Our History

Who we are, and what we are, is influenced by our history.

Our history dates back to the first Christian church service in New Zealand held on Christmas Day 1814. The service was led by Rev’d Samuel Marsden and held on the site of what would become the Oihi Mission Station (now known as Marsden Cross) in the Bay of Islands. 
The first church in Auckland was St Paul’s in Emily Place. The foundation stone was laid by Governor William Hobson on 26 July 1841 and the first service was held on 7 May 1843.

History of the Anglican Church in New Zealand

The Reverend Samuel Marsden was working as an Anglican chaplain in Australia when he became interested in setting up a mission station in New Zealand after meeting Māori people on Australian trading vessels. That interest was furthered when he met Ngāpuhi chief Ruatara on board a ship traveling to New South Wales. Ruatara was unwell and Marsden nursed him back to health and thus became a contact for Marsden in New Zealand.

The Church Missionary Society gave support to Marsden’s ambition so he enlisted the help of two men to go ahead of him to New Zealand to find out what the local conditions were like. The report was favourable so on 19 November 1814 Marsden and some settler families along with Ruatara and Hongi Hika sailed to the Bay of Islands. On Thursday 22 December 1814 they arrived and anchored at the cove of Oihi under Ruatara’s Pa.

Ruatara had fenced in half an acre of land in preparation of Marsden’s arrival and the first service. A pulpit and reading desk had been erected in the centre. At 10am on Christmas Day Marsden took the first Christian service on land in New Zealand. Ruatara acted as translator for Marsden and 300 warriors danced a haka around Marsden at the close of the service.

The mission station stayed open for 17 years and the site is now marked by a large Celtic cross (a style favoured by Marsden) which was erected in 1907. The early years of missionary activity were under the guidance of the Christian Missionary Society as Te Hāhi Mihinare (The Missionary Church). The Anglican missionaries used Māori converts to spread their message in Te Reo Māori and in the context of tikanga Māori.

George Augustus Selwyn arrived as Bishop of New Zealand in 1841 and established the Church in New Zealand amongst the settlers, using the context of their English heritage and customs from the Church of England. These two pathways of Anglican development were the start of what has become our Three Tikanga Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

Through Bishop Selwyn’s efforts, the Constitution of the Church of the Province of New Zealand was signed in St Stephen’s Chapel, Judges Bay, Auckland, on 13 June 1857 . In 1856 he became Metropolitan (Primate) when he created the Diocese of Christchurch, followed in 1858-9 by the Dioceses of Wellington, Nelson and Waiapu. Dunedin followed in 1863.

John Coleridge Patteson was created Bishop of Melanesia in 1861, and was killed 10 years later, having developed Bishop Selwyn’s earlier ministry in the region.

In 1926 Bishop Averill divided the Auckland Diocese to create the Diocese of Waikato, based in Hamilton. He also supported the formation of the Māori Bishopric of Aotearoa, and changes to the constitution to enable full autonomy for the Church in New Zealand.

From 1925 the Bishop of Aotearoa (Te Pīhopa ō Aotearoa) was suffragan to the Bishop of Waiapu, but without direct representation at General Synod.

Polynesia was an associated missionary diocese of the Province of New Zealand.  The first Māori Electoral Synod was held in 1980, but the major changes required to create a truly representative church were still 12 years away.  The Right Reverend Paul Reeves (later Sir Paul) became the first Māori Archbishop and Primate of New Zealand in 1980, holding the post until 1985 when he was appointed Governor-General of New Zealand.

In 1992 General Synod adopted a revised constitution which provided for the three partners, Tikanga Pākehā, Tikanga Māori and Tikanga Pasifika to work together as equal partners in the decision making of General Synod. The adoption of this constitution meant that the Church of the Province of New Zealand became The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. It was made up of the seven dioceses of Tikanga Pākehā, five hui amorangi for Tikanga Māori and the Diocese of Polynesia.

John Campbell Paterson, former Bishop of Auckland, was installed Primate of New Zealand and Presiding Bishop on 15 May 1998. The title of Archbishop of New Zealand has since been discontinued.

