Skip to main content

St. Matthew-in-the-City memorials


St Matthew-in-the-City in Hobson Street is one of Auckland’s finest churches. The present church was opened in 1905. It was designed by architect Frank Loughborough Pearson in Early English style and constructed of white Oamaru stone set on a bluestone stylobate.

On 27 February 1921, the parish First World War roll of honour was unveiled by Governor-General Lord Jellicoe and consecrated by the Bishop of Auckland, Dr A.W. Averill. The impressive marble tablet, designed by W.H. Felden, was embellished with carvings of soldiers and weaponry. It listed the names and ranks of 50 former parishioners who had given their lives and included a dedication to an unknown warrior. Choir stalls inscribed with the words “In memory of those who fell in the Great War 1914 – 1918” were also installed in the church in 1925.

There are several individual memorials around the walls, including a brass memorial plaque erected by the friends and fellow workers of Gilbert Oswald Rollinson, who died at Messines in June 1917 (“A good soldier of Jesus Christ / for many years a devoted Sunday School worker and organiser / in St Matthew’s and St Mary’s parishes / and throughout New Zealand”). A brass memorial plaque in memory of Corporal Edward Sibthorpe Henry who died of wounds in October 1918 was unveiled on 2 July 1922. A marble memorial tablet in memory of Hendrick Ibsen Hendricksen, who fell at Baupaume in August 1918, was approved for installation in November 1923.

Three vicars of St Matthew-in-the-City served as military chaplains: Rev. W.E. Gillam in the First World War and Rt. Rev. G.V. Gerald and Rev. Blackwood Moore in the Second World War. Gillam, who served both at Gallipoli and on hospital ships, died in July 1929. His ashes were deposited in the church, and on 23 February 1930 Archbishop Averill unveiled a memorial tablet on a pillar near the spot. Canon Blackwood Moore is commemorated by a pair of stained glass windows in the north aisle, unveiled in 1967.

The former Lady Chapel at the foot of the church tower is now known as the Peace Chapel

On 4 December 1979 a civic memorial service was held at St Matthew’s to honour the 257 passengers and crew who had died when Flight TE901 crashed on Mount Erebus in the Antarctic six days before. On 19 November 1989, Governor-General Sir Paul Reeves dedicated the Mount Erebus memorial stained glass windows at the eastern end of the northern aisle. These were designed by Christchurch artist Rena Jarosewitsch. A leather-bound Book of Remembrance was put on display in a cabinet below the windows. This was presented to the church by the New Zealand Region of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators to mark the 20th anniversary of the flight.

Not far away is another cabinet housing the Aids New Zealand Book of Remembrance. This was dedicated on 3 December 1995, and placed permanently in the church on 17 May 1996.

Sources: ‘Memorial to Soldiers’, NZ Herald, 26/2/1921, p. 6; ‘Memorial Unveiled’, NZ Herald, 3/7/1922, p. 8; ‘War Memorial Unveiled’, Auckland Star, 28/2/1921, p. 8 ‘Diocesan’ Church Gazette, vol. 54, no. 1, January 1924, p.  10; ‘Table Talk’, Auckland Star, 22/8/1925, p. 1; ‘Late Rev. W.E. Gillam’, NZ Herald, 21/2/1930, p. 14; Jack Leigh, A Place on the Edge: The Story of St Matthew-in-the City, Auckland 2005, pp. 64, 68, 71-2, 74-85, 149.


Bruce Ringer, Auckland Libraries, 2014

How to cite this page

St. Matthew-in-the-City memorials, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated