A large blaze has extensively damaged a Catholic church in New Plymouth today, devastating its large family parish, the Parish Pastoral Council chairman says.

The Fire Service received numerous calls from the public just before 3pm and crews arrived to find the fire had "taken hold" of St Philomena's church on Brooklands Rd.

Parish chairman Collin Fromont said he had not seen the inside of the building, but its roof had been destroyed.

It was devastating for the community, he said.


Nearby St Pius X school was also "very much part of the church community".

"It's a great family parish we have at Philomena so it's not just going to affect the older parishioners, it's going to affect the kids as well," Mr Fromont said.

The church was insured and Mr Fromont said it was early days, but at the moment he assumed it would be rebuilt.

Central fire communications shift manager Mike Wanoa said at the height of the blaze about 35 firefighters, seven appliances and supporting units were battling the fire.

Police were also present, diverting traffic from the scene.

It took about an hour to get the fire under control and some crews were still at the site dampening down hotspots, Mr Wanoa said.

The cause was not yet known, but a fire investigator would begin an inquiry into how it started.

Nobody was injured in the blaze and no other buildings damaged, Mr Wanoa said.