History of the Anglican Church in Auckland

Auckland was founded by Governor Hobson in 1840. A military presence was established at Fort Britomart and, within its precincts, Auckland’s first Anglican church, St Paul’s, was established shortly after that in Emily Place.

Its first incumbent was J. F. Churton, the colonial chaplain. We acknowledge St Paul’s as our first parish. The first St Paul’s served as our cathedral for over 40 years. In the late 1840s, a number of small chapels were built to serve settlers in what were then isolated rural communities – Tāmaki, Epsom, and Remuera. Staff and students from St John’s ministered to these communities. These were among our earliest places of worship. Here we have the beginning of many of today’s parishes.

Fencible soldier settlers were brought out from Britain and settled in a number of new pensioner settlements, small villages on the outskirts of the city. Clergy were appointed to Onehunga (1847), Howick (1850), and Ōtāhuhu-Panmure (1852).

They were legendary figures – A. G. Purchas (a surgeon), Vicesimus Lush (whose journals have been published), and Frank Gould (whose handwriting was poor and had 16 children).

St Stephen’s School (at first for Māori girls, but later for boys) was begun in Kohimarama in 1847 but relocated in Parnell in 1850. St Barnabas’ church, built for Māori, was erected in Augustus Terrace (near The Strand) in 1849. (It was later shifted to Mt Eden, where it remains as the nave of the parish church of the same name.)

By 1853, there was need for another parish in Auckland and so the first St Matthew’s was built. Its first vicar was Frederick Thatcher, the architect who became a priest.

With the growth of Auckland, Selwyn set up a new archdeaconry of Waitematā, later renamed Auckland. C. J. Abraham, later Bishop of Wellington, was the first archdeacon. By this stage, Selwyn was also busy in the islands of Melanesia. The North Shore was starting to develop and so a parish was established at Devonport in 1856. It extended as far north as Warkworth. Whangārei Parish began in 1859 but there were many vacancies there in the early years. Selwyn brought Melanesians to Auckland for training – hence the name Mission Bay, the site of the mission headquarters from 1856 to 1867.

In 1857, the new Church Constitution was signed in the new St Stephen’s Chapel and a number of new dioceses were set up (Christchurch, Wellington, Nelson, Waiapu and later Dunedin). Bishop Selwyn continued to be styled Bishop of New Zealand although his diocese was now confined to the north of the North Island. John Coleridge Patteson was consecrated first Bishop of Melanesia in 1861. In 1857, Selwyn moved into the stone house known as the Old Deanery (although a dean has never lived in it). In 1861 what is now the Selwyn Library was built, followed in 1863 by Bishopscourt.

Auckland ‘s population was increasing. The first St Mary’s was built in Parnell in 1860 to meet the needs of people there. Close by was the Church of England Grammar School, established in 1855 (and headed by theologian-artist Dr John Kinder whose house remains) and an orphans’ home, begun in 1860. Its establishment had come about as the result of a dying mother’s plea to the vicar and Dr Kenderdine, “Who will look after my children?” Thus began the work now done by the Anglican Trust for Women and Children (ATWC). Auckland kept on growing. In 1863, a full-time priest was appointed to the combined parish of Remuera and Epsom. Holy Sepulchre was established in 1865 to serve the western areas. Its first vicar was Benjamin Thornton Dudley, a former missionary in Melanesia. All Saints’ Ponsonby was established in 1867 to minister to those closer to the city. The country districts were a greater problem. It was difficult to sustain permanent clergy and so each city priest was given responsibility for a rural district. South of Auckland, the New Zealand Wars had inhibited settlement. Sadly, work among the Māori people came to a virtual standstill. The building of the Great South Road was a military exercise but it opened up the region to farm settlers. Vicesimus Lush moved from Howick in 1865 to look after the inner Waikato area south of Papakura. Deeper into the interior, a priest was appointed to the upper Waikato to make occasional visits to Hamilton and other centres. Bishop Selwyn returned to England in 1868. He left a diocese that seems remarkably small to us. Just a handful of parishes around Auckland and in some struggling country areas.

