Anglican Bishop Victoria Matthews has resigned after 10 years of leadership within the Diocese of Christchurch.

Matthews will step down from the Diocese on May 1 and described her time as bishop as "an extraordinary privilege".

"I want to thank the people in this Diocese for their faithful service. This beautiful Diocese has been through many challenges brought about by earthquakes, wind, fire and floods," she said.

"But through it all, people have been their best selves by helping others, working together and finding new ways of doing things."

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Bishop Victoria Matthews will step down from the Diocese on 1 May this year. Photo / Geoff Sloan
Bishop Victoria Matthews will step down from the Diocese on 1 May this year. Photo / Geoff Sloan

Matthews was elected Anglican Bishop of Christchurch in 2008. She was the second woman to become a diocesan bishop in New Zealand.

Her time as bishop included the long-running debate over the future of the ChristChurch Cathedral.

After the cathedral was badly damaged in the February 2011 earthquakes, Matthews recommended demolishing the cathedral and building a replacement.

At the time, Matthews told the Synod there were much greater concerns facing the church, including child poverty and climate change.

The 225-member Canterbury Synod later voted to restore the cathedral.

Matthews said at the time that she was delighted that after six and a half years a decision had been made.

On reflection, she said she was happy the Cathedral reinstatement is going ahead.

"I am particularly pleased we opted to put restoration of our relationship with the wider community in first place."

Bishop of Christchurch Victoria Matthews in front of the pre-quake cathedral. Photo / Geoff Sloan
Bishop of Christchurch Victoria Matthews in front of the pre-quake cathedral. Photo / Geoff Sloan

Looking to the future, Matthews said she was not retiring but taking "some time to reflect on what it is that God is now calling me to do".

"I'm not retiring and I'm not in ill health, I am merely following where my Saviour is leading me, wherever that may be."

Archbishop of the New Zealand Dioceses, Philip Richardson, said "I am deeply grateful for the courage and tenacity Bishop Matthews showed when she led the Diocese through a very challenging and unprecedented period".

Diocesan Chancellor Jeremy Johnson advises that when a Bishop resigns in May, the Archbishop Philip Richardson will become, in effect, 'acting Bishop'.

He will be assisted in this role by the Diocesan Standing Committee and senior leaders of the Diocese.

"The Diocese will also begin the work of choosing a new Bishop. This will be by election where the voting clergy and lay members of Synod will meet to pray, discuss and discern who should be the next Bishop.

"This process is called an electoral college. From there, the nominee will be put forward to be ratified by the provincial House of Bishops and the General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui."