About Us

Our Vicar
Until a new Vicar is appointed our Priest-in-Charge is Rev'd Dr Derek Tovey

Church Wardens
The church's leadership is headed by Church Wardens. The People's Warden is elected by the congregation and acts as the representative of the congregation. The Vicar's Warden is appointed by the vicar. The wardens are primarily responsible for ensuring that the church's buildings and finances are looked after, for maintaining the parish roll and for ensuring that the church's ministry continues.

Every year, the congregation elects approximately 12 of its members to serve on a body known as Vestry. The function of Vestry is to oversee all aspects of the running of the church, including things such as financial management, building maintenance, the organization of social functions and the support and development of the congregation's spiritual growth.

The day-to-day administration of the church is managed by our church administrator.

Lay People
We have a team of lay folk involved in the day-to-day running of the parish, from cleaning the church to leading worship to caring for people in the parish.

The church's work is funded from regular giving by parishioners, and we encourage parishioners to be involved in a planned giving programme. We accept donations gratefully, and a bequest will help ensure that the church is able to continue its work.


The Early Years
The original church, built at a cost of £100, opened its doors on Friday, 8 January 1886 when it was dedicated to Bishop Cowie. The name "St Mary's" had already been allotted to the church in Parnell but the name "St Mary-by-the-Sea" had finally been accepted by the authorities. At that time, the church commanded a beautiful view of Rangitoto and the entrance to Auckland Harbour. There were just eight church families in the district and these families, together with a number of gum-diggers, raised the average church attendance to 30 souls.

The Ministers during the first phase of the church's life were the Rev. Bates, the Rev. Hitchcock and the Rev. Cross. After the death of the Rev. Cross, there was no regular minister for some time and Captain Charles Ross Chomondley-Smith, one of the founder members of the church, led the church as lay reader.

For about ten years during this time, the church was used as a school, the early teachers being Miss F H Chomondley-Smith, Miss Cameron and Miss Hill.

Church Hall
The church hall was built next to the old church in the 1950s. It was dedicated by Bishop Gowing and between 1955 and 1978 was used for Sunday services as the old church became too small for comfort. This same hall is very much in use today, both by the church and by a number of community groups.

The cemetery was founded in 1928. The graveyard, now closed to burials, had been designated an historical graveyard and is now administered by the North Shore City Council. There is a full record of burials at the church office.

Ash Gardens
The church has recently established a Garden of Remembrance for the interment of ashes. It is situated along the front of the historic cemetery.

The New Church
Amid much controversy, in 1978 the original church building was shifted from the Torbay corner site to the Awaruku Bush Reserve in anticipation of the building of a new church. The Torbay Community Association made every effort to preserve the historic 107-year old church but tragically, it was destroyed by fire in December 1988.

A new church was already planned for the site. The Parish of St Mary-by-the-Sea and St Cuthbert's Presbyterian Church decided to pool their resources to build the church, which stands today. The foundation stone was dedicated on 29 July 1979 by Bishop Paul Reeves and the Rev. P N Spencer. The dedication of the church itself on completion took place on 4 May 1980.

The design for the new church drew inspiration from the stable of Jesus' birth, and this is depicted in the exposed rough-sawn beams and the "shed roof" architecture. The building features beautiful lead glass windows and a marae or fellowship area at the front entrance.

The new church was in joint use by the Anglican and Presbyterian congregations until 1992 when the Presbyterians decided to relocate. St Mary-by-the-Sea is now wholly Anglican owned.