Selwyn was followed by William Garden Cowie. He was the first to be known as Bishop of Auckland. For 30 years he laboured to plant parishes in all parts of the diocese and to respond to new social needs in the city of Auckland. Many flocked to work in the new timber, kauri gum and gold mining industries. New parishes were established in Thames (1868), Coromandel (1870) and Northern Wairoa (1873). Some rural ministries were less successful. New parishes were established in Warkworth (1877-81), Maungakaramea (1882-86), Kamo (1885-1908), and Kaitāia (1896-1902). Waimate North built on its missionary origins and became a parish in 1871. In each case these districts later came under the care of home mission priests. Only Paparoa (1881) survived. Thousands of people poured into the Waikato. Soldier settlers were given blocks of land in return for part-time military service. Parishes were established in Te Awamutu (1870), Hamilton (1872) and Cambridge (1878). In South of Auckland, new parishes were set up in Waiuku (1872), Bombay (1882) and Papakura (1884). Pōkeno came later (1899). Two important `diocesan posts were inaugurated at this time. The first Diocesan Secretary was appointed in 1878 and the Chancellor in 1884. The new St Mary’s in Parnell was designated as the Cathedral of the Diocese in 1887. A Cathedral Chapter (with clerical canons and lay members) was appointed in 1893. At various times during this period, St John’s College operated in Parnell and Remuera – in 1871, 1880, 1884-94, and 1902. Auckland continued to grow in the west. New parishes were established at the Epiphany, Newton (1881), Mt Albert-Avondale (1884) – both ex Holy Sepulchre – and St Thomas’, Freemans Bay (1885), ex St Matthew’s and Ponsonby. St Alban’s (Mt Roskill Road, now known as Balmoral) and St Barnabas’ Mt Eden were separated from Holy Sepulchre 1889-90, but were merged in 1891. Elsewhere, the North Shore parish was divided by the setting up of a Northcote parish (including Takapuna) in 1884. The parish of Ellerslie-Epsom was formed (ex Ōtāhuhu, 1886) and in the same year a priest was appointed to work in the rural area of Māngere. The new dairy industry brought prosperity to Taranaki. New parishes were established at Waitara (1875), Inglewood (1881), Stratford (1896) and Ōkato (1899). More and more land was opened up in the Waikato. Parishes were established at Te Aroha (1885) and at Katikati, an Ulster settlement, in 1886. Parishes were started to serve other new centres – Huntly (where coal mining had begun) in 1895 and at Paeroa (1896) and Waihi (1900) where major mining industries had begun.

Social Services
As the city continued to grow, so too did the need for more social services. Mrs Cowie set up a home for unmarried mothers and their babies in 1884 and a children’s home, for those who were not eligible to be placed in the orphanage, in 1892. A chaplain to public institutions (Auckland Hospital, Costley Home, the prison and the Avondale asylum) funded by income from the Selwyn Memorial Fund, was appointed in 1899. The Mission to Streets and Lanes was founded in 1894. This eventually became the Order of the Good Shepherd, a women’s religious order, in 1905. The first Seamen’s Mission was begun, and the Girls’ Friendly Society established. The Bishop actively supported the new Blind Institute.

BISHOPS NELIGAN (1903-10) and CROSSLEY (1911-13)
In 1903 Bishop Neligan took Bishop Cowie’s place. He made an immediate impact. Sadly his health led to his early retirement after only seven years as Bishop, but during these years and the short term of his successor, Bishop Crossley, much was achieved. Neligan’s name lives on in Neligan House, built as the Bishop’s residence in his later years, but now used as the administrative headquarters of the diocese. Education was a top priority for Bishop Neligan. King’s College began in 1896 in Remuera and built on the work done at St John’s School and the Church of England Grammar School. Queen Victoria School opened in 1903. The Diocesan School for Girls opened in 1904. Dilworth broke new ground in educating boys from disadvantaged families. People were now moving into the eastern suburbs in increasing numbers. It was no longer possible for St John’s College to provide ministry to neighbouring areas and so in 1910 a priest was appointed to a new Tāmaki West parish, living in St Heliers. Other parishes were formed: St Andrew’s, Epsom (ex Ellerslie, 1910), St Aidan’s, Remuera (ex St Mark’s, 1912), St Alban’s Balmoral, which included the Mt Roskill area (ex Mt Eden (1909) and Takapuna, including the East Coast Bays, (ex Northcote (1911). Rural areas prospered and new parishes were formed in Pukekohe (1905), Warkworth (1911), Helensville (1911), Kamo-Hikurangi (1912), Kaitāia (1914) and Waimate North (1914) – most of these were districts previously served by the Home Mission.

1914 was the beginning not only of the First World War but also of Bishop Averill’s long episcopate. The 1920s were years of rapid growth. Between 1915 and 1927 many new parishes were formed in the West – Grey Lynn (ex Epiphany, 1915), Kingsland (ex Holy Sepulchre, 1917), Henderson (1919), Mt Roskill (1924), Pt Chevalier (ex Grey Lynn, 1926), Avondale (1927), and New Lynn (1927). Some sense of the difficulty encountered in devising appropriate parochial structures in the western suburbs is suggested by the number of combinations adopted until the final shape emerged – Mt Albert-Avondale (1884-1919), New Lynn-Henderson (1912-19), Avondale-New Lynn (1919-27). Further south were Papatoetoe (ex Ōtāhuhu, 1921), Manurewa (ex Māngere, 1924), Royal Oak (ex Onehunga, 1924), and St George’s Epsom (ex St Mark’s (1926). On the North Shore were Birkenhead (ex Northcote), and Stanley Bay and Bayswater (ex Devonport) all in 1924. New country parishes began in the Bay of Islands (based at Kawakawa) in 1915, Tūākau (replacing Pōkeno, in 1916), Clevedon (ex Papakura, 1922), Hauraki Plains (ex Paeroa, 1923), and Te Kōpuru (ex Northern Wairoa, 1927). A new parish was established in the Hokianga in 1923, using a boat known as a “floating vicarage”. The Church’s social conscience was aroused at this time and in 1920 Jasper Calder was appointed as the first City Missioner. For much of his term as Missioner (1920-47) he also served as Vicar of the Epiphany. King’s College moved to Ōtāhuhu in 1922 and the old premises in Remuera became the site of a new junior school, King’s School.

By now, the diocese had become too big. It was impossible to minister adequately to the south of the diocese. And so in 1926, a new Diocese of Waikato was formed. 25 parishes in the archdeaconries of Waikato and Taranaki were transferred to the new diocese. This meant that the diocese was left with only two archdeaconries – Waimate and Auckland. Archdeacon MacMurray was responsible for 42 parishes. A new Archdeaconry of Manukau was created to provide for the parishes to the south of Auckland. W. J. Simkin, Bishop’s Chaplain and Diocesan Secretary, and later Bishop, was the first archdeacon.

Years of depression and war
However the prosperity of the 1920s soon gave way to the Great Depression of the 30s. Some of the new parishes didn’t last long – Māngere (returned to Onehunga, 1935), Manurewa (linked with Papatoetoe, 1937) and Bayswater (amalgamated with Takapuna, 1937). There were some developments in those difficult times – the re-siting of St Stephen’s School at Bombay in 1930, the arrival of the Church Army in the late 1930s, and the appointment of a chaplain to the mental hospitals.

