St Mary's Church (Catholic)

Convent Road, Otaki

  • St Mary's Church (Catholic).
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Helen McCracken. Date: 2/01/2002.
  • St Mary's Church (Catholic).
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Helen McCracken. Date: 2/01/2002.
  • St Mary's Church (Catholic).
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Helen McCracken. Date: 2/01/2002.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4701 Date Entered 25th September 1986

Locationopen/close

City/District Council

Kapiti Coast District

Region

Wellington Region

Legal description

Pukekaraka No 5 Lot 1 Pt Lot 2 DP 16604 Lot 1 DP 44700

Summaryopen/close

St Mary's Church, Pukekaraka, built in 1858-1859, is considered to be New Zealand's oldest surviving Catholic church still in use. The Marist Fathers established a mission station on this site in 1844. Initially a raupo chapel was used for services, but this later burnt down. By then a large Maori settlement (kainga) had grown around the mission. This kainga was noted for its success with European-style agriculture. It supplied the Wellington market with produce and had its own mill. It was also noted for its support of the Kingitanga movement. The new church was completed in 1859 under the supervision of Father Seon.

When originally built the church was a simple Gothic-styled building, rectangular in shape, and measuring 48 by 24 feet [14.60 x 7.30 metres]. It had one side porch (possibly two) and a small tower. Inside the church had timber panelling. There were also side altars and a gallery. The church was dedicated by Archbishop Redwood in April 1887 as Our Lady of Victories. In 1901 the church was extended by the addition of a new sanctuary. Other changes were made to the gallery, stairs confessional and baptistery areas. The original tower was removed in 1927 following the Murchison earthquake, and an entrance porch added. Stained windows were installed in 1905 and 1942. After the loss of Rangiatea (the Anglican missionary church nearby) in 1995, parishioners installed sprinklers and had the building restored, with the help of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust/Pouhere Taonga. The tower was rebuilt and the church reopened at Easter 1998.

Today the church is situated in a complex of historic structures including a presbytery (registered Category II by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust), meeting houses, way of the cross, shrines etc. The church retains its close connection to the Maori community, although the parish it serves has expanded to include others from the wider community. A new larger church was built adjacent to St Mary's in 1992, but St Mary's is still used for weekday mass.

St Mary's Church, Otaki, is New Zealand's oldest Catholic church still in use. The church is important for its association with the Marist Fathers. Both the church and the local Otaki community hold the building in high esteem.

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Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1857 - 1858

Addition
1901 -
Sanctuary added

Modification
1905 -
Glass window installed

Other
1927 -
Original tower removed

Addition
1920 - 1930
Entrance porch added

Modification
1942 -
Glass window installed

Addition
1980 -
Confessional box added (removed during restoration)

Other
1995 - 1998
Restoration and tower rebuilt

Information Sources

Historic Places in New Zealand

Historic Places in New Zealand

Patricia Adams, 'Otaki's French Tipuna, the Pukekaraka Mission', March 1986, No.12

Other Information

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.