Bishop Pompallier's House (Former)

57 St Marys Road, Ponsonby, Auckland

  • Bishop Pompallier's House (Former).
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Martin Jones. Date: 13/10/2011.
  • Bishop Pompallier's House (Former).
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Martin Jones. Date: 13/10/2011.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 573 Date Entered 1st March 2012

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Lots 4, 5 DP 20314 (CT NA466/196), North Auckland Land District and the building and structures known as Bishop Pompallier's House (Former) thereon, and their fittings and fixtures. Extent includes the picket fence and gate on the western boundary of the land (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information).

City/District Council

Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)

Region

Auckland Council

Legal description

Lots 4, 5 DP 20314 (CT NA466/196), North Auckland Land District

Summaryopen/close

Located in Ponsonby, Bishop Pompallier’s House is a rare surviving example of a nineteenth-century Catholic Bishop’s House in New Zealand and the earliest surviving element of an important ecclesiastical complex at Mount St Mary, which has been a main centre for the Catholic faith in the Auckland region almost continuously since the early 1850s. The building also has outstanding significance as the residence of Bishop Pompallier, a pre-eminent figure in the establishment of Catholicism in New Zealand; and numerous other individuals and organisations linked with the subsequent development of the Catholic Church.

Prior to European colonisation, the site formed part of a headland overlooking Waiwhakaata or Waiatarau (later known as Freemans’s Bay) to the east and Kotakerehaea (St Mary’s Bay) to the west. In circa 1851, a prominent local body politician, James O’Neill, is believed to have erected a residence on a 42-acre estate known as Clanaboy, occupying the headland. By late 1852, the timber house was the residence of Bishop Jean Baptiste Francois Pompallier (1801-71), who has been regarded as the founder of the Catholic Church in New Zealand after arriving in 1838 as the first vicar apostolic of Western Oceania. Becoming the Bishop of Auckland with the division of the New Zealand Mission into two dioceses in 1848, he set about creating a headquarters complex on the former Clanaboy estate, which he renamed Mount St Mary.

The early dwelling was to eventually form the centrepiece of the new complex. The house was owned by Pompallier until his departure from New Zealand in 1868, and was his main place of residence during at least the latter part of the intervening period. In 1854, he temporarily lent the dwelling to the Sisters of Mercy as a school for girls of Maori and mixed-race parentage; and subsequently created a school and convent for the Sisters immediately to the rear of the residence. The Sisters had been brought to the colonial capital at Auckland by Pompallier three years earlier, in 1850, and were the first canonically consecrated religious women to become established in New Zealand. Following their relocation to another part of the complex in 1862, their place was taken by the Sisters of the Holy Family, a small congregation of nuns formed by Pompallier with his niece, Lucie, at its head. Other notable members included Sister (later Mother) Marie Joseph Aubert (1835-1926), the first person in the country to be recommended for canonisation by the Catholic Church; and Sisters Peata and Ateraita, the first Maori nuns in New Zealand.

Construction of buildings known as the Nazareth Institute for the new congregation was accompanied by major improvements to the residence. In 1863, the house evidently incorporated a central portion with a hipped roof, and two gabled side wings. Upper windows in the gables indicate that the attic spaces were used. By circa 1866, the central portion had been remodelled to contain a modified roof and a front verandah. A side verandah and a dormer had also been added. During this period, Pompallier lived mainly at the house.

Following Pompallier’s departure, Mother Aubert attempted to keep the Nazareth school running, at one time meeting Governor and Lady Bowen in front of the house. In 1869, however, the Sisters of the Holy Family ceased to officially exist, and the residence was soon sold into private hands. Occupants included E.L. Bucholz, a major wine importer and the German consul. Re-purchased by Pompallier’s successor, Bishop Thomas Croke (1822/3?-1902), in 1873 the residence once again became the Bishop’s House or Palace, and was also occupied by later leaders of the diocese including Archbishop Steins (1810-81) and Bishop Luck (1840-96). Additions included a further side verandah.

