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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.


MORAN, Patrick


Roman Catholic Bishop of Dunedin.

A new biography of Moran, Patrick appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.

Patrick Moran was born on 24 May 1823 at Rathdrum, County Wicklow, Ireland, the son of Simon Moran, a gentleman farmer, and of Ann, née Doyle. He received his early education from a private tutor, and in 1836 attended the Vincentian Fathers' Day School in Dublin before going on to St. Peter's College, Wexford, and the College of Castleknock. From 1840 until 1847 he was at Maynooth, including three years which he spent at the Dunboyne establishment, specialising in theology and philosophy. Moran was ordained in 1847, spent the following year as curate of Boaterstown Parish, and in 1849 moved to St. Mary's Church, Haddington Road, Dublin, where he promoted a Christian Doctrine and Literary Society. In 1856 Pope Pius IX designated him Vicar-Apostolic to the Eastern Province of Cape Colony and Moran was consecrated Bishop of Dardania in partibus, in Carlow Cathedral, on Low Sunday. In South Africa he became friendly with the then Governor, Sir George Grey. He took a deep and active interest in educational matters, while his broad sympathies made him extremely popular with the three races. In 1869 Moran attended the Oecumenical Council in Rome and, while there, was designated Bishop of the new see of Dunedin. On 18 February 1871 he arrived at Port Chalmers, accompanied by a number of clergy – including nine Dominican nuns – to organise the affairs of the new diocese. For a short time after the death of Bishop Viard he administered the Wellington Diocese in addition to his own.

In New Zealand Moran continued his interest in education and soon became the acknowledged champion of Catholic aspirations in this field. He opposed bitterly the “godless” public education system created by the Education Act of 1877. In January 1883, in a parliamentary by-election, he contested the Peninsula electorate in the interests of State aid to denominational schools and, although he won on the preliminary “show of hands” vote taken at the nomination meeting, he was defeated by Larnach at the poll. Despite this setback Moran continued his advocacy of State aid, and proved very energetic in building and endowing schools for his diocese. In 1881–82 and 1889 he visited Europe and, on the former occasion, called at Cape Town where he received a tremendous welcome. He founded, established, and, in its literary department, directed the New Zealand Tablet, regularly contributing to its leading columns. Moran died at Rattray Street, Dunedin, on 22 May 1895.

Bishop Moran was an able administrator and left his diocese in a very sound financial condition. A fiery preacher and public speaker, he is best remembered for his championship of denominational schools. His pertinacity in this campaign earned him the respect of his strongest opponents.

by Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.

  • Sons of France, Goulter, M. C. (1957)
  • New Zealand Tablet, 12 Jan 1883, 31 May 1895 (Obit).


Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.