Waiapu Cathedral Napier New Zealand

Waiapu Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist in Napier, New Zealand

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The Waiapu Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist, Napier, is the formal name of the Anglican Cathedral of the Diocese of Waiapu. It is commonly called either Napier Cathedral or Waiapu Cathedral.

Arms of the Diocese of Waiapu
Arms of the Diocese of Waiapu

The Waiapu Cathedral is situated at the north end of the central business district of Napier, New Zealand.

Construction of the present building was completed in 1965, and the cathedral was consecrated on 8th October 1967. It is built in a modernist architectural style.

The present-day building replaced an earlier cathedral that was destroyed by the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake. The design was largely drawn up by Napier architect Kingwell Malcolm, of the firm Malcolm and Sweet.

Waiapu Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist hosts a choir and one of the finest pipe organs in New Zealand, which has recently undergone a complete restoration.

Waiapu Cathedral bathed in candle-light for Advent Carols & Readings, 2016

The Diocese of Waiapu

The Diocese of Waiapu in the North Island of Aotearoa / New Zealand is named after the river which runs under Mt Hikurangi from the Raukumara range down through the Waiapu Valley to the sea near East Cape.

The Diocese of Waiapu covers the area around the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand, including Tauranga, Taupo, Gisborne, Hastings and Napier.

On 27 September 1858, the Diocese of Waiapu was founded, and on 3 April 1859 the first consecration of a Bishop in New Zealand took place in Wellington.

In January 1867 Bishop Williams moved his headquarters to Napier, and subsequently, Napier became a cathedral city.

The Diocese of Waiapu, of which Napier is the centre, was formerly part of the New Zealand Diocese, but was constituted a separate diocese in the year 1859. It was bounded on the north by Tauranga, and on the south by Gisborne, and had a population almost exclusively Maori. The meeting of the first Synod was held at Waerenga-a-hika, Turanga, on the 3rd day of December, 1861, when the proceedings were conducted in Maori, Bishop Williams being president. During the Maori troubles, this portion of the diocese suffered considerably from the Hau-hau fanatics, and in March, 1865, the Rev. Mr. Volkner was murdéred at Opotiki. In 1868 the boundaries of the diocese were extended, and the provincial district of Hawke’s Bay was taken from the Diocese of Wellington, and added to that of Waiapu, thus extending it to Woodville on the south. 

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand, page 345 (1908)

The Diocese of Waiapu is unique in that a father, son and grandson have served among its Bishops.

  • Bishop William Williams was consecrated under Royal Letters Patent at Wellington on 3 April 1859 and held office until 31 May 1876.
  • William Leonard Williams, the eldest son of Bishop W. Williams was consecrated as the third Bishop of Waiapu on 20 January 1895.
  • Herbert William Williams, M.A., Litt.D. (Camb.), the second son of Bishop W. L. Williams and grandson of Bishop W. Williams, was the sixth Bishop of Waiapu He was consecrated on 6 February 1930

St John’s Church and Cathedral through the ages

ABOVE: Plan showing sites of successive meeting places, from 1855, for members of the parish of St. John the Evangelist at Napier, Hawke’s Bay, N.Z. Plan was drawn in March 1962 by R.H. Newman from data prepared by Miss A.M. Anderson.

The Anglican Waiapu Cathedral of St John the Evangelist, Napier, completed in 1965, symbolises the spiritual strength and economic resilience of Napier city.