The City of Christchurch was founded in 1850, the first city in New Zealand to receive a charter from Queen Victoria. It is named after the College of Christ Church at Oxford University, where the founders of The Canterbury Association attended.
Christchurch Cathedral was consecrated on 1 November 1881, seventeen years after the foundation stone was laid. A choir, based on the English cathedral tradition, was deemed essential for the services of consecration, so the choir, and choir school, were founded six months beforehand.
Today, the Choir is the only men and boys choir in New Zealand and one of only two in the Southern Hemisphere with its own choir school, The Cathedral Grammar School, to which all choristers receive scholarships. The 18 boys range in age from eight to 13. They sing five services and ten rehearsals each week during school terms. In addition there are civic functions, concerts and recitals. The 10 men consist of four lay clerks (professional singers), and six Godley/Wakefield Scholars, receiving scholarships which cover tertiary education costs.
In 2008 the Choir undertook a very successful tour of the USA and UK, singing at many of the great Cathedrals and culminating in a week as residentiary choir at Westminster Abbey. A visit was made to Australia in 2013, where the Choir visited Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Goulburn.
Following they devastating earthquake in February 2011, the Cathedral community worshipped in the Chapel at Christ’s College, the private Anglican boys secondary school in Christchurch. In 2013, the Transitional Cathedral (often referred to as the “Cardboard” Cathedral, as cardboard forms much of the structure) was open and the full schedule of Cathedral worship has resumed there.