The Catholic missionary in Te Wahi Pounamu
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The object of this work is to depict the life of pioneer missionaries in a new and remote country. It may help those who live in an age of comparative comfort to realise the hardships endured by those who came to “sow the good seed” in these southern lands. It will serve also to show the generous support given by the original settlers to the building and maintenance of their schools and churches. Beyond the few chapters dealing with Westland in Mr. Wilson's book, “The Catholic Church in New Zealand”, there is no other written record of the progress of the Catholic Church on the West Coast of the South Island. Limited as is the scope of the present work, it has entailed a good deal of research owing to the fact that at very few of the centres have diaries or annals of Church activities been written. This is accounted for by the fact that the strenuous work of our first missionaries allowed them scarcely any time for church work. They were busy making history; they had no time to write it. The New Zealand “Tablet”, the chief Catholic newspaper of the Dominion has been of assistance. The “West Coast Times” which dates as far back as 1865 and the “Grey River Argus” dating from 1866 have also chronicled some of the chief events. To the files of these three newspapers I had access. Best of all some of the pioneer Catholics, active church-workers in the olden days, are still with us. They love to revisit in spirit the haunts where once they helped to build the little church and where they welcomed with song or farewelled with tears this or that good priest of the early days. Accurate information as to the dates of the arrival and the departure of the various missionaries, I obtained from the Marist Year Book, 1927, which contains a short biography of all the early missionaries of the Marist Order. Owing to the limited time at my disposal, I have been forced to make use of the art of arts - that of omission; the present condition of the Catholic Church in Westland could be treated more fully and incidents that would give added interest could be included, were it possible to protract the writing of the thesis over a longer period.