The Diocese of Auckland to-day is rich in numbers and in works. It has a vigorous spiritual life that finds expression in the becoming celebration of public worship; in an extensive and well-conducted system of Catholic education; in several charitable works of no mean stature. We still have, and must always expect to have, our difficulties and shortcomings, but when we compare the state of the Catholic Church in Auckland in this year of grace, 1922, with what it was eighty years ago we can only thank God with a full heart for the wonders He has wrought in our midst and for the increase beyond all hope He has given. If New Zealand has advanced, so has the Catholic Church in New Zealand.
This vigorous life is due, under God, to the lives and works of the bishops, priests, Sisters, and faithful people who came here in days of old from their sweet homes and dear countries—Ireland, and France, England, Scotland, and Holland. They sowed the seed, and as it was God's seed they were scattering, they had to sow in poverty, hardship, and often in tears. But the work was done, for the Lord's arm did not wax short nor His mercy fail, and His sanctifying power touched and quickened into life the seed that came from the Catholic hearts of these heroes of the Faith. Their story is written in the annals of Heaven, but it must not be allowed to die out of the grateful hearts of young New Zealand. However busy we may be to-day with our own responsibilities and problems we cannot, we must not forget the past—the seed-time and the labourers.
One part of the fine story is given to us in this book of Father Golden's. The gifted author had many qualifications for undertaking the pleasant task of telling the story —long and intimate acquaintance with the scenes and actors, an amazingly retentive memory, the historical sense, unflagging industry, a ready pen and warm love, springing from knowledge, for the men and women to whom he pays a well-deserved tribute of affection. It is fortunate that Father Golden has put his memories in writing, for his fifty-one years of priestly life since his ordination in St. Patrick's Cathedral, Auckland, February 26, 1871, carry him back almost to the time of the first Bishop of Auckland; indeed, he is now the only living link amongst the clergy with the brave days of fifty years ago.
Father Golden was induced to write in the first instance by the Right Rev. H. W. Cleary, Bishop of Auckland. His Lordship eagerly welcomed the reminiscences to the pages of The Month, where they appeared in a series of articles from January, 1920, to May, 1921, and were of absorbing interest to thousands of readers. We cannot but feel grateful to the chronicler for now bringing together in the compact and permanent pages of a book this considerable mass of valuable information and these many edifying incidents of the Church's early history in the Diocese of Auckland. Father Golden would render a service to the future historian if he would give us more treasures out of his extensive and accurate knowledge.
JAMES M. LISTON, Coadjutor Bishop of Auckland. May 3, 1922.
The writer of these sketches lays no claim to high style in the following pages. Plain treatment is more suitable to the subject. His purpose is to review in simple language the leading facts as known to himself, or suggested by a few who played their part in the Old Waikato.
As the writer proceeded, the subject became interesting, if not fascinating. Again and again scenes arose before the mind that clamored for a record. But a determination to keep closely to the main points excluded fanciful sketches. These he has eschewed, as also political and religious questions that provoke controversy. He has confined himself to persons, financial matters, and things pertaining to the Catholic Church and her interests. An occasional brief description of localities occurs as a proper setting to a church site, or for some cognate reason. A few anecdotes, out of many that might be told, may not, it is hoped, be out of place.
As for the early days in the Old Waikato, they were certainly times of great stress and trial, especially in the pre-war period. The first missionaries had the greatest privations of all, and they fully deserved whatever meed of praise we have given them. And those priests and people who lived and toiled in post-war early days deserve honourable mention. Their earthly rewards were scant indeed, but they laid a solid foundation of faith for the future. Prelates, priests, and people worked in great harmony for the well-being of faith and religion. Many have reaped the reward of the "good and faithful servant" in the vineyard of the Lord. Some are yet on their pilgrimage to their heavenly home.
In the April of 1874, Father Fynes, V.G., sent the writer to assume charge of the Waikato. To the intense grief of clergy and people, Bishop Thomas William Croke had departed for Europe, via America, a few months previously. Although this prelate, so distinguished for his eloquence and for his exposition of Catholic faith and principles, did not announce his intention of never more returning, yet it was felt that he had gone for good. He had settled the affairs of the diocese, amongst them the redemption from heavy mortgage of the episcopal grounds and residence in Ponsonby. At first his residence was in Hobson Street, Auckland, where now stands Mr. Little's "Marble Arch."
In those early days there was no train. Quick's stables in Elliott Street were the rendezvous for passengers to the remote Waikato, and 6 a.m. was the hour for departure. W. Carter was the skilled jehu, a tall and athletic American, who handled his team with great dexterity. There were nine changes of teams on the journey, at Otahuhu, Drury, Bombay Hill, Mercer, Half-way-house, Rangiriri (where passengers found a comfortable dinner); then came Huntly, Ngaruawahia, and Half-way-house, while Hamilton was reached between 7 and 8 p.m., according to road and weather conditions.
When the coach had reached Ngaruawahia, a group of men captured me for a banquet prepared in honour of the occasion. This took place in the Delta Hotel, then conducted by Mr. Louis Harris. The friends in Hamilton were sorely disappointed, as they had made similar preparations, and had no inkling of the happenings at Ngaruawahia, the picturesque settlement at the junction of the Waikato and Waipa Rivers. As the coach service was only tri-weekly, it was a couple of days more when the Hamilton deputation received their new pastor. An explanation and apology for the mishap satisfied the parties. But though they absolved the priest from censure, the Ngaruawahia people were not so easily pardoned. However, they conveyed me to Mr. Richard Burke's Hotel, Hamilton East, where I was his guest for some three months. Mr. Burke and family are now residents of Mount Albert, Auckland. There was a little presbytery next to the old church in Hamilton East, but in a very dilapidated condition and unfit for habitation. The people set to work with great good will and unanimity to effect the necessary repairs, and in some three months the priest had a home of his own, and he was glad to procure the humble furniture himself. As the people were few and money very scarce, the writer was too reluctant to impose on his friends any further obligation than the necessary improvements to the four-roomed cottage. Besides, he had had free hospitality, when in Hamilton, at Mr. Burke's Hotel. Between priest and flock good relations were established from the beginning, and such feelings of mutual confidence and good-will never failed us during the seven years, or nearly so, that the writer laboured in the vineyard of the broad Waikato. With much pleasure do we now recall such happy relations.
Hamilton in the ‘Seventies’.
In those days Hamilton was a very small, bedraggled township. There was no bridge there, neither was there a bridge at Ngaruawahia, nor at Whatawhata to span the Waipa. Punts did duty instead, and as heavy traffic was very limited, the punt system afforded fair satisfaction. The population of Hamilton was somewhere about 400. Frankton was simply Mr. Frank Jolly's farm, and beyond that lay a hopeless wilderness of swampy country. The one thing of beauty was the Waikato River, which divided the town into Hamilton West and Hamilton East. The church was about 30 feet long and was weather-stained almost black, having never been touched with paint or paint-brush. It had props at one side, and soon corresponding crutches had to be erected on the opposite side. Originally it stood at the redoubt over the river, when the Waikato Militia occupied that stronghold of the war-days. It had no lining and looked a very sorry structure for a church building. Yet it suited the times fairly well. Rome was not built in a day. The people were not to blame, and, moreover, they had secured three acres as permanent church property. Of course, land was very cheap at the time, but money was a very scarce commodity in those early days. Swampers and road-makers earned a precarious livelihood at their heavy toil, and farmers, few and far between, could hardly make the land pay. There were no regular markets there at the time.
Some old families.
In addition to a horse which 1 had first secured, another soon arrived from Auckland, sent by some generous friends who rightly conjectured that a priest in the Waikato had need of him. Later on there was employment for three saddle-horses, the work being so constant, the journeys so long and tiresome, and the roads so generally deep in mud. The distance from Hamilton to Captain Swan's on Ruapuke Hill, between Raglan and Kawhia, was 60 miles over steep and dreary mountain, through lonely bush and bridgeless creeks. Half-way-house there was none, but rider and steed had plenty of pure water on the way. Some biscuits and limpid water made a pleasant repast, while the herbage refreshed the wearied horse. But the welcome accorded by Captain and Mrs. Swan and children made amends for hardships of the journey. So, too, it was at Raglan and other distant stations, which the priest was able to visit only at long intervals.
The principal Catholic families at Hamilton were the Pillings and their revered mother, the wife of Colonel de Quincy, Mr. de Vere Hunt, the Burkes, the Clearys, the Crosbys, the Chittys, the Joneses, Sergeant McGovern and wife, the McSweeneys, the Ryans, Roaches, Lees, Cartys, Murphys, Stokes, Deegans, Delaneys, Hackets, O'Connells, Cassidys, Kennys, Walshes, Cussens, Wallnutts, Kellys, and the McGarrigles, who came a year or so later. There were a few more, whose names have fallen from my memory. Some of the families were on the land, but farming was in a backward condition. Transport to Auckland there was none. Products were bartered in local stores for other goods. Meat was very cheap at the time, as the population was so sparse. However, the railway was under construction all the way from Auckland to Te Awamutu, and the hope of better times in the near future kept the people in good heart. To me it was evident that a new church was out of the question until the line was opened to Frankton. I wanted kauri timber from the Auckland sawmills. Local timber was no good except for a few years.
Predecessors in Old Waikato.
My immediate predecessor was Father Hoyne, who resided for a while at Ohaupo; but generally he had no fixed abode. Owing to the state of his health, he was assigned to the easier mission at Panmure, where he died a few years later. His predecessor was Father Viney, who came from France and returned to France after he had left the Waikato. As he and Dr. Croke (the Bishop) were riding together from Hamilton to Ohaupo, he suddenly exclaimed: "Look sharp, my Lord; look sharp; break-neck gully ahead, break-neck gully!" and he pulled up suddenly in order to avoid another fall from the saddle, and he related to the Bishop how he and his steed had once rolled down the steep bank and escaped death almost by a miracle. As it was, his head was injured and he was left with a limping gait.
Father Garavelle (French also) was another pioneer of the Waikato. He lived at Rangiawhia, the old Maori Mission Station in pre-war times. He was greatly beloved by the Natives. He afterwards went to Sydney, where he had charge of a parish for many years. In my time, he paid a visit to the Waikato and stayed a few weeks in the King Country with his old friends beyond the Puniu River. He told me he could not resist the impulse that urged him to lay his eyes once more on his dear old Native friends. It was a pathetic renewal of tenderest attachment between priest and people. When bidding me and the Waikato farewell, the good old priest shed tears and moved others to tears also. He had a strong presentiment that his days were drawing very near to a close, but he had satisfied the longing of his heart; so he sang his ' 'Nunc Dimittis," returned to his parish in Sydney, and died there in the same year, not many months afterwards.
The distance from Hamilton down river to Ngaruawahia is some twelve miles. The situation of Ngaruawahia is strikingly picturesque, standing at the delta, where the Waikato and the Waipa commingle their navigable waters. The fine bush-clad ranges across the rivers add much beauty to the place. Ngaruawahia was the seat of Waikato Maori royalty at one time. Pototau, the first king, held court here, and here he was buried, but his bones were afterwards carried away and interred elsewhere. The remains of others, chiefs and followers, were removed to Taupiri. But the train now runs its rapid course through that "wahi tapu," or holy ground, regardless of Maori feeling.
During the Waikato War, which ended early in 1865, Ngaruawahia was a military camp, owing to its commanding position at the junction of two navigable rivers. Cambridge and Alexandra (now Pirongia) were within easy reach by steamer. In pre-war times there were some native Catholics at Ngaruawahia, and Father Anthony, nephew to Bishop Pompallier, was their pastor. He lived quite close-by, on the banks of the Waipa. The well which he used was called "St. Anthony's Well," and it was the first water employed by the Henry Reynolds Butter Factory Co.
The dimensions of the church at Ngaruawahia were 40ft by 20ft, quite large enough for the requirements of the local Catholic body. This building was in good part erected by five devoted men, who contributed £5 each towards the work. Of course many others gave according to their respective means, and gradually the whole debt was wiped out. The structure was painted, but not lined. Messrs. T. V. Fitzpatrick, Edmund Fitzpatrick, Geo. Gilmore, Timothy Gormson, and Wm. Bell were the five worthy men referred to above. The church was erected in Father Hoyne's time, and it was blessed and dedicated by Bishop Croke. The Bishop's fame as a preacher drew a packed congregation, about a third being non-Catholics, on the happy occasion. All were greatly impressed with the sermon. Whenever Dr. Croke preached he drew the crowds and won their warmest admiration.
The Church and People.
The Catholics of Ngaruawahia I found most spirited and liberal in financial help and personal effort in regard
to church improvements. Mr. Edmund Fitzpatrick had the ornamental trees planted, and he cared for them until they were tall and strong. Mr. Harry Kavanagh supplied a gate and picket fence in front, and a general "working bee" erected a sod fence along the three other sides of the church acre. A wooden bell-tower, too heavy for the light structure, stood on the front, over the doorway. Every gale shook this bell-tower, thereby greatly endangering the church. Besides the rain came pouring down through the openings made by the pressure of every stormy wind. So the ambitious looking tower had to be taken down; it was replaced by a very ornamental little belfry which gave no trouble. In my time the Railway Department wanted to purchase the grounds for extension of their yards. Priest and Committee were willing to sell and find another site; but the price offered was so paltry that we refused to accept it. The sale fell through and the church continued to do duty for many years, until at length the Railway Department purchased the site. The priest and people then erected the fine concrete, structure which is so conspicuous a landmark farther up on the Hamilton road. This was built in Father (now Dean) Cahill's time. His successor, Father Edge, also did work on the sacred edifice. As one looks over from the Main Trunk Line the building presents a bold, solid, and ornamental appearance.
As for the Catholics of Ngaruawahia in early times, they were chiefly the following: —
The before-mentioned organisers of the Church, whose names need not be repeated. The others were Mr. Sheehy, Mrs. Louis Harris, Mr. Jeff O’Connor, Mr. and Mrs. M. O'Connor, Mr. John O’Grady, the Sloane family, Mr. Lang, Mr. Dennis O’Leary, Mr. Thomas McKeon, Constable Kavanagh, Mrs. Lamb of the flour-mills, Mr. Harry Kavanagh, Mr. John O'Neil, John McSweeney, and Mr. Hiscocks. John O'Neil was engaged in skilled work in sinking the cylinders of the railway bridge, but the long hours down deep under the river-waters undermined the strong man's health and led to his early death. The same fate overtook some men on the Whittaker and Russell swamp. Their brawny shoulders won them high pay in the unhealthy peat drains; but they succumbed to swamp
fever. Mr. Hiscocks, then recently arrived from England, served the priest as acolyte at the altar for some years. As organist and choirmaster he had, in later years, a long, devoted, and distinguished career at St. Patrick's, Auckland. Other few adherents of the Church on the railway works escape my memory. But I do not forget that they attended to their religious duties and helped according to their limited resources. The maximum pay per day was then, I believe, six shillings; but many men worked on farms at five shillings per diem.
A sick call.
Mr. Lang, by trade a butcher, was, in the popular phrase, "a good sport," and kept a dashing racehorse. One Sunday morning he rode up some four miles beside the Waipa River and then made for the fields. Unfortunately, both rider and horse came to grief in negotiating an ugly fence. Mr. Lang was thrown on his head and rendered unconscious. Witnesses of the accident picked him up and conveyed him to a neighboring house. His case seemed hopeless. Medical aid was summoned from Hamilton, and a telegram was handed to the writer of these lines on the altar at Rangiawhia, 40 miles distant. The prayers of the congregation were asked for the injured man; and immediately after Mass I set out to administer the rites of the Church to him. A kind-hearted young man, Patrick Coyle (now residing at Mount Roskill, Auckland), offered me his horse, as mine was rather tired after a rapid ride from early Mass at Ohaupo. Mr. Coyle's spirited steed reached Hamilton, 24 miles distant, in two hours. There I left him and rode away on the best horse procurable at the livery stables. I met the medical man on the way and we made a 16 miles trip in one hour and a half. People (among them Mr and Mrs Lamb) were amazed at the rapidity of the journey, not expecting me for two or three hours later. The patient was delirious, his condition grave, but (to my mind) not hopeless. The sacred rites of the Church, suited to his condition, were administered, and during the next forenoon he had greatly improved, and on the following morning he was able to receive Holy Communion. A few days later I revisited him from Hamilton East, where I resided. He was not able to resume his usual avocations for at least three months. The shock to his system was very severe. Later on he sold his interests in Ngaruawhia and, I understand, went to his brother in the West Indies. He was a nephew of Dr. Wood, of Auckland, whom many old identities will remember.
Ngaruawhia Priests from 1880.
Father Augustine Luck took charge in October 1880. From Kihikihi, where he resided, he visited Catholics as far north as Rangiriri for a term of more than 18 years. His successor was Father Croke, who died in Philadelphia on June 8, 1903. In declining health (he was consumptive) he set his face towards Ireland, but when in Philadelphia he was obliged to cut his journey short. The Jesuit Fathers gave him hospitality in their College Hospital, and there he finished his early and promising career. His funeral proceeded from the Catholic Cathedral down the great square. When on a holiday tour immediately afterwards, the present writer gleaned these facts at the Jesuit College just mentioned above.
After Father Croke's departure, Ngaruawahia and Huntly were erected into a separate parish. An interval of irregular attendance followed, and Father Cahill (now Dean Cahill, of Parnell) took charge of the parish. His term extended from 1906 to the middle of Februaryv 1914. During the first four-and-a-half years he resided at Ngaruawahia and then, on account of the opening of a convent and school (through the kindness of a generous benefactor, Miss Ralph), he changed to Huntly, where he erected a presbytery. In Father Cahill's time the Government took over the old Ngaruawahia Church and its site for the sum of £500. The large and solid new church we have already noticed. It cost £2,200, contract price. In 1908 Father Cahill also built a small church at Raglan. Father Edge succeeded to the pastorate in 1914 and remained until 1917. Besides the work already alluded to above, he was responsible for many improvements at Huntly. Father J. O’Hara succeeded, and is still in charge (January, 1920).
Taupiri, a cosy spot, five miles from Ngaruawahia, stands at the junction of the Mangawhare river with the majestic Waikato. Right overhead is the bold and picturesque Taupiri peak, cone-shaped, and visible from all parts of the Waikato plains. Across the broad waters is a narrow strip of river-land, flanked by a beautiful range of wooded hills, which run all the way from distant Pirongia. At the base of the cone there was a powerful stone-crushing machine, which supplied the railway with ballast. Here were also stores and sleeping accommodation for the navvies up and down the line. The Mangawhare Plains for miles inland had excellent land awaiting development. Besides, a by-road from this point was the shortest way to Hamilton. At the time of which I write, Taupiri was rapidly improving for these and various other reasons, and it seemed good to all concerned to build a small church there. But there were only four Catholic families at Taupiri, the Lovells, the Hogans, the Timmonses, and the Hacketts. In every case the children were few and very young. But there were a few staunch young men among the navvies. A good site of three-quarters of an acre was secured, and all friends lent willing and cheerful hands towards the raising of the necessary funds. Mr. William Lovell, though a non-Catholic, managed a concert, which realised some £20. Subscriptions were raised along the line and the church was erected. The building was 30ft by 20ft,quite large enough for some years to come. There remained a substantial deficit, which the priest himself willingly met. Early Mass was celebrated here and late Mass at Ngaruawahia. Some years after I had left the Waikato, sparks from the train-engine ignited the rubbish which had accumulated about the building, and the church was reduced to a heap of ashes. It has not been replaced ever since.
Next comes Huntly. It is five miles down the river from Taupiri; and all along, the way the rushing waters of the gorge are in fine view. At Huntly the Ralph family owned a coalfield, at that time not much developed.
Only a very few men were employed in the mine, and the coal was got from a drive in a hill-side and man-handled in trucks down to the river steamer. There was no thought of a shaft. But this was only the beginning of a great future.Mrs. Ralph had two sons and two daughters at home and a married son (Robert) farming in the neighbourhood. Another son, John Ralph, returned from Taranaki, married and kept a store at Huntly, but died soon. There was also the Dunn family, relatives of the Ralphs, besides afew single men in the mine and among the railway navvies. Those mentioned above constituted about the sum total of Huntly's “little flock” of Catholics at the time. They had Mass occasionally and when a small public school was erected, Mass was celebrated there on alternate Sundays with Taupiri, the priest always taking Ngaruawahia on the same day. As is well known, Huntly has been for years one of the chief centres of the coalmining industry in New Zealand. At my request, Mrs. Ralph donated a fine site for a church, but it was not possible to procure funds for its erection at the time. Why Father Luck did not build, I have not ascertained. The church was erected after his day. But Father Luck was a devoted missioner. Miss Ralph has since endowed the gift of land with both convent and school; and thus religious interests are well provided for at Huntly.
As regards Rangiriri, the place counted in those times only two Catholic families, the Malones and the Pattersons. They had an occasional week-day visit and Mass was celebrated at the Malones hospitable home. Rangiriri is 12 miles from Huntly, on the way to Auckland, and 34 miles from Hamilton. The Maoris of old had a series of concentric pahs on the hill, which commanded the river and the lake in the rear. During the Waikato War, British gunboats on the Waikato shelled the great pah, driving the Natives pell-mell down to the lake. Many were killed in the reedy swamp and in the canoes as they endeavoured to escape. Without the river boats, the storming of the formidable stronghold would have been a tough and dangerous proposition. Even as it was, some 25 or 30 soldiers fell there, as the local cemetery testifies. The battle of Rangiriri was a lively and important event in the Waikato War. The capture of the pah opened the gate to the extensive Waikato Plains, and to all the Maori strongholds, and with these in the possession of the invaders, the brown man's inheritance would soon pass into the hands of the Pakeha.
We now come to the important settlement of Cambridge, some 12 miles almost due east of Hamilton. From the beginning, the country in the vicinity was deemed to be first-class. The incipient township stood on a plateau high above the river and at the very head of navigation. A coach connected Cambridge with Hamilton, while the river boats ran to Mercer, within 38 miles of Auckland by the old rugged way over Razorback and Bombay.
On a fine elevation over the town of Cambridge I found a quaint and pathetic apology for a church. It was very small and unsightly and had no window, except one over the little altar. This let in the rain, which blackened a wall that never knew ornamentation, or any lining, except scrim behind the altar. The roof sagged inwards from each side. The building was never erected for a church, but served as a post office in earlier days. It would accommodate 40 or 50 adults at most, and was uncomfortably packed at service. The site was excellent, which was one most hopeful feature of the situation. Later on, we purchased another acre beside the then existing church section. This was, so to speak, snatched out of the fire, and cost £30, owing to very keen competition. But even at double that cost I would not have let it go, so valuable and suitable was it for future use. Father Murphy, in recent times, erected a handsome brick presbytery on this ground, and the church property has another residence which brings in a rental.
"Rome was not built in a day," neither did a new church spring up on the hill at Cambridge as soon as it was both needed and desired. There was some discussion over some timber which (it was stated) had been brought to the local wharf for the erection of a church some years before. Nothing could, however, be done in regard to this matter, and the committee set to work with commendable zeal to expedite the much-needed work of erecting a new-church.
Very soon the committee set about organising a great concert in the new Public Hall. I recommended that the Doran Brothers and Ted O'Hare, great favourites in Auckland, should be invited to help the local talent. That was done, and a "bumper" house was the happy result. The Auckland team was greeted with the warm applause which they well deserved, nor did the over-flowing audience fail to appreciate duly their valuable local talent. The Auckland men were treated right royally and their expenses of travel were paid; but they generously refused any remuneration for time and valued services. All expenses deducted, the concert realised over £30, a splendid result for so small a place at that time. All denominations helped the good cause. The Doran Brothers and Ted O’Hare are yet in the land of the living and have still a vivid remembrance of that Cambridge concert of those old Waikato days.
The Cambridge Church.
Meantime subscription lists circulated all through (but not outside) the Cambridge district. As each little township in the Waikato had its own distinctive work to do an instruction from the priest prevented the various localities from canvassing outside their own limits, but if subscriptions were voluntarily offered by outsiders they were thankfully received. And as for bazaars and lotteries, and all the paraphernalia in connection therewith, I gave it distinctly to be understood that they were totally alien to my mind. Nor have I ever in any place organised or allowed them. General subscriptions and a couple of local concerts in each year were always found by me to be a workable system.
The Cambridge Church, 50ft by 25ft, was opened some 42 or 43 years ago. It was built of local timber, as there was no railway to bring kauri. And in very truth there was urgent need for the building. A fine American small organ was secured at a cost of £50, and a good choir was quickly in existence. Mr. and Mrs. Madigan, Mr. and Mrs. William Kerr, Mr. Brennan, and Mrs. Brennan, with some few more, made an efficient choir for Mass and Benediction. Mrs. Brennan was our organist. Thus was the place looking up by degrees. As no help was available from Auckland on the opening day, I had to carry out all the religious services single-handed and despite drawbacks, it was a great occasion for the little flock at Cambridge.
Henceforth, I was able to sleep in the sacristy and to leave the hotel, where I had been living. Two benches were easily spared from the church and placed in the sacristy. Between these, facing each other, Mrs. Robert McVeagh placed bedclothes, and there I rested and was happy and grateful. Then in addition, Robert and James McVeagh (now well-known members of the legal profession in Auckland) became my acolytes from the very opening of the new church; and I have never had better or more alert boys in all my long experience. Hitherto, in the old place, Neill Dogherty, deceased for some years, had been my faithful Mass server, the boys just mentioned being, at that time, too young to render such assistance. Of them I still retain a very pleasing and grateful remembrance, as well as of all the McVeagh family, who extended a warm-hearted and much appreciated kindness to every priest who ministered in Cambridge
Maoris and ‘Father James’.
About this time there was a Maori land sale in Cambridge, and this brought a large attendance of Natives from all the back country. The sitting of the Court continued for three months, as large blocks of land were concerned. Lawyers were there from Auckland, some of them, it was rumoured, making £10 per day. Clothing that was cheap in Auckland was sold at high prices in Cambridge, and caterers for food and strong drink did what was termed a "roaring" trade. By the end of the land sale, some of the Natives had died and the survivors went home landless and (some of them) moneyless as well. It was a very disastrous transaction for the poor people, as it occurred in winter, and there was very little house-shelter for them. At that time Dr. James McDonald was, practically, the only priest on the Native Mission. At my urgent request, he came to Cambridge and spent a fortnight with the Maoris, who filled the church to overflowing. They sang so sweetly, both at Mass and Benediction, that crowds of people went up to listen outside the walls. The good and zealous Father James was in his proper element amidst his beloved Native people. In those days he had a cottage at Drury, in charge of an old Maori man, and from this place, as from a jumping board, he sallied forth to the distant North, where he spent six months. Back to Drury again, and after a much needed rest, he sped to the Waikato and away down the East Coast by Tauranga, Matata, Opotiki, Whakatane, and many smaller centres. On one occasion I saw him on his journey near Mercer. The zealous doctor came first, on a good horse; then followed a Native; next, a second native, and, finally, a riderless horse—all in imposing single file, after the Maori way. The Doctor carried large saddle-bags packed with all requisites for his services; the two Maori young men also carried saddle-bags, with all manner of cooking and eating utensils; and the last horse followed with a tent and poles for its erection. The tent served as a moveable home to the wandering missioner, and as a quaint little church in isolated localities. Such was Father McDonald's equipment on his arduous and self-denying Maori mission. But he always seemed cheerful and happy, for he dearly loved his brown people and spoke their language to perfectly. Moreover, he would not sleep in a white man's house, nor do duty for the Pakeha, lest he should offend the people to whom he devoted his life. He died on the Hokianga, and the Natives conveyed his remains across country to the Bay of Islands, whence a steamer brought the coffin to Auckland. Here Father Walter McDonald, his brother, took charge of the obsequies, and there was an imposing funeral to Panmure, where the good old missionary's remains were interred. The Natives from the Hokianga. and others made a great tangi for him; later on they erected to his memory a monument that cost some £50. The inscription is in Maori and English. Monsignor McDonald (better known as Father Walter) was then parish priest of Panmure, Howick, and Ellerslie, his residence being at Panmure.
I desire here to add some further details regarding Cambridge in the Old Waikato Days which are the subject
of these informal memoirs. Besides the members of the Cambridge choir, already mentioned in a previous paper, the writer of these lines retains pleasant recollections of the following: Mr. Archibald Clements, the Ryan family, the McGuires, the O'Neills, Frank O'Neill (their son), Mrs. Peterson, the Hickeys (whose grandson, Father Leonard Buxton, was raised to the priesthood on July 27, 1919, in St. Patrick's Cathedral, by the Right Rev. Dr. Cleary). The Doghertys, the Hanlons, the O’Briens, the Davitts, another family of Ryans, the McGuinness family, the Robinsons (parents of Mrs. Sneddon of Ponsonby), the Montagues, and some single men, recent arrivals from Old Erin. Some of these families were on the land, some in business. I may here be permitted to supply the name of a worthy performer inadvertently omitted in my already published recollections of the historic Doran-Hare church concert at Cambridge. I refer to Mr. Edwards, who had a well merited share in the ovation that greeted the performers on that memorable occasion.
A few times I rode over the hills and far away to distant Matamata in search of scattered members of our "little flock." The few I discovered were contractors from Hamilton, and they made regular visits to their homes. The great estate of Matamata was then owned by Mr. Firth, of the Auckland Flour Mills. At Waitoa, towards Te Aroha, I found some Hamilton young men, who rode home occasionally, especially at Easter and Christmas. And at Morrinsville I baptised a child for a Catholic family, the only members of my flock whom I could discover there. The Morrins owned the estate at the time, and there were a hotel and store, where now stands the rising and flourishing town of Morrinsville, with its important railway junction, for Rotorua on the one side and on the other Te Aroha and the whole Thames Valley. Matamata, Morrinsville, and many other large estates in that region are now studded with prosperous farms. So are all the great stations in the Waikato proper. What a change in the aspect of the whole country! Nevertheless, the big runs gave a fair amount of employment for the time; and the great work of pioneering done by them led up gradually to the close settlement and the flowing prosperity which came in later years. Since the closing months of last year (1919) the Rev. John Taylor has been resident priest in charge of the newly-constituted parish of Matamata, with its pretty church and some 80 Catholic families. Thus the religious development of that flourishing region has not lagged behind its advance in pastoral and agricultural prosperity.
These notes on the Old Waikato Days now bring me to the settlement of Ohaupo, some 12 miles south of Hamilton. It was here that the present writer was instrumental in building his first Catholic church in the Waikato. The congregation consisted of Irish and Bohemians. Mr. Michael Krippener lent his sitting-room for Mass. It was much too small, and the worshippers spread themselves all through the house. Later on, Mr. Krippener disposed of his place and settled by the Waipa River, many miles away. A vigorous effort was made at Ohaupo for the erection of a new church. Mr. James Corrigan offered an excellent site, level and commanding a delightful view from high ground. This gift was, so to speak, a spring-board for the enterprise. A good working committee was formed, the movement prospered; but meantime, there was no religious service at Ohaupo, and many rode over to Rangiawhia and elsewhere to attend Holy Mass.
Subscriptions kept piling up rather freely, navvies on the railway formation helped considerably. Mr. Daniel Fallon (now of Remuera, Auckland), was contractor for that section of the railway works. He lent a willing hand himself and encouraged his men to do likewise. Very soon a contract was let; an attractive looking building (40ft by 20ft) was erected, and became a conspicuous object on the hill. Local timber had to be used, as there was yet no railway from Auckland. But the best material then procurable was employed, and the settlers were rather proud of their building. By voluntary labour they raised a good fence around the grounds and planted the enclosure with trees, which grew to tall and stately proportions in comparatively few years. On the opening day, a goodly sum was raised and in a couple of years the whole of the debt was wiped out. Wall lining and benches with backs had been omitted at first, but they were added in good time. So the building was fairly equipped and the priest linked up Ohaupo with Alexandra (now Pirongia) on the same Sunday. The distance between the two churches was nine miles, and the swamp road was usually bad. Other parts were hilly. Highly attractive was the scenery along the Ohaupo road, which followed a ridge for some miles. There were lakes to the left, lakes to the right, with fine clumps of verdant bush to vary the charming picture. The Maungatautari Ranges, the Kakepuke Cone, up in the King Country, and Pirongia's rugged, tree-clad sides and volcanic peaks, rose up in impressive beauty in the distance. Then there was that conspicuous range rising west of the Waipa River and pursuing its unbroken course from Pirongia to Taupiri, over 30 miles down stream, and in clear view, as a great fringe, from all parts of the Waikato.
Old Ohaupo Families.
The Catholics of Ohaupo were not numerous, but they were the only organised religious body in that quarter. They were chiefly Michael Krippener and family, Hans Krippener and family, Mrs. Edwards and children, the Karls (a large family), the Kavanaghs, the McGraths, the Kerrs, James Corrigan and family, William Corrigan and family, Patrick Gavan and family, the Kusubs, James McCabe and family, with his two brothers, single men; the Weals at the Cross Roads, the Moores and John Callagnan on Gubbins’ farm, and some men on the railway works. The church was opened by the writer of these lines in 1875. It was during the interregnum between the departure of Bishop Croke and the arrival of Bishop Steins, his successor, on April 25, 1879. Priests were then few and far between in the diocese, and 1 failed to secure any ecclesiastical help for the opening ceremonies. Father Fynes, the Vicar-General, expressed his inability to come. Nevertheless, we had a very successful opening. The building did duty until a very few years ago, when a handsome concrete church was built on a site much nearer to the station, but on sloping ground. The old structure did long and useful service, and after the erection of the new building, was disposed of and removed.
Alexandra (Now Pirongia).
The small town of Alexandra stood at the head of the Waipa navigation, and river steamers penetrated thither from Ngaruawahia. Across the river rose up in huge bulk the wooded and peak-topped Pirongia; and away to right and left was the King Country, at that time, a closed and hostile region. It was altogether Native territory, and the Maoris there were still morose and sullen after the war. Away beyond the mountain was the fine harbour of Kawhia, absolutely idle except for Maori canoes. A series of well rnanned redoubts from Alexandra to Cambridge, along the border-line, was, to the Natives, a sore reminder of their subjugation, and of the confiscation of their country, except the block between the Waikato and Taranaki. No wonder they were sullen.
At Alexandra I found a neat little church, the fruit of Father Hoyne’s activity and the generosity of his people. It was blessed by Dr Croke, who also gave a donation of £20. His name was in benediction in that region. Some fierce wind-storms shook the light structure badly, and it had to be buttressed up. Lining and full benches had also to be supplied, and a substantial fence around the acre of church property. Trees were planted and the grounds were cleared and grass sown therein. An active committee raised funds when any expenditure was necessary. They organised a few good concerts, which made welcome additions to their finances. The people were spirited, generous, and faithful to their religious duties, and my memories of them are memories of pleasantness unalloyed.
The Catholic families then at Alexandra (Pirongia) are easily numbered: —The Madigans (who moved to Cambridge in a couple of years), the Dillons, the Sages, McDonald, William Pohlen, the O’Connells, Kinnerny (tailor); later on the Krippeners (previously at Ohaupo), a few single men at the Redoubt, also the Cronins (on the way to Ohaupo), and the Olivers. At Harapepe (about six miles distant and west of the Waipa River) were the McGuirks, the Pohlens (senior), the Burns, and the Zelfels. Mr. and Mrs. McGuirk and two daughters are still in the old homestead, and I had the advantage of twice renewing their acquaintance a few years ago. Many a time, in those Old Waikato Days, I celebrated Mass in their hospitable home, which was a gathering-place for the few Catholics in the neighbourhood. It is due to the Catholics of Harapepe to record that they came to Alexandra to Mass also. But the week-day services at Mr. James Mc-Guirk's afforded them better facilities for receiving Holy Communion. Of Alexandra and Harapepe I retain very pleasant recollections. There were no worldly riches there, but there was ever a wealth of welcome and a generous hospitality which made the visiting priest feel that he was indeed at home among his own, and in the hearts of his people. There is now a new and much better church at Pirongia, and a greatly increased population in the district; and with greatly improved roads and closer settlement, that region is keeping in step with the wonderful advances that have made the Waikato country of the present-day one of the most prosperous parts of the Dominion of New Zealand.
Come we now to a very historic spot, Rangiawhia. It was in Maori days the garden and granary of the Waikato: Here the Natives grew large quantities of wheat and had it ground in their own water-power mills. They shipped the surplus in their canoes all the way to Onehunga, whence it was carted to Auckland. They also grew potatoes and oats, and had abundance of fruit, apples, pears, apricots, peaches, and cherries. What was the origin of all this fruit at Rangiawhia? It was the beneficent work of the French missionary priests, who brought the plants and seeds from Europe, and made the Natives expert fruitgrowers. The grain growing and the water-mills were also due to the same benefactors. In per-war times Rangiawhia was a nourishing and peaceful station. It was a district "flowing with milk and honey," and the chief centre of Catholicity for the Maoris of the interior. They had a large and lofty church, 80ft long to the altar rails, and 30ft in width. A fine apse formed a spacious sanctuary. As there was no kauri in the Waikato they used maitai, of excellent quality, and with a fine spirit of enterprise, the builders were brought from far-off Auckland.
Moreover, the Native voice was carefully cultivated by their pastors, and they chanted harmoniously at Mass and Vespers. Sung Mass and full Vespers were the rule in those times. It was congregational singing. The Maori boys were also experts in serving at Mass. The missionaries had their people well in hand everywhere; Christianity and education were lifting the brown man to higher civilisation, and the future seemed bright with hope. It is profitless and distasteful to discuss the cause of the war, which was disastrous alike to the Natives and to the fruits of missionary enterprise. The Maoris were driven beyond the Puniu River, among their brethern, and large tracts of their land were confiscated and distributed among the troops. At Orakau, a few miles south of Rangiawhia the Natives made their final effort for freedom. They threw up a strong redoubt and fought very bravely behind it, but they were over-powered and dispersed. Many were shot in the pah and others in their flight down the steep slope in the rear and in the scrub beyond.
War and After-War.
Just one brief incident respecting the Rangiawhia Church. When the troops, flushed with victory so far, arrived there, the large front door was firmly locked and bolted. Major von Tempsky demanded entrance in search of Natives. Father Viney assured him that there was not a Maori in the building. Without any more ado the Major fired his revolver into the keyhole and burst the door open. After this high-handed act his search was made in vain. The word of the priest was absolutely true; there was not a Maori in the church. This act of unnecessary violence made a very unfavourable impression at the time, and it was discussed for many years afterwards. I am only relating the incident as it was told to me.
The Catholics at Rangiawhia, in my time, were very few. There were Mrs. Jackson, the wife of Major Jackson, of Hairini, and the McGiverns, from the same locality. The Jacksons were the kindliest of people. The priest was ever most welcome in their home, and sometimes stayed there over-night. The Major himself attended to the priest's horse, and he was most interesting and entertaining. In a few years he sold his fine farm of 800 acres and went to reside at Kihikihi. He was Member of the Legislative Assembly for the Waikato. On his last return journey from Wellington he was drowned at sea between New Plymouth and Onehunga. His death caused deep and widespread regret. He was a brother of Mr. Jackson, solicitor. There was also the Long family, Mrs. Long was a sister of Mrs. Jackson. The Corcorans and the Foxes were also at Rangiawhia; also Thomas Power and Martin Casey, each having a Maori wife, most excellent women. There were three or four single men. The Kennys, the Wilkinsons, and Mrs. Sloan, of Te Awamutu came to Mass at Rangiawhia. A few young men and women used to ride over from the Ohaupo Road, but they did not belong to the district. Some few redoubt men of the Armed Constabulary also attended at Rangiawhia when the swamp road was passable. On that peaty track the writer once got very badly bogged on the way from Cambridge to Rangiawhia and almost despaired of rescuing his unfortunate horse. However, when the poor animal was at last extricated I led him uphill to the Redoubt. Only that man and horse were covered with thick black mud, the men would not believe that we had come from Cambridge. Rider and horse were cleaned and refreshed. To the former, the black tea of the time was most acceptable. Milk was an unknown luxury at that isolated stronghold. The men informed me that only wild cattle used the so-called "road" over which I had just passed.
Father Luck, O.S.B.
After ten years' absence from the Waikato, I journeyed from Cambridge, through Rangiawhia, to Kihikihi. The big church of the zealous Fathers and their devoted Natives at Rangiawhia was no more. Grief and indignation took a firm hold of me, intensified by the fact that Bishop Croke, at a cost of nearly £100, had that fine structure re-shingled (in those distant days there was no iron roof in the country). What had become of the church? I learned that Father Augustine Luck had taken it down, had built "a smaller structure in its stead, and had turned the plateau into a cemetery. The small building occupied a corner of the ground. The old structure was, no doubt, too large for local requirements after the clearances of the poor Natives from the district, as an unhappy sequel to the war. And this was, most probably, the view taken on the matter by pastor and people. Father Luck was a member of the Benedictine Order, and was possessed of remarkable skill as a craftsman in cabinet-work. He it was who built the beautiful high altar of St. Benedict's Church, Auckland, and did the handsome parquetry work, in selected New Zealand woods, which is so much admired in the chapel and waiting-room of the Bishop's House, Ponsonby. Besides being an expert- cabinetmaker, he was an all-round mechanic. He could, for instance, shoe horses and repair machinery of every kind. He was low-sized and of light build, and an easy burden for a horse. He made long journeys on horseback to Raglan, for instance, and to Huntly, which places were in his parish. Another Benedictine priest had charge of Hamilton and Cambridge.
I may here mention a matter affecting the present parish of Huntly. At an interview which I sought with Mrs. Ralph, at Mangere, where she resided for a while, that estimable lady very generously donated a fine site for a church on her property at Huntly. As the Catholics there were but ver few, and as I removed soon afterwards to Pukekohe, it was impossible for us then to provide a church at the coal-mines. Its erection was long-delayed, and for the 18 years of his pastorate Father Luck celebrated the Huntly Mass in the local public school. The church was finally built by his successor. Miss Sarah Ralph erected, at her own cost, the fine convent and school which are sources of such great blessing to the local Catholic body. The rector of the parish resided at Ngaruawahia till 1914, when Father Cahill (now Dean, and parish priest of Parnell) removed to Huntly.
We now come to Kihikihi, the last, though not the least, of the organised Catholic communities of Old Waikato. It was a small settlement on the border-line of the King Country. It was on a hill, and a strong redoubt was the most conspicuous object thereon. There was a fair sprinkling of Catholics in the district, considering the sparseness of the population around about. They had a little wooden building as a church, some 18ft in length, and situated on high ground at the angle of two furze fences. It was innocent of contact with the paint-brush and was devoid of lining. The flooring-boards gaped, and a fine new Ritual, which I had brought from Dublin, slipped down an inviting opening, without my knowledge and disappeared. The boards were in places, a few inches apart. The Ritual was recovered, unfit for use, when the new church was built and the old structure removed.
The Church property then consisted of an acre and a half of sloping ground. Beyond the furze fence mentioned above, was an acre which offered a fine site for a new church. This was purchased from James Kenny, formerly of Kihikihi, but later of Te Awamutu. It cost only £16, as (I must confess) the result of close bargaining on my part in the interests of the local "little flock." A few years later the vendor and his family removed to Timaru, where he and Mrs. Kenny died some time ago. They were a fine type of settler and had a worthy family of boys and girls, devoted to the Old Faith.
Archbishop Croke in Defence.
The subjoined, written about 48 years ago from Kihikihi, will show how keen and alert an athlete was Bishop Croke in the earliest years of his episcopacy. In those distant days his letters and preaching manifested a mastermind and commanded general attention. The production in question runs as follows: —
"Rev. W. Smith on Superstition:
To the Editor.
"Sir,—In last Friday's issue of the Waikato Times appears a report of a lecture delivered at Kihikihi by my friend, the Rev. W. Smith, on ‘Scottish Superstition.’ In the middle of the report occurs the following sentence: ‘The priest-ridden Middle Ages, in which the people were in a very unenlightened condition, were the most superstitious of all, and; wherever the factors of education and the thousand and one enlightening influences in modern life were allowed to operate, superstition, at least in its gross forms, ceased to exist.’ I assume this to be a faithful report of what Mr. Smith said. Upon analysis, the first part of the above sentence runs thus: (a) The Middle Ages were priest-ridden; (b) the people of the Middle Ages were in a very unenlightened condition because they were priest-ridden; (c) the Middle Ages were the most superstitious of all ages. As these simple statements are not by any means self-evident to me and some few of your readers, Mr. Smith's lecture will be incomplete without at least an attempt to verify them. In doing so it will be necessary for him to define what he means by the term ‘priest-ridden.’ To prevent confusion, I would suggest to Mr. Smith to confine his attention to some one people during the Middle Ages. He is a Scotchman and I am an Irishman. England to us is a neutral country. So let him take England, and substantiate his statements in England during the Middle Ages, that is, between the years, 476 A.D. and 1400 A.D.
"I am, etc.,
"T. W. choke." "Kihikihi, August 18."
Catholic Families at Kihikihi
Forty-five years ago the Catholic families at Kihikihi were the following: William Corboy and household, Patrick Corboy and household, Patrick and Mrs. McDonald, the aged Kellehers, the Hayes family, Mrs. Mander, the Farrell family, and the Tristrams (except the head of the house). There were three single sisters and a brother of Mrs. William Corboy, some men in the blockhouse, a Dutchman (Van Damb), and the ever-memorable Denis Horgan, the local shoemaker, a lame man with a quaint turn of wit and whimsicality.
This scanty list sufficiently indicates the financial difficulty of providing a new church. On this account the building did not come into existence for a few years more. When, however, the old building had at last become almost intolerable, and when a non-Catholic medical man had made to me a rude remark about the same, it seemed to me that the time had come for a decisive step. I, therefore, announced that people must go to Rangiawhia, hardly three miles distant by the new road, until a new church was erected. Meantime, prayers and catechism would be taught as usual in the old place. The announcement appealed to the best feelings of the flock, and gave rise to a most hearty and spirited response. In about six months the present church stood proudly on the site purchased from James Kenny, and the unseemly gorse fence and the old building disappeared forever. Father Luck, my successor, added a new sanctuary, which provided more space for the congregation; he also erected a handsome little tower over the front entrance. At the date of this writing, in 1920, that building is still fresh-looking after 40 years of wear and tear. The train had reached Te Awamuta in the vicinity, so first-class timber was procured from Auckland.
Dr. Walter Steins, Archbishop of Calcutta for nearly 20 years, was translated to Auckland early in 1879. He was 70 years old at the time and of a remarkable figure, tall and straight and dignified. But his rapidly failing health compelled him to leave India. He governed the See of Auckland for some two years, and then, to our deep sorrow, sailed for Sydney, where he died soon after among his brethern, the Jesuits. He was himself a brilliant light of that famous Order. He was a great linguist and a remarkable musician, and by birth a, Hollander. I invited his Grace to open the new church at Kihikihi. He came to Hamilton, accompanied by Father Walter McDonald. Thence Harry Kerr, of Cambridge, drove us in a two-horse waggonette to Kihikihi, and Major Jackson had us as his guests in his new and commodious residence. (I must here place on grateful record the fact that Mr. and Mrs. W. Corboy always extended kindly hospitality to every priest visiting Kihikihi, the present writer among the rest). The blessing of the new church was a local red-letter day, attracting Catholics from all the surrounding districts, so that the building was over-crowded. The Sacrament of Confirmation was administered in the afternoon in the presence of another crowded congregation. The Archbishop preached at Mass and in the afternoon explained the nature and greatness of Confirmation. He spoke English perfectly and the people were delighted with his discourses. The last previous episcopal visit had been made by Dr. T. W. Croke some seven years previously. At the time here under review he was Archbishop of Cashel, and already winning fame in the Church in Ireland and in far off lands among "the sea-divided Gael."
'Dr. Steins extended his visitation to most of the Waikato centres, and administered Confirmation at Ohaupo, Hamilton, and Cambridge, all of which then had new churches. Harry Kerr was the Bishop’s dexterous and cheerful driver the whole tour. His splendid team was owned by "Carter the Yankee"—long ago driven off the Auckland road by the train and he resided in Cambridge, whence his coaches ran to Frankton (there was no "junction" at that time) and to far-distant Rotorua. Reference has been made to Dr. Stein’s linguistic ability, and as proof thereof he preached in German and English at Ohaupo. On the occasion of a visit to Auckland of French and German men-of-war, he addressed the congregation in St. Patrick's both in English and German and French. As to his musical talent, he accompanied himself on the organ whilst he sang the Miserere and other psalms at the clergy retreat; "Wherever he traveled, the suavity of his manner and the beauty of his discourses made a lasting impression. He was the very soul of bonhomie. No wonder the priests and the people were deeply grieved at his departure; but he knew that the close of his earthly career was approaching, and he longed to end his days with his Jesuit brethern in Sydney.
More about Archbishop Steins.
The Right Rev. Editor of The Month was favoured with the following letter from the learned Father Watson, who conducts with marked ability the two magazines, Madonna and The Australian Messenger of the Sacred Heart. Father Watson writes in part as follows: "I have just read the Rev. Father Golden's interesting notice of Dr. W. Steins, S.J., and it occurs to me that you might like to have the enclosed particulars of the Archbishop's last illness and death. The notes, written nearly 40 years ago, are rather crude, but, such as they are, you are welcome to them if you care to make use of them. Should you not print them in The Month, I should like you to return them."
The Editor of The Month kindly handed the notes in question to the present writer, who finds much pleasure in adding to these memoirs this hitherto unpublished record of the life and last days of the third Catholic Bishop of Auckland. The notes are here published as they stand, without alteration of any kind whatever.
Dr. Steins: Biographical Notes.
"Dr. Steins was born in Amsterdam on July 1, 1810. After studying at St. Acheul, Amiens, France, and at Fribourg in Switzerland, he entered the Dutch Province of the Society on December 10, 1832. This step caused some stir in Holland because of the social position held by his father, who was a well-known and wealthy merchant in Amsterdam.
"Father Steins pronunced the vows of profession August 28, 1849, and shortly after obtained permission from the Very Rev. Father Roothaand, General of the Society, to proceed to the Borneo Mission. But it was God's will that he should be sent to Bombay instead of Borneo. In Bombay he devoted himself earnestly and with much self-sacrifice to the Divine work of saving souls, and after several years of zealous labour he became Bishop of that city. His consecration took place on the feast of SS. Peter and Paul, 1861. Despite many difficulties, he administered his diocese with great success, and a proof of the esteem in which he was held by all classes is found in the fact that when the Governor had promised to give towards the building of a college as much as the Bishop could collect by private exertions, he managed to obtain from Protestants, Mahomedans, and Hindus, as well as from his own flock, such a large sum that 'the Governor was astonished. A magnificent college was built and was placed under the patronage of St. Francis de Sales. This college is said to be one of the finest of its kind in the world. In 1867 Dr. Steins was translated to the Archbishopric of Calcutta. In Calcutta he built another college which has been very successfully worked, and is affiliated to the local university. He established in his diocese the nuns known as the Daughters of the Cross, and founded the refuge, St. Vincent's Home, besides a large number of schools and orphanages. Under his rule the missions to the Natives grew and flourished. He began the successful Bengali Mission which lies to the south of Calcutta, as well as the missions to the Southals and Koles, mountain tribes living in the eastern districts. Once when returning from a visit to the native missionary villages, he fell and injured himself so much that his medical advisers counselled him to return to Europe. He did so in the year 1878. His health rapidly improved after his return and he soon applied to the Holy See for fresh work. He was appointed to the vacant See of Auckland, New Zealand, and he set sail almost immediately for his diocese. During his stay in Auckland he won widespread respect and greatly endeared himself to his flock. But his health again broke down. The first bad symptoms which manifested themselves were caused by over-exertion. On St. Patrick's Day, 1881, the Archbishop preached three sermons, each in a different language (English, French, and German), and at the conclusion of the last felt so exhausted that he was obliged shortly after to retire to bed. It was the beginning of a fatal illness. Acting under medical advice he set sail for Sydney on the fourth of May, en route for Europe. "During the passage he suffered severely, and on landing in Sydney he proceeded to St. Kilda House, the residence of our Fathers. Here he rapidly became worse, but still he managed to say Mass daily in his room till June 30. After that date the Holy Sacrifice was offered in his presence every morning, and he received the Blessed Eucharist. On August 4 Father William Kelly, S.J., said Mass, the Archbishop assisting at it arrayed in full pontificals. At the Communion the venerable prelate made his solemn profession of faith, which he read out of the Pontificale, and then received the Bread of Life per modurri viatici. When Mass was over, he sat down in his arm-chair and Extreme Unction was administered to him in the presence of the whole community. Later in the day he expressed his gratitude towards the Fathers for the loving care they had bestowed on him. He added that they would assist at a more solemn ceremony than that at which they were present in the morning. On being asked what he meant he began to chant the "Requiescat." During his long illness, he showed perfect resignation, despite very acute pains. Before his death a letter received from a Sydney Father spoke thus of the Archbishop : —‘He is indeed a true Jesuit, and he does love the Society. I have often asked him about some of the old Fathers he knew. He had a great veneration for Father Roothaand. A few weeks ago his mind used to wander occasionally, but now he is as clear-headed as ever he was. Dr. Vaughan (the Archbishop of Sydney) was to see him again on Friday.’ The Friday here referred to was September 2, and from that day he sank rapidly until, on the 7th of the month, the eve of our Lady's Nativity, he expired in great peace, surrounded by his religious brethern, at twenty minutes to nine, a.m.
Two days afterwards High Mass for the repose of his soul was celebrated in St. Mary's Cathedral. His Grace Dr. Vaughan presided, and a large number of the clergy of the archdiocese were present. At the close, the Archbishop of Sydney, assisted by four dignitaries, pronounced the absolution at the catafalque. The remains were then removed to the North Shore Cemetery. They were followed by a large crowd of sincere mourners, and deposited with the usual religious rites in their final resting-place.
"So lived and died this true son of the Society. He fought well the good fight and he has obtained his reward, One of the public journals of Sydney prefaced the account of his death and obsequies with these words : ' In a recent issue we made the announcement of the death of the Right Rev. Dr. O’Quin, Bishop of Brisbane, and it now becomes our painful duty to chronicle the decease of another venerable prelate, zealous missionary, and valiant soldier of Christ, one who has worked heart and soul in the service of his Master, a scholar and a cultured gentleman, who, during his long apostolic life, courted extreme privations in his loyal devotion to duty, braved courageously many dangers, and endured intense physical suffering with saintly heroism.’
Here end the interesting details of the life and death of the venerable and distinguished prelate who was the third to occupy the episcopal chair of Auckland, and who, in few and suffering days, did many things for God and souls.
Cambridge: An Omission.
I wish here to supply an important omission regarding the Catholic families of Cambridge. In the course of my written recollections, I unfortunately forgot to mention Mrs. Doolan, the wife of Detective Doolan. She was an exemplary member of the congregation, and she and her husband were always warm and much appreciated friends of the clergy, both at Ngaruawahia and Cambridge. It is by no means easy, after so many years have rolled by, to recall each and every one, and probably other such omissions have been made in my descriptions of other places in those Old Waikato days. Mrs. Doolan (for some time past a widow) has been long years a resident of Christchurch.
Church Building at Hamilton.
In 1877 the train reached Frankton, now Frankton Junction. There was no "Junction" in our time. The question of a new church was now definitely settled. First-class material from the Auckland Kauri Mills was henceforth available. Preparations for the important work were pushed forward, and the whole Catholic community became eagerly interested in the erection of their new building. A zealous and efficient church committee had been working to good purpose in raising the necessary funds. Subscription lists circulated everywhere and the people gave freely according to their means. A few concerts were organised, the last of which took place in Mr. Le Quesne's new hall and realised £30 clear. When the timber was procurable some two-thirds of the needful cash was in hand. An architect was employed, and Mr. Price secured the contract, for the structure. I have a vivid recollection of having instructed the architect to put in tie-rods to secure the church against the pressure of heavy gales. "The building I will give you," he replied, "would defy an American tornado." His ruling prevailed; but before the structure had left the hands of the builder, a Waikato "tornado" swooped down upon the town at night and nearly blew the new church over bodily. Next morning it presented a very sorry appearance indeed, leaning heavily to one side. The tie-rods had then to be procured. They were incorporated in the building, and ever since, through storm and shine, forty-three long years, the church has maintained its upright position. At the time there was an interregnum in the diocese. We had no Bishop, and priests were very few, so that I had no ecclesiastical aid for the ceremonies of the opening day of the new church. However, there was an over-flowing congregation and the event passed off with much success. In my address I ventured a prediction to the effect that the church now blessed and opened would stand for 50 years. The completion of that term is now within easy reach, and the timber seems as sound as ever. It does duty now as a hall and clubroom. Its place has been taken by a splendid new brick church, erected by Dean Darby and his congregation, and opened in 1912 by the Right Rev. Dr. Cleary.
Father Henebery’s Mission
Shortly after the opening of St. Mary's Church, Hamilton, in 1877, Father Henebery gave us a very successful mission. A native of Kilkenny, he belonged to the Order of the Most Precious Blood, in America, and was the first to conduct missions in New Zealand. He was a zealous, active and far-seeing priest. It was owing to him that the Marists’ school and residence were founded in Pitt Street, Auckland. He initiated a general collection for the purpose, and George W. Connolly, long since deceased, was the contractor. Father Henebery took upon himself the whole responsibility of this spirited enterprise in Catholic education. His preaching was picturesque, hardhitting and very powerful. He had voice that would easily fill the largest church, and the solid matter of his discourses found expression in a wealth and command of often vivid speech. As elsewhere, so in Hamilton, his missions attracted large crowds of people, among them many not of our faith. One of the prominent features of his missions all through this country was the total abstinence pledge. He reveled in (so to speak) hitching his whole audience to the "water-waggon." Many kept his pledge faithfully to their dying day; and, even still, one occasionally meets with a "Father Henebery's man." Another useful feature of his missions was the sale and distribution of excellent Catholic books of devotion and instruction. For many a year afterwards, such useful works were a happy and promising feature in Catholic dwellings in town and country. The missionary brought cases of them from America, and they were sold at a very moderate price. Eagerly read by many, both old and young, they effected an incalculable amount of good. A good Catholic book is a true and valuable friend in the Catholic home. It speaks to the heart, it instructs the mind, it appeals to the best instincts of human nature. Scapulars, rosary beads and other devotional objects were also distributed in the homes through the agency of Father Henebery's missions.
The new church offered a favorable opportunity for forming a choir and establishing Benediction on Sunday evenings, as a happy and beautiful close to the rosary and sermon. Towards this desirable end I employed an instructor, who gave lessons to young people of both sexes. Of the young women, Mary and Kate Cassidy were very apt pupils. Among the young men John Fitzgerald was the leader. He came from Dublin, was full of zeal and good-will in his work, and was also a punctual and efficient catechist. He took a deep interest in the choir, and it was mainly owing to him that it reached a very fair degree of proficiency. I had the privilege of seeing him shortly before his death, in Newton (Auckland), where his widow and children still reside.
Successors in Hamilton.
In October, 1880, after the expiry of a term of six years and seven months, the writer took his departure from the Upper Waikato. There was a liability of £50 on the Hamilton Church, and Cambridge (then attached to the Hamilton parish) owed £40. There were no other liabilities on the parish at that time. My immediate successors were Abbot Alcock and Father Augustine Luck, both priests of the Benedictine Order. The Abbot took charge of Hamilton and Cambridge for six months. He then went to Sydney, whence he was recalled to St. Benedict's, Auckland. But his health was shattered, and he died just when the first Benedictine Church (in wood) was opened. With Dr. Stein’s approval, Father Luck very soon made Kihikihi his headquarters, and built himself a cottage. His was the lion’s share of the work in the Waikato. Besides Kihikihi, he had charge of Pirongia, Ohaupo, Ngaruawahia, Huntly, and Raglan. He bravely stuck to his extensive parish for some 19 years, until failing health brought him to the Mater Hospital (Auckland), where he died. Father Pox succeeded the Abbot, and after him came Father Amandolini, followed by Father O'Gara, all Benedictines. Father Francis Buckley, now of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, was the next to fill this important charge. But the unsatisfactory state of his health induced him to resign and Father Joseph C. Darby became his successor. In the latter’s time was purchased the prominent site for the imposing church and the fine presbytery (both built by him), which constitute the finest and most arresting ecclesiastical edifices in the capital of the Waikato. In the immediate vicinity are the Catholic convent and flourishing day and boarding schools, conducted by the Sisters of the Missions. Huintly and Cambridge, also, have each a good school under the charge of the same devoted Sisterhood. Father Edge will erect another Catholic school at Te Awamutu as soon as materials are available. Including Matamata, there are now seven priests in the Waikato, where, in the old days covered by these recollections, there was only one. There has, indeed, been a wonderful progress. The most healthy feature of all the notable progress of the Catholic Church in the Waikato is the highly satisfactory state of the Catholic schools. So long as these flourish, so long will religious faith be strong and active, devotion will abound, and the churches will be filled with congregations of earnest worshippers.
Hereunder we give a record of the churches erected in the old Waikato in our time (1874-1880), the order of time wherein they were opened, and the expenditure on each.
St. Finbarr's Church, Ohaupo, was the first and most necessary, as there was neither church nor hall of any description in the district. The diocese had no Bishop at that time. The Very Rev. H. Fynes, V.G., promised to perform the ceremony of blessing and opening the building, but afterwards wrote to say he could not come. Hence the ceremonies devolved on the local priest. The opening took place in the April of 1876, and there was a crowded congregation, as the faithful came from far and near.
The fine site was donated by Mr. James Corrigan. The building measured 40ft by 20ft. The cost of the structure was £238.11s. 8d. Value of free work done by settlers in fencing etc, £38. Total £276 11s. 8d. The finances were raised by subscription.
The site for St. Mary's Church, Taupiri, was procured from the Government. The building was blessed and opened by the writer towards the end of 1876. It measured 30ft by 18ft. The necessary monies were raised by means of concerts and subscriptions. The total expenditure, including fencing and gate, amounted to £101 7s l1d.
In the middle of June, 1877, St. Mary's new church, Hamilton East, was blessed and opened by the Vicar-General, Very Rev. Father H. Fynes, of Parnell. It had lining, benches, sacristy, and confessional. It measured 50ft and 25ft. The necessary funds were obtained by means of concerts and subscriptions. The expenditure on the building amounted to £607 14s. 3d. Interest on overdraft at the Bank of New Zealand, £29 8s. Repairing and roofing the presbytery was £52 3s. 2d. Total £689 5s. 5d. There was a debit balance of £50 in October, 1880.
On January 24, 1878, St. Peter's Church, Cambridge was
blessed and opened by the local pastor.
No help was available from Auckland or elsewhere. The building measured
50ft by 25ft. The opening was the occasion of great rejoicing, and a fine
choir, with Mrs. Brennan as organist added much interest to the ceremonies. The
building contained a confessional and a sacristy. Subscriptions, helped by concerts, were the
means of raising the
£50. Total £660. Debit balance in bank, £40.
St. Joseph's Church was built in Father Hoyne’s time. It was solemnly blessed by the Right Rev. T. W. Croke, in 1871, assisted by Father Hoyne. Funds were raised by means of concerts and subscriptions. The original cost is unknown. In our time, benches, painting, altar rails, supports for the building, fencing, and other necessary improvements cost £61 12s 9d; free work done by the Armed Constabulary, £6; total, £67 12s 9d.
The building measured 36ft by 20ft.
St. John's new church at Kihikihi was erected in 1880. In the August of that year it was solemnly blessed by Archbishop Walter Steins, to the great joy of the faithful. The Archbishop was accompanied by Fathers W. McDonald and J. Golden. The building measured 36ft by 20ft. Concerts and subscriptions provided the finances.
The contract price for the structure was £200. Painting and other extras cost £40. The site, an acre, purchased from Mr. Jas. Kenny cost £16. Improvements of various kinds £8 16s. 2d. Total £264 16s. 2d.
St. Joseph's Church was already in existence, having been blessed and opened in Father Hoyne’s time by Right Rev. Dr. T. W. Croke. The original cost is unknown. The funds for improvements came to hand by subscriptions and donations. A new belfry of special design, the painting of the church, a confessional, fencing, ornamental trees and shrubs, etc., cost in all £114 11s 2d.
There was already an old church in existence, the original cost of which is unknown. It was blessed by Dr Pompallier. New fences were erected, some of the old ones were repaired, and the grounds adjoining the church were cleared and improved. Some seats were procured for the church, also some altar requisites. The necessary funds were derived from rents and general subscriptions. The whole expenditure was £50 14s 6d.
On my arrival at the Pukekohe Station a startling surprise awaited me. "Father, Mr. Graham is dangerously ill; they are expecting you." Such was the first greeting to reach my ears. Willing hands got out my horse and four-wheeler, which I had brought with me from my former abode. Fortunately, Mr. Graham's residence was within easy reach on the Waiuku Road. The hearty welcome from Mrs. Graham and family amply compensated for the surprise at the station. Kindly words of apology were offered; but the serious condition of the patient rendered them unnecessary. The crisis had set in which, called for the Last Sacraments and consolations of religion. All were administered except the Holy Viaticum, which the priest had not brought, as he had had no intimation of the sudden sick call. However, after his Mass next morning, he returned to the sick-room and gave the sick man Holy Communion by way of Viaticum, the sustenance for the passage to eternal life. Mr. Graham's span of life closed some days afterwards. His end was peaceful and happy.
Mrs. Graham still survives after 40 years, and in possession of the same farmstead, an edifying mother of devoted children. One of her grand-daughters, from Gisborne, has become a member of a teaching Order, the Josephite Sisterhood. From the sick-call incident onwards I have never lost sight of the good Graham family.
Pukekohe: Early Pastors.
Towards the close of 1880 Pukekohe parish became vacant by the departure of Father Stephen Chastagnon to New Plymouth. In Dr. Pompallier's time he left the diocese and took up work in Bathurst, New South Wales, whence he was recalled by Bishop Croke, as father James Norris was also recalled from Dunedin. Father Buchas, another of the old-time priests, went to Queensland, but did not return, as he had an "exeat'' or permit for adoption in another diocese. Father Walshe (now Monsignor Walshe, of Westport), who was ordained on the same day with the late Monsignor O'Reilly, was also set free in like manner, for work in the Diocese of Wellington. After a
short interval at New Plymouth, Father Chastagnon became rector of Ashburton, and later he had charge of Darfield parish. From there he departed for his native land, France, some years later, but died very soon after his arrival. He was a zealous, hard-working priest, and gifted with a very kindly disposition. Father Bobieux was also recalled to the Auckland Diocese from the South. At Tamahere, between Hamilton and Cambridge, a Maori asked me one day about several priests of the olden time. I had accounted for Father Garavelle, Dr. McDonald, Father Walter McDonald, Father Chastagnon, all then in the land of the living, when he paused, tried hard to remember another name, but failed. Then he moved his hat back from the forehead, stooped his shoulders somewhat, and walked with a half-lame gait. "Yes, Father Bobieux," was my ready response. Said he: "Where te Popiu, te pirihi wi-wi?" ("Where's Bobieux, the oui-oui—that is, French—priest?"). I pointed to the ground: he was in the grave. The Maori took off his hat and cried aloud. All the natives in the adjoining little Pa ran down and raised a loud, mournful, and touching tangi or lamentation for good and devoted Father Bobieux, whose memory they had dearly cherished since his missionary days at Rotorua. In our time he had charge of Panmure and Howick, and Father Fynes had gone to Parnell; but his health broke down and he came to die at St. Patrick's old presbytery in Auckland. That Father Bobieux was a priest according to the Mind and Heart of Christ is the highest praise we can bestow upon his holy memory. The praise is well deserved. Like Dr. Harte in olden times in Erin, "a true priest of the Son of Glory was he."
With this preamble, which, I hope, will not be devoid of interest to readers of this book. I now return briefly to the visit of Bishop Steins to Hamilton, already recorded. Feeling physically unequal to the long, weary rides and the widely scattered "stations", I, in the presence of the Hamilton church committee, requested the Bishop to appoint me to the then vacant parish of Pukekohe. At the same time, I ventured, to suggest to his Lordship that, as a number of Benedictine Fathers had recently arrived in Auckland, two of their number should be sent to replace me in Hamilton. The Bishop granted my request, and very soon I was on the way to my new parish. At my own earnest request the people desisted from their expressed intention of making a monetary offering; instead, Mr. Laurence Cussen read me a beautiful and touching address. He died many years ago, deeply lamented by all who had known his sterling worth. His widow (of the Wallnut family) still lives in their cottage of early days, overlooking the deep and swift-flowing Waikato as it sweeps through Hamilton.
The First Presbytery.
There was no presbytery then at Pukekohe; but Mr. and Mrs. Forbes (storekeepers) offered me gracious hospitality, until I was able, in three months time, to enter into possession of a newly erected residence of my own. Beside the church grounds there then lived, in a slab hut, a parishioner named White (a bootmaker). He had an acre of ground, which I purchased for £50. He removed his hut and re-erected it near the railway station in a position better suited for his calling. Andrew Kenny, a builder (formerly a parishioner of Hamilton), prepared a suitable plan for the new presbytery; the timber (all kauri), was purchased from the Kauri timber Co., Auckland, and in speedy course the presbytery was erected, with stable, etc., and well. A few years ago, Father Molloy, having erected a handsome brick presbytery, sold the original dwelling to Mr. Hogan. We have seen it in its new position and can testify that it looks as sound as ever, after nearly 40 years of wear and tear, of sunshine and of rain. The acre site cost £50. The expenditure on the residence reached £250, and the well and stable absorbed £50. A total of £350. The well was sunk through rock, and the debris made excellent metal for new walks around.
Catholic Families of Pukekohe.
The Catholic families of Pukekohe at that time were the following: Thomas Kinnelly and family, Geo. Forbes and family, Thomas Hogan and household, Thomas Burgess and household, Bernard McCann and household, Michael Tobin and Patrick Tobin and their families, the Holihans, Lawrence Walsh and family, Jeremiah Hickey (there were two of that name) and their families, the Whites, the Graham family, the McShanes, the Maloneys, the Keegans, the Rogers, Denis Cain and family, the Foys, and Martin Mahon. At Patumahoe, about six miles distant, were the Kavanaghs (immediate relatives of the late Monsignor Paul, of Onehunga), Philip Henry and family, the Sheridans, and Martin Walsh. There was an occasional station Mass at Mr. Kavanagh’s hospitable residence. The original Mr. Kavanagh, father of a large family, was hale and strong at that time; Mrs. Kavanagh (a sister of Monsignor Paul) had died some years previously; Miss Kavanagh, and Henry and Terence Kavanagh, of Ponsonby, are survivors of the good old stock.
Predecessors and Succesors.
In those old Waikato days, I was informed that Father Mclntaggart was the first pastor of Pukekohe (he lived at Tuimata). Assuming the correctness of this information, the second pastor was Father Hoyne, whose work in the Upper Waikato, later on, has been referred to in the course of these papers. Father Hoyne's transfer from Pukekohe made room for our old friend, Dr. James McDonald, who was succeeded by Father Stephen Chastagnon, whose charge was brief, as he had a serious fall from a stumbling horse on the Drury bridge. When sufficiently convalescent, he went to New Plymouth. In the October of 1880 the writer of these notes was (as stated already) transferred from Hamilton to the pastoral charge of Pukekohe. Father Patrick Costelloe, a new arrival from Ireland, was sent forthwith from the ship to me, in the beginning of 1883. In April of the same year he succeeded to the charge.
In Father Costelloe's time the Sisters of the Missions purchased from Mr. T. Hogan the three acres whereon their fine scholastic establishments have since been erected. The erection of the convent was, perhaps, rather premature, as a few years later the New Zealand Tablet had a paragraph saying that the school was to be closed for want of adequate support. This, however, proved to be the happy turning point in the fortunes of the establishment.
The Catholics rallied to the aid of the beloved Sisters, and since then the convent and schools have been making sure and satisfactory progress. The formation dates from 1885. In the present year (1920) the number in the community is eight Sisters and the pupils count 130.
In a few years Father Costello was appointed to Parnell, and after him came to Pukekohe Father Thomas. Father McManus, who succeeded him, served two terms at Pukekohe, Father Murphy intervening for a while. Fathers Gilsenan, McMillan, Sherin, Mennis, King, Russell, Ahern, and McMillan followed. It will be seen that Father McMillan filled the pastorate a second time. This list has been kindly supplied by Father Molloy, whose charge dates from February 8, 1912. A few years ago Father Molloy had the church enlarged at a cost of £385, and his parishioners have made various gifts to the edifice, amounting in value to the goodly sum of £150. The commodious new brick presbytery was completed at a cost of £985; it was blessed and opened by Bishop Cleary on May 10, 1914. As the church is already overtaxed for room, pastor and people have, arranged to enlarge the building to double its present seating capacity.
At Tuakau there was at that time a church of fair dimensions, quite large enough for its congregation. It was a slab building and served its purpose for many years. The broad Waikato was in the vicinity and afforded a landing for goods. Two Catholic residents (Hunt and Murray) lived about two miles away beyond the river, and they used to row across to Mass occasionally. The other Catholic families attached to the Tuakau Church were the Gerraghty, James Smith and household, Mrs. McGann (widow) and her son John, the Blacks family, the Cowens (of the hotel), Mrs. McKane and family, the McGuires, the Campbells (of Whangarata), the Polands (a large family, one of whom, for some years a school teacher, has long been a member of Parliament for Waihi). There was also the Dromgool family. Patrick Dromgool, one of the sons, a brilliant young lawyer, nobly sacrificed his life at Wellington, some time ago, in a gallant effort to save another from drowning. 'Greater love than this no man hath."
Onewhero, beyond the Waikato River, has also a sacred builidng, which measures 42ft by 16ft, and I understand that there are between 20 and 30 Catholic families in the district. In my time there were only two families in that district. One of them is still represented by Mr. Murray, while the other (the Hunts) have taken their departure. There has been amazing progress in Tuakau and Onewhero.
Following the custom of the other settlements, there was a monthly Mass at Tuakau, and Mercer was linked up with it on the same Sunday. Soon after his arrival in Auckland, Bishop Luck paid a visit to Tuakau, confirming there a goodly number of children.
For some years past Tuakau has ranked as a separate parish. It was Father King, the first pastor of the district, who erected the presbytery. Father Thomas Keogh, his successor (who died at the Mater Hospital, Auckland), commenced the new concrete church, and Father Tigar, a Dominican priest, completed the same. After having done valuable missionary work in different parishes, this zealous priest returned to his monastery in London and served as an army chaplain during the war. After his departure, Father John Q’Hara was given charge of the vacant parish, and he was succeeded by Father Dominick O’Brien, the present pastor of Tuakau and the stations attached thereto. Of these one is Mercer, another is reached by a new bridge that spans the Waikato, connecting Tuakau with a region many leagues in extent, and already fairly populated. That district, reaching to the Waikato Heads, Raglan Harbour, and the Huntly coalfields, is a region of great possibilities; but in the early eighties, of the last century, it was a terra incognita—an unknown region, to a very great extent.
This interesting little settlement, on the Waikato River, had its monthly Mass in the old days that are recalled in these memoirs. The Catholic families there were very few. They were the McNallys, Mrs. Porter (at Pokeno), the Dillons, the McSweeneys, the Gallerys, the Kellys, John McGann and wife, the Morans (at the head of the Paparata Valley), and the McGlynns (at Meremere). There were also some single people, but only very few, and the children were easily counted. The local courthouse, low, small, and untidy, was the only available place for a religious service. I greatly disliked celebrating Mass there, and availed myself of the earliest opportunity, with the advice and assistance of Mr. Dillon, to secure a most convenient and desirable site for a church on the slope of the adjacent hill. It was put up for sale and was purchased by me. Its area was three-quarters of an acre, and its acquisition was a source of genuine consolation to our little flock.
The writer of these memoirs made to Bishop Luck a free gift of the church site at Mercer, for the benefit of the local Catholic congregation. But the church was not erected until seven or eight years afterwards, by one of my successors. It is easily discerned from the train, nestling up the hill amidst ornamental native trees. There were no houses near the property when acquired, 39 years ago. Between Mercer and Rangiriri there was a "corridor," or "no man's land," devoid of population, a desolate region 16 miles long and covered with manuka scrub and swamps. Most of that area is now settled, and is bright with orchards, pastures, and pine, and wattle groves.
The Waipipi settlement, on a peninsula between the West Coast and Waiuku’s waters, lies about 20 miles from Pukekohe. In my time there were no Catholics in Waiuku; but the Dromgools were five miles away, on the Drury Road, and the Tierneys were down the beach opposite Waipipi. Occasionally the priest celebrated in each household and gave them an opportunity for the reception of the Sacraments. Catechism was also taught. The young people rode the long way to Waipipi Church or (in the case of the Tierneys) they sped across in a boat. The two Norton boys had then come to reside in the same locality.
Waipipi had two Masses on one Sunday of each month; and in favourable weather people rode thither from Whiri Whiri and distant Maiora. The church building, of modest dimensions, was usually filled at all religious services,
morning and evening. Mass was also celebrated on Monday morning whenever the priest stayed overnight. Whiri "Whiri and Maiora received each a visit after the Sunday at Waipipi, and catechetical instructions were imparted at all places named.
On the brow of the hill, a chain or two distant from the church, there stood by itself a small two-roomed presbytery, which was a source of real comfort to the priest on his visits. On account of its commanding position and peculiar style of construction, I habitually referred to it as "the Castle." The kind-hearted neighbours around about provided for the needs of the priest during his occupation of "the Castle", taking this (to them) pleasant duty by turns amongst themselves.
The Catholics of Waipipi were at that time the following: Mrs. Maloney and family, Mrs. Mitchie and family, Mrs. Madget, three worthy sisters, and the aunts of Sergeant O’Halloran, of Dannevirke, an old and sterling friend. When, in his early youth his parents (whom the present writer knew well) died at the Thames, his aunts took charge of his sisters and himself, and well filled the place of the dead parents. The other Catholic families were: The Walshes, the Ryans, the McNamaras, the Kellys, the Crottys, the Castles, the Powells, the Dooleys, the Gleesons, the Hewitts, the Mannings, and John and Patrick Keough, with their families.
On a recent happy visit, the writer of these memoirs was pleased to find a well-built new church at Waipipi. According to Father Skinner (the present pastor of Waiuku), the new Waipipi Church was erected in Father King's time, at a cost of £400. It stands on a fine elevation some chains distant from the position of the original building. Mrs. Markham, of Ararimu, informed me that Bishop Pompallier opened the first church at Waipipi for Father Mclntaggart and his people. Her parents, the McNamaras, are still there, and she was a school girl at the time. Father Mclntaggart used to celebrate Mass at Hewitt’s prior to the erection of the church, and before him Father Paul (the late Monsignor Paul) came by boat from Onehunga to celebrate Mass occasionally at Waipipi, Whiri Whiri, and Maiora.
Some 50 miles from Pukekohe dwelt the Shorts, a large family, some of the children quite young. Their farm was close to the Manukau Heads and Lighthouse. When the tide was low the West Coast beach offered an easy passage for some miles of the way, otherwise the high and rough track from Waipipi had to be taken. The last stage of the journey was through a very pleasant country abounding in grass and fine clumps of native bush. Mr. and Mrs. Short were very hospitable and kind to the priest. I baptised two of their children. An Irish boy of the neighbourhood and the heads of the family always received Holy Communion on the occasions of my visit. On one of these occasions a visit was made some 12 miles distant, to the inward beach (Awhitu) facing towards Onehunga. The priest stayed at Mrs. Graham's, and the Boyles came to Mass next morning. One or two Catholics at the sawmills up the bush also came, and all were glad to have the opportunity of receiving the Sacraments.
Whiri Whiri and Maiora.
Brief reference has already been made to the settlements of Whiri Whiri, near Waiuku, and of Maiora in the distance. At Whiri Whiri the Catholics were: The Hickeys, father and son and their families; the McNamaras, Mrs. Priest and family, the Williamses, the Egans, and the Hollands. The little flock usually assembled at Mr. Egan's for Holy Mass; but there was an occasional change to the residences of the Hickeys also. Some miles up the hill, and beyond the lakelet, one arrived at Maiora, close to the Waikato Heads. The land at Maiora was very fertile, but the patient, sturdy settlers had to wage a constant war against the sand-drifts, which were ever encroaching upon their farms. That the enemy would prevail in most cases seemed only a matter of time, despite their best efforts. In those days the swamp country, now so marvellously productive, was only seen from the rising ground, and it was given over to the undisputed sway of water, wild-fowl, raupo, and flax.
The Catholics of Maiora assembled at Mr. John McDonald’s residence for Mass, as it was there the priest stayed during his visits. The other families were: The Mackays, the Neills, the Leos, the Dromgools. Peter Dromgool and Charles (of Tuakau) were brothers whose parents have already been noticed. There were also the McDonnells on the hill near the school, and the Deanes on the beach. Mr. John McDonald's house was the most central for all to meet for Mass.
When Waiuku was constituted a separate parish its first pastor was Father Williams, who died at the Mater Hospital a few years ago. It was he who secured the church land at Waiuku and built the presbytery at a cost of £500. The church, however, was erected before his time by Father McMillan. Its dimensions are 60ft by 25ft, and it cost about £400. The second pastor of Waiuku was Father Wright, whose successor was Father Skinner, the present pastor. During Father Skinner's absence as chaplain at the war, Fathers O’Doherty, Kirrane, O'Callaghan, Molloy, Duffy, and Taylor discharged the duties of the parish. What a change at Waiuku! Thirty-seven years ago there was not a Catholic in the village. For some years past the township has been the centre of a nourishing parish; and it has a resident priest, with a church building that is crowded with an earnest and devout congregation.
Rama Rama (formerly Maketu).
Off the Great South Road, some four or five miles from Drury, and extending up the sloping hills, is the settlement of Rama Rama. In olden times it bore the name of "Maketu," and had a Catholic Church of sufficient capacity for its requirements. The material was felled and sawn in the adjacent bush by the settlers, and a German, locally known by the picturesque name of "Old Wohl," or "Wool," was the builder of the modest structure. This was in Dr. McDonald's time, and that venerated priest established there a Catholic school. He had also two other schools, one in the Pukekohe Church, and another, for a time, in that of Waipipi. The two former schools existed in my time. Great credit is due to his zeal in providing Catholic education in such small settlements, and the people greatly praised him for this notable service to religion. He delighted doing the work of God among the "little ones" of Christ.
In Father Donald McMillian's time the "Old Wohl" Church ceased to exist, and in its stead a fine new building was erected higher up the road on a commanding portion of the same church property. The structure is visible for miles along the plain with its beautiful background of verdant bush. It was blessed and opened by Bishop G. Michael Leniham with much eclat on November 29, 1896. A lengthy report of the ceremonies and festivities of the glad occasion is in the possession of Mr. Dan Meagher, of Rama Rama. The said report appeared in the Auckland Star, of Monday, December 14, 1896. The details are not repeated here, as they do not belong to the Old Waikato days that form the central interest of these memoirs.
Catholic Families of Rama Rama.
The Catholic families of Rama Rama were as follows : — The Pratts, the Cumminses, the Knotts, the Garveys, the O'Donohues—all living on the high ground. On the flat wore the Sheridan family, the Deveney family, the Conroys, the Jenning family, the Twomey family, the Wrights, the Higginses, the Guinevans, the McCarthys, the O'Callaghans, and the Mahers. On the beautiful hill opposite the church and across the creek were the Yateses, who had before their daylit vision the great panorama extending to Onehunga and the Manukau Heads. On the fertile slopes of Bombay Hill were the Donovans and Faheys, also Patrick Donnelly (an unmarried man), whose place is now filled by a nephew.
Tuimata had a goodly number of Catholics: The Clunes, the Hogans, the Carrolls, the Lyonses, the Toomans—all of whom attended the Maketu Church. Only one of these families now remains at Tuimata, if information be correct. Down near Drury was one Catholic family, the Fitzgeralds. Some of those early settlers have left the district; some have closed their earthly pilgrimage in peace; while others still cling to their old homes. Mrs. Kelleher, of Ponsonby, is a Donovan of Bombay, and her husband comes from Ararimu. The Misses Cummins (2) hold the place of their parents; Mrs. Homewood (an O’Donohue) and her family represent the O’Donohues; Mr. Daniel Maher, his nephew (Mr. Dan Lynch) and niece (Miss Flemming) continue to hold the old place on the Great South Road. The fine Catholic Hall at Rama Rama is reminiscent of good Lawrence Callaghan, who donated the splendid site whereon it stands. Of all the old stock the present writer retains ever pleasant and grateful memories. As I write, one more name rises to my mind's eye: the Knotts have not abandoned the cosy old home on the hill. Mr. James Knott, with his household, represents the old stock. Well for the congregation at Rama Rama, and maybe for themselves also, if many others had not sold out, but had followed the example of the Knotts up that fertile hillside.
Ararimu, by the old road, was distant about four miles from Rama Rama,. Most of the way was very steep or broken, while a winding incline led into a verdant valley surrounded by bush-clad hills and well-watered by several never-failing streams. The gathered waters of these creeks rush down under a bridge, and then through a gorge on their rapid course to the fine Hunua, Falls, which they form. Tip the rise, beyond the bridge, stands the little church, erected in Dr. McDonald's time. No finer site could be selected for the building. It commands a fine prospect of hill and dale. Years ago Mr. Kelly sold his fine estate and came to Auckland to give his children a Catholic education. Later on, when the parents died, the family scattered in various directions.
Sturdy diggers from the West Coast of New Zealand composed most of the original settlers of Ararimu. Theirs was a good stock of brawn and capital, a fine settler's asset, otherwise they could never have coped with the difficulties of the situation: the dense bush, for instance, and the vile mud track misnamed a "road." For some years all carriage was done by pack horses, while the hill tracks through the "forest primeval" were knee-deep in mud. Hard work for those sturdy farmers! Yet they subdued the forest and made smiling farms and comfortable homes in what was a tangled wilderness. We learn that "Pratt's Hill has been turned right round," and that the new highway is a vast improvement. The grade on the "turned-round" route is now quite easy. When my readers in Rama Rama and Ararimu glance over these lines, they will recall the old expression: "I would turn that road right round." But, alas! too many of the Catholics have sold out and left both Maketu and Ararimu; nor have they been replaced by members of the same faith.
Catholic Families at Ararimu.
The Kellehers were somewhat away in the beautiful bush. On the flat were the Hills and Dwans, the Markhams and Dunns and the Keaneys. One of the Meaghers, a single man, with house and farm. On the slope adjacent to the church were the Wheelan and Phelan families. Further ahead were the Dinans, and John and Michael McCabe, with their families. Away by the famous Hunua Falls were the Butlers, and John Keilly (a single man) had a fine property in the vicinity. Adjoining him and nearer to the church was his brother (Thomas), with a fine estate of 3000 acres, with valuable bush and creeks. Mr. and Mrs. Keilly were always most kind to the priest on his official visits. Mass was celebrated in their residence, the sacraments were administered, and religious instructions were imparted to the children. The writer batptised two of the girls.
On an interesting visit with Mr. Dan Lynch in May, 1921, I was glad to find the little church look so bright and improved. A spacious sacristy and a liberal coat of paint imparted much dignity to its appearance. Besides, a substantial fence encloses the whole church area.
In the vicinity of the old Rama Rama church and beside the creek was Dr. McDonald's "Hermitage," as it was called. It consisted of one room, and was the home of himself and his Maori valet, Walter, who always traveled with him to the various stations. Along the wall, behind the door, were two beds in line, both upheld by logs, and by boulders taken from the adjoining stream. The first couch was Walter's, the second, more elevated and stately (if one may here apply the term), was the Doctor's. In the middle of the room was a table. It had no covering, and stood on an earthen floor. Some cooking utensils there were, and the fireplace was large and open with a chimney built of wood and made broad and capacious for safety's sake. Alongside the table ran one bench, there were no chairs. Neither was there such frippery as a mirror. The worthy Doctor wore a full, patriarchal beard and knew not the cares or risks of shaving.
The Hermitage had a small pane of glass for a window, but the open door let in plenty of light for the self-sacrificing missioner's needs. On the occasion of a visit from the Upper Waikato to the genial pastor, I stayed with him overnight. We visited the school, and there was much bustle among the householders as the children spread the news that the "strange priest" would pass the night in the Hermitage. Later on, quite a little troop of youngsters hastened up with abundant food of various kinds, and fresh bedclothes, as Walter was to vacate his quarters in the writer’s favour. After tea we had a pleasant stroll uphill behind the Hermitage. Only a few chains distant, and in the midst of very romantic surroundings, was the venerated Doctor's famous waterfall. He declared that Bishop Croke was the first he had ever shown this waterfall to; "and you, child", a favourite expression of his, "will be the second." Then he exacted a promise not to reveal the location of this hidden treasure of his. And Bishop Croke (he said) had kept the secret. We advanced with well bent shoulders under the leafy covering and suddenly stood face to face with the beautiful cascade. The choicest native shrubbery and wild flowers adorned the scene. The pool was small, but very deep, and the romantic Doctor had constructed a rude tackle on its edge for capturing eels, a favourite dish of his, as it is of the Native race of New Zealand. On my way home, next day, many, with a smile, asked me if I had been let into the well-known secret of the waterfall! But how they loved the veteran priest, and how they still cherish his memory.
When retiring at night I asked the Doctor where was it possible to have a wash next morning. "Take that towel there, child," he replied, "slip down to the creek, step in upon the big boulder, and you'll find soap in a hole on the top of it. Plenty of the best water, child, plenty for washing or rolling in at pleasure!" How primitive and simple was the life of the devoted old priest! Yet the conditions all round were most enjoyable. The Hermitage was aglow with creeping plants in full bloom; that bush and field all round were vibrating with the vesper and matin songs of blackbird, thrush, lark, tui, and other piping birds, all serving their Maker in their own inimitable way.
These brief references to the good Doctor, his simple, charming manners, and his Hermitage and waterfall, are here related with a loving thought of a dear old priest whose memory, and whose services to religion are a precious heritage to many in this diocese.
I conclude these memoirs by picking up some of the broken threads of reminiscences from the Upper Waikato.
Father James Paul, ordained in Carlow College (Ireland) in 1855, arrived in April, 1856. He was then a tall, slight, active, handsome young priest. His first mission was at Rangiaohia, as assistant to Father Garavel. That was between 1856 and 1858. In the latter year we find him at Onehunga, where he served for nearly 48 years, Pope Leo XIII appointed the venerable and saintly old priest a Domestic Prelate, with the title of Monsignore. He was also Vicar-General of the diocese for some years. In 1905, at the patriarchal age of 83, having nearly completed his fiftieth year in the Ministry, he died at Onehunga, where church, convent, and schools testify to his zeal and fruitful activity, and where his holy memory is held in benediction by a grateful and devoted Catholic people.
The Old Presbytery Fire.
With much gratitude to Miss Long, whose parents were settlers at Rangiawhia from early years, we are able to transcribe the following account from the Auckland Herald of March 23, 1915. It appears under the heading "Fifty Years Ago," and is reprinted from the issue of the same paper for March 23, 1865: —
"We regret to announce that intelligence was received in town yesterday morning from Rangiawhia, by electric telegraph, stating that the presbytery of the Roman Catholic Mission Station, a handsome wooden building, capable of accommodating 17 or 18 scholars, had been burnt to the ground. No lives, we are happy to learn, have been lost, but nearly all the property contained in the building has been destroyed. There are at the present time a number of scholars at this station, chiefly half-castes, under the care of the Rev. Father Viney, who has been obliged to telegraph to Auckland for supplies of food and clothing, to replace that which has been destroyed. The origin of the fire has not been stated, whether it was accidental or otherwise."
The "handsome wooden building" was a two-storey structure, standing on level and well-sheltered ground behind the church. A small cottage replaced it afterwards and afforded shelter for the priest during many years. The writer of these notes on Old Waikato days is in a position to state that Major Jackson came to the relief of the boys by supplying them with military clothing. Supplies of food were also forthcoming from various sources until stocks could be received from Auckland. The destruction of the building necessitated the closing of Father Viney's school. Then the war was raging at the time, the war of 1864 to 1866, which broke up all the Maori Missions in the Old Waikato. But Father Viney stuck to his post until 1871, when he left for France.
For about two years in Father Viney's stirring times, Father Chastagnon, then quite a young priest, had charge of Hamilton, Cambridge, and Ngaruawahia. Most of the time he was the welcome guest of a generous settler, John Patrick Shanaghan, quarter-masted at the military camp. Then the heads of the little congregation, having conferred together, resolved to secure a permanent residence for the priest. And so a cottage was purchased and Father Chastagnon became its first occupant. But he did not remain long, and in 1871 Father Hoyne was assigned the charge of the whole Waikato. The cottage in question became, later on, the residence of the present writer for nearly seven years. Already I have noticed the removal of the old church from its remote position down the eastern bank of the river, to the site next the presbytery, though the Catholics on the other side endeavoured to have the building transported by dray and punt to their own neighbourhood. Mr. James Shanaghan, of Shelly Beach Road, Ponsonby, inherits his father's zeal for the promotion of church interests. He was old enough to take an active part in the removal and re-erection of the first Catholic Church building in Hamilton. His family has inherited the spirit of their parents and grand-parents.