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Papatoetoe Orphan Home memorial altar


The Church of England’s Papatoetoe Orphan Home was opened in Wyllie Road in 1909. The Orphan Home chapel was consecrated in the orphan home grounds on 1 March 1919. This building, sometimes known as the Chapel of the Holy Saviour, or sometimes as St Saviour’s Chapel, was designed by the well-known ecclesiastical architect George Selwyn Goldsbro.

On 9 May 1925 the chapel’s altar was dedicated as a memorial to old boys of the home who had given their lives during the First World War. A brass plate was attached to the altar inscribed as follows: ‘To the Glory of God and in memory of those brave lads once inmates of the Orphan Home who made the supreme sacrifice in the Great War 1914-1919.’ At the same time, a memorial cross was dedicated to New Zealand nurses. This was inscribed ‘To the glory of God and in memory of the nurses who made the supreme sacrifice in the Great War 1914-1918’.

The orphanage was closed in 1962, although the buildings continued in use for some years afterwards as a home for the intellectually handicapped known as St John’s Home. At an unknown date, the altar was moved to the Church of the Epiphany in Otara, where it can still be seen today. The whereabouts of the nurses’ cross is unknown.

The orphanage buildings are today occupied by the Manukau Pacific Islanders Presbyterian Church. The chapel is a listed building.


  • 'Papatoetoe Orphan Home’, Auckland Star, 9/5/1925, p. 10 
  • 'Papatoetoe Orphanage', Auckland Star, 11/5/1925, p. 11
  • 'The Orphan Home: Altar Dedicated', Church Gazette, vol. 55, no. 6, June 1925, p. 97

Information: Jenny Clark and Bruce Ringer
Images: Chris Traill, 2012 and Jenny Clark, 2013

How to cite this page

Papatoetoe Orphan Home memorial altar, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated