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

The Fifteenth Panel

WelCom June 2017: A series of 15 carved panels have been created for St Mary’s Church in Blenheim. The fifteenth and final panel was installed in the church on 21 April this year. Parishioner and the panel carver, Jim Davis, explains.

On the fifteenth panel are carved the names of the ministers of Baptism (priests, midwives and doctors); a commemoration of the unbaptised, unborn, miscarried and aborted children ‘You are more precious than gold’ Ps 19) – those who have received no acknowledgement or family names; and the names of those baptised in Seddon and Ward when this area was a parish known as Awatere.

Included are symbols from the former Seddon and Ward parish, comprising a paten, a communion plate, a wooden communion plate and a wooden collection plate. There is also the first stole from Tokelau, woven by Selasina Petelo of Nukunonu, Tokelau. Underneath, a small wooden carving represents Mary and acknowledges the Marist Fathers’ contribution to this parish.

The small carving is of myrtle wood, a wood rich in history and beauty that grows abundantly in south-western Oregon. In the Bible the Myrtle tree is of special religious significance, representing fertility and life. It is also described as an ‘emblem of love’. Its aroma and endless galaxies of rich grain make this distinguished wood a fitting tribute to the Marist communities who have served here.

A small piece of Tokelauan kanava wood, Cordia subcordata, – an evergreen tree that is soft, durable and valued greatly for canoe building – is inset with a piece of tiwha (mother-of-pearl shell from Tokelau) in the shape of a cross that adorns the top of the carving. This shell is worn as a kahoa (necklace pendant) especially on wedding days. Interwoven around the border of the panel are various cultural patterns, representing the different Māori, Polynesian, Celtic, New Zealand and Indian communities who have settled here.

Parishioner, carver and artist Jim Davis with the completed fifteenth panel in a series he has created, which tell some of the many stories of those connected to St Mary’s Church in and around Blenheim.