Mary Queen of Peace (St. Hyacinth)
It wasn’t till 1899 that the community of Poles at Waihola saw the opening of its very own Catholic church. Beforehand they worshiped alongside other denominations at the local Presbyterian church or travelled several miles to the Catholic churches in Milton or East Taieri. However, a priest would come to Waihola from Milton about once a month and whenever a special need arose. Father O’Neill recalled his first day’s experience, when he had to drive to Waihola to celebrate Mass, was rather severe, but since then he had not felt it so terribly cold. He had found a warmth in his new parish which he did not expect, the warmth of the people. Before the church came along many weddings were performed in private dwellings such as these early weddings held at the House of Frank Annis; 22 April 1882, Frank Klimek to Franciszka Kirchowska and at the house of Michael Wisneski; 27 June 1892, Robert Anderson to Mary Orlowski and on 7 December 1898, Bernard Wisnesky to Henrietta Kay.
“A new church is being erected at Waihola in the Milton parish. The congregation are mostly German Poles, and the church is to be dedicated to the great Polish Dominican, St. Hyacinth.” New Zealand Tablet, 02 February 1899.
“The erection of a new Catholic Church at Waihola (says the Bruce Herald), is making good progress. The site is excellently chosen, and commands a very extensive view. It is expected that the builders will have finished their work shortly after Easter, when the church will be opened with the usual ceremonies. We are informed that Dr Verdon, Bishop of Dunedin, has presented the church with an altar, and the Rev. Father O’Donnell of Queenstown, formerly of Milton, has presented three beautiful stained-glass windows for the chancel.“ New Zealand Tablet”, 02 March 1899
“New Advertisements. DEDICATION OF WAIHOLA CATHOLIC CHURCH. THE new Church of ST. HYACINTH, at Waihola, will be solemnly blessed and dedicated on SUNDAY, April 16. The leading members of St. Joseph’s Cathedral Choir will assist, strengthed by an efficient orchestra. J. O’NEILL, Milton.” Bruce Herald, 7 April 1899, p 4
The very Rev. Father O’Neill and the people of Waihola are to be congratulated on the completion of the new Catholic Church, to be dedicated to St. Hyacinth, the blessing and opening of which will take place on Sunday next. The church, which is 54 ft by 25 ft, exclusive of the sanctuary and sacristy, is a very pretty specimen of the gothic style of architecture. Three stained glass windows behind the altar, having medallions of the Sacred Heart, St Catherine of Sienna, and St. Hyacinth, add much to the adornment of the interior. The church occupies a very find site overlooking the lake, and is close to the railway station. The Rev. Father O’Donnell, of Gore, will preach on the occasion of the opening ceremony. Special trains, at excursion fares, will leave Dunedin and Balclutha on Sunday morning at 9.30, arriving at Waihola about 11 o’clock. An efficient choir and orchestra from Dunedin will render the music on the occasion. Our readers are referred to the notice which appears in our advertising columns“. New Zealand Tablet, 13 April 1899
The site of the church was situated at the top of Nore Street, overlooking a spectacular view of Lake Waihola and surrounding area. Access could be obtained by a rather narrow winding lane appropriately named Chapel Lane that climbed what is now a rather steep Nore Street. The church was finally opened for worship on Sunday the 16th of April 1899, there being 1,000 persons present on that occasion. Father O’Neill officiated at the opening ceremony.
WAIHOLA NEW CATHOLIC CHURCH. THE OPENING CEREMONIES.
It is rarely, if ever, that the pretty township of Waihola presented such an animated appearance as it did on Sunday last, when the new Catholic Church, dedicated to St. Hyacinth, was opened. It was computed that there must have been over 1000 persons present in the township during the day, and of these special trains from Dunedin and Balclutha brought between 700 and 800. Apart from its sacred character the church is a decided acquisition to the township, as its pleasing Gothic proportions show out well in the picturesque and commanding site on which it stands. The Very Rev. Father O’Neill has been loyally and generously assisted in his efforts by his people, as well as by many outside friends. As a result, the church has been handsomely furnished. His Lordship Bishop Verdon presented the fine altar; the Very Rev. Dean O’Leary gave the altar rails; the artistically designed stained-glass windows, with medallions of the Sacred Heart, St. Catherine of Siena and St. Hyacinth, immediately behind the altar, were the gift of the Rev. Father O’Donnell of Queenstown; the Stations of the Cross were given by the Dominican Nuns (Milton), and the carved book stand on the altar by the Dominican Nuns (Dunedin). The stained-glass windows were made by Mr. Fraser, of Dunedin. The site, which is an especially prominent one, was presented by Mr. Philipowski, a resident of the district. The building will accommodate a congregation of about 300. It is needless to say that numbers of those who arrived by the excursion train were unable to gain admittance to the church. The ceremonies commenced shortly after 11 o’clock, when a Missa Cantata was celebrated by the Rev. Father Edward O’Donnell (Dunedin). The music on the occasion was Farmer’s Mass in B Flat, which was rendered by a special choir and an orchestra. Mr. E. Eagar conducted, and Mr. O. Nauman was leader of the orchestra. The solo parts were sung by Misses Crane and Crawford (soprano), Misses K. Blaney and K. Moloney (alto), Mr. Sheppard (tenor), Messrs. J. Woods and W. O. Feil (bass). As an offertory piece the orchestra played ‘Der Fruhlingszeit,’ by E. Weissenborn, while at the conclusion of Mass ‘Marche aux Flambeaux’ was played. The music was admirably interpreted and reflected much credit on the performers. The clergy present were the Very Rev. Father O’Neill, the Rev. Father P. O’Donnell (Gore), Rev. E. O’Donnell (Dunedin), and the Rev. Father Cleary (Dunedin).
The sermon was preached by Rev. P. O’Donnell (Gore). The rev. preacher took for his text the account of the miraculous draught of fishes described in the Gospel. He made an interesting and well-reasoned application of this great miracle to the repugnance which existed between the simple, humble ways which Christ enjoined and the world’s ideal of wealth, comfort, and worldly power. He also showed how Christ teaches the multitude from St. Peter’s barque to-day as he did long ago by the sea of Galilee; and drew the lesson from Christ’s command to St. Peter to let down his nets in the open day, after a night of fruitless toil, that at God’s command we must practice what our holy religion enjoins-fasting, &c.-even when our intellect does not at all times see the reasonableness of the divine commands, ever remembering the large draught; which rewarded the simple faith of St. Peter. When we labour independently of Christ, our toil is in vain, as regards supernatural reward; when it is done under the guidance and direction of God, it will meet with its reward exceeding great. At the close of an able and instructive discourse, Father O’Donnell congratulated the Very Rev. Father O’Neill on having built such a fine edifice in a district where the Catholics were represented by a few scattered people from far-off Poland. Father O’Neill had erected churches in Mosgiel, Greytown, Catlins, and Balclutha, a convent at Milton, and now this fine edifice at Waihola. The Polish people, though coming from a different land, speaking a different tongue, and having different national customs, would benefit by the ministrations of a warm-hearted Irish priest. There was a bond of sympathy between the Irish and the Polish peoples-a sympathy which sprung from the fact that both had borne centuries of bitter persecution for the faith and remained steadfast under it all. The preacher concluded with a brief biography of the great Polish saint, St. Hyacinth, to whom the church is dedicated. By a happy coincidence, to which the preacher also referred, the opening of the new edifice took place on the seventeenth anniversary of Father O’Neill’s ordination to the priesthood. The total cost of the building is about £220, whilst the amount in hand, including subscriptions received on Sunday (£80), is about £120. Mr. Barty, of Balclutha, prepared the plans and specifications of the building, and Mr. J. Agnew, of the same place, was the builder. After the ceremony some of the visitors made the most of the fine weather in seeing the various points of interest in the neighbourhood, whilst others were entertained with sacred selections by the orchestra. A start was made for Dunedin by the visitors at 5 o’clock, the city being reached in good time“. New Zealand Tablet”, 20 April 1899
“Waihola Notes. A stranger passing through Waihola on Sunday, would doubtless wonder if it was really “Sunday, or whether he had made a mistake in his calculation as to the day of the week, for to see crowds of people parading quiet little Waihola on a Sunday quite out of the common, such, however, was the case on Sunday, the occasion being the opening day of the handsome little Roman Catholic Church, which has just been erected on a very prominent position on the hill above the township. Two excursion trains, one from the south and the other from Dunedin, arrived in the morning with a goodly number of passengers, although, I think, I am pretty safe in saying that they did not all come with the intention of taking part in the ceremonies connected with the opening of the new church, be that as it may, however, the clergy must have been well satisfied with the attendance, as the church was well filled during the services. A number of the leading members of St Joseph’s choir from Dunedin were present, which is a sufficient guarantee that the musical portion of the service was perfect. The local members of the Roman Catholic Church had the building very nicely decorated for the occasion, and I understand that the collection for the day in aid of the cost of the building amounted to close on £100, which must have been very gratifying to those concerned.” Bruce Herald, 18 April 1899, p 5
“TELEGRAPHIC. The Rev James Gibb has given notice of motion for the next month’s meeting of the Dunedin Presbytery as follows: “That this Presbytery take the initiative in the formation of a council similar to the council of the Free Church of Scotland, with a view to uniting all Nonconformist churches for the purpose of taking common action against present day social evils.” At the Dunedin Presbytery to-day a resolution was passed respecting the running of excursion trains on Sunday in connection; with the opening of the new Roman Catholic Church at Waihola. The Presbytery recorded its deep concern at such an encroachment on the Day of Rest, and decided that the Minister of Railways should be approached and have it respectfully pointed out to him that such an encroachment is opposed to the Divine law as set forth in the fourth commandment, and to the convictions of Christian people of this land: further, that the employment of public property and public servants in this way is a matter which concerns the whole community. The Presbytery contended that the ostensible occasion being attendance at a religious service in no way lessened the guilt of the Sabbath-breaking, but rather enhanced it, and the Presbytery is to earnestly request the Minister of Railways to direct that no further encroachment of the kind shall be permitted.” New Zealand Mail, 27 April 1899, p 33
“The question of Sabbath observance has cropped up during the week. The Presbytery first took up the matter of the special trains run for the opening of the Roman Catholic Church at Waihola. The Rev. Father O’Neill is, no doubt, sorry they did not take it up the week previously as he would have looked on it as a good advertisement. But the Presbytery was too busy in making an investigation into some trouble in the North Dunedin Church, where the pastor and portion of his flock have, for a long time been at loggerheads. Members of the Presbytery, with a number of other ministers, then tackled the directors of Tramway Co.’s, but cannot be said to have made out a strong case. No doubt the tramway employees should not be called upon to work on Sundays with the long hours they work during the week, and with but poor pay. But that is a mere question of money, and that is another story. To stop the trams on Sunday would be to prevent hundreds from getting out of town to pure sweet air for an hour or two on Sunday afternoon. Let any one visit St. Clair on a fine Sunday afternoon and see what innocent enjoyments the hundreds of visitors indulge in, and then say if there is any serious Sabbath breaking.” Cromwell Argus, 25 April 1899, p 5
August Orłowski, local carpenter of Waihola, had helped the builder, Mr. J. Agnew, do the major construction work on the church. Later on, August did all the repairs of his own accord. Paul Baumgardt also supported and voluntarily assisted in the building of the church. Paul presented to the church of St Hyacinth the bell. Its tolling could be heard throughout Waihola calling its parishioners to mass. It is also noted that August helped build the Waihola Hall and was regarded as a wonderful tradesman of the old class. He had only a few basic tools and no modern machinery. In appreciation of the work that had been done to the church, the Parish presented August a bible which is still in the family today. The church was open for the Polish settlers to pray there during the week, there being no resident priest in Waihola at any time. Holy mass was celebrated by visiting priests who mostly came from Milton usually on Sundays.
“A very neat statue of the Blessed Virgin was recently presented to the church of St. Hyacinth, Waihola, by Mrs. Captain Bernech, Dunedin. The statue was blessed on the feast of All Saints by the pastor, Rev. Father O’Neill, and a fervent Rosary in the Polish language for the donor was then offered up.“ New Zealand Tablet, 09 November 1899.
“Waihola Notes. Service in the Roman Catholic church was held here on Good Friday evening. Father O’Neill, who came down by the 4.20 p.m. from town Officiated.” Bruce Herald, 17 April 1900, p 3
Hyacinth Wisnesky was born on the 21st of April 1900, the son of Bernard and Henreitte Wisnesky, being the first child to be baptised at the Waihola Church. He recalls his grandparents, father and auntie Anna, (who never married), look after his sister and himself after the death of their mother during the birth of his sister Ada Katarzyna on the 9th of May 1905. The small farm his grandparents owned in Waihola could not keep the family therefore his grandfather worked for the railways on the line up to Middlemarch. In 1907, when his grandfather was about 70 years of age Hyacinth stayed home looking after about 200 chickens and chopping firewood for his grandfather. When he was about seven-10 years old he used to drive a horse-cart or sledge for his grandfather, collecting firewood or cutting ripe grass for grass-seeds. As a boy Hyacinth also used to help Mr. August Orlowski by holding the ladder for him when he was doing repairs to the church. While at home in Waihola the old people including his father (Bernard Wisnesky), and Aunt Anna, used the Polish language. Between themselves, they spoke about Poland but never to Hyacinth. It is noted that Michael Wiśniewski was the real leader of the Waihola Community. He used to ring the church-bell on occasions such as funerals, etc. All visiting priests used to have breakfast at their home where all the meetings were also held. Johann Orlowski had gifted to the church four large candle sticks and made the two milking stools.
