Taranaki Cathedral's pews will be replaced with comfortable, flexible seating as part of The Cathedral Project. Read below to learn more about this important change and the reasons behind it. Please note, all our pews have found new homes — including a few which have been purchased by St Mary's parishioners and other donors and gifted back to Taranaki Cathedral to be used in the refurbished Vicarage.

Taranaki Cathedral's building has been closed since 2016 due to the earthquake risk it poses. Since then a major project, The Cathedral Project: A Taranaki Taonga, has been launched. This $16.5m project involves both the protection and evolution of the Taranaki Cathedral site. The project is designed to weave the Taranaki community together and re-energise this iconic church. It will create a flexible worship and community space and provide a dynamic educational experience and tourism destination for generations to come.  Phase One of the project involves earthquake strengthening the building. As part of this work, the interior of the church will be sensitively modified to enable greater comfort and increased community usage of the space for worship, music and performance.

This means that most of the existing pews, which were donated and dedicated between the 1940s and 1960s, will need to be removed.  These pews were given by people as they were what was required at the time. However, after many decades, they now seem inflexible and they cannot be rearranged to suit more contemporary church services or performances. We are very conscious that in removing the pews, we want to honour their past, as well as setting up the church for the future.  To that end the stories of the pews and their donors will be retained and displayed on the redeveloped site.

Questions and Answers

What is the history of the pews?

From 1940, donors to the church were encouraged to give seats rather than cover the stone walls with brass tablets. The first to be commemorated in this way was     W H Skinner who died in 1946 after serving St Mary’s in many capacities.

The seats are of Southland beech each with a carved end-board of vines and New Zealand birds or leaves, and with a small commemoration plaque. The reseating of the entire church was carried out within some 20 years. Some of the panels of the nave seats were carved in Christchurch.  Those on the north side and the two fronts were done by AE Shank of Plimmerton. Others were created locally, 11 of them by Jack Kulma. All Saints chapel was added in 1915, along with the transept. The oak seats in the chapel, carved by AE Shank of Plimmerton, replaced chairs in 1940.

Why cannot we just keep the pews?

The pews were installed at the time as they were fit for purpose for traditional worship. However, their size and weight makes them very difficult to move. This limits the potential use of this important community space. As part of the essential earthquake remediation, the interior of the church will be sensitively modified to ensure greater comfort and increased community usage of the beautiful atmospheric space for worship, music and performance.

What will replace the pews?

More comfortable and modern seating which is easy to move and reconfigure will be used in the space. A detailed selection process, including identifying what other churches use internationally, will be undertaken. There will be a range of seating options, and the design of these seats will allow for those with more limited mobility.

Why were the pews sold when they were originally donated?

The Cathedral Project: A Taranaki Taonga is a $16.5m project which involves a significant amount of major community fundraising. As part of this, the parish has committed to raising $2m. While significant money has already been raised, more funding is required to complete the project. Raising money from the pews is one of the ways the parish can fulfil its fundraising commitment.

What will the money raised from the sale be used for?

All profits from the sale of the pews will be added to the parish’s fundraising total for The Cathedral Project: A Taranaki Taonga.


What will happen to the plaques?

When a pew is purchased by a family, the original plaque will remain on it. We are very conscious that in removing the pews, we want to honour their past, as well as setting up the church for the future.  To that end, the stories of the pews and their donors will be retained and displayed on the redeveloped cathedral site.

Where can I see the detailed list of pews together with their donors?

The detailed list is available here on our website . Printed lists are also available at the Cathedral Office.


List of donated pews

Pews donated to Taranaki Cathedral Church of St Mary



In memory of

Note from Goodly Stones and Timbers by Margaret Alington - published 1988



James Robert and Mary Ann Bowen 1858—

Mrs Bowen was the daughter of Thomas Cook of Bell Block. They married in l867.


Ann-Miller Bridgman.


Mrs Bridgeman and her husband. William James, farmed at Okato. She died on 7 August 1954, aged 77.


Adela Gertrude Calder

1869-1949 .

Adela Violet Calder 1894-1982

Hazel Gertrude Calder 1895-1984

Mrs Calder, who died on 27 October 1949, aged 80,was the widow of Alexander Holmes Calder,


Henry Ernest Carey

Died 5th May 1964

Olive Cicely Mildred Carey Died 25th December 1979.

H.E. Carey, who was on the staff of the Taranaki Daily News, wrote the early editions of Poem in Stone.



Richard Chilman, First churchwarden 1843 and Agnes Chilman.

First churchwarden


The parents of Gordon Cliff. – George and Ann


George and Ann Cliff arrived in the 1880s from Timaru where George owned mills and was mayor for some years. In New Plymouth he was a timber merchant and contractor. He died on 4 October 1923, aged 89, and Ann, nee Bamford, died in January 1913, aged 75.


