WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

New school opens for Our Lady of Kāpiti Parish

WelCom April 2017:

Annette Scullion, story and photos

Whānau, Cardinal John Dew, Principal Martin Elms, students and staff.

After two years of planning, fundraising, design and construction, Our Lady of Kāpiti Parish’s new school and hall, at 3 Presentation Way, Paraparaumu, were formally opened on Friday 17 March. Hundreds of students, parishioners, guests and project operators were on site to enjoy the realisation of their magnificent and shared vision.

Pauline Takiwa called manuhiri (guests) onto the new site with a karanga and they were greeted by students with the school haka.

Kaumātua Tuki Takiwa gave a welcome on behalf of the tangata whenua.

Cardinal John Dew, and students Francis Mettrick and Grace Postlewaite gave blessings and readings and guests joined in prayers and waiata. Board of Trustees Chair Martha Stuart-Berrisford spoke on behalf of the Board.

Guests included past students of Paraparaumu’s St Patrick’s School – predecessor to the newly located school – Presentation Sisters, clergy, teachers, staff, families, parishioners, Catholic Education and Diocesan staff, architects and project contractors.

Cardinal John said the relocation project has come through the commitment, dedication and generosity of many people. ‘It reflects the spirit and commitment to Catholic faith and education since St Patrick’s School opened in 1954, and whose foundation stone was laid by seven Sisters from the Presentation Convent house in Thurles, Ireland.

‘The spirit of St Patrick’s, the legacy, history and traditions, are brought to this site under the patronage of Our Lady of Kāpiti. Parish and school will work together to nurture our full potential as a high-quality Catholic educational community with Jesus Christ at the heart of the school.’

The school is built for 250 students, with 10 classrooms combining modern and traditional layouts. The school-parish hall, featuring re-located stained-glass windows of St Patrick, is also being used for parish Masses.

Cardinal John led a group of guests through the three main building blocks – Aubert, MacKillop and Nagle – as he blessed the new facilities, while students entertained visitors in the courtyard with prayer, song and Kapa Haka.

Cardinal John then formally handed over Our Lady of Kāpiti School to the Board of Trustees.

Principal Martin Elms said it had been a privilege to lead the school and community through the transition and relocate to a new school facility. ‘It is a proud moment for me to stand here today. To continue the vision and legacy of the Presentation Sisters and influence the education and faith development of our children for years to come is a humbling but rewarding experience. The Board, staff and myself now need to ensure this wonderful modern facility makes a positive difference to our children’s learning, and while they are here to have the opportunity of a personal encounter with Jesus, the reason for our Christian faith as Catholics and our Catholic schools.’


Mr Elms acknowledged and thanked Cardinal John and Parish Priest Fr Michael McCabe for their ‘courage, foresight and wisdom’, the school staff and Board, Pacific Architecture, LT McGuiness builders, Rick Goodman and his infrastructure team, the steering committee and Archdiocesan school property adviser Sarita Smit.

Morning tea was served in the hall and the school was open for viewing.

Parish Priest Fr Michael McCabe said the opening of the new parish school and hall, fittingly on St Patrick’s Day, was a wonderful opportunity to give thanks and gratitude for all who had made this new beginning possible for the school and parish, not least to the Presentation Sisters who took the first brave steps to establish Catholic education in Kāpiti. Planning continues for the building of a new parish church and administration centre, to be built in two stages alongside the school, he said.

‘We found it very poignant to say goodbye to St Patrick’s Church, School and Presbytery, but have been encouraged and affirmed on our journey of faith by the completion of the first two stages of our redevelopment. While we are giving new shape to the future in Christ here in Kāpiti, we are doing so knowing we are building on the sacred and courageous work of all those who established the original parish here in Kāpiti from St Mary’s Mission Station at Pukekaraka in the 1930s.’

Fr Michael said the parish is especially blessed with the depth of commitment to ministry and parish life by its parishioners and by their wholehearted and generous response to Cardinal John’s invitation to “Build a Future Full of Hope”. ‘The huge generosity of parishioners to fundraising initiatives has reinforced an already wonderful community spirit.’

From left: Cardinal John and Martha Stuart-Berrisford.

From left: Sr Teresa Tierney, Sr Breda Ryan and Mons John Carde.

From left: Marguerite Osborne, Tuki and Pauline Takiwa.