1843: Fr Jeremiah Purcell O’Reily, OMCap, first parish priest in Wellington, attended to needs of Catholics in Hutt Valley.
1846: Mr and Mrs Brown, first Catholic and first settler family arrived in Upper Hutt. Marist Missionary, Fr Forest sm, visited Upper Hutt saying Mass at Brown’s Wilson’s homes.
1850: Bishop Viard divided Diocese of Wellington into four parishes. ‘Hutt River’ parish covered Hutt Valley (including Upper Hutt), Wairarapa, Makara to Waikanae, and down to Kaikōura. Fr Forest placed in charge. Fr Compte, cared for needs of Māori.
1859: Fr Seon took over parish from Fr Forest.
1863: Fr Seon oversaw commencement of a church, dedicated to St Joseph.
1864: Bishop Viard opened St Josephs’ Church. Upper Hutt administered from Lower Hutt.
1875: Sisters of Mercy travelled from Wellington to teach children’s catechism.
1884: Fr Forest died. Upper Hutt served by priests from Lower Hutt.
1911: Sisters of Mercy opened St Josephs’ Orphanage for girls and set up school for Catholic and non-Catholic children. Boys allowed to live at orphanage from 1917.
1911: Archbishop Redwood established Upper Hutt as a parish. Fr Les Daly appointed first parish priest. First presbytery in Lower Pine Avenue and later Queen St.
1913: Presbytery burnt to ground. Fr Daly built new brick presbytery.
1916: Fr Daly appointed WW1 Chaplain to Trentham Military Camp.
1946: Fire destroyed St Joseph’s Orphanage. Sisters built at new site in Gibbons Road.
1953: Sisters of Mercy’s new convent and orphanage opened.
1956: New school building opened on Pine Avenue on land purchased by parish.
1958: Separate school for boys opened, taught by Dutch Assumptionist priests until 1965.
1961: St Josephs’ Church demolished for new, larger church for growing congregation.
1965: New St Joseph’s Church consecrated, blessed and officially opened by Archbishop McKeefry 29 August, 101st anniversary of establishment of Catholic Church in Upper Hutt.
1965: Sr John Boscoe took over teaching at boys’ school.
1968: Fr (Bishop) Owen Dolan appointed to parish as Administrator.
1975: Srs of Mercy expanded work into elderly care and built pensioner flats.
1976‒1979: Fr (Cardinal) John Dew assistant priest at Upper Hutt Parish.
1985: St Joseph’s Orphanage discontinued and partly converted to Villas rest home for elderly.
1985: Sr Anne Campbell, last Sr of Mercy teaching at St Joseph’s School, transferred to Wellington.
St Joseph’s Parish, Upper Hutt
St Joseph’s Parish Upper Hutt is led by Parish Priest, Fr Malko Api-Tufuga, assisted by Fr Biju Xavier, the Parish Council, very active parishioners, and St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School.
The parish had its early origins in the 1860s to save the sawmillers and their families in the upper valley the long trip by buggy to Petone. The first church was built on the present site in Pine Avenue, although it did not become a separate parish until 1911. The first building was raised by a small group of Catholic families, mostly of British origin, whose descendants are still very active in the parish. The parish has now grown to about 700 families. We have large Samoan, Tongan, Filipino communities, and a growing Indian community.
Most of the regular Catholic groups are active in the parish including Catholic Women’s League, Legion of Mary, bible study, the Vinnies, Divine Mercy, a mothers’ group, as well as several small prayer groups. We have two youth groups, who are keeping our youth busy fundraising for trips to Auckland and Sydney to meet other young Catholic groups.
Our very active Justice Peace and Development group provide advocacy services to beneficiaries, and are pushing Housing New Zealand to reinstate state houses that have been lost due to government funding policies. The JPD group sponsors a monthly meal in the church foyer for whoever wants and is need of a free meal.
Because we are close to Rimutaka prison, some of our parishioners have been involved in prison ministry for over 20 years, guided by and involved with Prison Fellowship NZ.
Our liturgies are enlivened by eight varied musicians or groups including Samoan, Tongan and Filipino. We are blessed to be able to celebrate Mass almost every day of the week with weekday Mass attendances ranging from 20 (on bad weather days) to 40 or more, with a 6.30am workers’ Mass on Fridays. On days when a priest is not available, we have a lay-led liturgical service with Holy Communion. We also have a team of Ministers of Holy Communion who take communion to the three rest homes in the area and to ‘shut-ins’ around the parish.
The parish has always had close links with St Joseph’s School from the time when the Sisters of Mercy started an orphanage near the church in 1910. The school currently has a roll of about 400 students in years 1 to 7, and brings classes to Mass on Wednesdays. Recently we had 40 young people confirmed as part of our Sacramental programme being run by a team of five parishioners ably assisted by a couple of teachers from the school.
As we have a wide variety of nationalities from all five continents, we welcome any new parishioners.
Peter Dawson is Chair of the St Joseph’s Parish Council, Upper Hutt.
St Joseph’s Catholic School
Peter Ahern, Principal
St Joseph’s School was established in 1910 and enjoys a proud history of over 100 years providing for the academic, social and spiritual needs of its students. We have a strong relationship with St Joseph’s Parish having the church and presbytery next door.
We aim to provide education to maximise each student’s potential. We encourage our students to be excited about their learning and to contribute within the school and in their local community.
Opportunities are available for students to develop and extend their academic learning as well as grow in their personal confidence to give new things a go. Our values are Determination, Respect, Creativity, Love and Excellence.
St Joseph’s, Hato Hohepa, has had a strong tradition in teaching te reo Māori and culture, with both junior and senior kapa haka groups, and a strong connection to Orongomai Marae.
We take great care to consider the transition of our students into and from St Joseph’s Catholic School and have strong links with our excellent local Catholic Colleges – St Patrick’s College, Silverstream, and Sacred Heart College, Lower Hutt.
St Vincent de Paul Society Upper Hutt Conference
St Vincent de Paul Society at St Joseph’s started in 1935. We meet fortnightly in the parish meeting room and have 11 active members and 20 associate members who help with prayers and our wide range of activities.
We receive great support from the parish and donated food is presented with the Offertory at Sunday Masses.
Every winter we help struggling families with their power accounts and generous food parcels at Christmas. About 20 families and some individuals receive food parcels to coincide with school holidays. Our members also visit several rest homes in the area, hospitals, the housebound sick and elderly, and one member visits Rimutaka Prison.
Over recent years we have provided holidays at the Society’s Picton holiday home; our outreach is to the Sri Lankan SVP and we organised a raffle to raise $2,000 so a new home for a family could be provided. We’ve helped families in Upper Hutt in securing safe homes and having their properties upgraded; we’ve given assistance with school uniforms; our members participated in last year’s Benefit Advocacy programme in Upper Hutt; we help at the monthly community meal; we assist at funerals; and we take Holy Communion to the housebound, Spring Lodge home, and other rest homes.
We receive regular cash donations from parish members and we could not do what we do without their support. One member provides transport and hospitality every week to a few people with mental-health issues. In the last 12 months with parish help we have furnished houses and provided a welcoming pack with food and gifts for former refugee families as well as setting up the homes – also with the support of donations from
We look forward to celebrating with our fellow members, St Vincent de Paul Society’s 150 years of service in New Zealand over the weekend of 14‒15 October.
Justice Peace and Development Group
St Joseph’s Justice Peace and Development group was formed in 2004 to act locally to challenge issues of injustice within the Upper Hutt community. While membership is small, our parish priests have supported the group to make justice a parish issue.
Our group educates itself on injustice causes and shares this knowledge with the wider parish. We have speakers and movies during the winter months; and monthly displays in the foyer which highlight parish members’ volunteer work with charitable organisations helping the disadvantaged.
During 2014 Lent, with sponsorship from the Presentation Sisters, our group hired and set up a portable shower behind the church for homeless people to use. A community dinner, which began at this time, continues on the third Tuesday of every month. This sees people drop in for food and fellowship. Parishioners cook and serve the food, donate money and share fellowship with the guests.
Over the last four years the group has been looking into housing issues in our area. A housing trust has been established in conjunction with other Churches in Upper Hutt. We are supporting the housing of four family groups and our JPD group has just been accepted by Ministry of Social Development as a provider of Emergency Housing. We also organised a petition and protest at the sale of Housing New Zealand land in Upper Hutt. Where possible, St Joseph’s JPD group joins with other community groups to help push barriers that limit people’s rights and inclusion in society.
CWL Upper Hutt
Susan Lloyd, Branch President
Our Catholic Women’s League Branch celebrates its 68th birthday this year. Formed prior to Upper Hutt receiving city status, a small group of enthusiastic Catholic women banded together under the CWL national motto of ‘Faith in Service’ for spiritual, fundraising and support activities. The first annual subscription was five shillings!
In May this year, members Pat Kortink and Noelene Casey were presented with 60-year badges, Ellen McCairn a 50-year badge and Vera Crombie a 25-year badge.
We provide service and support to organisations locally, nationally and in the Pacific. We balance our spiritual-growth needs and providing direct monetary support for those in need. Recent activities have included a parish quiz evening. Beneficiaries included the Pacific Mission Ahipanilolo Technical Institute in Tonga; St Joseph’s School; and Arohata Prison and our national CWL ‘At Home Appeal’, Pillars for assisting prisoners’ children.
Members help with street-day appeals, eg Women’s Refuge; the Teen Parents School by providing soup rolls and fruit during the winter terms; making Mother’s and Father’s Day cards to give out at Mass; and joining with Heretaunga, Lower Hutt and Avalon Branches to knit slippers for various Hutt Valley schools.
Each year the local Christian churches combine in the World Day of Payer. This year, our Filipino church members dressed in their national costume and joined us to lead prayers from their homeland.
Several members have given service on the CWL’s National Board. Mary Richardson was elected as the National President 1980‒84 and was presented with National Life Membership. In 2011, Mary was decorated with the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice for services to the wider Catholic Church. Jan Prosser, Noelene Casey and Susan Lloyd have also held positions on the CWL National Board.
We pray the next generation of Catholic women will carry on the work done by League members over the years, enriching their own lives and the lives of those they help and support.
Exaltae Music Ministry
Exaltae was formed in the early 1990s by a group of Catholic musicians based in Upper Hutt, to reach out to young Catholics.
The singers, guitarists and a keyboard player, were joined over time by a drummer, bass guitarist and sound technician.
Their name ‘Exaltae’ expresses their desire to exalt the Lord through their ministry.
Exaltae continues today as an acoustic group with a guitarist and singers who play monthly at St Joseph’s Church and other times. Parish members often join in.
Mercy Sisters, Upper Hutt
Although a Church was opened in 1864 there was no Catholic school. Sisters of Mercy from St Mary’s Convent travelled by train from Wellington every Sunday to teach the Catholic children living in the area about God.
The Sisters were given a large area of land and decided to build St Joseph’s Orphanage. It opened in 1911 with 100 girls moving into their new home. In 1917, boys were allowed to live at the orphanage. The Sisters set up a school for the children living at the orphanage and for other Catholic and no-Catholic children in the area.
The Sisters ran a farm on land next to the orphanage, on which they grew fruit and vegetables and raised animals. They worked hard to raise money to keep the orphanage running and people within the community gave food and clothes to help.
The orphanage was under the care of Mother M Ambrose from 1910 until 1940, who made it the refuge for many. Her words were: ‘We will refuse no one!’ The Sisters cared for 18,000 children between 1910‒1935 – these years which included WW1, the influenza pandemic and the economic depression.
In 1946 a fire destroyed much of the old orphanage so a new one was built, that remained open until 1985.
The number of families in Upper Hutt who wanted their children to attend a Catholic school grew and a new school for children in St Joseph’s Parish was built in 1956. (www.mercy.org.nz)
St Joseph’s Scout Group
St Joseph’s scout group, Upper Hutt, began in 1936. After closing during WW2 due to lack of leaders, it restarted with a Cub Pack (ages 8–11) and Scout Troop (ages 11–16) in 1952, adding Venturers (ages 15–19) in 1969 and the district’s first Kea Club (ages 6-8) in 1982. Girls have been in every section for the past 30 years!
The Scout Hall was opened on parish land in 1971. The group scarf ‒ black with white trim and the national Catholic-sponsored badge on the back ‒ was adopted in 1962. There are 100 youth and leaders involved across all four sections including many non-Catholics. Numbers have grown in line with a national average annual three per cent increase.
Fun-filled, varied and developmental programmes are available to youth in all sections, along with involvement in Zone camps, trolley derbies, leadership training, tramps, Hutt Valley Gang Shows, and National Scout Schools with flying, caving, canoeing, photography etc available. Our scouts have attended every New Zealand Scout Jamboree since 1966 and Venturers every New Zealand Venture since 1992, as well as many Australian Jamborees and World Scout Jamborees.
St Joseph’s Venturers have produced 63 Queen’s Scouts ‒ the highest award obtainable by a youth member of Scouts New Zealand, averaging more than two a year since 1992 ‒ the highest rate in New Zealand!
St Joseph’s Parish members support our Scout Group as voluntary adult leaders, but mainly with the purchase of our annual organic compost and lamington fundraisers.
Gerald Carter is St Joseph’s Scout Venturer Leader.
Upper Hutt Youth Ministry
Here at St Joseph’s Parish we a very blessed to have a profitable youth ministry and a number of youth groups with their own unique cultural identities including Samoan, Tongan, and Filipino.
The parish youth group, in which I’m one of the leaders, call ourselves SWAG, which stands for ‘Saved With Amazing Grace’. We have been up and running for just over a year now. It has been an amazing journey teaching the splendour and beauty of our Catholic faith. And sharing all the delicious pizza and snacks we have at our weekly meetings, which get burned off with the games and laughter we have.
During Holy Week our youth put on an amazing account of the Stations of the Cross. We’re attending the Catholic youth festival this December up in Auckland which we’re very excited about.
It’s so encouraging to see the young adults hunger for Truth the Catholic Church has. I see their hunger every week in our discussions about our Catholic faith. The Church is going to be in good hands.
“The youth say stupid things and they say good things, as we do, as everyone does. But hear them, speak with them, because we must learn from them and they must learn from me, from us.” – Pope Francis