In Anglican tradition, church buildings and cathedrals can only be consecrated when construction is complete and the edifice is debt-free.

Auckland, the biggest city of New Zealand’s North Island, celebrated the consecration of Holy Trinity Cathedral on Oct. 27. It fulfils the vision of Bishop George Augustus Selwyn, New Zealand’s first bishop, who bought the site and envisioned its use as a diocesan mother church 174 years ago.

Holy Trinity, built in Pacific Gothic style, is acclaimed for contemporary stained glass in which the centerpiece is a Polynesian Christ surrounded by Pacific motifs. There are 18 windows along the sides of the nave telling the Christian story using traditional and local designs.

Work on the project began in 1957 with laying of the foundation stone. The chancel was completed in 1973. Nine years later, in 1982, St Mary’s, a wooden Gothic church that served as the city’s cathedral since 1897, was hoisted from its original foundation across the road from the Holy Trinity site, where it serves as a chapel within the complex.

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The final part of the jigsaw was completion of the Bishop Selwyn chapel with a distinctive curved gold ceiling floating above a translucent glass box and installation of a 5,000-pipe organ costing $4.5 million.

The Dean of Auckland, the Very Rev. Anne Mills, said 1,100-seater cathedral provides is “a space for church and for city.” Selwyn, she said, envisioned it as a center for educational, social, charitable, and missionary work, “a place where there can be joy and lament as well as an expression of local and international concerns.”

Selwyn was a pioneering bishop with prodigious energy. A drafting mistake in his letters patent, issued at his consecration, left him a huge diocese in the Pacific region stretching from New Zealand to the Solomon Islands (now the Anglican Province of Melanesia). He served in New Zealand from 1842 until 1868.

He attended the first Lambeth Conference and became Bishop of Lichfield, where he served until his death a decade later. Selwyn College, Cambridge, is named after him.

The Diocese of Lichfield maintains a link with New Zealand and its current bishop, the Rt. Rev. Michael Ipgrave, attended the celebration. He was joined by local bishops as well as bishops from Australia and the Pacific region.

John Martin