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Pakipaki Memorial Grotto


The memorial grotto was commissioned in the 1950s by Father James Durning SM and was built under the supervision of local Lay Reader, James Kenrick. The memorial is a grotto for the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary with an inscription dedicated to the foundation of the Roman Catholic Church in Hawke’s Bay and the establishment of the Māori Mission at Pakipaki.

The memorial plaque reads:


Fathers:  Baty, Lampila, Regnier, Soulas, Séon, Le Pretre, De Lach.

Brothers:  Basil and Florentin, of the Society of Mary

And Mother Mary Aubert, who laid the foundations of the Maori Mission and indeed of the Church in Hawkes Bay.

And Puhara, Maori Chief, Benefactor of the Mission.

Pūhara Hawaiikirangi is the central figure in the story of the Catholic Church in Hawke’s Bay and his son Urupene Pūhara is credited with the establishment of a permanent Māori Mission at Pakipaki and erection of the Church of the Immaculate Conception alongside The Venerable Suzanne Aubert and Father Christophe Soulas in 1880.

A second plaque further acknowledges Marist priests and local benefactors.

Fr. James Riordan S.M. 1929-42.

And these other Benefactors of the Mission

Agnes Shaw Wilson : Agnes Murphy.

Eliza Sheehan : George Oswald Donovan.

Father Augustine Venning S.M. 1909-1962.

The grotto sits outside Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Pakipaki, designed by John Scott and dedicated on 28th April 1968.


Images and text: Charles Ropitini, 2019

How to cite this page

Pakipaki Memorial Grotto, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated