The churchyard surrounding St Mary's has a peaceful atmosphere, not only because of its old graves but because of the quality of its planting and the natural life this attracts. Trees brought from England grow side by side with indigenous specimens.

The site on which the cathedral now stands was partly a Maori garden and bush when Bishop Selwyn established an Anglican presence in Taranaki in October 1842, and obtained a Crown grant for the land.

For a time during the Land Wars of the 1860s, St Mary's was taken over by the British armed forces. The churchyard was turned into a bullock yard for transport teams, and for a while it served the purpose of a military magazine.

The churchyard was closed as a burial ground in 1914, having accommodated the graves of British soldiers as well as those of early settlers and their families.

We have published a directory of graves and memorials (1.5MB PDF) as well as an illustrated guide to the churchyard. (9.5MB PDF) Printed versions of each of these are available from the cathedral visitor centre, the former being free and the latter costing $1.