Wellington Cathedral of St Paul

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Wellington Cathedral of St Paul
St Paul's Cathedral
Wellington Cathedral of St Paul.jpg
41°16′35″S174°46′39″E / 41.2763°S 174.7774°E / -41.2763; 174.7774
Location Thorndon, Wellington
Denomination Anglican
Website wellingtoncathedral.org.nz
Founded13 January 1954 (1954-01-13)
Dedication St Paul
Dedicated17 May 1964
Consecrated 15 October 2001
Functional statusActive
Architect(s) Cecil Wood
Architectural typeCathedral
Length88 metres (289 ft)
Height18 metres (59 ft)
Materials Reinforced concrete
Parish Wellington City
Bishop(s) Justin Duckworth
Dean David Rowe
Director of music Michael Stewart

The Wellington Cathedral of St Paul (also called St Paul's Cathedral or Wellington Cathedral; colloquially Pink St Paul's) is an Anglican church in the city of Wellington, New Zealand. It is the mother church of the Diocese of Wellington and the cathedral of the Bishop of Wellington. Situated in Thorndon, the main entrance to the cathedral is on Hill Street, at its junction with Molesworth Street; it is located close to the parliament precinct.

The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia is an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion serving New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, and the Cook Islands. Since 1992 the church has consisted of three tikanga or cultural streams: Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia. The church's constitution says that, among other things, it is required to "maintain the right of every person to choose any particular cultural expression of the faith". As a result, the church's General Synod has agreed upon the development of the three-person primacy based on this three tikanga system. It has three primates (leaders), each representing a tikanga, who share authority.

Wellington Capital city of New Zealand

Wellington is the capital city and second most populous urban area of New Zealand, with 418,500 residents. It is located at the south-western tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Remutaka Range. Wellington is the major population centre of the southern North Island, and is the administrative centre of the Wellington Region, which also includes the Kapiti Coast and Wairarapa. Its latitude is 41°17′S, making it the world's southernmost capital of a sovereign state. Wellington features a temperate maritime climate, and is the world's windiest city by average wind speed.

Mother church

Mother church or matrice is a term depicting the Christian Church as a mother in her functions of nourishing and protecting the believer. It may also refer to the primary church of a Christian denomination or diocese, i.e. Cathedral or a metropolitan church. The term has specific meanings within different Christian traditions.


The building was designed in the 1930s by New Zealand architect Cecil Wood. Construction began in 1954, and was completed in 1998. It was constructed in reinforced concrete due to the effects of the 1931 Napier earthquake making other choices impractical. The church was initially envisioned as a war memorial cathedral, and it was designed on a monumental scale. Archbishop of New Zealand Reginald Herbert Owen declared in 1958: "Every nation needs in its capital city a great church to express its belief in the things of the spirit". [1] The building began to be used as an Anglican cathedral in 1964 (replacing Old St Paul's), [1] [2] and was consecrated in 2001. [3]

Cecil Wood (architect) New Zeelandian architect

Cecil Walter Wood was a New Zealand architect.

Reinforced concrete composite building material

Reinforced concrete (RC) (also called reinforced cement concrete or RCC) is a composite material in which concrete's relatively low tensile strength and ductility are counteracted by the inclusion of reinforcement having higher tensile strength or ductility. The reinforcement is usually, though not necessarily, steel reinforcing bars (rebar) and is usually embedded passively in the concrete before the concrete sets. Reinforcing schemes are generally designed to resist tensile stresses in particular regions of the concrete that might cause unacceptable cracking and/or structural failure. Modern reinforced concrete can contain varied reinforcing materials made of steel, polymers or alternate composite material in conjunction with rebar or not. Reinforced concrete may also be permanently stressed, so as to improve the behaviour of the final structure under working loads. In the United States, the most common methods of doing this are known as pre-tensioning and post-tensioning.

1931 Hawkes Bay earthquake earthquake

The 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake, also known as the Napier earthquake, occurred in New Zealand at 10:47 am on 3 February, killing 256, injuring thousands and devastating the Hawke's Bay region. It remains New Zealand's deadliest natural disaster. Centred 15 km north of Napier, it lasted for two and a half minutes and measured magnitude 7.8 Ms (magnitude 7.9 Mw). There were 525 aftershocks recorded in the following two weeks, with 597 being recorded by the end of February. The main shock could be felt in much of New Zealand, with reliable reports coming in from as far south as Timaru, on the east coast of the South Island.


As well as being a popular attraction, St Paul's Cathedral is a working church with daily services. The cathedral, as the largest church in Wellington, also plays a role in many state occasions. [4] As of 2019, the normal services are held: [5]

Morning Prayer (Anglican)

Morning Prayer, is one of the two main Daily Offices in Anglican churches, prescribed in the various editions of the Book of Common Prayer and other Anglican liturgical texts. Like Evening Prayer, it may be led by a layperson and is recited by some Anglicans daily in private.

Evening Prayer (Anglican) Anglican prayer service

Evening Prayer is a liturgy in use in the Anglican tradition celebrated in the late afternoon or evening. It is also commonly known as Evensong, especially when the office is rendered chorally, that is, when most of the service is sung.

Eucharist Christian rite

The Eucharist is a Christian rite that is considered a sacrament in most churches, and as an ordinance in others. According to the New Testament, the rite was instituted by Jesus Christ during the Last Supper; giving his disciples bread and wine during the Passover meal, Jesus commanded his followers to "do this in memory of me" while referring to the bread as "my body" and the cup of wine as "the new covenant in my blood". Through the Eucharistic celebration Christians remember both Christ's sacrifice of himself on the cross and his commission of the apostles at the Last Supper.

Choral services often involve the Cathedral Choir. [6] Services normally follow the New Zealand Prayer Book, or other modern printed liturgy. [7]

Anglican church music

Anglican church music is music that is written for Christian worship in Anglican religious services, forming part of the liturgy. It mostly consists of pieces written to be sung by a church choir, which may sing a capella or accompanied by an organ.

Liturgy is the customary public worship performed by a religious group. As a religious phenomenon, liturgy represents a communal response to and participation in the sacred through activity reflecting praise, thanksgiving, supplication or repentance. It forms a basis for establishing a relationship with a divine agency, as well as with other participants in the liturgy.



Mulgrave Street in 1866, with Old St Paul's, the pro-cathedral, on the right Mulgrave Street, Wellington 1866.png
Mulgrave Street in 1866, with Old St Paul's, the pro-cathedral, on the right

The first Church of St Paul stood behind where the Beehive stands today. This served as the first Anglican parish church for the early British settlers. [3]

Parish church church which acts as the religious centre of a parish

A parish church in Christianity is the church which acts as the religious centre of a parish. In many parts of the world, especially in rural areas, the parish church may play a significant role in community activities, often allowing its premises to be used for non-religious community events. The church building reflects this status, and there is considerable variety in the size and style of parish churches. Many villages in Europe have churches that date back to the Middle Ages, but all periods of architecture are represented.

As early as the 1840s preparations for a cathedral had been made and bricks were laid. However, the first project came to an end in 1855 after an earthquake hit Wellington, which highlighted the unsuitability of brick buildings in such an area.

Construction of a second church, today known as "Old St Paul's", located behind the Pipitea Marae, began in 1855. It was the pro-cathedral church for the Anglican Diocese of Wellington from 1866 to 1964. Old St Paul's is still consecrated, owned by Heritage New Zealand. [8]

In 1907, the diocese acquired land for a permanent cathedral, a site close to the Basin Reserve. [1] In July 1917, the diocesan synod approved preliminary plans drawn up by architect Frank Peck for an elaborate Gothic structure on the site. [9] It was to include a memorial military chapel in the west wing, in which the names of all New Zealanders who had fallen in the Boer War and First World War would be commemorated, and flags of the regiments displayed. [10] Fund-raising for the proposed "Wellington Memorial Cathedral" began the following year, with collections even in England. However, in 1923, the synod decided the original ambitious plans were too costly to proceed with. [9]


Cecil Wood, H St Barbe Holland and Will Appleton discussing plans for the new Wellington Cathedral in 1945 (from left) Cecil Wood, Rt Rev H St Barbe Holland and Will Appleton.jpg
Cecil Wood, H St Barbe Holland and Will Appleton discussing plans for the new Wellington Cathedral in 1945 (from left)

Plans were revived in 1937, when it was decided to make the cathedral a project for the national centennial of 1940. [1] The diocese selected Cecil Wood, a New Zealand architect, to design the building. A new site was acquired on Molesworth Street, close to the Parliament Buildings and the Roman Catholic Cathedral. After the 1931 Napier earthquake, the decision was made to construct the cathedral primarily out of reinforced concrete, [1] which was deemed to be more earthquake-resistant. Wood was inspired by the Art Deco architecture of Southern California, and the neo-Byzantine-style of the Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral, London. [1] His final design, which has been implemented relatively unchanged, was a 88 m (289 ft) long and 18 m (59 ft) high building. [1]

Cathedral foundation stone, laid by the Queen on 13 January 1954. Cathedral of Saint Paul, Wellington, New Zealand (44).JPG
Cathedral foundation stone, laid by the Queen on 13 January 1954.

Construction of the new cathedral was delayed by the Second World War and its aftermath, and ultimately the project took about 50 years to complete. The foundation stone was laid by Queen Elizabeth II on 13 January 1954; the first stage was dedicated on 17 May 1964; the second stage was dedicated on 5 November 1972. [3] The cathedral's bell tower was added in 1984, and dedicated on Easter Day, April 1984. [1]

In 1992, the diocesan synod decided to raise money for a third and final stage of construction. [3] The completed cathedral was dedicated on 31 May 1998 and consecrated on 15 October 2001; finally, on 24 February 2002, the Queen unveiled the consecration stone. [1]


The wooden Lady Chapel is along the ambulatory to the left of the pulpit. [11] The Lady Chapel was formerly the parish church of St Paul's at Paraparaumu. Designed by the diocesan architect Frederick de Jersey Clere, the chapel was opened on its Paraparaumu site in 1905. It was moved to the grounds of Wellington Cathedral in 1990, [12] and consecrated on 12 May 1991. [11]

A second smaller chapel space is located to the left of the entrance. [13] It is furnished plainly with a small altar.


Artwork and memorials

One of the Hutton glass angels; the dossal is visible through the glass HuttonGlassWCSP.jpg
One of the Hutton glass angels; the dossal is visible through the glass

The cathedral's nave contains many stained-glass windows by church artist Brian Thomas, who had previously designed windows in Westminster Abbey and St Paul's Cathedral, London. Thomas took as his theme words of St Paul at the Areopagus: “The Unknown God: Him I now proclaim”. The windows were created by Whitefriars of London and depict figures and scenes such as the conversion of St Paul; Jacob, the patriarch who wrestled with an angel; Moses, the law giver; David the hero King; the nativity of Jesus; and Christ's crucifixion and the resurrection. [14]

The narthex (lobby) is separated from the rest of the nave by a wall consisting of glass panels depicting figures representing angels. The etchings are the work of New Zealand-born artist John Hutton. Similar work by Hutton exists in Coventry Cathedral in England. [14]

Holm Window

The Holm Window, installed 1970 HolmWindow.jpg
The Holm Window, installed 1970

In 1970, the Holm Memorial Window was installed above the three doors leading to the cathedral's Loaves and Fishes Hall. It was designed by Beverley Shore Bennett, a leading New Zealand stained-glass artist, and made by Roy Miller of Dunedin. The window is a memorial to prominent Wellington businessman Ferdinand Holm, founder of the Holm Shipping Company, and his wife Mary. St Paul, the patron saint of the cathedral, is shown at the top of the centre panel; the top of the left panel depicts the stars of the Southern Cross and the flag of the Company; three ships represent stages in the development of the Company. [15]

War memorials

Although plans for a military chapel had been abandoned during construction, the cathedral authorities did allow for the installation of three sets of memorial windows in the Sanctuary—allocating two lancets each to the Army, Navy and Air Force. [16]

Fund-raising for the two Air Force windows began in September 1957. [17] Designed by the English artist Edward Liddall Armitage, these were installed in April 1962. They are dedicated to the members of the Air Force and New Zealanders who died in the service of the air forces of the Commonwealth during the Second World War. [16] The four remaining windows were designed by New Zealand artist Howard Malitte and adapted for stained-glass by Brian Thomas. Governor-General Brigadier Sir Bernard Fergusson unveiled the Army memorial windows on 9 August 1966. [16] They stand on either side of the organ loft, with the memorial tablet placed on the wall to the left of the Bishop's cathedra ("The two windows above this tablet were installed by serving and former members of the New Zealand Army to commemorate those who have served in the New Zealand Army at home and abroad since the foundation of our country…"). [16] The naval and merchant service windows were unveiled on 22 October 1967. They were dedicated in memory of the men and women who lost their lives in the navies and merchant services of the Commonwealth during the two world wars. All six military windows incorporate a rich visual symbolism. A range of memorial flags is also housed in the bell tower. [16]

The Memorial to Chunuk Bair, installed in 1998, is one of four memorials erected to commemorate New Zealand soldiers who died in the Battle of Gallipoli and whose graves are not known. [16] [18]


