30 New Street, 10 St Francis De Sales Street And Green Street, Ponsonby, Auckland
Historical Significance or Value
The place is historically important as the centrepiece of a large ecclesiastical complex, which has been a headquarters of the Catholic Church in the Auckland Diocese from the 1850s onwards. The current main residence has historical significance as the home of the Catholic Bishops of the Auckland Diocese for more than a century. It is particularly strongly associated with Bishop John Edmund Luck, who commissioned its construction; and Bishop J. M. Liston, who occupied the building for more than 40 years. Both were influential figures in the development of the Catholic Church in Auckland. The residence also has historical significance as the place where the Catholic newspaper The Month, later Zealandia, was written and edited over most of the twentieth century.
The place is also significant as the site of the residence for many years of Bishop Jean Baptiste Francois Pompallier. Bishop Pompallier is regarded as the founder of the Catholic Church in New Zealand. It is also the site of convents and schools sequentially occupied by the Sisters of Mercy and the Sisters of the Holy Family - both notable groups of religious women in New Zealand who were involved in the schooling of girls of Maori and mixed-race parentage. The place also contains the site of the removed Church of the Immaculate Conception (1858), the earliest suburban Catholic church in Auckland.
Aesthetic Significance or Value
The Bishop’s Palace (Catholic) has aesthetic significance for its strong visual presence, its Gothic Revival style and detailing, and its setting among mature trees. It has particular significance for the quality and craftsmanship of its interior spaces, incorporating details such as Gothic-style fireplace surrounds, imported encaustic tiles, parquetry and other ornamental timberwork, and stained glass windows. Its small chapel has especially strong visual appeal.
Archaeological Significance or Value
The place has archaeological significance as an important Catholic ecclesiastical site from the early 1850s onwards, which has been used as a Bishop’s residence, a convent and church, and a private estate. The current building contains rare or unusual surviving features that can provide evidence about past society and technology, including a nineteenth-century wash-out toilet, a gas light fitting, and large chimneypots with makers’ marks.
Architectural Significance or Value
The place is architecturally significant for incorporating a rare New Zealand design by Peter Paul Pugin, a notable British architect in his own right and the son of A.W.N. Pugin – a Catholic convert and an important influence in the development of the Gothic Revival in Britain. The Bishop’s House has strong parallels with A.W.N. Pugin’s own home, The Grange at Ramsgate, which has been considered to occupy a crucial place in the development of nineteenth-century British domestic architecture, in planning and style. The building also has architectural significance for its associations with supervising architect Thomas Mahoney of E. Mahoney & Son, a noted Auckland architectural firm during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. It is a rare surviving example of a nineteenth-century Bishop’s House in New Zealand.
Technological Significance or Value
The building has technological significance for its utilisation of ‘Matamata stone’ for string-courses and other elements, reputed to be the first experimental use of Hinuera Ignimbrite in building construction in New Zealand. It is also significant for its use of other technologically-advanced elements, including gas fittings that were lit and extinguished by electricity.
Cultural Significance or Value
The place has cultural significance for housing an important library of Catholic theological works since construction of the main residence in 1893-4.
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 and twentieth centuries. The main residence incorporates a chapel that has been a place of worship and reflection for Auckland’s Catholic Bishops for over a century. The broader place incorporates the site of the Church of the Immaculate Conception and the convents of the Sisters of Mercy and the Sisters of the Holy Family. The latter have 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 a large and well-preserved episcopal residence and its grounds, the place reflects the development and administration of the Catholic Church in the Auckland Diocese, particularly from the late nineteenth century onwards. It especially demonstrates the important role and status of the Bishop within the Catholic hierarchy. As a site that was occupied as a Bishop’s seat and headquarters for the Diocese from the 1850s, it more broadly reflects the development of Catholic activity since the early colonial period.
(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history
The place has special significance for the strength of its associations with the growth of Catholicism in New Zealand and numerous individuals of importance in New Zealand history. The site has been the seat of Catholic Bishops of Auckland since the 1850s and has been occupied by the residence of Bishop Pompallier, regarded as the founder of the Catholic Church in New Zealand; the school and convent of the Sisters Of Mercy, the first canonically consecrated religious women to become established in New Zealand; the school and convent of the Sisters of the Holy Family, which included Sister Mary Joseph Aubert - the first person in New Zealand to be recommended for canonisation by the Catholic Church - and the earliest Maori nuns in New Zealand, Sisters Peata and Ateraita; and the residence of Archishop Walter Bishop Steins and Bishop Thomas William Croke.
The current Bishop’s House was erected by a significant figure in the development of Catholicism in the Auckland Diocese, Bishop John Edmund Luck, and reflects the ongoing importance of the site as the Catholic Bishop’s seat in Auckland. The building and grounds have been successively occupied by subsequent Catholic Bishops of Auckland, including Bishop Henry William Cleary founder of The Month, (later known as Zealandia); Archbishop J.M. Liston who managed the diocese for 40 years during a period of substantial growth and change; and Bishop (later Cardinal) Reginald John Delargey who facilitated change in the diocese following Vatican II.
The place also has special significance for the strength of its associations with the works and lives of notable individuals in the promotion of Gothic Revival, particularly A.W.N. Pugin, and his son Peter Paul Pugin. Gothic Revival was an architectural style that was widely adopted in New Zealand. The place has strong connections with the Pugin family through Bishop Luck, who had lived in the house created and lived in by A.W.N. Pugin at The Grange, Ramsgate; and who had taught at the Benedictine school attended by Peter Paul Pugin.
