Arthur Purchas was a British qualified medical doctor. He volunteered as a medical missionary after hearing of Bishop Selwyn’s Australasian work for the Church. He was initially medical officer at St Johns theological college, becoming a priest following his ordination in 1853.
He served, initially as deacon and later as priest at St Peter’s in Onehunga from 1847 until 1875 when he resumed his medical practice. Dr Purchas had a keen interest in music for as well as conducting singing lessons he is credited with compiling the New Zealand Church Hymnal. His interest in architecture saw him involved in the design of the ‘Selwyn Churches’.
These were an adaption of the standard design for parish churches mandated from England. It is believed that several New Zealand churches, including St Peter’s at Onehunga were designed or built to modifications proposed by Dr Purchas. Clearly an inventive and adaptable man, Dr Purchas is credited with the design of a machine for the processing of flax (then a major crop in New Zealand) and also a surgical instrument. However, it is the churches that have left their mark on the New Zealand landscape.
Purchas, (Dr) Arthur Guyon
Died 29 May 1906
aged 84 years
Block D Row 22 Plot 83