridegroom) wore white satin suits, with jabots and frillings of the sleeves of Honiton lace. Mr. Edward Spearman Johnstone was best man, and Messrs. James Ritchie, Derek Orbell, and Bernard Thomas were ushers. More than 300 guests were entertain at a reception held at "Springbank," a big marquee being decorated with hydrangeas, delphiniums, larkspur, and roses. Mrs. Johnstone received the guests wearing a pale rust floral delustered crepe frock with toning of amber, beige, and tomato. Her picture hat of beige straw was swathed with beige and brown ribbon and she carried a bouquet of tea roses. Mrs. L. D. Cohen: (Wellington) aunt of the bridegroom wore a navy blue ensemble, finely striped with white, and a blue and pedaline straw hat. Mrs. D. Murchison (Timaru),aunt of the bridegroom, wore a frock of deep blue French lace and a wide hat of blue pedaline straw. For travelling, the bride wore a straw coloured linen suit, the blouse being of a dark brown striped crepe de chine. Her natural coloured hat was banded with brown ribbon. In the evening a dance was held at "Springbank," at which a large number of guests was present.

Evening Post 13 September 1935, Page 15
Timaru Pre-wedding Party. In
honour of Miss Cecil Elworthy whose marriage to Mr. Charles Batchelor (Dunedin) took place at St. Mary's Church, Otaio, yesterday, a most enjoyable party was given at Craigmore by the employees of the station, states "The Press." There were about 60 guests present, including Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Elworthy, Mr. and Mrs. Harold Elworthy, Mrs. David Williams, Miss Cecil Elworthy, and a number of neighbours and friends. Mr. and Mrs. Sparks received the guests, who were Mr. and Mrs. Lyttelton, Mr. and Mrs. Jackson, Mr. and Mrs. Currie, Mrs. Lunham, Misses Ivy Davison, Doris Peter, L. Pully. Messrs. Kay, Mills, Day, and Lunham. Mr. C. Kay, on behalf of the employees, presented Miss Elworthy with a handsome silver tea service. Mr. Herbert Elworthy responded on behalf of his daughter.

Evening Post 13 September 1935, Page 15
The marriage of Charles, second son of Dr. and Mrs. Stanley Batchelor, of Dunedin, to Cecil, fourth daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Elworthy, Craigmore, was celebrated yesterday afternoon by the Rev. J. Hay at St. Mary's Church, Otaio, states the Christchurch "Star-Sun," Timaru was thronged' with visitors from both North: and South Islands for this important social occasion, the wedding being one that has aroused widespread interest, particularly in South Canterbury,' where the El worthy family is very well known. A large number of guests from Dunedin were also present; The' church had been beautifully decorated with orange blossoms by the bride's aunt, Mrs Percy Elworthy. Mr. A. W. V. Vine (Timaru) was the organist, arid six of St. Mary's Church Choir were also present. . ~ , Two elder maids, Misses Janet Orbell (Pentlow) and Diana Orbell. (Levels) and little Sally Sinclair-Thomson attended the bride. Mr.. J. Ritchie was best man and Mr. K. H. Hargreaves was groomsman. Mr. Elworthy gave away his daughter. Her bridal gown, a beautiful English model, was of ivory satin, the simplicity of the slightly-trained skirt being off-set by the bodice of net appliqued with satin, and. stitched with diamante in a conventional design. A square neckline, long-fitting "sleeves, and a looped" sash completed this lovely gown, which was worn with a tulle veil, belonging to the bride's mother, and held in place by a halo of stiffened net edged with diamante. ...She carried a sheaf of pale blue" and white hyacinths.  Dr. P. R. Woodhouse proposed the health of the bride and bridegroom. Among the guests was,. Miss Helen Todd, who is 91 years of age; and who for 27 years was "Nanny" to" all the bride's family.

Timaru Herald Friday May 22 1891 OTAIO AND BLUE CLIFFS PARISH.