(c) The potential of the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand history
The place has potential to provide information about the development of Catholic activity in New Zealand since the early colonial period, through archaeological examination of in-ground deposits and through investigation of the unusually well-preserved nineteenth-century fabric of the main residence. Knowledge from the latter is likely to include broader information about technological development, trade and manufacture in nineteenth-century New Zealand.
(f) The potential of the place for public education
Located close to the centre of Ponsonby and part of broader complex occupied and owned by the Catholic Church, the place can be considered to have potential for public education about the development of Catholicism in New Zealand, and particularly that of the Auckland Diocese. The place also has potential for public education about the development Gothic Revival in New Zealand and overseas due to the unsually close connections between the place and the works of A.W.N. Pugin and his son Peter Paul Pugin.
(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place
The place has outstanding significance for the quality, extent and well-preserved nature of the craftsmanship employed in the main residence. Notable elements include its encaustic tiles, stained glass windows, marble altar, Gothic fireplace surrounds and staircase balustrading. High-quality fixtures also extend to its locally-made chimneypots and its imported, Unitas wash-out closet.
The place also has special significance as a rare design in New Zealand by the notable British architect, Peter Paul Pugin. The building was strongly influenced by the Gothic Revival design of The Grange, Ramsgate, created by his father, A.W.N. Pugin. A.W.N. Pugin was a major influence in the development of Gothic Revival design as the appropriate architectural style for nineteenth-century ecclesiastical buildings; and The Grange has been considered to occupy a crucial place in the development of nineteenth-century British domestic architecture. The Bishop’s House can be seen to have fused the Gothic Revival design of The Grange with the more symmetrical style employed in the earlier Bishop’s residence on the site, occupied by Bishop Pompallier.
The building is also associated with Thomas Mahoney, an Auckland architect of note, who supervised its construction - including the innovative and experimental use of ‘Matamata stone’ (Hinuera Ignimbrite).
(h) The symbolic or commemorative value of the place
The place has some commemorative value, incorporating foundation stones that commemorate donors in 1891-3 who enabled the Bishop’s House to be erected. These encompassed a number of cardinals and archbishops; the Emperor of Austria; the Lord Mayor of London; and many other individuals.
(i) The importance of identifying historic places known to date from early periods of New Zealand settlement
The place incorporates the site of early colonial religious buildings, including the earliest Catholic suburban church in Auckland city and the residence of Bishop Pompallier, New Zealand’s first Catholic Bishop.
(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places
The Bishop’s House 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 as a key component 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. 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.
Summary of Significance or Values
The place has outstanding significance for the quality, extent and well-preserved nature of the craftsmanship employed in the main residence. It has special significance as 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; and as a key component of an important ecclesiastical complex that has been a headquarters for the Catholic faith in the Auckland region almost continuously since the 1850s .
The place has special significance for the strength of its associations with the works and lives of notable individuals in the promotion of Gothic Revival, particularly A.W.N. Pugin, and his son Peter Paul Pugin. The place incorporates a rare design in New Zealand by Peter Paul Pugin - a notable British architect - which was strongly influenced by The Grange, Ramsgate, created by his father, A.W.N. Pugin, who was instrumental in the initial development of Gothic Revival. The place also has special significance for the strength of its associations with the growth of Catholicism in New Zealand and individuals of importance in New Zealand history. These include several notable Bishops, including Bishop Luck, who lived in the residence; and earlier occupants of the site such as Bishop Pompallier, the Sisters of Mercy and the Sisters of the Holy Family. Members of the latter included Sister Mary Joseph Aubert - the first person in New Zealand to be recommended for canonisation by the Catholic Church.
Edward Mahoney (1824-1895)
Edward Mahoney emigrated from Cork, Ireland with his wife Margaret and three children. The Mahoneys arrived in Auckland in 1856 where Edward set up as a building and timber merchant. In 1876 he established the architectural practice that later became Edward Mahoney & Sons, which for over thirty years designed and supervised construction of many Catholic buildings as well as churches for other denominations.
The Church of St John the Baptist, Parnell (1861) and St Mary's Convent Chapel (1866) are two of the earliest surviving ecclesiastical buildings designed by Edward Mahoney and reflect the gradual evolution from simple Gothic Revival structures to more ambitious and creative use of the Gothic form such as may be seen in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Khyber Pass (1881); and St Patrick's Cathedral, the latter completed in 1901.
Edward Mahoney was a founding member of the Auckland Institute of Architects, attending the first meeting in December 1880 where he was appointed honorary treasurer. He became president of the Institute in 1883. His sons Thomas (1855?-1923) and Robert (1862-1895) joined him in practice in 1876 and the early 1880s respectively.
Upon Edward's retirement in 1885, Thomas and Robert carried on the practice. After Robert's death in 1895, Thomas changed the firm's name to E. Mahoney & Son. The Mahoneys designed a wide variety of buildings including the Auckland Customhouse, hotels, commercial buildings and houses, their best-known surviving domestic buildings being the Pah, at Hillsborough (1877) and the Dilworth Terrace Houses, Parnell (1899). Their ecclesiastical buildings included St Mary's Church of the Assumption, Onehunga (1888) and St Benedict's Church, Newton (1888).
