Dioceses and Bishops

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.

The Bishops of Aotearoa New Zealand

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 two diocesan bishops, one auxiliary bishop, one metropolitan archbishop, one coadjutor archbishop, five emeritus bishops, and an emeritus archbishop in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Bishop Steve Lowe

Most Reverend
Stephen Lowe

Bishop of Auckland

Private Bag 47904, Ponsonby, Auckland 1144

Pompallier Diocesan Centre, 30 New Street,

St Mary's Bay

Auckland 1011

09 360 3002


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.

Bishop Michael Dooley

Most Reverend
Michael Dooley

Bishop of Dunedin

Private Bag 1941, Dunedin 9054

Catholic Pastoral Centre, 300 Rattray Street

Dunedin 9016

03 474 5750


Father Michael Dooley was ordained on 13 December 1989. From 1995, he has served as a member of the Priests Council and was a Parish Priest for over 10 years in Southland and Otago.  

1990 – 1993    Chaplain, Verdon College, Invercargil

1994 – 1995    Chaplain, St Peters College, Gore

1998-1999       Director, Holy Cross Formation Centre, Mosgiel

2005 – 2007    Formator and Spiritual Director, Holy Cross Seminary, Auckland

2009 – 2017    Chaplain, Kavanagh College, Dunedin

Cardinal John Dew

His Eminence
John Dew

Archbishop of Wellington

PO Box 1937, Wellington 6140

Catholic Centre, 22-30 Hill Street

Wellington 6011

04 496 1766


  • Born in Waipawa - 5 May 1948
  • Educated at St. Joseph's Primary school, Waipukurau; St. Joseph's (now Chanel) College, Masterton; Holy Name Seminary, Christchurch (Philosophy); Holy Cross College, Mosgiel (Theology)
  • Ordained priest at Waipukurarau by Cardinal Reginald Delargey in May 1976
  • Appointments held since ordination: St Joseph's Parish, Upper Hutt 1976 - 1979; Diocese of Rarotonga, Rarotonga 1980 - 1982; Archdiocesan Youth Ministry 1983 - 1987; Cook Islands Maori Community 1983 - 1987; Holy Cross College, Mosgiel 1988 - 1991; Study in Spirituality, Institute of St. Anselm, Kent, UK 1991 - 1992; St. Anne's Parish, Newtown 1993 - 1995
  • Ordained as Auxiliary Bishop for the Wellington Archdiocese 31 May, 1995
  • Appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Wellington 24 May, 2004
  • Succeeded Cardinal Williams as Archbishop of Wellington 21 March, 2005.
  • Appointed Military Ordinary for New Zealand 1 April 2005
  • Moderator of the Tribunal of the Catholic Church for New Zealand
  • Bishop member of NZCBC Finance Committee and National Professional Standards Committee; member of the NZCBC Commission for the Church
  • President, New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference and Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania
  • Announced as Cardinal-designate by Pope Francis on 4 January 2015.
  • Elevated to Cardinal at the consistory 14 February 2015. Appointed Cardinal-priest of Sant'Ippolito Church, Rome.

Bishop Pat

Most Reverend
Patrick Dunn

Emeritus Bishop of Auckland

09 360 3002


  • Born in 1950
  • Educated at St Michael's school, Remuera, Sacred Heart College, Glen Innes and the University of Auckland
  • Studied for priesthood at Holy Cross College, Mosgiel. Ordained at St Michael's Church, Remuera on 24 April 1976
  • 1988-1989: studied at Melbourne College of Divinity for Master Degree in Theology
  • Following ordination, pastoral work included work with the Catholic Maori Mission, and the parishes of Mangere East, Takapuna, Pakuranga and Northcote
  • 1986-1987: diocesan director of vocations
  • 1990: Book, 'Priesthood' published in New York
  • 1992: appointed personal assistant to Auckland's bishop, Denis Browne
  • 25 July 1994: ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Auckland
  • 24 December 1994: appointed Bishop of Auckland to succeed Bishop Denis Browne. Formally installed in St Patrick's Cathedral on 29 March 1995
  • Conference Deputy for Holy Cross Seminary, NZCBC member of Good Shepherd College Senate; member of the NZCBC Commission for the Church in Society
  • Retired as Bishop of Auckland 18 December 2021

Bishop Paul Martin

Most Reverend
Paul Martin SM

Coadjutor Archbishop of Wellington

PO Box 1937, Wellington 6140

Catholic Centre, 22-30 Hill Street

Wellington 6011

04 496 1766


Archbishop Paul Martin SM was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Wellington on 2 January 2021. At the time of his 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.

Bishop Gielen v3

Most Reverend
Michael Gielen

Bishop of Christchurch

PO Box 4544

Cathedral House, Unit 2 / 9 Washington Way


Christchurch 8041

03 366 9869


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

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: Cardinal John Dew

General Secretary: Bishop Stephen Lowe

Vice-President: Bishop Stephen Lowe

Emeritus Archbishop and Bishops

His Eminence Thomas Williams
Archbishop Emeritus 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

Apostolic Nunciature

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.

Apostolic Nuncio Novatus Rugambwa crop

The Apostolic Nuncio
Archbishop Novatus Rugambwa

PO Box 22004, Wellington 6441

178 Onslow Rd

Wellington 6035

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.