The Sanctuary is dominated by a large altarpiece—a hanging artwork referred to as a dossal. It was designed by Beverley Shore Bennett, and installed in 1990. It consists of three panels, in total measuring approximately 8.8 metres (29 ft) by 4.5 metres (15 ft). The centre panel depicts the Risen Christ; the two side sections contain symbols used in historic Christian art. [19]


The wooden baptismal font, designed by Beverley Shore Bennett, is designed to be moved around the cathedral. During Eastertide it is placed in the centre of the nave. The base is decorated with four silver panels of cherubim; the cover depicts a dove, symbolising the Holy Spirit which descended on Christ after his baptism. [20]


The organ, located above the choir stalls in the chancel, January 2016 The organ, Wellington Cathedral.JPG
The organ, located above the choir stalls in the chancel, January 2016

In 1980, the cathedral organ was rebuilt and enlarged. It had been first installed in Old St Paul's in 1877 as a two-manual tracker action instrument blown by water pressure. The console now has four manuals, 81 stops and there are some 3,500 pipes. [21] The organ suffered "significant damage" after an earthquake in November 2016. [22]

Following the damage to the old organ, the cathedral used two temporary digital organs. In October 2018, a replacement digital organ, a Viscount Regent Classic, was installed in place of the old one; it features four manuals, 85 stops and 42 speakers. [21]


The cathedral's bell tower is one of only seven in New Zealand where change ringing takes place. [23] It has 14 bells, ranging in size from Little James, weighing in at 4 cwt (200 kg) to the People’s Bell at 27¾ cwt (1,400 kg). [24] The bells were installed in 1984; seven of the bells are over 100 years old and were moved from a demolished church, St Edmund's in Northampton, England. [23]

Deans of St Paul

The Chapter of St Paul has had eight deans:

See also

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  2. "Historic Wellington cathedral under threat". The Dominion Post . 24 May 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2019 via Stuff.co.nz.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Blain, Michael (2002). Wellington Cathedral of S Paul: A History 1840–2001. Victoria University Press. ISBN   9780864734280.
  4. "Cathedral of St Paul, Wellington". Anglican Diocese of Wellington . Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  5. "Service times". Wellington Cathedral of St Paul. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  6. "Choral Evensong". Wellington Cathedral of St Paul. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  7. "Wellington Cathedral – Mystery Worshipper Report – Colinspics" . Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  8. "Old St Paul's". www.heritage.org.nz. Heritage New Zealand. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  9. 1 2 "The Cathedral". The Evening Post . 9 July 1923. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  10. "Memorial Cathedral". The New Zealand Herald (16594). 18 July 1917. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  11. 1 2 "Lady Chapel". Wellington Cathedral of St Paul. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  12. "Wellington Region". Jumpstartzero.co.nz. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
  13. "Chapel without walls". Wellington Cathedral of St Paul. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  14. 1 2 "Cathedral tour". Wellington Cathedral of St Paul. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  15. "Holm Memorial Window". Wellington Cathedral of St Paul. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  16. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Ringer, Bruce (2016). "Wellington Cathedral of St Paul memorials". NZ History. Ministry for Culture and Heritage . Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  17. "Memorial to Air Force Dead". Auckland Star . 14 September 1957.
  18. "Memorial to Chunuk Bair". Wellington Cathedral of St Paul. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  19. "Dossal". Wellington Cathedral of St Paul. 18 January 2018. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  20. "Font". Wellington Cathedral of St Paul. 18 January 2018. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  21. 1 2 "Organs". Wellington Cathedral of St Paul. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  22. Sharpe, Marty (14 November 2016). "Organ at Wellington Cathedral suffers 'significant damage' in quake". The Dominion Post . Retrieved 27 January 2019 via Stuff.co.nz.
  23. 1 2 "Bell ringers". Wellington Cathedral of St Paul. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  24. "Dove Details". dove.cccbr.org.uk. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  25. "Douglas Everett Sparks, Ministerial Experience" (PDF). Episcopalelections.com. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  26. "Dean quits Wellington Cathedral to return to US", The New Zealand Herald , 8 June 2004, (Retrieved 9 February 2013)
  27. "Saint Paul's Cathedral, Wellington". Wellingtoncathedral.org.nz. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  28. "The Very Reverend Digby Wilkinson, Parish of Tawa-Linden". Movementonline.org.nz. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  29. "Wellington appoints new Dean". www.anglicantaonga.org.nz. 20 March 2018. Retrieved 1 August 2018.

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Coordinates: 41°16′35″S174°46′39″E / 41.2763°S 174.7774°E / -41.2763; 174.7774