Every diocese is obliged by Canon Law and by the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, to maintain an archive. The Diocesan Archive ensures that all records generated by the Bishop and his administration, are “preserved [boxed and listed], transmitted, renewed and appreciated because they represent the most direct connection with the heritage of the Church Community.

The Archives of the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch had its beginnings in a collection of material from the time of its first Bishop, Bishop Grimes. This collection contained everything, from his diaries to his lantern slides, his letters to his bus tickets — everything that passed over his desk, in both directions.  The Diocesan Archives has remained at its core the material the Bishop of the day has dealt with.  

The Diocesan Archives is essentially a private archive, however research is welcomed. Please make contact with the Diocesan Archivist to discuss your research and to make an appointment. See below for some further information relating to research.



What we hold

The Catholic Diocese of Christchurch Archives has remained at its core the material the Bishop of the day has dealt with.  There are many significant areas within the Christchurch Diocesan Archives relating to the building of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament and to its later reorganization, to the various parishes, buildings, events and organizations.

A significant collection of photographs is held, catalogued by a dedicated group of volunteers who continue to index and make the archives accessible.

There is a growing collection of objects — everything from presentation trowels and keys to sports trophies, artworks and medals.

And finally, we hold an extensive reference library, which compliments the Archives collection and helps staff and researchers contextualize the extant archives. 

To follow is a small taster of the type of items we hold at the Archives:

Letter from Francis Petre, architect, to Bishop Grimes suggesting an alternative design for the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament 6 February 1899

Diary of Bishop Grimes 1911

During the consecration of a Bishop two ornamental loaves of bread and two small ornamental barrels of wine are used, decorated two with silver and two with gold, bearing the escutcheons of the Consecrator and of the Bishop-elect. These were used in the consecration of Bishop Ashby 1964.


The principal function of the Diocesan Archives is, on behalf of the Bishop, to centralise, organise, preserve, arrange, and make available to the Bishop and his advisors all the records in its care and to assist and make available to individuals, researchers and authorised persons the records that have been designated as available for their use.

Access to the Diocesan Archives is controlled by the Archivist, under approval of the Bishop.  It should be noted that while access to the Archives of the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch is welcome, it is at the discretion of the Bishop.

Please be aware that some access restrictions may be placed on material where conservation concerns are prevalent, or due to the personal nature of the information contained, in line with the Privacy Act 2020, or at the discretion of the Bishop.

Researchers are invited to consult unrestricted material held at the Diocesan Archives, by appointment. The office is open Tuesday to Friday from 10am until 1pm, by appointment only. In the first instance the Archivist should be consulted to ensure relevant records are extant.

For more information on our Archives please contact the office on 03 353 0752 or email archives@cdoc.nz


The Diocesan Archives will charge an appropriate fee for remote access, which requires archives to be consulted. The fee will be reviewed annually. The search fee for the current financial year is NZ$25 per half hour of research, irrespective of outcome. Additional reprographic charges may apply for remote requests depending on the volume and nature of material to be copied.

Please note there are no reference charges applicable if records are viewed on-site.

Research fees

Requests for access to records held at the Diocesan Archives may be made via email, post or telephone.  Where information is easily retrievable from computer lists, there will be no charge to answer the requests. If a more in-depth search is required, wherein archives need to be consulted, a research fee will be applicable. Money raised through reference requests will help off-set the cost of maintaining the Archives.

Research fee: $25 per half hour

Baptism certificates: $10 (plus postage when applicable)


Reprographic fees

Researchers may use their own camera to take photos when visiting the archives. However use of flash photography is prohibited. Please refer to the scale of fees below for reproduction and display.

Material copied for researchers is considered to be based on end use, and fees may be waived in some circumstances (eg a parish history). Some material due to fragility may not be able to be copied. The Archivist will advise as required.

Should a researcher wish to publish a copy of an item from the Diocesan Archives, they must first obtain permission and cite the archives reference correctly. The Archivist will provide the reference.  Reproduction fees may apply.

Please note some of our photographs have been provided by other institutions and their permission must be sought if a researcher wishes to publish them – we do not hold copyright. The Archivist will advise as required.


Charges for Reprographic Services are as follows:

Scan and email, or save to USB stick (provided by researcher)

$10 per image

Photocopying (Please note nineteenth century records and bound archival volumes cannot be photocopied)

$1 cents A4

$1.50 cents A3

Photography – price will depend on quality and resolution required. The Archivist will advise as required but expected to be in the range $10 – $30 per image.


Scale of fees for reproduction and display 

Diocesan Archives requires the payment of reproduction fees when the Archive’s images are published or displayed in a commercial context.  These fees are charged by the Diocese as proprietor of the material and are additional to charges for the cost of processing and supply. They are not copyright fees.  Any fee payable to a copyright holder other than the Diocese is additional to the reproduction fee.

Prices are per image unless otherwise stated, and are GST inclusive and in New Zealand dollars.


New Zealand rights

Overseas single language rights


Books (not book covers), periodicals, newspapers




Television, video, film or electronic reproduction (excluding news items )









Decoration or display in public areas (shops, cafés etc)




Postcards, greeting cards, Christmas cards, calendars




Advertising and publicity (including labels, packaging, posters, book covers, tea towels, stamps, annual reports, multimedia advertising)