by SUE SECONI
The Associates of Suzanne Aubert-Te Hunga Whai i nga Akoranga a Suzanne learnt a lot more about New Zealand’s saint-in-the-making when 12 of their members took part in another Suzanne Aubert trail, this time in central Hawke’s
Booking out the Southern Star Monastery at Kopua near Takapau on July 11-12, they enjoyed the services there and visited places of significance to Mother Aubert.
Sister of Compassion archivist Sr Jo Gorman set the scene by talking about the life of Suzanne Aubert.
The first visit on the itinerary was Te Aute College.
The group went in cars along State Highway 2, but Mother Aubert would have travelled on foot along this road, which was known back then as the Bridal Track.
It was heard how Mother Aubert consulted Anglican Missionary Rev. Samuel Williams (who founded Te Aute College in 1854) for his medical knowledge.
During the 1870s many settlers from around the world were arriving, bringing with them diseases new to colonial
New Zealand. As long as no one claimed to hold a doctor’s degree, any skilled person like Mother Aubert could
help and her remedies were well used and proved successful. Mother Aubert’s Maori-English phrasebook was used by
The second stop on the itinerary, which was arranged by associate member Shirley Duthie, was visiting St Patrick’s
Church in Waipawa. Mother Aubert was at the opening of this original tiny mission church, opened and blessed by
Bishop Viard in 1871. With the growing settler population, this church was shifted to the back of the property and a
bigger church built in its place. This was destroyed by fire in 1920 and the present church opened debt free through the generosity of all denominations from the surrounding districts.
Heading south, the next stopover was at the historic Oruawhara Homestead on the Takapau Plains, which is the largest private home in New Zealand. It was completed in 1868 for Sophia and Sydney Johnston.
Mother Aubert was a great friend of the Johnstons and stayed with them in 1889 and 1913. Their daughter Agnes,
whom Mother Aubert used to call Nancy, exchanged correspondence up until Mother Aubert died. When Agnes married
John Rolleston, MP, Mother Aubert became godmother to their son.
For one associate, the sudden reappearance of a Scottish terrier was delightful because Mother Aubert’s dog Prince was of the same breed. This had also happened during the first Suzanne Aubert Heritage Trail in Napier-Hastings
in 2013, when a Scottish terrier befriended the group.
In 1883 Mother Aubert left Hawke’s Bay to respond to a new missionary call in Jerusalem on the banks of the Whanganui River.