The annual meeting of parishioners of Otaio and Blue Cliffs parish, which for valid reasons had been unavoidably postponed, was held at St. Andrews' on Friday last in the library hall. The Incumbent presided. By direction of the Bishop the parish boundaries have undergone alteration, the Hook district being attached to Waimate parish, and the northern boundary extended to the Timaru parish at Pighunting Creek, thus including a portion of Kingsdown, and the Beaconsfield district. The following officers for the ensuing year, as representing six centres, were then elected : — Churchwardens, Messrs A. W. Dutson, and Charles J. Cowan : Vestry, Messrs Averis, F.E. Childs, E. Elworthy, Hinman Jackson, Maston, R. H. Rhodes, T. Stonyor, Thomas Teschemaker, A, F. Thomas and B. Wright. Mr A. Dutson was appointed to act as treasurer and sign cheques in conjunction with Mr Cowan. and that Mr Thomas Teschesmaker be especially thanked for having taken great personal interest in collecting the large sum of £270 towards that object, and that his kindness will always be greatly remembered by the parishioners. Hearty votes of thanks wore passed to Mr J.C. Thierens, junr., for his acceptable service as a lay reader;

Timaru Herald Thursday May 13 1880 pg. 2

Newspapers clipping image from
Timaru Herald   1864 -1900 


Limestone was quarried off Monvale Station, 3000 acres, six miles from Albury for the Esk Valley, Albury and Cave churches and the  Monavale School. The tree in the in the garden plot surrounded by daffodils is a native New Zealand conifer, an Aureus totara, planted by the Lyalldale WDFF (now known as Lyalldale Rural Women) in memory of women's suffrage, 1993. This golden totara an excellent contrast to other plants can grow to about fifteen feet in a pyramidal form with rich golden prickly foliage, greenish during the summer, graceful branches, and it can be dwarfed by pruning to suit confined spaces. Tolerates heavy pruning and can be formed into a hedge for a shelter belt. For milder areas.

   The beautiful golden totara at St. Mary's Church at Esk Valley, South Canterbury
To Commemorate Women's suffrage, 1893-1993, Lyalldale W.D.F.F.

Beautiful Stained Glass Windows - there are ten windows

The Robert Rhodes Window. Photo taken by Tony Scott pre 2006.
In loving Memory of Robert Heaton Rhodes.  Died August 18th 1918.  Born Mary 27th 1857.

To the Glory of God & in memory of JESSY, youngest daughter of CHARLES ROBERT BIDWILL of Pihauta & wife of ROBERT HEATON RHODES of Blue Cliffs. Born 7th November 1866. Died 22nd May 1937.

The church has accommodation for fifty and ten English fine stained glass window protected by wire screen. The windows are dedicated to early families of the Upper Otaio district. The three rose windows, in the cinquefoil in the north-east sanctuary, in memorial to Mr Meyer, were donated by his friends, and were already in place when the church was consecrated in 1880. The rose window in the western gable was also insitu in 1880. Two lancet windows were donated in 1880 by  Mr Meyer's sister and brother-in-law, Richard J. and Emma M. Mooyaart, of Amberley, Gloucestershire, England. Another window donated in 1921 was in memory of Robert H. Rhodes (1857-1918), former Blue Cliffs Station owner. 

The Light of the world is to the right - it is in the north nave. This was the newest window and was donated in 1953 by Airini Woodhouse, daughter of Mr and Mrs R.H. Rhodes in honour of her mother Jessy Rhodes nee Bidwill (1866-1937).

Note the "White Friar" emblem, 'rebus' in the bottom right hand corner of this last window, is dated 1953. This was the signature for the studio of James Powell & Sons, Whitefriars, London from 1915 to about 1972 then the rebus was a basic outline of a monk wearing a white cowl (a hooded garment worn by monk) until the company closed in 1980. After 1962 the company became known as Whitefriars. The Powell's glass works was built on the site of a former monastery. There are no marks on the early Powell windows.

Which is your favourite church in South Canterbury from the historic view? Why?  Please email me with your comments. 

Stained Glass as an Art

The Times, Friday, Jul 03, 1846; pg. 7
Divers Works Of Early Masters In Christian Decoration

Perhaps there is no feature in the whole range of Gothic architecture in which our own churches and cathedrals are generally so deficient as in that of stained glass; yet there is certainly no embellishment in Christian decoration of which the loss is so palpably felt. The noblest proportions, the loftiest roof, the most graceful columns, do but coldly express the majesty and beauty of Gothic architecture, unless softened and enriched by those streams of many-coloured light which pour down upon them from every side, in the sublime cathedrals of Rheims, Chartres, and Rouen. Some cathedrals are lamentably wanting in this embellishment. Exertions have lately been made to supply of them the deficiency. The demand for this kind of decoration soon creates the skill necessary to satisfy it; and it is but due to the successful of the modern artist in course of time, to equal the most renowned of the old masters in this art.  