The firm of Edward Mahoney & Son continued to practice for a short period after Thomas Mahoney’s death in 1923, but was eventually dissolved in 1926.
Source: NZHPT Registration Report for Bank of New Zealand (Former), Devonport (Register no. 4511).
Thomas Mahoney (1854/5?-1923) was the eldest son of Edward Mahoney, a leading Auckland architect. Thomas joined his father's firm, Edward Mahoney and Sons, in 1878 and was followed soon after by his younger brother Robert.
The firm was responsible for a wide range of designs including domestic buildings, commercial and public buildings, churches and hotels. They won a competition for the design of the Auckland Customhouse in 1888, and were also responsible for the design of The Pah (now Monte Cecilia Convent), Hillsborough (1887), the Elliot Street facade of Smith and Caughey's Building (1910) and Wrights Building, Auckland (1911).
Thomas was secretary of the Auckland Institute of Architects in 1885, president in 1883, and treasurer in 1902. In 1907 he was president of the Auckland branch of the New Zealand Institute of Architects.
Tole, George Edmund
The following text is taken from a 1992 Proposal for classification for Star of the Sea Convent Block NZHPT Reg # 5430. (Added by Chris Horwell NZHPT 07/04/09)
George Edmund Tole was born in Auckland in 1898. He received his early architectural training with Arnold and Abbott, a partnership best known for the design of the Auckland Grammar School (completed in 1916). At the time of his death Tole was acknowledged as one of the country's leading authorities on Georgian architecture.
The former convent block Star od the Sea, which includes the chapel was designed by Tole and Massey, an architectural partnership which spanned the years 1928 to 1935. Prior to the formation of the partnership, Tole had already undertaken work for the Roman Catholic Church, in 1926 designing the Wellington Street Boys' School, churches at Otahuhu and Grey Lynn, and a new block for Star of the Sea Orphanage at Howick. (The latter building is the central block which links the two later wings built in 1930 -1931. Tole also continued to undertake design work for the church after the partnership with Massey ended in 1935. Later buildings by Tole included St Vincent's Home of Compassion, Herne Bay (which now accommodates Catholic Social Services); the Dominican Convent, Northcote (now De Paul House); and, the Franciscan Friary, Hillsborough, all built in 1939.
Pugin & Pugin
The London-based firm of Pugin and Pugin grew out of the office of Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-52). A.W.N. Pugin’s father, Augustus Charles Pugin (1769-1832), had arrived in Wales as a refugee during the French Revolution and was taken on as a draughtsman by English architect John Nash (1752-1835), an important architect in the Picturesque movement. A.C. Pugin produced some of the first archaeologically correct images of medieval architecture, that became extremely important for the Gothic Revival.
A.W.N. Pugin, a pupil of his father, became a key influence in the Gothic Revival and following his conversion to Catholicism in circa 1835, a leading figure in Ecclesiology. Pugin came to believe that the test of architectural beauty was the fitness of the design to the purpose for which it was intended, and that the purpose of a building should be immediately apparent to the spectator. His writings in the early 1840s expounded the view that Gothic was not a style but a principle, and was the only mode of building possible for a Christian nation. In his secular architecture, Pugin demonstrated that the three-dimensional form of the building should grow naturally out of the plan.
Pugin’s sons Cuthbert Welby Pugin (1840-1928) and Peter Paul Pugin (1851-1904), succeeded to the firm after the death of their older brother, Edward Welby Pugin (1834-1875), having trained in his office. Pugin and Pugin were prolific, designing a number of buildings, alterations and furnishings for the Catholic Church in Britain. Peter Paul Pugin, designer of the Bishop’s House constructed in Auckland in 1893-4, had been invested as a Knight of the Order of St Sylvester by the Pope in 1889.
(Jones, Martin, 'Bishop's House (Catholic)', NZHPT Registration Report, 10 December 2013).
Antonio Martin (1854-1927) was the son of a Portuguese migrant of the same name and his wife, Agnes Martin (nee Fleming). Antonio Martin, senior - originally known as Antonio Mathias de Varga - had arrived in Auckland in 1846 on an American whaler and became wealthy after working as a cooper, shipwright, coastal trader and publican. Antonio Martin, junior, evidently worked as a builder in Auckland in the 1880s, and subsequenty worked as a master builder and contractor in Melbourne for several years before returning in late 1892.
In April 1893 he obtained a large contract for erecting the Bishop’s House in Ponsonby for the Catholic authorities. Both his parents were known as devout Catholics, and he was assisted on the project by his brother Matthew Martin, whose wife had been educated by nuns on or close to the site. He also obtained a contract in the same year to erect a mortuary chapel at the Catholic cemetery in Devonport. He ran into financial difficulties part way through both contracts and was adjudicated bankrupt in January 1894.
Antonio Martin is said to have later built commercially in Dunedin. His bankruptcy was officially discharged in 1908. He died in Melbourne in 1927, aged 73.
Kauri Timber Company
The Kauri Timber Company (KTC) was founded in 1888 as a Melbourne-based syndicate. At the time of its creation, it was heralded as ‘one of the largest industrial organisations in the colonies’. The KTC took over the assets of several New Zealand timber companies after the timber trade had collapsed due to a nationwide economic depression. Endeavouring to dominate and profit through monopoly control, it became the fifth-largest landholding company in New Zealand. Apart from its main mill in Fanshawe Sreet, Auckland, it operated twenty-three mills in outlying kauri forest districts.