Mr & Mrs H.R. Crawford.



Harold Raymond Crawford, storekeeper, died on 31 July 1957. aged 80. Mrs Annie Marguerite Crawford died on 18 May 1957.


Sir Victor C. Davies KB . 0BE 1887-1977and Lady Davies


Sir Victor, noted horticulturist, cared for the trees in the churchyard over many years.



The Devenish family 1841.

William Devenish arrived on the Timandra. He married Mary Hirst in 1855.


Hilda Beatrice Evans 1885-1952.

A daughter of Archdeacon Evans by his first wife, Hilda Beatrice Evans kept house for her father and step-mother.


In memory of

Francis Roy & Mary Fairey,

and Helen Virginia Fairey.

Mr and Mrs Fairey died tragically in a hotel fire in Stalheim. Norway,' on 23 June 1959. Helen was their daughter.



Thomas Mussell Fleetwood & Ruth Fleetwood.


T M FLeetwood, secretary of the Taranaki Jockey Club from 1899 to 1906 or 1907, died on 15 March 1926, aged 82, and his wife on 20 June 1914, aged 61. Their daughter Elizabeth Anne, who died on 1 September 1970 at the age of 95, was sacriscan for 30 years.






Harry Egmont, Thomas Cracroft and Ernest Faber Fookes


These were the sons of Albert Cracroft Fookes and his wife Harriet Tule Hirst. H.E, who died on 26 December 1947 at the age of 79, was a civil servant; T.C.,a solicitor, was buried on 4 January 1944, aged 75; and E.F., a medical practitioner, died on 3 March 1948 at the age of 73.




Nicholas Golding,

Mary Ann Smith Martha Hickman.

N. Golding was a sergeant of the 65th regiment. By his first wife, Ann, who died in 1875, he had three daughters, one of whom died as a child. He died on13 April 1915.


Frances Emma Grace Hamerton 1878-1963

Katherine Louisa Hamerton 1867-1935

Lewis and Annis Hamerton and family 1859.

Lewis and Annis Hamerton were married on 25 May 1859 at Hua church (St Luke's, Bell Block). Frances and Katherine were their daughters.




Edwin Harris family Catherine Moore.



Edwin Harris (c1810-95), who arrived with his family on the William Bryan in 1841, was an engineer, surveyor and architect, and father of the artist Emily Harris (1837?-1925). Constance Catherine Moore, who died on 17 March 1942,was a granddaughter.



Mildred and Burnham Hirst Horner


B H Horner was a surveyor. He died on 19 October 1963, aged 74, and his wife Mildred Constance, who was a daughter of John Bell Thomson, died about 27 May 1976 at the age of 86.


Hursthouse family 1843-1902.

Mr and Mrs John Hursthouse and family (3 children)and Charles Hursthouse, senior, all arrived on the Thomas Sparks (29/2/1843)



Harold Philip Josey and Jane Elizabeth Josey, beloved parents of Winifred I. Elliott.

H.P.Josey, born in Reading in 1881, visited St Mary's in the early 1900s as a marine in the colour party from H.M.S. Psyche. He married Jane Hardcastle at St Matthew's, Auckland, where he was on the vestry for many years. He and his wife ran a dairy at Grey Lynn. Mr Josey died on 11 June 1948, and Mrs Josey on 23 January 1960. Mr and Mrs Elliott came to New Plymouth in 1934.




Henry John & Martha Jane Julian & descendants.


H.J.Julian was born on 18 October 1846 and died on 19 April 1916. Amongst several occupations he had a transport company, and was publican of the Taranaki Hotel. Mrs Julian née Fox, was born on 19 March 1850 and died on 11 December 1913.


In memory of James John Lomas.

J.J. Lomas was a haberdasher in Devon Street

for 40 years, and a public benefactor.


E.Agnus [sic] Mace 1866-1948.

Mrs Edith Agnes Mace, the wife of Henry H.

Mace, died on 22 June 1948.


Fredrick Roland Madeley 1880-1952.

F.R. Madeley. an engineer, died on 30 June 1952,




The Marshall family 1855.

Jane Hirst married James William Marshall on 25 April 1855 at Te Henui church.



Grace Matthews 1858-1947.

Mrs Matthews, née Marshall, was the wife of Robert James Matthews, bank manager. He died on 4 February 1957, aged 95.



Lt. Colonel W.B. Messenger and his wife.


William Bazire Messenger,1834-1922, a son of Major William Messenger, married Arabella, daughter of T. Mace, in 1863.



William (Bill) Moyes


Margaret Moyes


Moyes was headmaster of the New Plymouth Boys' High School for 29 years. His wife, née Cook, was the matron.



