This reinforced concrete church was built in 1951 by internationally-renowned architect Ernst Plischke.
St Mary's Church makes a significant contribution to New Zealand's cultural and architectural history. The building, which emphasises the internal and the spiritual, stands as a landmark design in both religious and architectural history. The church has a plain and traditional exterior finish with unconventional interior effects. The interior forms and is formed by the Catholic mass. The space is shaped by sculptural concrete walls. Windows flood the interior with coloured light and fix the focus on the altar, while the use of ornamentation is limited to avoid distracting attention away from this key point.
Architect Ernst Plischke (1903-1992) was born in Vienna and emigrated to New Zealand with his Jewish wife in 1939, to escape Hitler's Nazism. During more than 20 years in New Zealand, he played a key role in introducing modern architecture.
St Mary's Church is held in high esteem by the professional architectural community as a rare example of Plischke's ecclesiastical architecture, and as an expression of the principles of the Modern Movement. The church is mentioned in numerous national and international works on Plischke, and continues to be studied by students of his work.