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Saint Marys Bay, New Zealand facts for kids

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Saint Marys Bay
Auckland Harbour Bridge With Flag.jpg
The suburb and Westhaven Marina seen under the Auckland Harbour Bridge from the North Shore.
Basic information
Local authority Auckland Council
Electoral ward Waitematā and Gulf Ward
Population 2205 (2018)
North (Waitematā Harbour), Birkenhead
Northeast (Westhaven Marina), Wynyard Quarter
East Freemans Bay
Southeast Freemans Bay
South Ponsonby
Southwest Ponsonby
West Herne Bay
Northwest (Waitematā Harbour)

Saint Marys Bay is an inner suburb of Auckland, New Zealand.

Historical timeline


mid-1840s George Scott farms the land where 3 Lamps is now.

1853 For £1100 Catholic Bishop Pompallier purchases 19ha in the area between 3 lamps and the shoreline from James O’Neill christening it Mount St. Mary.

1854 O’Neill’s house becomes St. Anne’s School for Maori Girls run by the Sisters of Mercy. Responding to a Maori request for holy women to teach the children, the sisters of Mercy arrived in Auckland from Ireland in 1850 already fluent in the Maori language. Their first school & orphanage was situated near St Patrick’s Cathedral in Federal Street.

1854 St Mary’s College for Catechists on the North Shore is transferred to Ponsonby, St. Marys School for Boys and a Seminary are built on 5 acres (20,000 m2) of Crown Grant land at the end of Waitemata St..

1858 The wooden Church of the Immaculate Conception is built [demolished 1869–70, present site of the Ponsonby Tennis Club]

1859 New Street is put through the middle of the St Mary Mount estate and Bishop Pompallier presents land on the eastern side of the street for the creation of St. Mary’s College. Almost unaided the sisters erect a three story convent building and open it in 1861. The only surviving building from this period is the Kauri St Mary’s Chapel constructed in 1865 by Edward Mahoney for £1100.

1860s Many Roman Catholics buy land in the new Subdivisions in order to be near the Catholic centre with its church, convent and schools. Names such as "Dublin" & "Green" reflect this development.

1860 Bishop Pompallier returns from Europe with a group of French nuns. They form under his direction, the Congregation of the Holy Family, which concentrated on teaching Maori girls.

1861 St. Anne’s boarding school occupies O’Neill’s former house.

1862 The Convent is completed. The new order of the Holy Family takes over teaching at the school. The order now consists of Maori as well as French Sisters.

1862 The Bishop takes over O’Neill’s former house as his official residence.

1863 The Bishop sells more land, retaining the 4 acres (16,000 m2) with the Bishop’s House, The Church of the Holy Family and the Convent of the Holy Family. The Nazareth Institute for Maori and Half-Caste Girls is founded.

1866 St. Mary’s Convent, with its dormitories and Chapel is built.

1865-68 The Suffolk Hotel is built on College Hill [now the Cavalier Tavern]

1869–70 The Convent of the Holy Family is destroyed by fire. The Catholic Bishop is forced by his mortgagee to sell his remaining land, including the Bishop’s House. The buyer is a Mr. Bennett who demolishes the Church of the Immaculate Conception. [Now the Ponsonby Tennis Club] The Bishop resigns and leaves, leading to the dissolution of the order he had formed; the Order of the Holy Family. St. Mary’s Convent remains.

1873 Bishop Croke, the second Catholic Bishop of Auckland buys back the land with the Bishop’s House on it. In 1874 the wooden house is moved to its present location at 57 St. Mary’s Bay Road.

1874 The farm owned by John Campbell "Campbellville" is subdivided for suburban development.

1886–87 The Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart is built on the corner of O’Neill St and Ponsonby Road. This takes over the role of Parish Church from St Mary’s Chapel.

1890s The underground men's public toilets at 3 lamps are built- these are possibly the first such public utilities in Auckland.

1894 The New Bishop’s Palace is constructed to the designs of Pugin & Pugin [Edward.W. (1834–1875) & Peter Paul (1851–1904). sons of A.W.Pugin the Gothic Enthusiast responsible for much of the decorative work of the Palace of Westminster.] The Bishop’s Palace was partly funded by donations from all over the world including 5000 schools in Europe & the USA, the Lord Mayor of London and an Archduchess of Austria. This imposing brick gothic structure is believed to be the first House in Auckland to have electric lighting.


1902 The Ponsonby Fire Station in St Marys Bay Road is built. [Goldsb'ro & Wade Architects]

1905 The Leys Institute at 3 lamps is established by brothers William Leys and Dr Thomas Leys. This splendid Edwardian Baroque building contains a public library, lecture hall and Gymnasium.

1911 The Ponsonby Post Office is built. John Campbell - Government Architect [NZ Historic Places Listing]

1950s The foreshore of St. Mary’s bay disappears under the approaches to the Harbour Bridge. Cut off from the sea a great number of small commercial boat-yards are forced to close and many private boat-slips which have been used for almost a century fall into disuse. The Auckland Harbour Board plan to fill in Westhaven completely, a group of local residents including engineers and architects donate their services to create Westhaven Marina, now one of Auckland’s greatest assets.

1959 The Auckland Harbour Bridge opens.


The suburb used to have direct links down the cliffs with several paths and roads to the foreshore and later to the Wynyard Quarter to its northeast. However, with the construction of the motorway, these links mostly disappeared. In 2012 the Jacobs Ladder Bridge over State Highway 1 was opened as part of motorway works in the northeast of Saint Marys Bay providing a pedestrian link to Westhaven Marina.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
2006 2,169 —    
2013 2,286 +0.75%
2018 2,205 −0.72%

Saint Marys Bay had a population of 2,205 at the 2018 New Zealand census, a decrease of 81 people (-3.5%) since the 2013 census, and an increase of 36 people (1.7%) since the 2006 census. There were 978 households. There were 1,089 males and 1,116 females, giving a sex ratio of 0.98 males per female. The median age was 44.6 years, with 204 people (9.3%) aged under 15 years, 435 (19.7%) aged 15 to 29, 1,143 (51.8%) aged 30 to 64, and 420 (19.0%) aged 65 or older.

Ethnicities were 87.2% European/Pākehā, 6.4% Māori, 3.0% Pacific peoples, 9.1% Asian, and 2.4% other ethnicities (totals add to more than 100% since people could identify with multiple ethnicities).

The proportion of people born overseas was 30.9%, compared with 27.1% nationally.

Although some people objected to giving their religion, 54.1% had no religion, 34.1% were Christian, and 5.9% had other religions.

Of those at least 15 years old, 984 (49.2%) people had a bachelor or higher degree, and 120 (6.0%) people had no formal qualifications. The median income was $58,400. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 1,155 (57.7%) people were employed full-time, 255 (12.7%) were part-time, and 63 (3.1%) were unemployed.


St Mary's College is a state-integrated Catholic girls' secondary school (years 7-13) school with a roll of 980 as of July 2016.

Close by local State secondary schools are Auckland Girls' Grammar School and the state-integrated Catholic St Paul's College for boys.

Famous Residents

  • The Catholic Bishop of Auckland. Every Bishop since Bishop Pompallier has resided in the Palace in St Mary's Bay.
  • Sister Mary Leo - singing teacher who taught Dame Kiri te Kanawa and Dame Malvina Major.

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