War came in 1939. In 1940, Archbishop Averill retired and was followed by Bishop Simkin. A new Archdeaconry of Waitemata was formed almost immediately. A chaplain was appointed to the new Greenlane-National Women’s Hospital complex. The war brought with a need for more chaplaincies in the Army, Navy and Air Force. St John’s College closed during the war years 1942-45, and resumed in 1946. Parochial reorganisation involved the return of  Royal Oak to Onehunga in 1947, of Stanley Bay to Devonport in 1948, and of Te Kōpuru to Dargaville in 1942. In 1940, the Hokianga parish had become unworkable and so the southern portion was transferred to Waimate North and a Hokianga North district established. One of the brighter features of the period was the establishment of the Parochial District of the Islands in 1941. It had previously been linked with Coromandel. The two poor parishes of the Epiphany and Kingsland were combined to form a new parish of Arch Hill in 1944. The 1950s brought prosperity and growth. Manurewa (1951) and Royal Oak (1955) parishes were revived. Several new parishes were formed – East Coast Bays (ex Takapuna, 1953), Orewa, now Hibiscus Coast (ex Helensville, 1953), Panmure (ex Otahuhu, 1954) and the division of Tāmaki West into St Heliers and Kohimarama in 1955. A new Archdeaconry of Hauraki was created to deal with the rapid growth on the North Shore. An assistant bishop was appointed for the first time – S. G. Caulton – a former Dean of Auckland and later Bishop of Melanesia. He served as assistant bishop 1955-64. In the North, there were many boundary changes. In 1953 the Bay of Islands, Waimate North and the Hokianga parishes were reorganised. This was facilitated by the transfer of Kerikeri from Waimate North to the Bay of Islands and by placing the Bay of Islands vicarage there. A new Kawakawa parish was formed. The two parts of the old Hokianga parish were brought together in 1958. The parish of Ruawai (ex Northern Wairoa and Paparoa) was formed in 1959.

In 1960, Bishop Simkin retired after 20 years. He was followed by Bishop Eric Gowing. In the 18 years that followed there were many developments at diocesan level, including the appointment of a Chaplain to Youth in 1960 (succeeded by a Director of Christian Education in 1963) and a Director of Post-Ordination Training (later Ministry Education) in 1962. Assistant bishops in this period were G. R. Monteith, Dean since 1949 (1965-75) and Selby Spence (1977-79) who served many years in Pakistan. In 1965, a new Archdeaconry of Tamaki was created in the eastern suburbs. New forms of ministry were initiated – team ministry and auxiliary (later non-stipendiary) ministry. Cooperating parishes were formed in association with other churches. A deaconess house was opened. The Society of St Francis set up a house in the 1970s. Hospital chaplaincies were expanded. Industrial chaplaincy began. The first women were ordained. Māori work was given a higher profile, with the appointment of the first Archdeacon of Taitokerau in 1976. There was enormous growth in the Church’s social service work. A new agency was needed for work among older people – and thus began the Selwyn Foundation in 1967. Work with women and children was brought together in what has become the ATWC. Many new parishes were formed – St Chad Meadowbank (ex St Aidan’s, 1960), Hillsborough and Sandringham (ex Mt Roskill, 1961), Te Atatū (ex Henderson, 1963), One Tree Hill (ex Ellerslie, 1963), Mangere East (ex Ōtāhuhu, 1963), Glen Innes (ex Panmure and St Heliers, 1963), Glen Eden (ex New Lynn, 1964), Wellsford (ex Warkworth, 1964), Otara (1965), Marsden, later known as Bream Bay (ex Whangarei and Paparoa, 1966), St Thomas, Tamaki (ex St Heliers, 1966), Glenfield (ex Northcote, 1966), North Hokianga and South Hokianga (by the division of Hokianga, 1968), Blockhouse Bay (ex Avondale, 1969), Titirangi (ex New Lynn, 1970), Milford (ex Takapuna, 1971), Lynfield (1971), Pakuranga (ex Panmure, 1971), Birkdale-Beachhaven (ex Birkenhead, 1973), St John’s, Campbells Bay and St Mary’s, Torbay (by the division of East Coast Bays, 1973), Bucklands Beach (ex Howick, 1976), and Massey East (ex Te Atatu, 1978) Hospital chaplaincies were established at Middlemore and Kingseat. Population movement in other areas led to the closing of some historic parishes. Arch Hill parish was dissolved in 1964 and the furnishings from Epiphany removed to the new church of the Epiphany, Otara. After serving as a base for the City Mission and then the Māori Mission, St Thomas’, Freemans Bay was closed in 1967. Holy Sepulchre was the mother church of the West but no longer had a strong residential base. It became headquarters of the City Mission in 1963 and then transferred to the Māori Mission in 1969.