In circa 1893, the building was relocated to its current site. This occurred in preparation for the construction of a new Bishop’s House or Palace by Bishop Luck. Its new position was on land formerly belonging to the grounds of the residence and its associated convents and schools, immediately beside St Marys Road. Occupying an elevated site beside a rear entrance to the new palace, it was evidently rented out to tenants. Modifications carried out during relocation evidently included removing the side verandahs. In 1989, the verandahs and other removed or modified elements were restored in preparation for it housing the Auckland Catholic Diocesan Archives. The building is currently (2012) used as religious offices, and remains part of the Mount St Mary headquarters complex.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The place has strong historical significance for its associations with Bishop Pompallier, who founded the Catholic Church in New Zealand. It is particularly closely associated with Pompallier’s role as Bishop of Auckland, after the division of the Catholic Mission in New Zealand into two dioceses in 1848. The place also has historical value for its close connections with the Sisters of Mercy, who Pompallier brought to New Zealand in 1850; and the Sisters of the Holy Family, a new congregation of nuns formed by Pompallier in 1862 and headed by his niece.

The building is also significant as the residence of other notable Catholic leaders, including Bishop Croke, Archbishop Steins and Bishop Luck. The structures’s relocation to its current site is connected with Luck’s expansionist building activities in the Diocese of Auckland, including the creation of a new Bishop’s House or Palace at Mount St Mary.

The place has links with other significant individuals in Auckland’s history, including the prominent local body politician James O’Neill, and E.L. Bucholz, Auckland’s main importer of French and German wines, and also German consul in the 1870s.

Aesthetic Significance or Value

Bishop Pompallier’s House (Former) has aesthetic value. Situated within a well-established leafy neighbourhood in an elevated position beside St Marys Road, it forms a focal point from Melford Street, and is part of a row of well-preserved nineteenth- and early twentieth-century timber houses fronted by a continuous picket fence. Notable visual features include the building’s unusual form, which incorporates flanking gables on either side of a front verandah. The verandah itself has distinctive posts with cruciform detailing. Internally, the building has aesthetic significance for encompassing elements such as ornate fireplaces, board and batten ceilings and ceiling roses.

Architectural Significance or Value

Bishop Pompallier’s House (Former) has architectural significance as the earliest surviving Catholic Bishop’s House in New Zealand. It incorporates visual aspects that are found in its successor as Bishop’s House, which survives a short distance to the east, including a recessed central element with a front verandah and projecting gables at either end. Other buildings used or erected by the Catholic Church, including the Sisters of Mercy, in the 1860s and 1870s employed similar elements. The building contrasts with the design of most standard residential structures in the mid to late nineteenth century.

Social Significance or Value

Bishop Pompallier’s House (Former) has social significance for its connections with the education of girls of Maori and mixed-race parentage in early colonial New Zealand, and the role of religious women in that education. The Maori Mission, in general, formed an important part of Pompallier’s work in New Zealand.

Spiritual Significance or Value

The place can be considered to have spiritual significance for its close connections with numerous religious leaders of the Catholic faith during the nineteenth century. It is also important for its early connections with Mother Mary Joseph Aubert, the first person in New Zealand to be recommended for canonisation by the Catholic Church.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history

Encompassing an early episcopal residence and land that formed part of the building’s associated grounds until the structure was relocated onto the site in circa 1893, the place can be considered to have significance for reflecting the development of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Auckland after the New Zealand Mission was divided into two administrations in 1848.

The place particularly reflects the formal creation of a headquarters complex at Mount St Mary by Bishop Pompallier, the first Bishop of Auckland. It also reflects activities carried out by religious women in early colonial society, and contemporary attitudes to race and gender, notably in the education of girls of Maori and mixed-race parentage.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history

The place has outstanding significance for the closeness of its connections with numerous individuals and organisations linked with the establishment and development of the Catholic Church in New Zealand. The place has particular importance for incorporating a major residence of Bishop Pompallier, the founder of the Catholic Church in New Zealand. Pompallier was an important figure in New Zealand society during the period that he occupied the house, and it formed his main residence during at least part of the span that he served as Bishop of Auckland. The value of the place is strengthened by its early use as a school and convent by the Sisters of Mercy, the first canonically consecrated religious women to become established in New Zealand. It is believed to be the earliest surviving structure that was occupied by this Order.

The place is also connected with significant religious women belonging to the Sisters of the Holy Family, including Mother Marie Joseph Aubert, the first person in New Zealand to be recommended for canonisation by the Catholic Church; and Sisters Peata and Ateraita, the first Maori nuns in New Zealand. From 1873 to 1893, the building formed the main residence of successive Bishops of Auckland, specifically Bishop Croke, Archbishop Steins and Bishop Luck.

