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WelCom Article - Cathedral Update December 2022

Cathedral restoration project close to completion

Wellington Coadjutor Archbishop Paul Martin sm is calling on the Catholic community of the archdiocese to help bring the Sacred Heart Cathedral Restoration project to completion. A cathedral is the cornerstone of a diocese and a point of unity for everybody in the diocese, says Archbishop Paul.


WelCom December 2022

Wellington Coadjutor Archbishop Paul Martin sm is calling on the Catholic community of the archdiocese to help bring the Sacred Heart Cathedral Restoration project to completion. A cathedral is the cornerstone of a diocese and a point of unity for everybody in the diocese, says Archbishop Paul.

‘The Sacred Heart Cathedral of Wellington has a long and rich history. Our parents, grandparents and generations before, made immense sacrifices to build and maintain a cathedral which is a magnificent place to gather, celebrate and worship. The cathedral is also of significant heritage value and is an important part of the fabric of our city.

‘We want to honour this legacy and continue it for those yet to come. It belongs to us all. My hope for the future is that the cathedral once again becomes the centre of life for the archdiocese, a living house of prayer where there are opportunities for people to gather and celebrate our faith, to praise God through music, work together to support others and deepen our own faith.’

The cathedral was closed in 2018 following a seismic report which assessed the building as an earthquake risk.

Archbishop Paul, who is closely involved with the restoration project and is a member of the restoration committee, is appealing to the Catholic community in the archdiocese to contribute to the completion of the Cathedral Restoration Project. The total cost of the project is around $12m, of which $2.5m still remains to be raised.

‘We are close to the finish line. Your contribution to the restoration project will help us get there.

‘Global events of the last three years have made it particularly trying and some momentum has been lost. We are conscious we need to bring this exciting project to completion,’ said Archbishop Paul.


My life and work in the Church have taken me all over Aotearoa New Zealand and the world. I feel very fortunate to have been led here at this pivotal time in the Cathedral restoration process, as the Coadjutor Archbishop of Wellington Diocese – all part of God’s plan. Archbishop Paul Martin sm

Covid-19 interrupted some fund-raising activities and there were also issues which arose once work was underway. It was discovered that the cathedral’s stonework, which had been painted over, was capturing moisture and much of the paint has needed to be stripped back. It was also found that some of the materials used for the window surrounds had deteriorated due to the high moisture levels of the adjacent stone so window frames have had to be repaired and glass replaced where necessary.

Project architect Jane Kelly says the project team is working very hard to complete the project in 2023.

‘The team has been very committed. There has been a lot of preparation and strengthening work going on and the results are starting to look amazing. The outside work will be slowly revealed over the next few months and the completed interior later next year. The stonework will have a natural finish with a natural warm glow. The finished cathedral is going to look beautiful. The big reveal next year will be something to see.’

Archbishop Paul expressed his gratitude for all the generous donors who have already contributed and supported the hugely significant project.

‘We live in challenging times, where things of faith can feel quite fragile. The stability the cathedral provides and symbolises helps us to have a better sense of who we are and why we are here. It helps us renew our resolve to do what we can for others, to support the faith life of people within our community and to offer a place of welcome and discovery too.’

Every little bit helps

Please help us and little by little our goal will be reached. The old adage rings true: Every little bit helps! Donations, of whatever amount, will help and will be gratefully acknowledged.

You can donate to the Cathedral Restoration Fund by Internet Banking to Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish A/c: 02-0506-0138488-025 Particulars (your surname and initials) Code (your phone no) Reference (Reopen)



At work on the interior upper-level walls of Sacred Heart Cathedral are traditional stone masons Nicolas Peveteau (l) and Callum Johnson (r) of Le Maçon Stone Mason Company, with cathedral restoration project site manager Tony Gormley of LT McGuiness. The classical-style cathedral in Hill St, Thorndon, completed in 1901, was closed in 2018 because of earthquake risks. Major repair work has been underway since 2020, including seismic strengthening to the roof and walls and interior and exterior restoration. The cathedral project is expected to be completed next year enabling the Category 1 historic building to once again be able to serve the Catholic congregation and the wider community of Wellington. Coadjutor Archbishop Paul Martin sm, who is closely involved with the restoration project, says, ‘My desire is to see the Church community support people in faith and help others to know Christ,’ which will be enhanced with the newly restored cathedral. Photos: Annette Scullion, WelCom



Archbishop Paul Martin on site with members of the project’s Arrow Scaffold crew, l-r, Jherson Villand, Joecris Tacardon and Marlon Martinez.


Project Site Manager Tony Gormley of LT McGuiness, the main contractor for the strengthening and restoration work, inspects stonework on the Portico columns.


Tony inspects the gold lettering area across the gable.



Stonemasons Callum Johnson and Peter Reily using traditional hand tools on the intricacies of the Oamaru stone of the cathedral interior walls.


Stonemason Callum Johnson.


Stonemason Peter Reily.


Nicolas Piveteau of Le Maçon, the project’s stonemason company, and Tony Gormley discuss repair work for a wall area.


Scaffolding and bracing erected throughout the cathedral interior


Traditional stonework hand tools used on the job.


Photos: Annette Scullion/WelCom

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