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Opening of the
Queen Street Campus


On 20 August 1927, crowds of people gathered to watch the President of the Board of Directors insert a gold key into the main door of the new Queen Street campus of the NZ Bible Training Institute and declare it open.

Within a year of the Institute’s foundation in 1922, their 10-roomed house in Ponsonby was bursting at the seams. After some unsuccessful attempts to secure a site, the need for larger facilities was getting desperate and a day of prayer was set apart on 17 April 1926 to pray for land. Unbeknown to those praying, on that very morning two of the Institute’s Directors, R. Laidlaw and R.L. Stewart, were endeavouring to negotiate the purchase of land adjacent to the Auckland Baptist Tabernacle. When a reasonable price was agreed on, the news was told to those gathered in prayer, resulting in much spontaneous rejoicing.

Principal Joseph Kemp publicly declared that the doors would not be opened until the full cost of the build was met. In spite of severe tests of faith, he never wavered from this position – “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man (Psalm 118:8)”. One day a friend asked Kemp, “What if the money does not come in by the time the building is completed?” “Then the doors will remain shut until it does come in”, was the reply.[1] On one occasion a progress payment of ₤4,000 was due and the coffers were empty, with no obvious channel of supply evident. A day of prayer was convened to pray for this specific need. Within a few days the money had come in from unexpected sources, and the progress payment made on the due date.

A Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony was held on 20 November 1927, when the Board Chair, Mr R.L. Stewart, laid the stone in the presence of a large gathering of supporters. Into the cavity behind the stone, Rev. Kemp laid the Bible which had belonged to his spiritual father.

Kemp’s publicly expressed faith was vindicated when the building opened free of debt! Built to accommodate 60 students in their own study-bedrooms, along with administration and lecture rooms, the building remained at capacity until the years of World War 2. Post-war, student applications increased steadily, and two new dormitory wings were added in the 1950s. However, some students had to be boarded out or refused admission, and in 1957 the search began for land that could accommodate growth - the next chapter of the College’s history started on an orchard site in Lincoln Road, Henderson in 1961.

The Queen Street building was sold to the Salvation Army, initially housing their cadets while their own college was being renovated. These days it provides accommodation for travellers, as the Kiwi International hotel.


[1] The story of the purchase of the Queen Street property is recounted by J. Oswald Sanders in his book, Expanding Horizons: the story of the New Zealand Bible Training Institute (Institute Press, Auckland), 15-20

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