(c) The potential of the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand history

The place has potential to provide information about a variety of aspects on nineteenth-century life, including early colonial building technology, the use and arrangement of high-status ecclesiastical residences, and the functioning and origins of everyday household fixtures such as door locks. The place may also retain in-ground material linked to the use of the site as grounds of the Bishop’s residence and convent school.

(f) The potential of the place for public education

Located beside a public thoroughfare close to the centre of Ponsonby, and still owned by the Catholic Church, the place can be considered to have potential for public education about the early development of Catholicism in New Zealand, and the role of Bishop Pompallier in particular. The place also has potential to provide public education about the Sisters of Mercy and the Sisters of the Holy Family, including Mother Marie Joseph Aubert, in the schooling of children in the early years after colonial settlement. It is likely to be one of very few places that can provide direct education about the schooling of girls of Maori parentage during this period.

(i) The importance of identifying historic places known to date from early periods of New Zealand settlement

The place is significant for incorporating a structure that may retain elements dating to 1851, and more certainly the early 1860s, when Auckland was the colonial capital of New Zealand. The place can be considered to have special value for incorporating an important structure within the early ecclesiastical administration of the province of Auckland, being the residence and headquarters of one of its main religious leaders during the early period. Although relocated in circa 1893, the building was retained on land that formed part of the grounds of this headquarters since its foundation in the early 1850s.

(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places

Bishop Pompallier’s House (Former) has special significance for incorporating a rare surviving example of a nineteenth-century Catholic Bishop’s House in New Zealand. Its significance is enhanced by its proximity to another surviving example in the Mount St Mary complex, demonstrating changes and continuities in the design of such structures from the mid to the late nineteenth century.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape

The place has special significance for incorporating the earliest surviving element of an important ecclesiastical complex at Mount St Mary, which has been a headquarters for the Catholic faith in the Auckland region almost continuously since the 1850s. Closely linked to early colonial activity prior to the establishment of Mount St Mary, the place additionally forms a notable part of a broader historical and cultural landscape in Ponsonby, which retains a large number of residences and other significant buildings linked to the suburb’s nineteenth- and early twentieth-century past.

Conclusion

It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category I historic place. Bishop Pompallier’s House (Former) has outstanding significance for the closeness of its connections with numerous individuals and organisations linked with the establishment and development of the Catholic Church in New Zealand. These include Bishop Pompallier, founder of the Catholic Church in New Zealand; the Sisters of Mercy, the first canonically consecrated religious women to become established in New Zealand; Mother Marie Joseph Aubert, the first person in New Zealand to be recommended for canonisation by the Catholic Church; Sisters Peata and Ateraita, the first Maori nuns in New Zealand; and Pompallier’s successors as leaders of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Auckland: Bishop Croke, Archbishop Steins and Bishop Luck.

The place is also of special significance for incorporating a structure that is a rare surviving example of a nineteenth-century Catholic Bishop’s House in New Zealand; an important building within the early ecclesiastical administration of the province of Auckland; and the earliest surviving element of an important ecceliastical complex at Mount St Mary, which has been a headquarters for the Catholic faith in the Auckland region almost continuously since the 1850s.

Linksopen/close

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Early history of the site

Prior to European colonisation, the site formed part of a headland overlooking Waiwhakaata or Waiatarau (later known as Freemans’s Bay) to the east and Kotakerehaea (St Mary’s Bay) to the west. In the early eighteenth century, a large pa known as Te To was located at the northeastern end of the headland, held by Te Waiohua. Following the conquest of the area by Te Taou hapu of Ngati Whatua, the pa was associated with the rangatira Waitaheke.

After the initial establishment of Auckland as a colonial settlement in 1840, the site formed part of a property of 42 acres. This was initially obtained as a Crown Grant by William Graham in 1844. Three years later it was sold at a loss to John Brigham. With the gradual expansion of settlement at Auckland, land values in the St Marys Bay and Ponsonby area increased significantly. In 1851, the property was purchased by James O’Neill for £800.

