HOLY TRINITY CATHEDRAL
The contemporary Nave of Holy Trinity designed by renowned New Zealand architect, Professor Richard Toy, was completed in 1995. Professor Toy designed a modern Nave while retaining the ambience and architectural values of the older Chancel space. He combined two very different architectural styles, incorporating the existing brick & reinforced concrete neo-Gothic Chancel, with the new Nave, a contemporary design which has large expanses of stained-glass and a timber ceiling drawing on the idea of a traditional Māori marae. The line of the iconic Nave roof reflects that of St Mary's-in-Holy Trinity which stands beside it.
The square floorplan of the Nave enables the space to be used not only as a place of worship but as a multi-purpose venue for community and commercial events, concerts and other performances.
Glass doors the length of two sides light the vast space and accentuate the seemingly unsupported roof with its absence of visible structural support.
The Cathedral Nave is used for a weekly Eucharist every Sunday morning. During this Service, the community gathers to pray, sing hymns and take communion together. The Eucharist itself is celebrated from the Nave altar. Carved from native Kauri, the altar was gifted to Holy Trinity Cathedral from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Auckland. Sharing communion is an important part of the Christian faith reminding us that we are all part of Christ’s body.
The use of stained glass in churches and Cathedrals is a practice which is centuries old. As one of the world’s younger Anglican cathedrals, Holy Trinity Cathedral has nevertheless an impressive array of stained-glass windows which look both backward to the earliest traditions of the Northern Hemisphere and forward to a new and vibrant church in Aotearoa New Zealand. The windows in the Cathedral Nave imagine the story of Christianity in these isles and are intended to be a resource for teaching and understanding.
The Great Window
The Great Window above the entrance of the Cathedral Nave was designed by Nigel Brown. It said to be the largest expanse of stained glass in the southern hemisphere. The five windows that comprise the Great Window are the first and most obvious example of the unity of European and Polynesian cultures depicted in the Nave. The European window on the left-hand side speaks to a spirit of discovery and mission while the Māori/Polynesian window on the right-hand side shows the bountiful resources and beauty of Aotearoa’s land and sea. Even the patterns in the cross-hatching of the inner windows display a Trinity symbol on the left and a Māori pictorial on the right.
The central window showing the risen Christ crowned by a seven-petalled flower is similarly full of New Zealand imagery with the native flora and fauna of these lands. The flower depicts the seven days of Creation from the bottom left to the bottom right. The seventh day when God rested is marked in true Kiwi style by a little person lying on a towel at the beach.
The Signature Window
The building of Cathedrals is a journey of generations. The journey of this Cathedral began with the laying of the foundation stone in 1957. The stone is visible further along our tour at the beginning of the aisle in the Bishop Selwyn Chapel. The building of the Chancel, the moving of St Mary’s across the road in 1982, the building of the Cathedral Nave in 1995, and the Selwyn’s Vision Project to finally complete and consecrate the site have been milestones in the history of Holy Trinity Cathedral. The Signature Window in the East stairwell to the Gallery shows the face of Bishop Selwyn. The phrase ‘muscular Christianity’ which was applied to Selwyn is written in the glass.
This phrase continues to epitomises the sense of active purpose through each stage of the Cathedral’s completion.
The West Windows
The eighteen windows running along both sides of the Nave tell the story of God’s redeeming actions with his people through history to salvation and new life. Designing these windows provided the opportunity to create a set of artworks that provides a resource for teaching and understanding through the scenes shown in them.
The windows along the west side of the Nave were designed by Shane Cotton and depict the Hebrew Testament from the Millennial window to the right of the Nave altar, through the Garden of Eden, Expulsion from the Garden, Slavery and Exodus, The Law and Moses, Justice, Peace and a Prophetic Vision for Society, Exile and Restoration, The Incarnation, and The Wilderness and John the Baptist. Many of the West Windows utilise images from the Renaissance school and the muted colours are reminiscent of the traditional stained glass of the Northern Hemisphere.
The East Windows
By contrast, the nine windows on the East side of the Nave are awash with vibrant colour. These windows were designed by Robert Ellis continuing the story with a pictorial telling of the Gospels. The scenes of The Teachings of Jesus, The Miracles, Golgotha, Resurrection, The Four Rivers of Aotearoa (North, Mid-North, Mid-South, and South) and culminating in the Baptistery window next to the font show the clear influence of Māori and Polynesian art.
Leading cast glass artist, Ann Robinson ONZM, worked for five years to complete the Baptismal Font. Her work is renowned and found in collections around the world. The four separate cast glass pillars which comprise the font were hand-shaped and crafted and glued in place with a stainless-steel cruciform inset in the bowl.
It weighs one tonne and is considered unique in its design. This sculpture further acknowledges Robinson's ongoing exploration and achievement within this field.
The Font was dedicated to Dean John Rymer, Dean of Auckland from 1970 to 1991 at a ceremony on 11 October 2009.