The Reverend Dr John Kinder was born in London in 1819. He was the son of Thomas Kinder, a merchant who had his office near the Guildhall in the central city. He was educated at Cambridge University where he read for his degree in Mathematics. He graduated BA. in 1843 and M.A. in 1845.
His interest in theology and ecclesiology led him to study for the Anglican Ministry. He was ordained Deacon in 1846 at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. Shortly afterwards he was appointed Master at Alleyne’s Grammar School, Uttoxeter, in Staffordshire. He stayed at Uttoxeter until 1855 when he emigrated to Auckland. While at Alleyne’s he was ordained Priest in 1848 at Lichfield Cathedral.
In Auckland Kinder was Master of the Church of England Grammar School from 1855 to 1872. He resigned from the school to take the position of Master at St John’s College, Meadowbank. He was at St John’s until 1881 when he was forced to resign, owing to a disagreement with the Board of Governors. From 1882 until his death in 1903 Kinder lived at Woodcroft, a spacious two-storeyed house located in Arney Road, Remuera.
Although painting and photography were only hobbies as far as Kinder was concerned, today his achievements as an artist are valued more highly than his contribution as a teacher and churchman, considerable though they were. He was first taught watercolour when a boy at school in Cheam, but received his main instruction from Aaron Penley when he was at Southampton in the mid-eighteen thirties. Penley was an accomplished watercolorist who made a reputation as a teacher. John Kinder concentrated mainly on architectural and landscape subjects as a painter. These have considerable value as records of places and buildings now changed or developed so as to be unrecognisable.
He began photography in New Zealand sometime about 1860. Using the wet plate process he made some 400 glass plate negatives between 1860 and 1888. In his photographs he widened the range of subject matter to include portraits and figure studies.
John Kinder was a keen traveller who spent many of -his holidays visiting remote parts of the country making sketches and taking photographs. For example, his photographs of the Pink and White Terraces taken in 1865-66 were made on one such trip. He married Marianne Celia Brown, only daughter of Archdeacon Brown of Tauranga in December 1859. Their marriage was childless but a happy one. In 1866 the Kinders adopted the two children of John’s brother Henry, who died .under tragic circumstances in Sydney.
As a person John Kinder was somewhat strict in character; he seemed to have little sense at humour and little tolerance for those who disagreed with him on theological matters. Prematurely bald, he adopted the practice of wearing a beard and believed he was one of the first to popularise the practice among the Anglican clergy. He was an enthusiastic gardener who planted a number of large trees in the Parnell and Remuera districts where he lived. Late in life he donated his large library of theological works to St John’s College.
Text by Dr Michael Dunn
Some brief autobiographical details are included in the Art New Zealand article by Michael Dunn: The Kinder House and a further article by Ross Fraser: The Reverend Jon Kinder: Painter and Photographer which also concentrates on John Kinder as a painter and photographer. John Kinder's paintings and photographs provide a unique view of early Auckland and many other parts of New Zealand.
Various art galleries hold his works, mainly the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki and the Hocken library in Dunedin for his watercolours and the Auckland Museum Library for his photographs. Some Images can be seen, together with some biographical details, on their websites. See Kinder House web links for these and other related links.
Further details concerning John Kinder are available on the Web and can for example, be obtained from the View Auckland site at www.viewauckland.co.nz, also the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography at www.dnzb.govt.nz.
John Kinder's name is commemorated in a number of places. Kinder House is the most well-known, as a gallery showing his watercolours and photographs, and Kinder memorabilia.
There is a street named after him in Meadowbank.
The library of St John's theological College in Meadowbank bears his name in recognition of his bequest to the College of his extensive library.