Creation of Clanaboy (1851)

James O’Neill (1819-?1902) was a prominent local body politician who erected a substantial timber house on the property, which he named Clanaboy. The house was constructed a short distance to the southeast of the current site, and remained in this position for some 42 years before being moved to its existing position beside St Marys Road. In October 1851 and July 1852, O’Neill respectively sought election to the Municipal Council and the first Provincial Council while apparently in residence. He served as a member of the Auckland Provincial Council from 1853, was also a member of the first Parliament of New Zealand and sat in the Upper House from 1869 until 1872. He was noted in later accounts as having ‘assisted in the foundation of some of the leading institutions of Auckland’.

O’Neill’s house appears to have been only briefly erected before Bishop Jean Baptiste Francois Pompallier (1801-71) began negotiations for purchase of the estate as the nucleus of a headquarters complex for the Catholic faith in the Auckland Diocese. Bishop Pompallier is regarded as the founder of the Catholic Church in New Zealand, and had arrived in this country in 1838 as the first vicar apostolic of Western Oceania. He was present at the first signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, and established a number of mission stations in the North and South Islands. In 1848, the New Zealand mission was separated into two administrations, with Pompallier taking on leadership of the northern diocese as Bishop of Auckland. His responsibilities encompassed care for both indigenous converts and new settlers, and covered the northern half of the North Island and the Kermadec Islands.

Shortly after his return from a trip to Europe in 1850, Pompallier set about creating a complex of religious buildings centred on Clanaboy. This was to contain a church, convent, religious schools, a seminary and his own residence. The complex was to become known as Mount St Mary. It was located on the top of a hill to the west of the colonial capital, overlooking the working class suburb of Freemans Bay. High ground to the east of the bay was similarly occupied by the St Patrick’s Cathedral complex, where Pompallier’s first ecclesiastical centre in the city was located.

St Anne’s, Bishop Pompallier and Mount St Mary (1852-1868)

Bishop Pompallier is said to have occupied O’Neill’s house from December 1852, although agreement to purchase the property did not occur until February 1853. He may also have retained a residence close to St Patrick’s Cathedral. With the exception of an extended visit to Rome and other parts of Europe in 1859-60, Pompallier travelled less than previously during the ensuing period, focusing instead on his duties as administrator of the Auckland Diocese and parish priest for Auckland. Responsibilities were numerous, including those for divine worship; the provision of schools for children; welfare work such as care for the sick, poor and widows; religious instruction; and the encouragement and training of candidates for the priesthood and other religious service.

Renamed St Anne’s, Pompallier’s house was initially described as a ‘neat dwelling with outhouses’ associated with fine fruit trees and well-fenced land. In August 1854, the bishop lent his residence to the Sisters of Mercy for six months for use as a school for girls of Maori and mixed-race parentage. Administering to Maori had formed an important part of Pompallier’s mission since his initial arrival in New Zealand.

Led by Sister Mary Cecilia Maher (1799-1878), the Sisters of Mercy had been the first canonically consecrated religious women to become established in New Zealand (1850), and are considered to have been an important influence in early colonial Auckland, especially in the fields of education and social work. Reflecting contemporary attitudes to gender as well as race, the school taught domestic tasks such as bread making, washing and lacework, as well as reading, writing, arithmetic, geography and other subjects. The school had previously been based at the St Patrick’s Cathedral complex. By 1855, a convent and girls’ school had been built for the Sisters immediately behind the Bishop’s residence. In 1858, the Church of the Immaculate Conception was also added nearby.

The Sisters of Mercy moved to a larger convent and boarding school on nearby land in 1862. Bishop Pompallier subsequently established a new group - or ‘congregation’ - of nuns, the Sisters of the Holy Family, who took over the education of Maori girls. Headed by his niece Lucie Pompallier, now known as Mother Baptiste, they were housed in facilities that included a new convent and the Nazareth Institute for Maori boarders, again immediately to the rear of his house. The small group of members included Sister Mary Joseph Aubert (1835-1926), who had arrived in New Zealand in 1860 and was to become the first person in New Zealand to be recommended for canonisation by the Catholic Church. They also encompassed the first Maori nuns in New Zealand, Sisters Peata and Ateraita, who had previously been with the Sisters of Mercy.

During this period, the grounds linked with St Anne’s and the convent complex extended westward to St Marys Road. In 1863, Pompallier sold off twenty acres of the broader property, leaving an enclave of four acres bounded by Green Street, St Marys Road and St Francis de Sales Street. By this date, Pompallier’s residence encompassed two gabled wings on either side of a hip-roofed central element. The latter may have formed an original structure, erected as Clanaboy. Improvements to the house were evidently carried out in conjunction with the creation of the Nazareth Institute. Pompallier is said to have subsequently lived mainly at the residence.

