St Mary’s Church while impressive in size, can also be described as personal and intimate. The church is an architectural record of those who have contributed to the spiritual life of church and community in Parnell. Individuals are memorialised in many parts of the Cathedral, including William Cowie the first Bishop of Auckland in the display of his coat of arms, which appears in the great window, through to Sir Edmund Hilary who is represented with his banner. A further purpose of the Church is to honour St Mary and “to celebrate the contribution of women in the church and society, in history as well as in our time”.

Another aspect of St Mary’s is that it is a very New Zealand Church, down to its very foundations. The building is made mostly from native kauri with some interior elements made with English oak.

The organ in St Mary’s was built by George Croft in 1909 and the pipes have never been decorated.

The design process for the decoration of the organ pipes gave us several options.
– To keep the design classical as per the traditional decoration of organ pipes
– To honour important symbols within the Anglican Church and faith
– To acknowledge the very New Zealand-ness of this cathedral with Sir Edmund Hilary’s banner hanging so prominently
– To acknowledge the all important place of St Mary and the roles women have played in the church