The KTC initially struggled to make a profit due to the collapse of the Melbourne market. Industrial disquiet led to a rapid growth in unionism among the KTC workforce. In 1889, the KTC reduced wage rates, and a dispute developed over the company’s use of the ‘trucking’ system, whereby workers were partly paid in provisions from general stores controlled by the KTC, or obliged to purchase goods from these stores at a high price. Following the election of the First Liberal Government in the 1890s, the company resisted government attempts to reduce the size of its holdings, and to improve wage rates and conditions in spite of rising profitability. As well as milling timber, it manufactured a wide variety of other wooden elements that were used to build, adorn and furnish timber structures in New Zealand and overseas. In the early 1900s, the KTC employed some 5,000 to 6,000 people throughout the Auckland region, and claimed that ‘the welfare of the whole population in the districts over which its operations extend is intimately associated with that of the company’.
Peak production of converted kauri occurred in 1905. By 1914, ‘the kauri forest was reduced to a mere remnant and the province’s economic centre had shifted from extractive industries to the intensive pastoral pursuits characteristic of its rural areas’. By 1922, better class kauri was virtually restricted to uses such as shipbuilding and cabinetmaking. In 1930, the KTC office was advertising ‘large stocks of Jarrah from the Company’s mills and forests in Western Australia’ and imported Oregon from North America, as well as native timbers such as kauri, rimu, totara and matai.’ The KTC continued to operate in New Zealand until its local operations were taken over by Fletcher Timber in 1961.
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 establishment of Auckland as a colonial settlement, the site formed part of a property of 42 acres obtained as a Crown Grant by William Graham in 1844. In 1851, the property was bought by a prominent local body politician James O’Neill (1819-?1902), who erected a timber house on the property which he named Clanaboy. The estate was soon purchased by Bishop Jean Baptiste Francois Pompallier (1801-71) as the nucleus of a headquarters complex for the Catholic faith in the Auckland Diocese.
Early Catholic use of the Bishop’s House site (1852-1870)
Bishop Pompallier is said to have occupied O’Neill’s house from December 1852. Pompallier is regarded as the founder of the Catholic Church in New Zealand, having 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.
In August 1854, the bishop lent his residence - renamed St Anne’s - to the Sisters of Mercy for use as a school for girls of Maori and mixed-race parentage. 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. By 1855, a convent and girls’ school had been built for the Sisters immediately behind the house. In 1858, the Church of the Immaculate Conception was also constructed on associated land as the first suburban Catholic church in Auckland.
The Sisters of Mercy moved to a larger convent and boarding school in New Street 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 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.
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. He is said to have subsequently lived mainly at the residence, before departing New Zealand with Mother Baptiste in 1868. Sister Mary Joseph Aubert subsequently attempted to keep the Institute open, although the number of Maori children attending had declined as a result of the Waikato War (1863-4). 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 bankruptcy in June. 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, the property was again offered for sale. At this time, the residence contained twelve rooms, and was associated with outbuildings, a coach house and stables. The Church of the Immaculate Conception was still on the site at this time. It may have been removed soon after.
Re-purchase for use as the Bishop’s House (1873-93)
The land was re-purchased by Pompallier’s successor Bishop Thomas William Croke (1822/3?-1902) in 1873. Bishop Croke moved into the residence, re-establishing it as the Bishop’s House or Bishop’s Palace. A small timber building that survived until recently on the site may have been erected at this time, possibly as a coach house or stabling. From 1879 to 1881 the main house was occupied by Croke’s successor, Archbishop Walter Bishop Steins (1810-81). After Steins departed, there was a hiatus until the tenureship of a Benedictine monk from St Augustine’s monastery in Ramsgate, Kent - Bishop John Edmund Luck (1840-96). Luck’s arrival in November 1882 brought a lengthy period of stable, careful and constructive leadership enabling the resolution of administrative problems that had dogged the diocese since the 1850s. While Luck is remembered for his promotion of Catholic education and the introduction of several new religious orders into the diocese, more tangible monuments included the construction of numerous religious buildings in the Diocese. Plans for a new Bishop’s House formed part of this process.
Construction of the current Bishop’s House (1893-4)
In 1891-2 Bishop Luck visited Europe where he collected over ₤4,000, primarily for the construction of a new residence. Contributors included numerous religious leaders, including the Archbishops of Westminster, Dublin, New York, Boston, Toronto and Cashel (the latter being Dr Croke, the former Bishop of Auckland). Benefactors amongst the laity included the Emperor of Austria and the Lord Mayor of London.
While in Europe, Bishop Luck commissioned architectural plans for a new residence, which were brought back with him on his return. These were prepared by the notable British firm of Pugin and Pugin, who principally designed ecclesiastical buildings and worked almost exclusively for the Catholic Church. The firm continued the practice of the influential British architect and Catholic convert, Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-52), a key promoter of Gothic Revival design in early nineteenth-century Britain through his extensive writings and architectural works. Gothic Revival harked back to the styles of the medieval period, a time when the church was a powerful influence in European society.
