The Dunedin Window


St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral stands proudly above the Octagon in the centre of Dunedin,  New Zealand.  It is over seventy years since the last stained-glass window was given to the cathedral, but in October 2012 a new masterpiece, the ‘Dunedin  Window’, was installed and dedicated.  It was commissioned and gifted by Dr Donald Cullington, a former Organist and Choirmaster at the cathedral, and his wife Dr Stella Cullington, a medical practitioner.  Peter Mackenzie, a master stained-glass craftsman designed and made the window.

Several themes are interwoven.  St Paul is one of the two main figures and stands holding a bible and a sword.  His words below, ‘Take the sword of the spirit which is the word of God’ (Ephesians 6:17), also reflect the fact that he was to die by the sword.

dunedin windowSt Cecilia is the patron saint of music and represents the important place that music holds in Anglican worship.  She is holding a portative organ.  The two angels above are playing a shawm (a precursor of the oboe) and an early flute.  In the tracery above are a viola da gamba, the bass member of the viol family, and an early horn.  Her text, also from Ephesians, reads ‘Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord’.

The models for the above were Bishop Kelvin Wright as St Paul, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, the world-renowned soprano, as St Cecilia, and the Cullingtons’ grandchildren Benji and Gemma Pickering as the angels.

The window also celebrates the early history of Dunedin and the wider Otago area, from the first Maori missionaries, to the immigrants who founded the city, and to the Chinese who settled here following the Gold Rush in the 1860s.

Christ is above all at the top of the window, and is surrounded by the double- spiral Koru which represent the pathway of faith between man and God.  The seven stars of Matariki (the Pleiades) are set above the main lancets.  These appear on the NE horizon toward the end of May and mark the winter solstice, and the beginning of the Maori New Year.

The Maori theme continues with portraits in the trefoil above left. The top one  is of Tamihana Te Rauparaha, son of the great warrior chief Te Rauparaha.  Tamihana was converted to Christianity and, with his cousin Te Whiwhi, came to the South Island as a missionary and persuaded the Ngai Tahu, sworn enemies of Te Rauparaha, to turn from war to peace. The bottom-right portrait is of another Maori, Tame Parata, who farmed at Puketeraki, north of Dunedin, and helped to establish one of the first Anglican churches at Karitane – shown in the opposite trefoil.

The third portrait is of Johnny Jones, a sealer and whaler turned farmer who settled at Waikouaiti, north of Karitane, in the 1830s onwards and gave the land on which St Paul’s Cathedral was built.  The first church on the site is shown beneath St Paul. Next to this is the first Princes Street in Dunedin, with a muddy road and a dunny.  344 immigrants, mainly Scottish, arrived aboard the two ships John Wickliffe and Philip Laing shown in the third picture, to found the city of Dunedin in 1848. The last picture shows a Chinese miner’s stone cottage as found in Arrowtown, where gold was found in the river in the 1860s; in front sits a gold cradle.  St Paul’s Anglican church at Arrowtown, founded in 1871, is seen next to the angel on the left.

Finally, the two central main lancets show the beautiful hills and harbour around Dunedin. Around these and the saints and angels are many of the birds, reptiles, butterflies and other animals found here, including the rare Green Jewelled gecko, the Hooker sea-lion, the Yellow-eyed penguin and the Northern Royal albatross. In the background are some of the native plants, including the native Clematis forming a garland around St. Cecilia, and the brilliant scarlet Pohutukawa (New Zealand Christmas tree) flowers behind St Paul.

The Octagon, Dunedin, NZ • +64 3 477 2336 • Contact Details