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

Pastoral visit to the people of Kaikōura

WelCom May 2018:

‘Ahakoa te roa o te pō, ka awatea – No matter how long the night, daylight will surely come’.


Deacon Danny Karatea-Goddard
Tūranga Māori – Vicar for Māori

It has been nearly two years since the huge magnitude 7.8 earthquake rocked Kaikōura, Seddon and Ward after midnight on 14 November 2016. On a recent pastoral visit to the Star of the Sea Parish, Dave Olivier, ADW Catholic Social Services Director, and I caught up with our whānau whakapono in the south as they enter winter. SH1 had just re-opened between 7am to 7pm, which allowed us to drive down through Seddon, Ward and witness the dramatic change to the landscape and the coastline.

On a cold and raining morning we joined 12 local Kaikōura Sacred Heart parishioners in their church foyer – the faithful te hunga whakapono – to celebrate Liturgy of the Word and Holy Communion. We were taken by the warm welcome and liturgy. It reminded us although the recent years have been more than trying, we are a people of hope and the hard times will pass. The SMSM sisters, Srs Maureen Connor and Frances Anna Remnant, who are now residing in the former presbytery were at the same gathering. Their presence has been a real blessing in Kaikōura and everyone we met during the week commented on how their loving and generous hearts have warmed the community.

Judith Ford is the new principal at St Joseph’s school where the community have been mourning the loss of a young boy, Alex, who had recently passed away on the family farm. We were taken by the ‘aroha’ and resilience, which was most evident in the school and came away knowing this community will be fine; they have each other and the strong and seamless connections through the school, parish and community will get them through – their faith will get them through.

From mountains to sea – dramatic changes to Kaikōura landscape and coastline. Photo: Annette Scullion

We met with members of the local parish team, Deb Lawson, Willie Ford and the Sisters who have been pulling together resources to ease the burden on all local families. The supply of shoes for school children, food vouchers, heaters, firewood, accommodation, counselling to the community continues to be the focus as we enter another cold winter.

Finally, we returned to Takahanga Marae where the local iwi fed and accommodated hundreds of stranded tourists for weeks after the shake. Gazing across the marae to the coastline, we are reminded the traditional food sources kōura, pāua and karingo (seaweed) are still out of bounds and that same coastline where generations of Ngāti Kuri have fished and collected kaimoana, has changed forever. As we met there the snow fell on the surrounding majestic mountains and we realised that mother nature had called our pastoral visits to an end.

Once the roads were open again we left Kaikōura being very much aware of the continuing hardship there, a broken landscape and foreshore, but a faithful people who know however long the night, daylight will surely come. The Risen Christ of aroha, manaakitanga and tūmanako is with them and with us all. Let us keep the good people of Kaikōura, Ward and Seddon in our prayers.