By 1865, the Nazareth Institute incorporated several buildings, including a kitchen and gatehouse. An illustration of the Bishop’s residence said to date to circa 1866, shows the central element between the two wings as altered: a connecting ridgeline has replaced the hipped roof, and the central portion is set back with a front verandah between the two gabled wing ends. A side verandah had also been added. Both the 1863 and circa 1866 illustrations show the gable ends as having windows near their apex, suggesting the use of attic space. In circa 1866, the north wing is indicated as additionally containing a dormer window, reinforcing this view.

After the Sisters of the Holy Order renewed their vows each year, they took tea with the Bishop in the dining room of his residence.

In 1868, Pompallier departed New Zealand accompanied by Mother Baptiste, after which his household effects and furniture were sold at his residence. This was indicative of general financial problems experienced by the Catholic Diocese. Sister Mary Joseph Aubert subsequently ran the school and attempted to keep the Institute open, although the number of Maori children attending had declined as a result of the Waikato War (1863-4). On one occasion in 1868, the schoolchildren came out under the direction of the Sister in charge - probably Aubert - to welcome the Governor, George Ferguson Bowen (1821-99), and his wife in front of the residence during a visit. Two leaders of Te Arawa, Ringori te Ao and Pereme Rotoehu, were also present.

After Pompallier’s resignation as Bishop in 1869, the Congregation of the Holy Family ceased to officially exist.

Private ownership (1870-3)

In 1870, the Diocese sold the current site and the wider property to John Bennett, a businessman with property and goldmining interests in Thames. Bennett lived with his family at Pompallier’s former residence prior to his own bankruptcy in June, when his household furniture was also sold at auction in the building. The following month, a large fire consumed a nearby dwelling that Bennett’s brother had evidently created by moving and adding to an earlier structure on the site. Pompallier’s residence was subsequently occupied by E.L. Bucholz, Auckland’s main importer of French and German wines, and also the German consul.

In 1871, land that included the current site was again offered for sale. Pompallier’s former residence was shown as a large house that retained a central verandah at the front and along the length of one side. It was described as containing contained twelve rooms, including a drawing room, dining room, bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen, pantry and storeroom. It was associated with outbuildings, a coachouse and stables.

Re-purchase and use as the Bishop’s House (1873-93)

The land, including St Anne’s, was re-purchased by Pompallier’s successor Bishop Thomas William Croke (1822/3?-1902) in 1873. Bishop Croke moved into the earlier residence, re-establishing it as the Bishop’s House or Bishop’s Palace. Formal duties undertaken in the house included a reception for visiting French dignitaries in October 1873. From 1879 to 1881 it was occupied by Croke’s successor, Archbishop Walter Bishop Steins (1810-81). After Steins departed, there was a hiatus until the tenureship of Bishop John Edmund Luck (1840-96). When Luck arrived in November 1882, he was accompanied by a party occupying thirteen carriages on a procession from the wharf to the Bishop’s House.

Further modifications to the house evidently took place, possibly during its reoccupation as an episcopal residence. A photograph of pre-1893 date shows the building with an additional side verandah on its northern wing, mirroring the pre-1871 arrangement on the building’s southern side. A main entrance at the northern end of the front verandah may also have replaced an earlier central doorway. Finials had further been added to the gable ends of each wing.

Relocation to St Marys Road (circa 1893)

The house was moved by Bishop Luck to its current position as part of the preparations for construction of a new, much grander Bishop's House, sometimes also known as Bishop’s Palace. Relocation is likely to have occurred before May 1893, when the foundation stone for the new structure was laid. A contract for the building work had been given to Antonio Martin in April, when it was stated that a brick corridor would connect the new structure ‘with the kitchen at present on the ground’. This could imply that part of the earlier residence was left in place. The works were part of a major programme of building or rebuilding within the Diocese undertaken by Luck, which included the replacement of other timber buildings with those of brick, such as St Patrick’s Presbytery in Wyndham Street and St Benedict’s Church in Newton.

Pompallier’s former residence was resited to a small section adjoining St Marys Road, remaining on land owned by the Catholic authorities that had formed part of the Mount St Mary and Nazareth complexes. In 1863, a double-gabled building linked with the Sisters of the Holy Family had been located in the immediate vicinity. The general area may have been cultivated as a flower garden during that period, tended by the schoolchildren.