As part of the preparations for rebuilding, most or all of the earlier timber residence was moved to a new location on St Marys Road. An imposing brick structure was erected with a slate roof and stone dressings. This was connected to a pre-existing kitchen on the site, which is of uncertain origins but may have formed a remnant part of the earlier house. The new residence was two storeys in height, with a basement and an attic. Like the earlier Bishop’s House, the building incorporated an H-plan layout. Of Gothic Revival style, it was simple in form and designed to its suburban setting, having verandahs on two fronts. In accordance with A.W.N. Pugin’s principles, it expressed its function through the form of the building and also exhibited the unadorned use of materials in its external appearance.
The design was by Peter Paul Pugin (younger son of A.W.N. Pugin), who had been educated at the Ramsgate Benedictine school during the period when Bishop Luck and his brother Francis Augustine Luck were monks and teachers there. Peter Paul Pugin was present at Luck’s consecration as Bishop of Auckland in 1882, and their friendship is said to have led to the firm of Pugin and Pugin being selected as architects. There were also other strong connections between the two families. Bishop Luck had moved to Ramsgate as a child when his father, Alfred Luck, bought The Grange, which had been constructed by A.W.N. Pugin as the latter’s own home in 1843-4. Luck senior subsequently built a monastery for the Benedictine community that from 1856 had occupied the adjoining St Augustine’s Church (also designed and built by A.W.N Pugin, and the building in which he was buried). By the 1890s, Peter Paul Pugin was a notable architect in his own right, having designed structures such as St David’s Church, Cardiff (1884-7) and St Joseph’s Church, Swansea (1888), now both cathedrals.
The successful tenderer for the Bishop’s House contract, worth ₤3,000, was Antonio Martin. The son of a Portuguese migrant, Martin had previously worked as a builder in Auckland and Melbourne. He defaulted part way through the contract due to bankruptcy. The work was evidently concluded by the initial sub-contractors for the timber and carpentry, the Kauri Timber Company, under the guidance of the supervising architect Thomas Mahoney. Mahoney was a notable Auckland architect who had been reponsible for important buildings in the city, including many of the structures instigated by Bishop Luck. These included the Church and Presbytery of St Benedict in Newton (1887-8), the Church of Our Lady of the Asumption in Onehunga (1887-9), and St Patrick’s Presbytery on Wyndham Street (1888) - which Bishop Luck occupied while his new residence was being erected. Created as a Melbourne-based syndicate in 1888, the Kauri Timber Company was the largest industrial combination to operate in the Auckland province in the nineteenth century.
Construction work took just under a year to complete. Bishop Luck laid the foundation stone for the building in May 1893 and took possession on Easter Sunday, 1894. A contemporary description refers to the structure as ‘Late Gothic’ in style. It has similarities with The Grange, home to both A.W.N. Pugin and, later, Bishop Luck’s family. In particular, its rear (west) elevation is strongly comparable, the main body incorporating a large crenelated tower that rises to a greater height than the rest of the structure. Parallels extend to the adoption of numerous Gothic-traceried windows on this elevation, emphasised through the use of stone dressings. In comparison, the front (east) elevation holds stronger similarities to the former Bishop’s House, with two prominent gabled wings flanking a central verandah. In this sense, the design can be seen as a fusion of influences from A.W.N. Pugin and Bishop Luck’s own home, and the structure occupied by Bishop Pompallier. In the same year that construction was started (1893), Peter Paul Pugin also undertook work on The Grange. He additionally designed St Joseph’s Chapel in St Augustine’s Church, and later went on to create a wing for the associated monastery.
The combination of European and New Zealand influences extended to the building’s construction materials. The building’s string-courses and ornamental eaves were erected of ‘Matamata stone’ (Hinuera Ignimbrite), the first experimental use of Hinuera stone in New Zealand. Slates and some other materials were imported. The relatively unadorned external finish contrasted with the comparatively opulent nature of the interior. Tiles on the floors of the verandahs, hall and corridors came from Marseilles, France. The floor of the centrally located reception room had a handsome border of parquetry in New Zealand woods, as did the Chapel - both borders being the work of Bishop Luck’s brother, Father Augustine Luck. The ornate marble altar of the Chapel was one of the most elaborate in New Zealand. Four stone tracery windows lit the Chapel. A library on the south side of the ground floor housed books that included some belonging to the late Bishop Pompallier.
The interior was not only ornate, but also technologically up-to-date. Parts of the building were lit by gas burners, fitted with patent electrical mechanisms for lighting and extinguishing the flame at each alternate pull of an attached chain. These had been obtained by Bishop Luck while travelling through the United States of America, and were believed to be the only example of their kind in the Australasian colonies. The secretary’s room on the ground floor was ‘fitted with every convenience for the transaction of business’. A fine carved ceiling with handsome cornice was a feature of the conference room on the first floor immediately above the library. The remainder of this storey contained bedrooms, which included the Bishop’s room. A large dormitory in the attic provided sleeping accommodation in times of ‘retreats’, when a large number of clergy had to be provided for. A promenade on the roof and an additional lookout on the tower provided extensive views across the harbour. It is understood that Luck observed activity from these vantage points using a Victorian naval telescope.
Within the grounds, an earlier circular carriageway associated with the former Bishop’s House was evidently retained. Trees were confined to areas on either side of this approach. Croquet or tennis lawns may have already been in place on the site of the former Church of the Immaculate Conception beside Green Street: at a garden party held in the grounds in January 1894, entertainments included lawn tennis, croquet and various other games.
The new residence was occupied only briefly by Bishop Luck before his death in January 1896. His successor, George Michael Lenihan (1858-1910), was to oversee an increase in the number of parishes from 20 to 34 between 1900 and 1910, and a rebuilding of the northern mission among Maori. In 1901 Lenihan was joined at Bishop’s House by the Dominican priest, Father Benedict (Alfred Tickell 1844-1905), who served until his death in 1905 as a companion and missioner for the Bishop. Changes at about this time included the addition of an upper storey verandah on the main elevation, and the enclosure of the lower verandah.
Subsequent use and modifications
Lenihan’s early death in 1910 saw the appointment of Henry William Cleary (1859-1929) Dunedin-based editor of the Catholic weekly the New Zealand Tablet, as Bishop of Auckland. Upon his return from three months chaplaincy work in the Flanders trenches during the winter of 1916-17, Bishop Cleary founded a rival Catholic paper, The Month, a reaction against what Cleary perceived as The Tablet’s contribution to increasingly divisive relations between Catholics and Protestants. The Month later grew into Zealandia. Both publications were written and edited at Bishop’s House. In 1919, in recognition of his war service and personal sacrifices during the 1918 influenza epidemic, Bishop Cleary was awarded the Order of the British Empire. The steady increase in Auckland’s Catholic population necessitated the appointment of coadjutor bishop, James Liston, in 1920. Bishop’s House was the venue of the first reported meeting of the Catholic Student’s Guild, forerunner of the University Catholic Society, presided over by Liston on 29 October 1922. Cleary is remembered for his success in reducing sectarian tensions during the difficult years following the Irish Easter uprising in 1916 and into the 1920s following negotiation of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. He is also remembered for taking steps to bring the Catholic Church firmly into the mainstream of New Zealand life.
Changes to the residence during Bishop Cleary’s occupation included the extension of the attic library (1924); alterations to the kitchen and laundry in the timber section of the building (1925); an extension of the strong room in the main building (1926); and the closing in of a north verandah and other minor modifications (1928). In 1926, the lawns adjoining Green Street were occupied by the Ponsonby Croquet Club.
Bishop Liston’s 40-year residency at Bishop’s House, from 1929 until 1970, has been the longest to date. New Zealand-born Liston had graduated from Holy Cross College Dublin with a doctorate of divinity in 1903 and was ordained into the priesthood the following year. The next 16 years were spent teaching theology at Holy Cross College, Mosgiel, the national seminary established by Dunedin’s Bishop Michael Verdon in 1901. Liston was appointed rector of the College in 1910. In 1922, less than two years after appointment as coadjutor Bishop of Auckland, he was prosecuted by William Massey’s government for allegedly making seditious utterances during a St Patrick’s night address in the Auckland Town Hall. After a two-day trial in Auckland’s Supreme Court in mid-May 1922, Liston was acquitted by an all-Protestant jury. During the 1930s Liston revitalised the diocese and hosted the 1938 centennial celebrations of the Catholic Church in New Zealand. In 1954 he was given the honorary title ‘archbishop’ for his services to the church. Upon his retirement in 1970, Bishop Liston moved from Bishop’s House to the chaplain’s quarters at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital in Epsom where he died aged 95 in 1976.
After Archbishop Liston’s retirement, Bishop Reginald John Delargey became Bishop of Auckland from 1970 until 1974. Bishop Delargey brought great change to the diocese following Vatican II. Bishop John Mackey was subsequently appointed head of the Auckland Diocese in 1974, an office he held for 10 years. This was followed by Bishops Denis Browne from 1983; and Patrick Dunn in 1994. During Bishop Dunne’s episcopacy the Bishop’s House was enlarged by the addition of a single-storey cafeteria and connected to a new Pompallier Diocesan Centre, erected to meet the growing needs of the diocese. Connected by glazed links to the north and western sides of the Bishop’s House, the Centre consisted of a large single-storey structure of sympathetic design to house administrative offices, the Diocesan archive and other functions. It was formally opened in December 1989. Its construction involved removing a study erected in 1970 as well as more extensive modiifications in the northern part of the grounds.
Following its creation, rooms on the ground floor of the Bishop’s House other than the Chapel and housekeeper’s quarters in the former kitchen became meeting rooms, but the building otherwise continues its original function as the residence of the Bishop.
The Bishop’s House (Catholic) is located in Ponsonby, an inner city suburb to the west of Auckland’s city centre. Ponsonby is noted for its well-preserved late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century urban landscape, which contains a large number of commercial and public structures of this period as well as extensive areas of closely-spaced timber housing. The Bishop’s House lies within a predominantly residential neighbourhood, in a block bounded by New Street, St Francis De Sales Street, Green Street and St Marys Road. These streets retain well-preserved nineteenth- and early twentieth-century houses and, nearer to the Three Lamps intersection on St Marys Road, landmark historic structures such as the former Ponsonby Post Office (Register no. 628, Category 1 historic place), and the Leys Institute Gymnasium and Public Library (Register nos. 612 and 613, Category 1 historic places).
