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Notes on the Geography of New Zealand: Dunedin 2 (Institutional): Photo 24

world pictures New Zealand: Dunedin 2 (Institutional)

We should probably make room for another Dunedin icon. Here she be, a church that looks like one of those outrageous tropical fish with extreme sexual dimorphism. I mean, it's all spire, rather like Ava Gardner saying that Frankie was short but all... tut, tut. I'll behave. This is the First Presbyterian Church, familiarly the First Church. You shouldn't have to ask the name of the architect: yes, it was busy Mr. Lawson, though he never saw it completed, because he had retired to Australia by the time it opened in 1873. The church stands on Bell Hill, which was obligingly chopped down to create a reasonable surface. The church is the child of the Reverend Thomas Burns, a pioneer who arrived with one of the original settlement ships, the Philip Laing, and who stayed until his retirement in 1871. Come to think of it, he never saw the church finished either.

Niel Wales writes, "When the sun spotlights the spire against a dark grey sky, when moonlight silhouettes the spire, when the top of the spire is lost in the morning mist, or the grey stone is seen through the naked branches of a birch tree--these are visions that remind us of the debt we owe to Lawson." (Knight and Wales, p. 128.)

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