Topic: Otumoetai Catholic Mission Station

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The following information is from the Tauranga City Council and Historic Places Trust sign about Otumoetai Catholic Mission Station. The panel marks the site of the old Catholic mission station which adjoined the property of the early trader James Farrow at the western end of the Otumoetai pa in the mid nineteenth century.

Looking strange? see an archived version here

This mission station, occupying less than a quarter of an acre, was the headquarters of the  Catholic  mission  in  the  Tauranga  district.  It  was  established  by  Bishop  Pompallier, who arrived from the Bay of Islands on a hired schooner on 7 March 1840. 

The church was situated on the flat land south-south-west of the Norfolk Island pine and the presbytery on the terrace at the foot of the cliff behind it. The land, named Pekiahu, was donated by the chiefs Tupaea, Tangimoana and Te Omanu. 

French Marist missionary, Phillippe Joseph Viard, 1809-1872, later Bishop of Wellington, was the first resident priest at Otumoetai. This was the first of several Catholic mission stations established in the Bay of Plenty in the 1840s.

The early raupo buildings at Otumoetai were replaced by white-painted wooden buldings. The church, famous for its interior carvings and tukutuku work, was blessed and opened by Bishop Viard on  8 September 1847. It was later mentioned in the New Zealand Pilot as a navigation mark for ships entering  the Tauranga harbour. 
The neighbourhood of the western end of the pa near the mission was known to Maori as Roma  (Rome).  The  approaches  to  it  along  the  Otumoetai  beach  from  the  Waikareao estuary  in  the  east  were  known  as  Paeatua  (drift  to  God/worship),  especially  to  the Catholics coming from Matapihi and Maungatapu.
The station had closed by late 1863 because of the disturbing effects of the Waikato land war. Father Emmanuel Royer was the last priest stationed here.  
In  1865,  following  the  battles  of  Gate  Pa  and  Te  Ranga  (1864),  Otumoetai  pa  was included in the land confiscated from Tauranga Maori. However, two small blocks of land in the pa were granted to chiefs and Maori survivors of the war period remained on them until they were sold to Pakeha settlers, the first in the late 1860s and the last in 1881. All Maori then left the Otumoetai pa permanently.
The presbytery was moved to Tauranga township about the late 1860s or early 1870s. The church fell into disrepair and collapsed in 1886. The mission land, for which a Crown Grant  was  never  issued,  became  a  part  of  the  confiscated  territory  in  1865.  It  passed into private European ownership in 1913.

This page was archived at Perma cc February 2017

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Otumoetai Catholic Mission Station


Latitude and Longitude coordinates: -37.6700645,176.1497283

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