The Okains Bay Store


Down the road from the Museum is the Okains Bay Store, the longest continually operating store in New Zealand. Opened in 1873, it still serves the needs of the local community.

The School

When this two roomed Government School opened in 1872, it marked a big step forward in schooling for Okains Bay. In 1872, the Provincial Government approved funding for this Government School House and an excellent teacher - Mr George Bishop contributed greatly to the excellent education children received in the new school. An inspector who visited the school declared that the Okains Bay School was unsurpassed in his experience. By 1920, the school was deemed outdated and in 1939, a new school was built opposite the shop.

For a number of years after it closed, the Old School House was used as a Gymnasium and then became the East Coast Bays Garage, with the front cloakroom removed from the eastern end and the wall opened up. A school reunion in 1997 increased community support for a project to restore the Old School House to complement the buildings in the Museum, the church and the Library.
In 2006, the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board gave a grant of $97 000 to assist with the restoration of the school.
Hours of voluntary work went into the restoration to allow the school to be formally opened to the public at the Waitangi Day celebrations on February 6 2009.

If you wish to visit the old school, please enquire at the office. Enjoy a walk around the 18th century classroom, complete with a rows of old desks, slates, and memorabilia of schooling in times past - including a cane!.

The Library

Opened in May 1860, this Library was the first public Library on Banks Peninsula. It was part of Henry Torlesse's work, as Vicar, to provide an alternative to the drunkenness and other lawless activities that prevailed in Okains Bay in the early days of its settlement by Europeans.
Land was purchased from John Fluerty, an early farmer, and with the help of Arthur Tucson, 220 books were collected within a year and another 500 on order from England.
In latter years, the regular visits of the Country Library Service van provided the eager readers of Okains Bay with the latest thrillers and other reading material
Both internally and externally, like so many of the buildings in the Bay, the Library looks much as it did when serving its community in former times.

St John, the Evangelist Church

St John the Evangelist Church was the third stone church built in the Canterbury Anglican Diocese. It was built by Edward Morey, a stonemason who emigrated from England arriving in time to build a replacement for the Holy Trinity Church in Lyttleton. He then built St Cuthberts in Governors Bay before moving to Akaroa and building many fine buildings, including St John the Evanglist Church and the first Government Okains Bay School. The foundation stone for St John's was laid on New Year's Day 1863 and the church was opened on the last day of June that year.
The church is constructed of creek boulders and locally quarried rock. The bricks around the windows were made and fired in Okains Bay while the white stone around the windows was obtained from Quail Island in Lyttelton Harbour. Restoration work has been undertaken on St John's at various times to ensure it retains its beauty and character of former times. It is still in regular use and is open at all times.

Unfortunately, like many other Canterbury churches, St John's was badly damaged in the earthquakes and is currently out of action awaiting repairs.