Missionaries were Rev W Yate, with lay workers R Davis, G Clarke and J Hamlin. They arrived in Waimate late in 1830 and by early in 1831 were settled in temporary homes, for which any available timber was used.
The first church, a building measuring 40 x 20 feet, and begun in May 1831 and the work finished on June 24, St John the Baptist’s Day, and hence the name of the church.
The congregations were so large that a larger church was urgently needed. The growth of the mission activities is reflected in the fact some 5000 copies of the New Testament were distributed to tangatawhenua in 1837. A church to hold 400 hundred was built in 1839.
The Anglican mission at this time would seem to have been highly successful. The number of converts had increased from 2000 to 35,000 in four years, and Mr Davis reported that on February 18, 1841, 203 Maori received communion in “our new church”.
On Sunday, December 26 1841 of that year the congregation was 1000, too large for the church which seated 400.
After the war, church attendance declined and by 1870 the church built in 1839 was too large. It was decided to dismantle it and to use the timber to build a smaller church.
The current church was dedicated on 19th April 1871 and at the same time the Mission District was formed into a parish – the Parish of Waimate North.