The relocated building lay immediately outside the area occupied by the new Bishop’s Palace and its grounds, adjoining a rear driveway that provided access between the back of the palace and St Marys Road. Placed in an elevated position on a bend in St Marys Road, the house was arranged so that its original main elevation prominently addressed the road and an opposing junction with Melford Street. Its relocated position can be seen to have represented a visible reminder of the longevity and origins of Mount St Mary’s as a headquarters for the Catholic faith in Auckland. Visual aspects of its main elevation were also referenced in the design for the new Bishop’s House or Palace, completed in 1894, which similarly included a recessed central element with verandah, which was flanked by gabled wings.

The building appears to have been relocated with many of its earlier features intact, although its side verandahs and one of its main chimneys were evidently not retained. It is unclear if an earlier dormer was removed at this time or previously. It has been said that an adjoining structure at 59 St Marys Road also incorporated elements of the former Bishop’s House. An image of the rear of the building taken in 1922 suggests that chimneystack tops may have been added or replaced using polychrome brickwork, perhaps at the time of relocation. A small rear kitchen could also have been added .

Subsequent use and modifications

On its new site, the located structure was separated from St Marys Road by a narrow front garden. It also had an associated backyard, which contained small sheds and garden paths by 1908. In that year, a picket fence at the front of the property was rebuilt or repaired. Concrete garden steps were also created.

After relocation, the building appears to have been rented out to individual tenants. Occupants in the early 1900s evidently included Mrs Margaret Caldwell. By 1915, adjoining land to the south that had formerly contained a rear access to the Bishop’s Palace had been built on for further residences. Later tenants included Mrs Nora Bezzant and Ms Winifred Bezzant. From the 1960s to the 1980s, the house was occupied by Philip Gaeth, a butcher, and his family. It appears that comparatively few modifications took place during this period, although main windows in the front gables had been replaced by the 1970s.

In the late 1980s, a major redevelopment of the Bishop’s Palace property included the construction of a large structure to serve as an administrative centre. As part of the project, Bishop Pompallier’s former residence was modified after the preparation of a conservation plan. Alterations included demolition of the rear kitchen addition. An internal wall and chimney in the rear lean-to were also removed. Replica side verandahs and front gable windows were added to restore the front elevation to its pre-1893 appearance. Construction of the associated administrative centre encroached on the rear garden of the property, and included an open walkway that connected the centre with the restored building.

The restored structure was subsequently used for several years by the Auckland Catholic Diocesan Archives. After the Diocesan archives relocated to newer facilities in the adjoining administrative centre, the building was occupied by the Catholic Volunteer Services and then Catholic Communications. During a re-cladding of the roof in 2007, the survival of timber shingles was revealed.

The building remains in use by the Diocesan administrative services in the Mount St Mary complex.

Physical Description

Context

The former Bishop Pompallier’s House is situated in Ponsonby, an inner suburb to the west of Auckland’s Central Business District (CBD). It lies on the east side of St Marys Road, a thoroughfare that connects the centre of Ponsonby with the adjoining suburb of St Marys Bay. The road forms the western boundary of an extensive Catholic religious complex at Mount St Mary, of which the former Bishop Pompallier’s House forms part.

Encompassing the administrative headquarters of the Catholic Auckland Diocese and a Sisters of Mercy convent, the complex contains a number of notable historic structures and other elements of historical significance. These include St Mary’s Old Convent Chapel (1865-6; NZHPT Record no. 649, Category I historic place), St Mary’s College Hall (1929, NZHPT Record no. 648, Category II historic place) and the Bishop’s House or Palace (1893-4). The complex is surrounded by a well-preserved residential landscape dating predominantly to the mid and late colonial periods. Other historic structures in the immediate vicinity include the Leys Institute Gymnasium (1906; NZHPT Record No. 612, Category I historic place), Leys Institute Public Library (1905; NZHPT Record No. 613, Category I historic place) and Ponsonby Post Office (1912; NZHPT Record No. 628, Category I historic place), all situated in the southern part of St Marys Road.

The former Bishop Pompallier’s House lies on the western boundary of the complex, within a row of timber houses of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century date. Although differing in design, all have a uniform white picket fence bounding the street frontage. The former Bishop Pompallier’s House occupies an elevated position on a bend in St Marys Road, and is additionally prominent for overlooking the junction between the road and Melford Street.

The main structure sits on a small parcel of ground that also contains a narrow front garden stepping down to road level, and a timber picket fence and gate along the St Marys Road boundary. To the rear of the house, the site includes a flat area of grass and an open walkway, which connects the house to an adjoining brick building. There is no formal fencing between the house and its neighbour to the south. A picket fence along the northern boundary appears to be modern.

Building exterior

The house is of single-storey timber construction, and of H-shaped design. From the front and sides, its visual appearance is that of the residence before it was relocated to its current site in circa 1893. Its main elevation to St Marys Road incorporates a central recessed element with a verandah, flanked by projecting gabled wings. All external elevations are clad with horizontal, overlapping weatherboards. The roof is covered with corrugated metal. The building stands on substantial concrete footings.

The main frontage has a distinctive appearance, which differs from other residences in the neighbourhood. Its central verandah has a concave roof, with evidence of an earlier straight-roofed form surviving as a scar in at least one of the adjoining walls. The verandah posts incorporate distinctive elements, including quatrefoil and cruciform decorative detailing. A large Chicago-style doorway exists at one end of the verandah, providing the main access into the residence. Two French doors of nineteenth-century date also connect the verandah with the interior.

The front windows in each flanking gable are recent modifications, as are verandahs on each side wall. These reinstate the building to an earlier appearance. French doors on the side walls are also believed to at least partially replicate arrangements prior to relocation in circa 1893.

The rear of the building has gabled wings, like the front. A rear doorway is present in the current northern wing. The area between the wings contains a rear lean-to. A window in the rear wall of the current south wing is a recent modification. Other apertures include a large window identical to 1860s examples that existed in the front elevation prior to twentieth-century alteration. A brick chimney survives above roof level in the current south wing. Where visible, this is of polychrome design. Its upper courses have been removed.

Building interior

The building interior is comparatively unusual in its layout, and preserves many nineteenth-century features. Its main entrance hall is spacious, and uncommonly wide in relation to the size of the building. Two rooms in the current south wing are reached directly from the hall. Both are heated, and retain well-preserved timber fireplace surrounds. The rear room and the hallway have the same style of board and batten ceilings. Skirtings are of comparatively simple design.

The main front room in the centre of the building is also directly accessed from the hall. This contains two sets of French doors onto the verandah. It is also heated, and retains an ornate fireplace surround that incorporates tiles of quatrefoil fleur-de-lys design. The room contains a central ceiling rose.

Both the central room and rooms in the current north wing are accessed from a corridor that partly mirrors the hallway in the southern part of the building: this also connects with the back door. The arrangement suggests more private spaces in the current north wing than in the southern part of the building. The north wing contains two moderate-sized rooms and a smaller space in between. All of the spaces contain board and batten ceilings, which differ from those in the south wing. None of the rooms are heated, although a chimney in this wing existed prior to relocation in circa 1893. The attic of the current north wing is reached via a ladder hole in the corridor ceiling.

Rooms in the rear of the building have less elaborate lean-to ceilings, which are of tongued and grooved type. They may have been previously used as service areas. Prior to 1989 the main rear room contained a fireplace, which has since been removed. An adjoining space accessed from the main hall was enlarged at the same time. This has a door to the hallway that incorporates an upper panel bearing coloured glass.

Other doors in the building are of solid timber, four-panel type; and retain rim-locks with either brass or porcelain handles. At least two bear circular brass seals marked ‘WR No.60 Jas CARPENTER PATENTEE’. James Carpenter was an English lock-maker who first took out a patent in 1830. His No. 60 design was a standard size. Carpenter locks were manufactured into the early twentieth century, mainly for export. Examples with identical seals have also been found in Australia.

Comparisons

The building is one of two surviving Bishop’s Houses or Palaces in the Mount St Mary complex, which demonstrate changes and continuities in the design of such structures from the mid to the late nineteenth century. The replacement Bishop’s House, erected in 1893-4, contains visually similar aspects to Bishop Pompallier’s House - notably a recessed central element with verandah flanked by gabled wings. However, it is of two-storey brick construction, and of more ornate, Gothic Revival design. Earlier residences occupied by Bishop Pompallier in the 1840s and early 1850s within the St Patrick’s Cathedral complex in Wyndham Street, Auckland, no longer survive. One was probably located on the site of St Patrick’s Presbytery, erected in 1888.

Unlike the buildings at Mount St Mary, Catholic Bishop’s residences in Dunedin and Christchurch combined the functions of a Bishop’s House and Presbytery. The Catholic Dioceses of Dunedin and Christchurch were respectively created in 1869 and 1887. A Bishop’s House erected by Bishop Viard in Glenmore Street, Wellington, in 1850, was subsequently relocated and later demolished. A new Bishop’s House was erected by Bishop Redwood after succeeding Viard in 1874. In the early twentieth century, Bishop O’Shea lived at 7 Patterson Street, Wellington.

Incorporating gabled wings erected by 1863 and possibly earlier elements, Bishop Pompallier’s House is the earliest building to survive within the Mount St Mary complex, a major early colonial centre for the Catholic faith in the Diocese of Auckland. It also pre-dates any intact structures on the earlier, St Patrick’s Cathedral site, although the current Cathedral retains some parts of the first stone church, which was erected in 1846-8 (NZHPT Record No. 97, Cathedral Church of St Patrick and St Joseph (Catholic), Category I historic place).

The building is also believed to be the earliest surviving structure in New Zealand that was occupied by the Sisters of Mercy. Other early buildings associated with the Order, including structures that formed part of the St Patrick’s Cathedral complex in Auckland, have been demolished. The building’s significance is enhanced by its proximity to St Mary’s Old Convent Church, erected in 1866, and St Mary’s College Hall (1929), which remain part of the Sisters of Mercy convent that was established immediately after earlier premises adjoining Bishop Pompallier’s House were vacated.

The external design of Bishop Pompallier’s House appears visually similar to other structures used or erected by Catholic Church, including the Sisters of Mercy, during the 1860s and 1870s. These included St Joseph’s Convent, Onehunga (1864); St Joseph’s Parish School, Otahuhu; St Thomas’ School in Thames; and the Sisters of Mercy convent and school at Ahaura on the West Coast of the South Island.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1851 -
Construction of timber house on a nearby part of the estate.

Addition
-
Addition of gabled wings.

Modification
-
Alteration of central element with front verandah, and dormer added to one wing.

Addition
-
Side verandah added.

Addition
-
Further side verandah added, and entrance arrangement modified

Relocation
1893 -
Timber house relocated onto current site; Removal of side verandahs and a chimney; Addition of rear kitchen, and corrugated iron roof cladding; Remodelling of upper chimneystacks.

Modification
-
Replacement of main windows in front gable ends.

Modification
1989 -
Demolition of rear kitchen, rear chimney and an internal partition in rear lean-to; Addition of replica side verandahs; Replacement of pre-1989 main windows in front gable ends with replicas of earlier windows.

Construction Details

Timber frame and cladding, with concrete footings and corrugated metal roof.

Completion Date

17th February 2012

Report Written By

Martin Jones

Information Sources

Daily Southern Cross

Daily Southern Cross

28 October 1851, p.1; 6 July 1852, p.2; 10 September 1868, p.2; 23 April 1869, p.2; 19 July 1869, p.7; 2 October 1869, p.4 7 May 1868, p.5; Ibid., 9 June 1870, pp.2 &.4; 25 June 1870, p.3; 5 July 1870, p.3; 26 July 1871, p.4; 1 July 1876, p.7; 24 June 1871, p.1; 5 August 1871, p.4; 6 December 1867, p.4

Kirk, 1998

Marcienne D. Kirk, Remembering Your Mercy: Mother Mary Cecilia Maher and the first Sisters of Mercy in New Zealand 1850-1880, Auckland, 1998

Munro, 1997

Jessie Munro, The Story of Suzanne Aubert, Auckland, 1997

Simmons, 1982

E.R. Simmons, In Cruce Salus: A History of the Diocese of Auckland 1844-1980, Auckland, 1982

Simmons, 1984

E. R. Simmons, Pompallier: Prince of Bishops, Auckland, 1984

Other Information

A fully referenced registration report is available from the Mid-Northern Office of the NZHPT.

This place has been identified as being included in the Auckland Council’s Cultural Heritage Inventory as CHI Places no. 2489, Bishop Pompallier’s House (Former).

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.