There are six dioceses in New Zealand. The Archdiocese of Wellington is the metropolitan diocese in New Zealand, and the other dioceses, are suffragen dioceses.
A diocese is a “portion of the people of God” which is entrusted to the pastoral care of a bishop. He carries out this pastoral care with the cooperation of the priests of the diocese. The smallest units of a diocese are parishes.
The bishop, priests and people of the diocese constitute a “particular church”, in which “the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ truly exists and functions”. As a rule, a diocese has a defined territory.
Neighbouring dioceses are grouped together as an “ecclesiastical province”, which is presided over by a bishop who is called the Metropolitan. The Metropolitan is an archbishop and his diocese is an archdiocese. The other dioceses in the province are called suffragan dioceses. In New Zealand the metropolitan diocese is the Archdiocese of Wellington, and the Metropolitan is Cardinal John Dew.
The Metropolitan receives a narrow band called the pallium from the Holy Father. It is made of white lamb’s wool and has six black crosses on it. The pallium is a symbol of the Metropolitan’s role and his connection with the Pope.
Bishops are appointed by the Holy Father. The pastoral care of a diocese is entrusted to a diocesan bishop (sometimes referred to as the Ordinary of the diocese).
An auxiliary bishop assists the diocesan bishop. A coadjutor bishop has the right to succeed the diocesan bishop as Ordinary of the diocese.
Several neighbouring dioceses may constitute an ecclesiastical province, which is presided over by a bishop who is called the metropolitan and is an archbishop. The others are called suffragan bishops.
Bishops normally offer their resignation to the Holy Father when they reach the age of 75. When their resignation is accepted they become an emeritus archbishop or bishop. There are currently three diocesan bishops, one metropolitan archbishop, six emeritus bishops, and two emeritus archbishops (both cardinals) in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Bishop Stephen Lowe was born in Hokitika on 3 August 1962, the youngest child of Milly and Frank Lowe, with two older sisters Margaret and Dorothy.
He was educated at Hokitika Primary School, then St Mary’s Primary School and because there was no Catholic College in Hokitika he completed his secondary schooling at Westland High School.
Following school he worked for the NZ Forest Service in Hokitika and Christchurch and NZ Timberlands in Timaru. During this time he became involved in his local parish in Timaru North where he was involved in a young adults group and with youth in the parish.
In 1989 he discerned the call to priesthood and entered Holy Cross College seminary in Mosgiel in 1990. He completed his final year of seminary study at St Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia during 1994-1995. Bishop Lowe was ordained as a priest for the Diocese of Christchurch in his home town at Hokitika in 1996.
He served as the assistant priest in the Mairehau, Ashburton and Greymouth parishes before being appointed parish priest of Timaru North and Chaplain of Roncalli College in 2000. From 2005-2007 he completed a Licence in Spiritual Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He was appointed to Holy Cross Seminary in 2008 where he served as Formation Director until the end of 2014. While based at the Seminary in Auckland, he served, for a time, as Parish Priest of Ponsonby.
Bishop Lowe was appointed Bishop of Hamilton on 22 November 2014 and received his Episcopal Ordination on 13 February 2015. He was appointed Bishop of Auckland on 18 December 2021.
He is the Vice President and Secretary of the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference and the bishops’ representative on Te Rūnanga o te Hāhi Katorika ō Aotearoa, the Church’s national Māori advisory group. He is also a member of several other bodies including the National Safeguarding and Professional Standards Committee.
PRIESTLY MINISTRY: July 2003 – February 2004: St Teresa’s Parish – assistant priest 2004 – 2005: St Patrick’s Parish, Greymouth – assistant priest 2005 – 2007: St Patrick’s Parish, Greymouth – administrator 2008 – 2010: Christ the King Parish – assistant 2011 – 2018: St Joseph’s Parish – parish priest 2019 – current St Peter Chanel Parish – parish priest
OTHER APPOINTMENTS (all in Christchurch Diocese): Tertiary Chaplain 2008 - 2010 Clergy Trust Fund 2011 – 2021 Council of Priests 2009 – current Chair, Council of Priests 2015 – 2023 College of Consultors 2014 – still current Episcopal Vicar for Education 2013 – current Chair, Education Council 2015 – current
Archbishop Paul Martin SM was installed as Archbishop of Wellington on 17 June 2023, following the retirement of Cardinal John Dew the month before. Archbishop Martin has earlier been appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Wellington on 2 January 2021. At the time of that appointment, he was Bishop of Christchurch.
Paul Martin SM was appointed the tenth Catholic Bishop of Christchurch in December 2017, with his consecration in March 2018. He replaced Bishop Barry Jones, who died in February 2016.
Archbishop Martin was born in Hastings in 1967, one of five children. He entered formation for the Society of Mary in February 1985 and studied theology and arts at Victoria University of Wellington.
He completed a Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology at the Angelicum University in Rome and studied to become a teacher.
Archbishop Martin is most recognised in the Society of Mary through his involvement in the education ministry, working in schools for 20 years. He taught at Pompallier College, Whangarei, and St Patrick’s College, Wellington, he was Deputy Rector at St Bede’s College, Christchurch, and Rector at St Patrick’s College Wellington. He also served as President of the Wellington Secondary School Principals Association.
While education was his primary ministry, for a time he worked in Māori pastoral care in Rawene in the South Hokianga; as chaplain at Hato Paora College, Fielding, and as a member of the Society of Mary’s Provincial Council (governance board).
Before his appointment as Bishop of Christchurch, he was Bursar General of the Society of Mary in Rome.
Pope Francis appointed Bishop Michael Gielen as the Bishop of Christchurch in May 2022. He has previously been the Auxiliary Bishop of Auckland since March 2020.
Bishop Michael was born in Cambridge and raised in Tokoroa, the son of Henk and Maureen Gielen and the oldest of six siblings.
After studying at Holy Cross College in Mosgiel he was ordained as a priest in 1997 in Tokoroa by Bishop Max Mariu, SM, (the first Māori Catholic bishop of New Zealand). He has been a priest for 24 years serving in Gisborne, Hamilton, Steubenville – USA, Mt Maunganui, Rome – Italy, and Director of Formation at Holy Cross Seminary before being appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Auckland in 2020. The deacon at his Auckland ordination Mass in March 2020 was his father, Deacon Henk Gielen.
Bishop Michael counts his Catholic faith and his family as the greatest blessings of his life; through them he has come to know Jesus in the most profound way. Sharing this Good News is his life’s work.
He is also a keen cyclist. In 2015 he and eight seminarians of Holy Cross Seminary cycled for 33 days from Cape Reinga to Bluff to promote vocations for the priesthood. His other passions included rugby and cricket, which he played, and just about all sports going.
He always has a book “on the go”, covering most genres, latterly he has enjoyed NZ historical novels. He loves journeying with people from every walk and background of life; they have made him who he is.
Bishop Michael’s Latin motto is Totus Tuus: “All Yours."
The Bishop’s personal coat of arms is blazoned in heraldic terms: Or, a fess wavy Azure; between, in chief the Christogram Chi & Rho Gules and in base upon a trimount issuant in base Vert a Tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae) statant Proper.
In plain English, the arms may be described: A wavy blue band bisects a gold shield with the Christogram Chi Roh in red in the upper part of the shield and, in the lower part, a Tui in its proper colours standing on the central of three green hillocks. The various elements in the arms make the following references: • The blue and gold are the principal colours of the arms of Pope Saint John Paul II. • The blue central wavy band also references the Virgin Mary, to whom Bishop Michael has always had a deep devotion, and the Waikato River which he has lived close to for much of his childhood. • The trimount or green hillocks in the base reference the rolling hills that have featured in Bishop Michael’s life: Maungatautari, Pirongia and Rangitoto. • The Tui bird is another personal element, the Bishop having a spiritual connection with the bird and its magnificent voice from his earliest days.
