Topic: Colin McCahon Leaves His Mark on Te Puke

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This article on how Colin McCahon left his mark on Te Puke was written by local historian and author, Christine Clement.

Roman Catholics had been meeting in Te Puke since 1890 but their first church was not opened until 10 May 1908 when a small wooden building was officially blessed.  It was on Cameron Road and was built on land donated earlier by Mr Florence Donovan.

By 1947 the parishioners were fundraising for a presbytery and for extensions to the existing church.  The presbytery was opened in November 1947 but the hall was not built until 1960.  These two were also built on land on the Beatty Avenue and Queen Street donated by Florence Donovan.

By the late 1960s fundraising began for a new church and the parish council had plans drawn by an architect for the building.  These were sent to the Bishop in Auckland but were soon returned and the council was told that they were to use James (Jim) Hackshaw[1] (1923-1999), architect of Auckland for their plans.

Hackshaw had been commissioned to do many Catholic buildings including the teaching block at Baradene College, and the Sisters of the Mission Chapel both in Remuera, Auckland.

The Sisters of the Mission Chapel, built in 1964, included large painted windows around each side of the building incorporating the Stations of the Cross.  These were executed by Colin McCahon (1919-1987) then lecturer at the University of Auckland School of Fine Arts.  McCahon painted a number of religious works that placed events from Christ's life in a New Zealand setting.

The tabernacle and candlesticks were by rising New Zealand sculptor Paul Dibble[2] (1943-).  This began a series of buildings that all three were all involved in.

On the2 November 1970 the new St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church on the corner of Beatty Avenue and Queen Street was blessed and opened by Bishop Delargey.  The building incorporates two windows by McCahon depicting the hill of Calvary.  It is assumed that the ornate tabernacle and candlesticks are by Paul Dibble.

by Christine Clement (2012). 



[1] It appears that James Hackshaw was a second cousin to Reginald Delargey, the Catholic Bishop of Auckland, later Cardinal Delargey.

[2] Paul Dibble is the sculptor of the New Zealand memorial in Hyde Park, London.  Known as ‘The Southern Stand’, it was dedicated in 2006.

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Colin McCahon Leaves His Mark on Te Puke

City:Te Puke

Latitude and Longitude coordinates: -37.7861649,176.3254445

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