Cathedral Church of St Patrick and St Joseph (Catholic)

41 Wyndham Street And 1 St Patricks Square, Auckland

  • Cathedral Church of St Patrick and St Joseph (Catholic), Auckland. CC Licence 2.0 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Jason Pratt. Taken By: Jason Pratt - Wikimedia Commons. Date: 19/03/2012.
  • Cathedral Church of St Patrick and St Joseph (Catholic), Auckland. CC Licence 3.0 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Bgabel. Taken By: Bgabel - Wikimedia Commons. Date: 30/11/2009.
  • Cathedral Church of St Patrick and St Joseph (Catholic), Auckland. Interior. CC Licence 3.0 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Andreas Faessler. Taken By: Andreas Faessler - Wikimedia Commons. Date: 13/10/2010.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 97 Date Entered 6th September 1984 Date of Effect 6th September 1984


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Allots 34-35 Sec 18 Town of Auckland, Sec 1 SO 352517 (RT 385049), North Auckland Land District and the building known as Cathedral Church of St Patrick and St Joseph (Catholic) thereon, and its fittings and fixtures. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the upgrade report for further information).

City/District Council

Auckland Council


Auckland Council

Legal description

Allots 34-35 Sec 18 Town of Auckland, Sec 1 SO 352517 (RT 385049), North Auckland Land District


The following text is from an Upgrade Report 26 June 2009:

The site of the Cathedral Church of St Patrick and St Joseph has been the spiritual centre of Catholicism in Auckland since the early 1840s, and forms part of New Zealand's oldest Catholic cathedral complex. Erected in two stages in 1884-5 and 1906-7, the current Cathedral is a significant example of brick-built Gothic Revival architecture and is the third place of worship to occupy the site.

Located on the Hobson Street ridge, the site was granted in 1841 to pre-eminent Catholic missionary, Bishop Jean Baptiste Pompallier (1801-1871). Pompallier developed the land as a religious base for those of his faith in the new colonial capital, and a complex of religious structures soon emerged. A timber church opened in 1843 to serve the parish of St Patrick and St Joseph, was soon replaced by a scoria church. The latter became a Cathedral upon completion in 1848, when New Zealand was divided into two dioceses. The diocese served by the Cathedral extended south to Taranaki and included what was to become an extensive Maori mission.

Commenced in the early years of the episcopacy of Bishop John Luck (1840-1896), construction of the current Cathedral occurred in two phases. The nave and tower erected in 1884-5 occupied the former site of the convent of the Sisters of Mercy, the first religious order of women in New Zealand (1850). The Cathedral was built by Morris Brothers to the design of Edward Mahoney (1824/5?-1895), the founder of one of Auckland's most prolific and significant architectural practices. The use of brick, subsequently adopted for all Catholic churches designed by Edward Mahoney and Sons, was a significant departure from the timber churches designed by the firm.

The Cathedral was the foremost of three major buildings commissioned by Bishop Luck to accommodate the spiritual and quotidian activities of the diocese. The Gothic-Revival style Cathedral, its associated Presbytery (1888) and Bishop's House (1894) reflect the ideas of eminent British architect Augustus Pugin who was an important influence on nineteenth-century ecclesiastical design. Close personal ties existed between Bishop Luck and the Pugin family.

The Cathedral's steeply-pitched slate roof, external buttressing, lancet-shaped openings and broached spire express Early English style Gothic influences. The central aisle in the nave has rare, locally manufactured cement paving tiles coloured with pigments, currently the only known surviving example of the technology and product.

The practice of Edward Mahoney and Sons was engaged for the second stage of Cathedral construction in 1906-7, Thomas Mahoney (1854/5?-1923) being the probable design architect. The 1848 building which had served as the transept since 1885 was largely demolished and replaced by a new sanctuary and high altar. Sacristies, side chapels and a baptistery were added to the 1880s structure. The completed Cathedral seated 1300 and was dedicated in 1908. The remains of George Michael Lenihan (1858-1910), Bishop of Auckland at the time this work occurred, were subsequently interred inside the Cathedral. St Patrick's was also the resting place of the remains of New Zealand's first Labour Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage (1872-1940) prior to the completion of his Bastion Point mausoleum in 1943.

An important place of commemoration, celebration and social gathering, the Cathedral was consecrated in 1963 by Archbishop Liston (1881-1976) Auckland's longest-serving bishop. In 1984-5 alterations reflecting the liturgical reforms of Vatican II included removal of the high altar. Works undertaken in 2005-7 included a small chapel addition and the installation of a glass floor panel to reveal the foundations of the 1848 scoria church, a visible reminder of 160 years of Cathedral use on the site. The Cathedral remains a central part of the Catholic mission in Auckland, and is in daily use as a place of worship.

The Cathedral of St Patrick and St Joseph has outstanding historical significance as the site of New Zealand's oldest Catholic cathedral complex and as the centre of the diocese of Bishop Pompallier (1848-1869), founder of the Catholic faith in the colony. It also has special value as the site of the earliest convent of the Sisters of Mercy, the first religious order of women in New Zealand, and for its close associations with the development of the Catholic faith in New Zealand. The place has outstanding spiritual significance for its connections with the country's most populous Catholic diocese and its use as a place of worship since shortly after the foundation of colonial Auckland. It has architectural significance for its Gothic Revival design and as the first place of worship designed in brick by the noted Auckland architectural practice of Edward Mahoney and Sons. The place has aesthetic significance for its ornate appearance, and technological value for its rare nineteenth-century locally manufactured paving tiles. It is socially significant as a place of commemoration and gathering for over 115 years in the current building and more than 165 years on the site.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Mahoney, Edward

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).

Mahoney, Thomas

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.

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1842 - 1843
Pre-construction: Church of St Patrick and St Joseph erected in timber

1846 - 1848
Pre-construction: Cathedral Church of St Patrick and St Joseph erected in scoria

1884 - 1885
Partial demolition and use of scoria structure as transept for new Cathedral

Original Construction
1884 - 1885
Construction: Nave and tower

1905 -
Single storey porches to north, west and south side of tower

Demolished - Other
1906 - 1907
Demolition: Most of 1848 scoria structure

Original Construction
1906 - 1907
Construction: Transepts, sanctuary, sacristies, side chapels, baptistery. Addition: Second storey to north and south porches

1958 -
New cement coating to exterior walls, slate roof replaced by aluminium tiles

1984 -
Old altar removed, sanctuary area and altar relocated

2005 - 2007
Strengthening, conservation work including reinstatement of slate roof, construction of stone altar dais. Addition: Sacristy, chapel, access ramp shelter, glass panel in floor

Completion Date

26th June 2009

Report Written By

Joan McKenzie

Information Sources

Simmons, 1982

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

Simmons, 1985

E.R. Simmons, The Story of St Patrick's, Auckland, 1985

Conservation Plan

Conservation Plan

'St Patrick's Cathedral, Auckland: A Conservation Plan', Auckland, 1998; Presbytery: St Patrick's Cathedral', Conservation Plan, Revised Draft 2002 (copy held by NZHPT Auckland)

Other Information

NZIA Resene New Zealand Award Winners 2009, Category: Heritage

A copy of the original report is available from the NZHPT Northern Region office.

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.