Bishop Michael's motto Totus Tuus, translated All Yours, is in reference to the commitment of his life to Jesus through the intercession of Mary.
It is significant this motto was also that of Pope Saint John Paul II of blessed memory. The Bishop’s arms were designed by Richard d’Apice AM of the Australian Heraldry Society and Father Guy Selvester and were rendered by Roger Barnes of the Heraldry Society of New Zealand.
Date of Birth: 2 June 1971 Place of Birth: Cambridge, New Zealand Baptised: 27 June 1971, St. Peter’s, Cambridge Priestly Ordination: 29 November 1997 ; Diocese: Hamilton
Education: Forest View High School, Tokoroa 1985-1989: Seminary formation at Holy Cross College, Mosgiel 1992-1995: Bachelor of Theology, University of Otago 2005-2007: Master in Theology, Franciscan University of Steubenville, USA 2012-2014: Licentiate in Theology, St. Peter Favre Centre for Formators to the Priesthood and Religious Life, Gregorian University, Rome Priestly Ministry: 1997-2002: Assistant Priest, St. Mary’s Star of the Sea, Gisborne 1999-2002: Member, Priests Council, Diocese of Hamilton 2001-2002: Chair, Gisborne Ministers Association 2002-2005: Parish Priest, St. Columba, Frankton and Holy Name, Raglan 2007-2012: Parish Priest, St. Thomas More, Mt. Maunganui and St. Patrick’s, Te Puke 2009-2012: Vocation Director, Diocese of Hamilton 2009-2012: Member, Priests Council and College of Consultors, Diocese of Hamilton 2011-2012: Dean of the Pacific Moana Deanery, Diocese of Hamilton 2014-2019: Director of Formation, Holy Cross Seminary, Auckland
6 January 2020: Appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Auckland 7 March 2020: Ordained a Bishop and Installed as Auxiliary Bishop of Auckland
21 May 2022: Appointed Bishop of Christchurch
Officers of the NZCBC
President: Bishop Stephen Lowe
General Secretary: Archbishop Paul Martin SM
Vice-President: Bishop Michael Dooley
Emeritus Archbishop and Bishops
His Eminence Thomas Williams Archbishop Emeritus of Wellington
His Eminence John Dew Emeritus Archbishop of Wellington
Most Reverend Owen Dolan Emeritus Coadjutor Bishop of Palmerston North
Most Reverend Peter Cullinane Emeritus Bishop of Palmerston North
Most Reverend Patrick Dunn Emeritus Bishop of Auckland
Most Reverend Denis Browne Emeritus Bishop of Hamilton
Most Reverend Colin Campbell Emeritus Bishop of Dunedin
The Apostolic Nunciature is a top-level diplomatic mission of the Holy See in New Zealand. Located in Khandallah, Wellington, it is equivalent to an embassy, however, it does not issue visas nor does it have consulates.
The head of the Apostolic Nunciature is called a nuncio, an ecclesiastical diplomatic title. A papal nuncio (officially known as an Apostolic nuncio) is a permanent diplomatic representative (head of diplomatic mission) of the Holy See to a state with the rank of an ambassador, and the ecclesiastical rank of titular archbishop.
In addition, the nuncio serves as the liaison between the Holy See and the Church in that particular nation, supervising the diocesan episcopate . The nuncio has an important role in the selection of bishops.
The Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Novatus Rugambwa
PO Box 22004, Wellington 6441
178 Onslow Rd
04 479 1044
Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Novatus Rugambwa as Apostolic Nuncio to New Zealand and Apostolic Delegate to the countries of the South Pacific on 29 March 2019.
Archbishop Rugambwa was born in Bukoba, Tanzania in 1957, ordained a priest in 1986 and Archbishop in 2010.
He entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1991 and has served in Nunciatures in Panama, Republic of Congo, Pakistan, Indonesia, Angola and Honduras, as well as previously in New Zealand.