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St Paul's Church memorials, Auckland


For some years Saint Paul’s Anglican Church in Symonds Street boasted an unusual memorial outside the church: a First World War memorial tram shelter. This was demolished in 1971, but there remain a number of other memorials associated with death in war or by accident inside the church: a Field Ambulance memorial plaque, a parish roll of honour, several New Zealand Wars memorial plaques, and a memorial to victims of the wreck of the HMS Wairarapa in 1894.

First World War memorial tram shelter

After the First World War, the St Paul’s congregation decided to build a tram shelter outside the church in memory of the men of the parish who had died on active service. Bishop W.A. Averill laid the foundation stone on 20 July 1919. Acting Minister of Defence Gordon Coates unveiled the completed building on 28 March 1920.

The architect D.B. Patterson had designed the shelter in a compatible style with the church behind it. It was solidly constructed of Rangitoto and Melbourne bluestone, with dressings of Oamaru stone. The words ‘Remembering these dead, let the living be humble’ were carved into the Tudor arch surmounting the entrance. To the left of the entrance was a tablet inscribed with the names of the First World War campaigns; to the right a tablet with a memorial inscription to the fallen. Inside was an Oamaru stone frieze inscribed with the names of 26 battles and a series of polished stone tablets inscribed with the names of 50 fallen (nine more names were added after the unveiling).

Four stained glass windows were later installed in the windows on the back wall.

When trams were replaced by buses in 1956, the building continued for a while in use as a bus shelter. However, after the bus stop was moved, it became a haunt for tramps and target for vandals. The parish demolished the building in December 1971. It is not known what happened to the stained glass windows and the stone tablets. The names of the fallen, at least, were preserved, since there is a roll of honour in the church’s Requiem Chapel. This polished wooden tablet lists in alphabetical order a total of 72 men connected with the church who died in the two world wars.

Field Ambulance memorial plaque

The tram shelter was not St Paul’s only First World War memorial: on 8 May 1921 Lady Jellicoe, wife of the Governor-General, unveiled a brass tablet inside the church in memory of officers and men of No. 3 Rifle Brigade Field Ambulance who fell during the war. This is headed: ‘Erected by No. 3 / (Rifle Brigade) / Field Ambulance / In memory of the / officers & men of the / unit who fell in France / in the Great War’ The names of nine officers are listed in order of rank; the place and date of death are also given. Two NCOs and 24 men are listed by name only. For some years the unit’s flag was displayed above the tablet.

New Zealand Wars memorial plaques

The Requiem Chapel also houses several brass New Zealand Wars memorial plaques. These are relics of the first St Paul’s church, which stood in Emily Place between 1841 and 1885, and which in its early years served as the city’s proto-cathedral and its garrison church. The plaques were transferred to the new St Paul’s when it was opened on the present site in 1895.

One of the tablets was erected in memory of Captain Thomas George Strange, who had been killed at Waitara in 1861. It reads: “To the memory / of  / Thomas George Strange / Captain in Her Majesty’s / 65th Regiment. / Born A.D. 1827. / Killed in action at Waitara, / in the / northern island of New Zealand. / February the 10th 1861. / ‘The trumpet shall sound and the / dead shall be raised incorruptible / and we shall be changed.’ / This tablet was erected by his / sorrowing widow.”

Another was funded by members of the 1st Waikato Regiment to honour fellow soldiers who had been killed at the Battle of Titi Hill, Mauku, on 23 October 1863: “Sacred / to the / memory / of / Lieutenants Thomas Norman / and William Percival / & of / Corporal Michael Power & / Privates / William Beswick, George Oborne /  Farqr. McGilvray and Wm. Williamson / of the 1st Waikato Regt. / who fell in action on the 23rd October 1863 at Mauku / This tablet is erected by the / Officers Non Commisnd [sic] Officers & Privates / of the / Regiment.”

Yet another was erected in memory of Captain John Shaw Phelps: “To the memory of / John Shaw Phelps / Captain in H.M. 14th Regiment of Foot, / only son of J.C. Phelps Esqr. / of Gostwyck, Paterson River, N.S.W. / Born in Sydney 21st May, 1829. / Died, 25th Nov. 1863. / At the Queen’s Redoubt, New Zealand. / From wounds received while gallantly / leading his company against the hostile / Maoris at Rangariri [sic] on the 20th Nov. / An affectionate son, a loving brother, / and a true friend.”

Finally, there is a substantial brass tablet that evidently was once accompanied by memorial windows, and honours soldiers and sailors who were buried in the Symonds Street cemetery. It is inscribed as follows: “H.M.D.G. / These windows were re-erected in honoured memory of / [followed by names in five columns] [first column] Commodore Wm. F. Burnett C.B. / H.M.S. Orpheus / Lieutenant Wm. E. Mitchell / H.M.S. Esk / Assistant Surgeon / Geo. R. Pickthorn M.B. / H.M.S. Challenger / Midshipman Thomas A. Watkins / H.M.S. Curacoa / [second column] Colonel Chas. W. Austen / 2nd Battn. 16th Reg. / Colonel Marmaduke G. Nixon / Col. [?] Def. Force & Royal Caly. Vols. / Lieut Col John F. Kempt / 1st Battn. 12th Reg.  / Major Henry Cole / 1st Battn. 12th Reg / [third column] Major E. Withers 65th Reg.  / Major James Paul / 65th Reg. / Major Edward Cantrobus / 2nd Waikato Militia / Capt. and St Major James T. Ring / 18th Royal Irish / [fourth column] Capt. John S. Phelps / 14th Foot  / Capt. Henry Mercer / Royal Arty. / Capt. Richard Swift / 65th Reg. / Lieut. Coll McLeod / 43rd L.I. /  [fifth column] Lieut. Wm. L. Murphy 1st Battn. 12th Reg. / Lieut. G.G.S. Menteath 70th Reg. / Lieut. J.H. Wood Junr. / 2nd Waikato Militia / Ensign Andrew Ducrow 40th Reg. / Sergt. J.J. Hanson / Commt Staff Co. / Captain Geo. J. Dormer / 14th Reg. / And other officers and men who gave their lives in service of the Empire, especially during the Maori Wars. / And whose bodies lie in the Symonds St. Cemetery, Auckland. / R.I.P.”

SS Wairarapa memorial tablet

St Paul’s is also the home of an elaborately carved marble tablet commemorating victims of the wreck of the SS Wairarapa. A total of 121 passengers and crew or more died after the ship struck the cliffs at Miners Head on Great Barrier Island on 29th October 1894. The tablet in St Pauls was erected by the Steward Department of the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand in honour of the ten men, women and boys of the department who lost their lives: William H. Judd, Charlotte McDonald, Annie McQuaid, Lizzie Grindrod, Harry Vear, Alexander McLean, Richard Croucher, Hugh Monaghan, Alfred Holmes and John McDonald.

Sources: ‘St Paul’s Memorial Shelter’, NZ Herald, 19/7/1919, p. 11; ‘St Paul’s Tram Shelter’, NZ Herald, 26/3/1920, p. 4; ‘The Soldiers’ Part: Memorial to Fallen’, NZ Herald, 29/3/1920, p. 6; ‘War Ambulance Work: Memorial at St Paul’s’, NZ Herald, 9/5/1921, p. 6; ‘Modern Chivalry’, Auckland Star, 9/5/1921, p. 8; Jackie Eaglen, A Brief History of St Paul’s Symonds Street, Auckland, 1991, pp. 14, 17; ‘Old Memorial Stone Shelter To Be Demolished’, NZ Herald, 30/12/1971, p. 1.



Historical images: ‘Wayside shelter erected’, Auckland Weekly News, 1 April 1920, p. 35 (Auckland Libraries Sir George Grey Special Collections 1-W1825); Henry Winkelmann, Memorial tram shelter outside St Paul’s, 11 April 1922 (Auckland Libraries Sir George Grey Special Collections 1-W1825) 
Other images and information: Bruce Ringer, Auckland Libraries, 2014

How to cite this page

St Paul's Church memorials, Auckland, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated