Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Wellington

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Archdiocese of Wellington
Archidioecesis Vellingtonensis
Sacred Heart Cathedral.jpg
Country New Zealand
Territory Southern North Island and Northern South Island
Metropolitan Wellington
Area 13,831 sq mi (35,820 km2)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2010)
83,214 (15.1%)
Denomination Roman Catholic
Rite Roman Rite
Established May 10, 1887
Cathedral Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of Saint Mary His Mother
Patron saint Sacred Heart and Our Lady
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Metropolitan Archbishop John Atcherley Dew
Archbishop of Wellington
Emeritus Bishops Cardinal Thomas Stafford Williams
Catholic Archdiocese of Wellington

The Latin Rite Catholic Archdiocese of Wellington is the Metropolitan Archdiocese of New Zealand. Catholics number about 83,214 (2006 census). Parishes number 47 parishes and the archdiocese extends over central New Zealand between Levin and Masterton in the north to Kaikoura to Westport in the south.[1]

Ordinaries of Wellington[edit]

Philippe Viard was Vicar Apostolic of the Diocese of Wellington from 1848 until 1860 when he became the Bishop of Wellington. Francis Redwood was Bishop of that diocese until 1887 when he became Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Wellington (created in that year) and Metropolitan of New Zealand. All incumbents since then carry those latter two titles.

Tenure Incumbent Life
1848–1860 Philippe-Joseph Viard S.M.Vicar Apostolic (1809–1872)
1860–1872 Philippe-Joseph Viard S.M. Bishop of Wellington
1874–1887 Francis Mary Redwood S.M. Bishop of Wellington (1839–1935)
1887–1935 Francis Mary Redwood S.M. Archbishop of Wellington
1935–1954 Thomas O'Shea, SM (1870–1954)
1954–1973 Peter McKeefry (1899–1973)
1974–1979 Reginald Delargey (1914–1979)
1979–2005 Tom Williams (b. 1930)
2005 to present John Atcherley Dew (b. 1948)

Other Bishops[edit]

  • Owen Snedden (1917-1981), Auxiliary Bishop of Wellington, (1962-1981)

Current Bishops[edit]

Secondary schools[edit]

See also[edit]


The Archdiocese of Wellington, which is one of the two original dioceses in New Zealand (along with the Diocese of Auckland, was erected as a suffragan diocese on 20 June 1848. Previously there had been the Apostolic Vicariate of New Zealand, erected in 1842, with Jean Baptiste Pompallier as Vicar Apostolic.

Successively, portions of the original diocese became the new dioceses of Dunedin (26 November 1869), Christchurch (5 May 1887), and Palmerston North (6 March 1980).

Early years[edit]

The Church established the diocese on 4 June 1848 to resolve the difficulty between the Bishop of Auckland (Jean Baptiste Pompallier) and the religious clergy in his diocese. A line roughly across the 39th parallel between Waitara in the west and Wairoa in the east divided the two dioceses of Auckland and Wellington. Wellington diocese began to the south of the line: it included what would today encompass the dioceses of Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. On 1 May 1850 Bishop Viard, SM, with Marist Priests Jean Forest, Jean-Baptiste Petitjean, Antoine Garin, Jean Antoine Séon and Jean Lampila; eight Marist Brothers, three "Sisters of Mary" and seven others — a group totalling 24 in all — arrived in Wellington aboard the Clara from Auckland.

Within the month Viard had dispatched missionaries to Nelson, Akaroa and the Hutt Valley. He had also purchased two sections on Hill Street; Lord Petre gave him a third. The Hill Street site stood adjacent to what would become the seat of New Zealand's secular government.

Viard opened the Cathedral of St Mary on 7 December 1841[citation needed] the eve of the feast of the Immaculate Conception. After the 23 January 1855 earthquake devastated Wellington Viard consecrated the diocese to the Blessed Virgin under the title of the Immaculate Conception in order to enlist her protection from further earthquakes. The 700 people who packed the cathedral included about 300 Protestants.

Séon at Akaroa had gone to Purau in Lyttelton Harbour to visit when the Charlotte Jane—the first of the four ships that established the Canterbury settlement—arrived at Lyttelton in 1850. He serviced the needs of the lower South Island in the early years.

Garin arrived in Nelson on 9 May 1850 together with Brother Claude-Marie. There they soon opened a small school.

Lampila, who had already visited Hawkes Bay from Whakatane, departed on 3 June 1850 with Brothers Basile and Florentin. A fierce storm saw them land further north (outside the diocese) and Viard had to redirect them later. They arrived in Pakowhai (near the future Napier) in December. Shortly afterwards, Euloge Reignier replaced Lampila and opened his first church there on 6 March 1859. Basile and Florentin (John) grew the first grapes there. Two roads in the Meeanee area (Basil Road and Johns Road) commemorate them, and Mission Vineyards traces its history to their efforts.

The Church grew somewhat more slowly in Taranaki. Pezant left on 12 May 1850, but on his return five months later admitted that the very few faithful did not yet need a full-time mission. Pezant later began in Wanganui. Lampila joined the mission up the Wanganui River.

In Napier in February 1865 the Sisters of the Congregation of Our Lady of the Missions established their first girls' school outside France. This would develop into Sacred Heart College, Napier. A year later the Church established a school and orphanage for Maori girls nearby. This became Hato Hohepa, Greenmeadows.

Otago and Southland[edit]

Delphin Moreau made several visits to the Otago and Southland regions, carrying on what Pompallier had begun in the earliest days of the Catholic Mission. The 1861 discovery of gold near Tuapeka and Lawrence, then in the following year in Central Otago near Cromwell and Arrowtown, caused a rush, but by this time Aimé Martin had joined Moreau. Miners also panned the Shotover River and the Taieri, and the gold rushes had a significant impact on the area.

Bishop Viard sent several priests to visit the area and visited himself. In 1868 Viard went to Rome and later attended the First Vatican Council. While in Europe he met with the Marist authorities in Lyon and with Propaganda. Pompallier had arrived in Rome to tender his resignation, and Viard requested assistance for the southern part of his diocese. In 1869 Otago and Southland became a separate diocese, called Dunedin, with Bishop Patrick Moran (an Irishman translated from East Cape Colony in South Africa) as its first Bishop.


Petitjean, Chataigner and Chervier

See Also[edit]

List of Roman Catholic dioceses in New Zealand

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Catholic Archdiocese of Wellington website (retrieved 15 March 2011)

Coordinates: 41°16′37″S 174°46′33″E / 41.27694°S 174.77583°E / -41.27694; 174.77583