The Cathedral Chancel

After the laying of the Cathedral foundation stone on 8 June 1915, huge foundations, large piers and a tremendous vaulted ceiling rose from the ground, forming the new Cathedral's nave. Unfortunately, finances precluded construction of anything other than the nave. There was no money for the crossing or the chancel, as per the original plan. In the end, it was resolved that a temporary chancel should be constructed, using material saved from the old St Paul's.

After being left "unfinished" for 50 years, in 1966, the decision was made to progress with a new chancel.  A local architect, Ted McCoy, won the competition to design a new Chancel. The whole design was to cost £100,000. Fundraising for the venture included the Cathedral building being used for plays, shows and modern dance interpretations. In addition, the congregation organised sales and door knocking appeals. The switch to decimal currency, as well as inflation, saw the price increase to $170,000. Construction began in earnest in December 1969. The old chancel was stripped and demolished and new columns began to rise from the debris. Alongside the construction continued the fundraising. It was completed in 1971 and dedicated on St James’ Day. 

It is built of concrete faced with Oamaru stone, and takes the form of an apse, or semi-circular sanctuary, in a contrasting modern style of stark simplicity, with clear windows to link the cathedral with the world outside. The acrylic transparent cross with prominent liturgical colours was a gift of the Callis family.


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