A special artwork to honour Mary was unveiled and blessed at a Mass at St Mary of the Angels church in Wellington on August 15.
After a welcome involving Māori, the artwork was processed into the church before the Mass, during which the dedications of Aotearoa New Zealand and the Church’s mission in this country to Mary, Assumed into Heaven, were renewed.
In commissioning the artwork, the bishops wanted a depiction of Mary that connects her to Aotearoa New Zealand. The artwork is to be called “E Hāta Maria, e ta matua wahine o te Atua (Holy Mary, Mother of God)”.
According to commentary on the Te Ara a Maria website, the artwork, by Christchurch-based artist Damien Walker, “challenges us to see her as a woman of incredible strength and the place she holds in our hearts and our community today”.
“The artwork aims to respect our different cultures and backgrounds. The painting captures details which are unique to our country and Catholic identity. It asks us to celebrate the things we share in our community and to learn more about our different worlds.”
The statement on the website also noted that Mr Walker’s goal was to create a vision of Madonna and Child, with an emphasis on kotahitanga (unity). He collaborated with Anthony Te Keepa to grow his knowledge of Te Ao Māori, and to ensure he was connecting with authentic voices to help steer the project.
For Mr Walker, “the painting depicts Mary as a symbol of unity in her universal motherhood, uniting Heaven and Earth in her son, Jesus, the son of God”.
“She reflects the unity of the Church, which reaches to the ends of the earth, stretching not only across the oceans but across the centuries as well. The work has a distinctly New Zealand depiction of Mary, emphasising also the unity of the tangata whenua with all the other peoples who have come to live alongside them in the partnership of bi-culturalism; called to live the same faith and
baptism, each in their unique way.”
The artwork has now started its travel around the country visiting each of the six dioceses, as part of Te Hīkoi Wairua mo Te Ara a Maria
The first event was reportedly at Invercargill with a welcome on August 17 at Te Tomairangi Marae. The artwork is scheduled to travel throughout Dunedin diocese until September 11, when it will arrive in Christchurch diocese at Timaru.
At the conclusion of the tour the artwork will be permanently housed in a future shrine at St Mary of the Angels church in Wellington.
For more information, visit www.tearaamaria.nz