The Times, Wednesday, Jul 02, 1930; pg. 10
Stained Glass Artists Leonard Walker, R.I..
Letters to the Editor

The production of a stained glass window if the artist desires to impact satisfactorily his thoughts to others, he must know intimately the medium he has chosen and its limitations, and such knowledge is acquired only by exhaustive study and practice. If the artist leaves to others the execution of his ideas the result must be akin to a portrait or subject picture by several hands. The personality of the artist is revealed in the execution. In glass, in a sense, the execution is almost of greater importance than the design. Glass, with its association with light itself, occupies an unique position. Anyone who has cut and handled glass and lead for many years will be brought to realise that his ideas must be moulded to their dictation. They become his teaches. Cut down a piece of glass you may think correct to dimensions of your plan, and you may find that you have spoiled its beauty, in which case the cartoon must be altered to propitiate your vitreous mistress, and you try again. The result is that the cartoon grows out of the glass. One lives, breathes, and designs in a glass world. The beauty of glass is as the beauty of flowers set free by the touch, persuasive, selective, of their lover whose art it is to release the blooms of the perfect rose from their age-long briar-prison. 

Suggested Reading Material

Esk Valley War Memorial
Church Records

'Cyclopedia NZ' Esk Valley pg 1050 & 1051

A centennial history 1880-1980 : the Parochial District of Otaio and Blue Cliffs / [compiled by Gertrude Elworthy] pamphlet
St. Andrews : Otaio-Blue Cliffs Parochial District Centennial Committee, 1980 Timaru : Priest Printers. Central Library, Christchurch, ANZC, 33 pages.

The History of the Parish of Otaio and Blue Cliffs / 1930 [by A.E. Woodhouse and J. Hay.] Copy on shelf at Central Library, CHCH

In a Country Churchyard / drawings by Rodney Wells ; text by Tessa Ward. Christchurch, N.Z. : Caxton Press, c1987. The South Canterbury churches featured include: Church of the Holy Innocents, Mount Peel -- St Mary's Church, Esk Valley -- St Stephen's Church, Peel Forest -- St David's Church, Cave -- St Mark's Church, Otipua -- St Anne's Church, Pleasant Valley -- Holy Trinity Church, Arowhenua -- Church of The Good Shepherd, Tekapo -- St Thomas' Church, Woodbury -- St John's Church, Winchester -- St Augustine's Church, Waimate.

Blue Cliffs School and district activities, 1910-1960. [1960]. Woodhouse, A. E. (Airini Elizabeth), 1896-1989. Copy on shelf at Central Library, CHCH

South Canterbury NZSG Branch Library
- Esk Valley School, Otaio School & Hakataramea Valley School - [folder]
- Folder compiled of snippets of local school histories. Esk Valley included.


 The west end of the nave.
The photos don't quite reflect how lovely the day was.
Photos taken by Paula. Sept. 2005.

Photo taken jan. 2011 by J.W.
The Lamb of God, a sexfoil window, c. 1880.

Photo taken Jan. 2011 by J.W.
A pair of windows - The Good Shepherd and St. John the Baptist. c. 1883 .
Commemoration plaque: Charles Meyer and donated by Emma M. and Richard J. Mooyaart
Emma, the sister of Charles Meyer, and her husband Richard Mooyaart, donated the three windows in the west end of the nave.

1881 England Census
Name 				Est. Birth Yr 	Birthplace 			Relationship	Occupation
Residence Church Road The Vicarage, Benhall, Suffolk, England 
Mooyaart	Amy  		abt 1879 	Benhall, Suffolk, England 	Daughter 
Mooyaart	Henry  		abt 1829 	(British Subject) Ceylon 	Head 		Vicar Of Benhall
Mooyaart	Mary  		abt 1839 	Lifton,  Devon,   England 	Wife 		Vicars Wife
Mooyaart	Lawrence  	abt 1881 	Benhall, Suffolk, England 	Son 
Mooyaart	Mary  		abt 1880 	Benhall, Suffolk, England 	Daughter 

1891 England Census 
Name Est. 			Birth Yr 	Birthplace 		County 
Mooyaart	 Amy 		abt 1879 	Suffolk, England  	Devon 
Mooyaart	 Lawrence 	abt 1881 	Suffolk, England  	Gloucestershire 
Mooyaart	 Mary 		abt 1880 	Suffolk, England  	Devon
Mooyaart	 Mary 		abt 1839 	Devon, England  	Devon 
Mooyaart	 Rev. Henry 	abt 1829  				Devon 
Mooyaart	 Richard J 	abt 1832 	Sri Lanka 		Somerset 
Mooyaart	 Emma M 	abt 1835 	Germany 		Somerset
1901 England Census 
Name 	 			Birth Yr 	Birthplace 	Relationship 	Civil Parish County
Mooyaart Emma Matilda nee Meyer abt 1835 	Germany 	Wife 		Eastbourne Sussex 
Mooyaart	Richard J  	abt 1832 	Sri Lanka 	Head 		Eastbourne Sussex  

Esk Valley Primary School

The school for the district opened in 1879 and the school buildings were immediately below what is now the church grounds. The name for the school and district was changed from Upper Otaio in 1900 to Esk Valley. The Hewson family, who farmed there for many years, donated ground for the Esk Valley School, which closed down many years ago now through lack of young children in the area.  It is a farming area, much smaller farms years ago, but now a few farmers are buying them up and making large farms once again. Records of closed primary school Esk Valley School (formerly Upper Otaio School) are at Archives NZ, the Christchurch office.  [Charles Meyer's probate papers are at Archives NZ in Christchurch, dated 1878]

- Register of Admission, Progress and Withdrawal > 1881 1928
- Register of Admission, Progress and Withdrawal > 1921 1975
- Register of Attendance [10 Pieces] > 1966 1975
- Register of Attendance [9 Pieces] > 1957 1965
- Register of Progress and Achievement [11 Pieces] > 1955 1965
- Register of Progress and Achievement [8 Pieces] > 1966 1975
- School Committee Minute Book > 1879 1938
- School Committee Minute Book > 1938 1975

Wanganui Herald, 5 October 1880, Page 2
BIRTHS. Collins — At the School Residence, Upper Otaio, on Tuesday, September 21st, the wife of E. J. Bruges Collins of a son. (Leonard Jack).

Otago Witness, 16 January 1886, Page 13 UPPER OTAIO.
Presentation.  - On Tuesday night last the settlers met together in the schoolroom to be present at a very interesting and pleasing ceremony — namely, that of presenting the late mistress of the school, Miss Ferguson, with a. handsome silver tea and coffee service, as a mark of the high appreciation and respect in which she is hold in the district. After cake and wine had been partaken off, Mr Jackson, chairman of the School Committee, made the presentation, and spoke of the young lady in the highest terms, both as a friend and as a teacher. He also said that the testimonial had still greater significance from the fact that Miss Ferguson would still reside in the district, as she is to be married to one of the settlers. He concluded by wishing her every success and happiness in her new life.

Waimate Daily Advertiser, 15 August 1899, Page 3
Following are the teachers salaries and allowances at various public schools in the Waimate distinct:
Waimate, £1397 17s 7d ;
St. Andrews, £187 19s 6d ;
Upper Otaio, £119 19s 9d ;
Otaio, £102 8s 3d;
Makikihi, £187 7s 7d;
Hunter, £102 8s 6d;
Hook, £104 9s 9d;
Waituna, £199 4s 3d;
Waihao, £161 14s 3d;
Hannaton, £207 9s 3d;
Reclehffe, £141, 4s;
Glenavy, £150 11s 9d
Kapua, £122 7s 9d

Lookin gtoward the coast.  Photos taken by Paula October 2005.
You can see the sea from the grounds, barely visible. Stand hard up to the fence line to get a glimpse.
Over the years hedges etc. have grown to obliterate the view somewhat.  The lone bare tree above is a silver birch.

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