Recent times (since 1978)
Since 1978, there have been four Diocesan bishops – Sir Paul Reeves (1978-85), Bruce Gilberd (1985-94), John Paterson (1995-2010) and Ross Bay (from 2010). They were assisted by a number of regional bishops – Godfrey Wilson (1980-91), Ted Buckle (1981-92) and Bruce Moore (1992-97). More recently the work of the Bishop has been assisted by the appointment of a number of bishop’s chaplains, each with a specialist role. Major issues in these years included the publication of the New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa, dealing with major social issues, and reviewing the Church’s constitution. The 1980s and 1990s are not remembered for the formation of many new parishes. But during those years, many parishes extended their facilities, rationalised their plant, and employed lay staff. The diocesan organisation was restructured. New archdeaconries were established – Hunua (1981) and Maungawhau (1990). However, some new parishes were formed – Ōrākei (ex Kohimarama, 1988), Albany-Greenhithe (ex Glenfield, 1992) and Clendon (ex Manurewa, 1998). Otara Mission District gave way to Tūranga which, in 2000, was divided into Whitford-Beachlands and East Tāmaki. Two ecumenical ventures addressing social service and social justice concerns were initiated: Friendship House in South Auckland and the Northland Urban and Rural Mission (NURM). With the building of the nave with its distinctive Pacific character, the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity was completed in 1996. The gothic chancel (made possible by the bequest of Mrs Mina Tait Horton) had been completed several years earlier, following the laying of the foundation stone in 1957, 100 years after the signing of the Church constitution.

Local Shared Ministry
Several parishes already identified have been converted into local shared ministry units – Coromandel was the first. It has now become three districts – with new LSMs at Mercury Bay and Tairua-Pauanui, and a mission district in Coromandel. Kamo-Hikurangi was next, then Tūākau. The historic Bay of Islands parish is now made up of three local shared ministry units at Kerikeri, Russell and Paihia. These early centres of Church life have been ready to embrace this new style of ministry. Kawakawa-Tōwai and Tutukaka Coast have followed their lead. Others are exploring it – Sandringham and Bream Bay.

Increasing diversity
The growing diversity of Auckland’s population has pointed the need for new ministries. There is a Tongan congregation at Grey Lynn (1985), and many of our churches are used by Asian congregations. Later in the Synod, the Bishop welcomed representatives of our newest ministry unit, the Asian Mission District, formed to minister to the rapidly growing numbers of Chinese and those from other Asian countries.

A three tikanga church
Under our Revised Constitution, adopted in 1992, Tikanga Māori and Tikanga Pasifika are our joint partners in mission. Tikanga Māori ministers in the various pastorates and in the Manukau Pastorate and the work centred at Holy Sepulchre. Tikanga Pasefika has a new base at Holy Trinity, Ōtāhuhu, from which it ministers to people of many races. As we strive to reclaim our identity, we celebrate not only our past but also the present we see around us.

Note:  The emphasis in the above has been on the development of parishes and ministry units rather than the erection of churches. Most parish units were established after the building of churches.

This is an edited (and somewhat expanded) version of the text of the commentary used in a presentation of Diocesan history at the opening Eucharist of the Auckland Diocesan Synod in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity on 7 September 2000. It is a very compressed history of the diocese. The material came from a Directory of Parishes being prepared by Noel Derbyshire, the Bishop’s Executive Chaplain. He hopes to complete this by the end of 2000. It aims to give a complete listing of every parish in the Diocese, the clergy who have served in them, the church buildings used, together with information relating to the Bishops, Archdeacons, Cathedral Chapter, schools and social service institutions.

Noel W. Derbyshire, A Short History of the Diocese of Auckland, based on an audio-visual presentation at the Synod of the Diocese of Auckland, 7 September 2000 (since slightly updated), Auckland, New Zealand.