Though there were several other similar small churches in the parish, in 1910 the vicarage was built alongside St Paul's and this, and the fact that the church was then centrally placed in the district, ensured that it became the mother church of the parish.
In 1990, there was need for a larger church in Paraparaumu nearer the main residential areas. After this was built, Paraparaumu Parish generously donated the historic church to the Cathedral to serve as its Lady Chapel. On May 12, 1991, it was consecrated as the Lady Chapel by the Most Reverend Brian Davis, Archbishop of New Zealand and Bishop of Wellington.
On the move
A Lady Chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary has long been part of Cathedrals and major churches. In England, the more famous of them include the Chapel of Our Lady, in the Norman crypt at Canterbury Cathedral; the 12th century Lady Chapel at Durham Cathedral and Winchester's 13th century Lady Chapel.
The Lady Chapel at the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul is located along the ambulatory to the left of the pulpit. A plan for a Lady Chapel in this position was part of the original vision of architect Cecil Wood in his design for a cathedral, a plan which was adopted in the late 1930s.
Here, as in many cathedrals worldwide, the Lady Chapel offers a quiet place for reflection and prayer. The chapel is used for midday Communion and is also used for baptisms, weddings and funerals. Originally it had been planned to move the sanctuary and chancel of Old St Paul's from Mulgrave Street to the cathedral to serve as the Lady Chapel. The foundations and walls to support this move were begun when the Cathedral's sanctuary and chancel were being built.
This move of part of Old St Paul's was not to be; the church was sold to the New Zealand Government, and restored.
By 1990 the area reserved for the Lady Chapel looked similar to a monastic ruin on the side of the Cathedral, with concrete walls about a metre high forming the outline of the base.
Despite the modern design of the Cathedral, it was still, however, thought appropriate to have an old wooden church as a Lady Chapel as a reminder that the first parish church in Thorndon was just such a simple wooden structure. The first St Paul's Church stood in Museum Street to the rear of what is now the Beehive extension of the Houses of Parliament, and was later demolished.
A replica of the church was recently built as an information centre for Bolton Street Memorial Park and is located at the Bolton Street entry to the park.
In New Zealand, where churches, like houses, are often made of wood there is nothing unusual about moving a building to a new site from many kilometres away. After foundations had been laid at the Cathedral, the old church was removed from Kapiti in two stages.
First, it was trucked north by the contractors to a yard on the bank of the river at Waikanae so additions made to the building in the 1960s could be removed. Then on the night of September 10, 1990, the main section of the building was loaded on to a truck for the journey south to Wellington. The roof followed on the next night.
Once on site, the building was extended. One bay and an apse were added to enlarge the sanctuary and a short connection of similar construction was built to join the new chapel to the Cathedral. The building was refurbished in late Victorian-Edwardian style to match the period in which it had originally been built.