The Bishop’s House is an integral part of an important surviving cultural and historical landscape linked with the presence of the Catholic Church at Mount St Mary, which also encompasses the former Bishop Pompallier’s House (Register no. 573, Category 1 historic place) on an adjoining property on St Marys Road. It also includes St Mary’s Old Convent Chapel (Register no. 649, Category 1 historic place), St Mary's College Hall (Register no. 648, Category 2 historic place) and St Mary's Convent cemetery on the east side of New Street.
More broadly, Ponsonby is noted for its surviving ecclesiastical structures of nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century date. In addition to the Catholic buildings at Mount St Mary, these include Ponsonby Baptist Church (Register no. 627, Category 1 historic place) and St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church (Register no. 652, Category 2 historic place), on Jervois Road; and the Auckland Unitarian Church (Register no. 7178, Category 1 historic place) and St John’s Methodist Church (Register no. 643, Category 2 historic place), on Ponsonby Road.
The Bishop’s House occupies a park-like setting with mature trees. The main residence forms the centrepiece of the site, and is situated on a slight rise with grounds that slope gently down to the north and east. The residence is attached by two glazed links to the Pompallier Diocesan Centre (1989), which is accommodated in a modern brick building of limited height extending to the north. The administrative complex incorporates architectural references to the main residence, and is carefully sited so as not to intrude into ‘public’ space (the grounds to the east in front of the Bishop’s House).
A large circular carriageway in the eastern part of the property leads to the front of the residence, and may be a survivor from the period when the site was occupied by Bishop Pompallier. Mature trees to the north and south of this carriageway include a flowering gum, an English Oak and a Moreton Bay Fig. Some could be contemporary with or pre-date construction of the 1890s residence. Other trees within the former lawn enclosed by the carriageway more certainly post-date this period, and include a large Canary Island Palm. Trees to the south and west of the residence encompass New Zealand natives and a Hungarian Oak. Further south, a series of tennis courts adjoins Green Street, occupying the same location as early twentieth-century courts or lawns and the site of the removed 1850s Church of the Immaculate Conception. Small buildings adjoining Green Street are excluded from the registration. An earlier structure beside the courts was demolished in July 2012. This consisted of a gabled, weatherboarded building with a timber-floored room and loft at one end, and a coved-ceiling space - possibly a stable or carriagehouse - at the other.
Bishop’s House exterior
The Bishop’s House consists of a well-preserved, two-storey red-brick structure with stone dressings and a slate roof. It also incorporates an earlier, single-storey timber element at the rear. The main part of the residence is designed in a sober Gothic Revival style described at the time as ‘Late Gothic’. This part of the structure features prominent gables and a large crenelated tower, and other aspects of Gothic design such as large chimneystacks and Gothic-style windows. The timber element at the rear is of colonial Georgian design.
The front (east) elevation of the main residence has two projecting, gabled bays flanking a recessed central section, which contains a two-storey verandah. The building’s formal entrance occupies an offset position on the ground floor. Each gabled bay has a double-height bay window. All lower windows incorporate Gothic-style timber tracery or mullions in their upper lights. Pointed-arch windows on either side of the front door - like the tripartite Gothic fanlights over the door - contain elaborate stained glass. In common with other apertures on the east, north and south elevations, they are set within corbelled recesses; are highlighted with polychrome brickwork; and have stone sills. The timber door itself retains Gothic fittings, including strapwork. Two chimneystacks with groups of tall chimneypots; a cast-iron railing around the promenade on the roof; and the impressive crenellated tower behind, all contribute to the building’s commanding appearance. The chimneypots bear makers’ marks: ‘Carder Bros. Ponsonby Hobsonville Auckland NZ’. The appearance of solidity is enhanced by a plinth at ground floor level.
The lower storey of the north elevation features the same red-brick walls with cream bricks above the window openings. The rear (west) elevation contains windows with plate tracery under segmental arches, tying in visually with the elaborate Gothic window of the chapel that protrudes from the north elevation. The tower is a prominent visual feature on this side of the building, and the massing of different shapes and heights on the west elevation contrasts with the more ordered appearance of the front. Tower windows are grouped in threes and also have stone dressings. The slate roof has been laid in bands of alternating colours.
The south elevation is similarly organised as the north elevation, although it lacks the protruding chapel. It is attached to the timber element of the building, located on the southwest corner. This consists of a timber-framed structure with weatherboard cladding and a corrugated metal roof. The earlier part of this element has plain, overlapping weatherboards; a hipped roof; and a lean-to attachment. A more recent element has rusticated weatherboards. Both incorporate sash windows.
A staff cafeteria attached to the south elevation is of single-storey brick construction. This and the main body of the residence are connected to the adjoining Pompallier Diocesan Centre by glazed links. These links and the cafeteria are included in the registration.
Arranged around a courtyard, the main 1989 extension is of brick construction with corrugated metal roofing and is excluded from the registration. The land beneath the structure is included.
Bishop’s House interior
The interior of the main residence retains much of its initial layout and decorative features. It has an H-shaped groundplan with north-south hallways providing access between each wing. The main staircase connecting each floor is located in the tower. A secondary staircase links the Bishop’s quarters on the first floor of the house with the chapel on the ground floor.
The ground floor contains a square entrance hall or lobby inside the front door, lit by elaborate stained glass windows. The adjoining south wing contains the former library and dining room, now used as meeting rooms. Spaces on either side of the north-south hall to the north of the lobby were respectively employed as a reception room and, at the rear, a secretary’s room. The north wing contains an archive room and the former Bishop’s study, which has been shortened by having the hall extended through its western part. At the north end of the building the small chapel remains in use, retaining its marble altar, stained glass windows and other ornamental features. The stained glass is by Alexander Booker, who operated from Euston Square, London, between 1880 and 1894.
A nearby bathroom has a functioning freestanding ‘Unitas’ closet of nineteenth-century date. Unitas toilets were initially designed in 1883 or 1884 by Thomas William Twyford of Staffordshire, and were one of the first ceramic one-piece wash-out pedestal closets to be produced. Subsequently becoming popular, they helped to make the exposed pedestal closet acceptable - the basic concept on which all subsequent water closets have been based.
Several of the floor surfaces, including those of the hall, lobby and bathroom, are lined with geometric encaustic (glazed earthenware) tiles imported from France. The floors of the reception room and chapel retain their parquetry borders, which were made from New Zealand timbers by Father Augustine Luck. Several of the rooms contain fireplaces with elaborate Gothic surrounds. Some also retain their original tiles and registers. Many of the ceilings contain plaster ceiling roses.
The main staircase to the upper storeys incorporates an elaborate, geometric balustrade. Stained glass windows light the stairwell. An unusual gas light fitting also survives in this space. The first storey contains a suite of bedrooms and the former conference room, now used as the Bishop’s apartment. The second floor holds other accommodation, and contains evidence of use as a library in the 1920s, through the retention of extensive shelving. Many other fittings and fixtures from this period are also well-preserved. Access to the promenade on the roof is at the top of the stairwell, through a Gothic arched door. Further access to the tower roof is possible from the promenade. The basement contains a pumped water source, and is also reached by an original staircase. Its brick walls are lined with a cement render.
The building is one of two surviving Bishop’s Houses 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 earlier Bishop Pompallier’s House (Former), erected and modified over a prolonged period from the 1850s onwards, contains visually similar aspects to the Bishop’s House - notably a recessed central element with verandah flanked by gabled wings. However, it is of single-storey timber construction, and of simpler, less internally-ornate design.
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 Paterson Street, Wellington.
The Auckland Bishop’s House has strong design and historical connections with A.W.N. Pugin’s own house, The Grange, in Ramsgate. The Grange reflected Pugin’s belief in the Gothic style as the only true Christian architecture, and is considered to occupy a crucial place in the development of nineteenth-century British domestic architecture, in planning and style. Pugin designed it with a library, private chapel and a tower, from whose roof he used a telescope to look out to sea. The Bishop’s House contains these same elements, and has strong visual similarities, particularly in the design of its west elevation. The Grange and the Bishop’s House also used similar materials: brick with stone dressings and a slate roof.
The Bishop’s House has been described as the finest example of the Pugin style of architecture in New Zealand. It is a rare, and possibly the only building designed by Pugin and Pugin in this country.
The Bishop’s House is credited with influencing Edward Bartley’s later design for the Jubilee Building constructed for the Foundation for the Blind in Parnell in 1904 (Register no. 4579, Category 1 historic place). The external austerity of the design of Auckland’s Bishop’s House is a marked contrast to the Gothic Revival stone residence designed by William Mason for Anglican Bishop S.T. Neville in Dunedin in 1872, which now forms part of the Presbyterian girls’ school, Columba College (Register no. 2147, Category 1 historic place).
Extension of strong room (GE Tole)
North verandah closed in, lavatory added at west end (ground floor); bedroom adjoining Bishop’s bedroom converted to store and bathroom (first floor) (GE Tole).
Bishop’s Study added on north side.
Removal of 1970 Bishop’s Study on north side to accommodate link to new Diocesan Centre.
Interior renovations - Rooms on ground floor (other than chapel) converted into meeting rooms; first floor developed as Bishop’s living quarters; removal of front steps; glazed links constructed to Pompalllier Diocesan Centre.
Demolition of timber outbuilding, possibly former stables.
1893 - 1894
1900 - 1910
Verandah constructed between bays on the first floor of the east elevation.
In attic, library extended and lavatory installed. (Alterations by E. Mahoney & Sons)
Alterations to kitchen and laundry quarters in timber section of building (E. Mahoney & Sons; GE Tole).
1891 - 1892
Designed by Pugin & Pugin.
Brick, with stone dressings and a slate roof (main portion). Timber frame and cladding with a corrugated metal roof (southwest portion)
Public NZAA Number
10th December 2012
Report Written By
Bruce W. Hayward, 'Granite and Marble: a guide to building stones in New Zealand', Geological Society of New Zealand Guidebook, No.8
Marcienne D. Kirk, Remembering Your Mercy: Mother Mary Cecilia Maher and the first Sisters of Mercy in New Zealand 1850-1880, Auckland, 1998
Jessie Munro, The Story of Suzanne Aubert, Auckland, 1997
E.R. Simmons, In Cruce Salus: A History of the Diocese of Auckland 1844-1980, Auckland, 1982
E. R. Simmons, Pompallier: Prince of Bishops, Auckland, 1984
Glenys Hopkinson, The Beauty of the Bay: St Mary’s Bay and Westhaven, Vol. 1, Ponsonby, 2001
A fully referenced registration report is available from the Mid-Northern Office of the NZHPT.
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.