Mary Murphy 1874-1949.

Mrs Murphy, née Wright, was the wife of Richard Conway Murphy. She died on 29 September 1949.


John and Francis (sic) Newland and descendants 1841.


John Newland was sworn in on arrival as chief constable and gaoler. A Mason from 1824, he is credited with introducing Masonry into Taranaki. He died on 2 August 1887, aged 87.



In memory of

Florence Marjorie Nicholson died 26th January 1966.

Mrs Nicholson, née Glasgow, was the wife of J.C. Nicholson, senior partner in the firm of Nicholson, Kirkby & Sheet.



John & Susannah Putt


John and his parents arrived on the William Bryan. He married Susannah Hart in 1850.


In memory of Robert Neville Renaud organist: 1908-1939.


Neville Renaud (1871-3 July 1946) Was born in

England and came to New Zealand from Melbourne. After some years in Napier and Christchurch, he settled in New Plymouth where he made an outstanding contribution to the musical life of the district.


Hamerton Wilson

Noel Francis Edward

Robertshawe MC. M.A. 1888-1970.

Priest, Canon of Wellington Cathedral Honorary assistant in this parish 1958-1970

Canon Robertshawe married in 1928, Nancy Grace, daughter of J. E. Wilson, S.M. and Emily B. Wilson, née Hamerton



Carl William Ruebe 1868-1943

Sarah Ruebe



C.W.Ruebe was a farmer. Their daughter Dorothy married Victor Davies.



Jane Rutherford 1929-1955.

Mrs Rutherford, née Lambie, was married to James, brother of Lord Rutherford.


In gratitude for sanctuary to

Dr J Samuel and family on the night of 27th March 1860 this pew is given by his grandson and great grandsons 17.9.54.

About 5 p.m. on Tuesday, 27 March 1860, news reached the town of the killing of three settlers at Omata. The engagement at Waireka took place the next day.



Albert Ralph Severne, and Isabell McCallum Severne

A.R. Severne was an assurance superintendent. He died in June 1978, aged 74, and Mrs Severne left New Plymouth in 1981.




Prudence Skinner 1827-1919

Kingwell Skinner 1850-1925.

These pews are dedicated to the glory of God and in memory of William H Skinner 1857-1946 Faithful churchman Citizen and historian and of his wife Margaret Devenish 1858-1952.

Prudence Skinner, née Veale, was the mother of W.H. Skinner and of Kingwell Skinner, borough surveyor.


Stephenson Percy Smith Many Anne Smith

Ethel Crompton Smith.



The Standish family 1843-1947.




The W.N. Stephenson family


Isabella Grace Stephenson 1869-1956.



Mrs Stephenson, daughter of Lewis and Annis Hamerton was the wife of William Newton Stephenson, sculptor and architect.



David Sidney Sykes 1949.

A chemist, D.S. Sykes died on 18 March 1949, aged 51.




John Bell, Annie Thomson & Gertrude Martin.


J.B. Thomson (1835?-1 March 1898) Was Inspector of Police. His wife was Annie McCrostie, and Gertrude Martin was his daughter.




Thomas Howard Thorp

Olive Victoria Thorp.


Dr Thorp (1896-1970) was a medical practitioner. His wife, née Hill, lived from 1901 to 1977.



William Tuson 28-7-1963 and Lily Tuson 14-8-1986.

W. Tuson was a butcher. His wife was née Ormrod.



Leo Wakelin & son, Neil.


Neil Leopold White Wakelin, a member of the choir, was a lorry driver before joining the 22nd Wellington Battalion in World War II. He was killed in action.


Martha Maude Warner 1880-1952.

Mrs Warner, who died on 30 December 1952,was the wife of Austin Frederick Warner, engineer.


William Dawson Webster

Mary Webster 1841.

W D Webster was born on board the AmeliaThompson. He and his brother F.L. Webster were commission and shipping agents. Mrs Webster collected singlehanded over 32 years, more than £800 towards the church funds.


Clement George White



C. G. White, solicitor, was a judge in the Maori Land Court at Whangarei. He died in late July or early August, 1957.




Agnes Wilson


Annis Joan Wilson 1901-1977.

Emily Brackett Wilson 1870-1949.

Lewis and Joan Wilson 1909-1961.

Agnes Wilson was a daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Wilson née Chilman. Annis Joan was a granddaughter of Thomas and Elizabeth

Wilson, and a daughter of John Edward Wilson, S.M. and his wife Emily Bracken Wilson, nee Hamerton. Lewis, a bank officer, was a brother to Annis Joan. His wife Joan was née Calver.


William Harold Woodward 1883-1970.

W Woodward was a stipendiary magistrate who worked in Samoa for some years.