Taonga returned to former Hato Pētera College site

20 Hato bishop web


Taonga from the Diocese of Auckland’s archives have been returned to the site of the former Hato Pētera College in Northcote, which is where these treasured items belong.

The special moment on December 17 (Gaudete Sunday), coincided with Auckland Bishop Stephen Lowe celebrating the last miha Māori (Mass) of the year in Tāmaki Makaurau with te whānau o Katorika and the Vicar for Māori, Manuel Beazley.

It was the bishop’s first miha Māori in the parish since being appointed by Pope Francis 12 months earlier.

“Today we rejoice because the taonga are returned to Hato Petera,” he said, acknowledging both the life force coming back and the mamae (sadness) due to the kura (school) closing in 2018 after 90 years.

“We can sit lamenting what happened, we can put ourselves in a prison about that, we can’t change what’s happened – but the real treasure, the real taonga of this kura, are the students who were here, they’re the ones that have gone out and made a difference in the world.

“In the end, the kura is just an instrument, something to help people become who they’re called to be. We are the taonga, and we’ve got a mission to bring rejoicing into our world that so badly needs it.”

Following the miha, which was attended by 35 whānau, the visiting party, including James van Schie, Auckland diocese general manager, with the bishop, were called on to the wharenui, Te Kamaka, by karanga.

They walked on with Dr Pouroto Ngaropo, MNZM, a former student, who was one of several kaikōrero (speakers) at the mihi whakatau (welcome ceremony).

He spoke about the manawa (heart) of Hato Pētera and the values of tika (being right), pono (being true) and aroha (love).

After hariru (shaking hands and hongi) at the end, Dr Lance O’Sullivan, a former pupil, who is part of a movement to save the site and the taonga, thanked Mr van Schie for the support of the diocese.

“The purpose of being here is to take a walk through to see how our wharenui has been refurbished so we can house these taonga.”

Dr O’Sullivan took everyone down memory lane holding up books and photograph albums, and shared countless anecdotes.

“There’s a photo album of the first Māori bishop’s ordination of Bishop Takiura Mariu (Ngāti Tūwharetoa) and the Hato Pētera boys were there, I recognise so many . . . it’s amazing,” he said.

“Every week I see younger or older men walking around the site, I know they’re an old boy, they’re reminiscing and bringing back all those memories and hope.”

“The other day, a man was here from 1964, Denis August, he came in and told me so many stories I wouldn’t have known about unless I’d been here.”

“He wants to donate his first XV jersey as he was a very good athlete, and a photo taken with athletics coach, Arthur Lydiard.”

“Now these are stories we wouldn’t know unless people have the opportunity to come here and reminisce, right?”

The whanaungatanga (friendship) of Hato Pētera whānau moved the bishop to comment about the “lovely wairua here”, as he mixed and mingled with the parishoners over a cup of tea.

He also spoke about the goodwill shown by both sides that continue to be in kōrero while working out what’s best for the future.

“I’m open to whatever. I’m still new in the diocese. Watch this space!” he said.

Meanwhile Dr O’Sullivan, who resides on site, is focused on how the taonga can be stored, how to maintain them, how to share them with the Hato Pētera community.

“So, your question was – what’s happening? I said to Pouroto, we need to tidy this up, it looks like a garage sale.”

“He said no, leave it, let everyone like you go through it, do what you do, realise that there is work to be done. We have to catalogue this, protect it, make sure it’s secure.”

“Yes, it looks like a garage sale, but it’s actually an Aladdin’s Cave!”

Posted in


Reader Interactions



    Kiaora my name is Tamihana Pomare Im interested if any of the buildings are Heritage listed, if not lets get them listed and look at a what a renovation plan may look like with Heritage funding or investment. I’m part of reusage of Te Kamaka Marae komiti also. Purely to open its doors for hapu whanau kotahi tatou katoa literally. Te Kamaka is central to Northcote residential, schools and business and is a need for the many. Its position as well as its historical relationship to hapu whanau kotahi tatou katoa Tamaki Makaurau symbiotic relationship with the Hato Petera Chapel he taonga. Matua tupuna e haina ‘He Whakaputanga O Nga Rangatira O Nu Tirani 1835’ te matua raua ko ‘Te Tiriti O Waitangi 1840’ te kawenta ki te wairua hoki te atua. Relationships have already been proccured Ngati Torohings hapu Mataka Rangaatira Te Pahi, Ruatara and Wharepoka with CMS Samuel Marsden 1810-1840. Also Bishop Pompallier Hokianga. Enquiring nga mihi