Anglican Diocese of Wellington
We are family, we are disciples, we care for the last, the lost, and the least.
Home > Anglican Centre > About the Anglican Church > History of the Diocese

History of the Diocese

The Diocese of Wellington comprises an area in the North Island of New Zealand lying south of a line from the mouth of the Okehu stream on the Tasman Sea to Ruapehu, and across to Pongaroa on the East Coast. The Diocesan Bishop, Assistant Bishop and the Anglican Centre are located in Wellington, the nation's Capital.

In the Diocese there are over 80 parishes and mission units including a number of specialist units and chaplaincies.  The five Maori pastorates within the boundaries of the Diocese look to Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa for pastoral oversight.

The first Anglican service in the Diocese was held in September 1839, on the immigrant ship "Tory" as it lay anchored off Somes Island.  Two months later two great pioneer missionaries, Henry Williams and his future son-in-law Octavius Hadfield, arrived on the Kapiti coast of the North Island and began to lay the foundations of the Anglican Church in this Diocese.

It is important to acknowledge that prior to their arrival; some groundwork for the beginnings of the church in this Diocese had already been laid by Ripahau.   Ripahau was a Maori slave who had taught Tamihana Te Rauparaha and Matene Te Whiwhi (son and nephew respectively of the leading Maori chief Te Rauparaha) to read from fragments of the New Testament and the Book of Common Prayer.

The first resident priest in Wellington was Robert Cole, placed there in 1842 by New Zealand's first bishop, George Augustus Selwyn.   Within two years the first St Paul's Church was built on a site just behind the present Beehive.  A little later Christ Church, Wanganui, was erected as a centre of worship by priest and traveller, Richard Taylor.

Following the adoption of the Constitution of the New Zealand Church, Charles John Abraham was in 1858 consecrated Wellington's first Diocesan Bishop.  After ten years he returned to the United Kingdom, and Octavius Hadfield, who had declined the offer previously, succeeded him.  Hadfield later became New Zealand's Primate.  To this day, there have been eleven Bishops of Wellington, and eight assistant Bishops.


Updated January 2018 

No reira waiho ko te aroha o Te Matua Kaha Rawa hei korowai mou.
May the love of Almighty God enfold you!