It is believed that one of the Palmerston immigrants brought out with them from Poland in 1872, the picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. This was presented and still hangs in the church today. The writing below the picture has the following words: “CUDOWNY OBRAZ NAJSWIETSZEJ MARYJI PANNY OD USTAWICZNEJ POMOCY W KOSCIELE SW. ALFONSA W. RZYMIE. ARTYSTYCZNEGO ZAKLADU C.F. CALOWA W KOLONII.” (Miraculous Picture of the Holy Mary of Perpetual Succour, as it hangs in the Church of St. Alfons in Rome. Made by C.F. Calowa in the artistic studio in Coln.) It’s origin dates pre 1499, a Byzantine icon with an alleged Marian apparition. It is believe the icon, painted by St. Lazarus Zographos, originated from the Keras Kardiotissas Monastery in Crete, Greece and was venerated as the miraculous image of the Mother of God. Pope Pius IX granted a Pontifical decree of Canonical Coronation along with its present title on 5 May 1866 and that the Redemptorists make the icon known to the world. After its restoration in 1866, several copies were made to Redemptorist parishes around the world and from then on became a very popular image among Roman Catholics. This picture could be the oldest of its kind in New Zealand.
On Sundays, Anna Wisnesky (nee Orlowski), allowed no physical work and this was very strictly observed in the family. Michael Wisnesky used to read extracts from the bible in Polish. He could read Polish but not German or English. When they needed a letter written in German or English, they asked Mr. Hilgendorf of Waihola for help. Hyacinth remembers two such occasions.
“New Advertisements. CONCERT. A CONCERT, in aid of the Catholic Choir funds, will be held in the Waihola Schoolroom TO-NIGIIT (FRIDAY), at 7.30. An excellent programme will be submitted.” Bruce Herald, 16 September 1904, p 4
“CATHOLIC CHURCH SERVICES. SUNDAY, MILTON.—HoIy Sacrifice of the Mass Next Sunday 9 a.m. Evening Service 6.30 every Sunday. WAIHOLA—11 a.m.” Bruce Herald, 26 May 1910, p 2
“CATHOLIC CHURCH SERVICES. MILTON—HoIy Sacrifice of the Mass Next Sunday at 11 a.m. Usual Evening Service at 6.30, Waihola, 9 a.m.” Bruce Herald, 12 December 1912, p 2
“The usual Roman Catholic Church service will not be held at Waihola on Sunday morning.” Bruce Herald, 17 May 1917, p 2
“CATHOLIC OHUROH SERVICES. MILTON. Holy Sacrifice of the Mass Next Sunday at 11 a.m. Usual Evening Service at 6.80. Waihola—9 a. m.” Bruce Herald, 13 November 1919, p 2
Due to the passing of the original Polish settlers and better work opportunities luring their children to the bigger centres, the number of Catholics at Waihola diminished sharply. It is believed beyond 1919, no mass was celebrated in the Church from then on. However, in 1921, August Orlowski (son of the original builder) presented to the church a water-font made of Oamaru stone. Father Michael Howard, later to become Monsignor Howard in Invercargill, was the last visiting priest. It wasn’t uncommon however, on passing the church, just to pop in for a short prayer. In 1948 the church authorities decided to shift the church to Broad Bay in Dunedin, where a number of Catholics were without a church.
Anne Wisnesky, (daughter to Michael and Anna), was born and raised in Waihola and devoted much of her early life around the little church at Waihola. She was the church’s organist and made sure the altar linen was washed, and the church clean. Anne left Clarendon for South Dunedin in the late 1920s to be close to her brother August. After the death of August in 1942, Anne moved to Chaucer Street in Milton. On her last visit to Petone, to see her nephew Hyacinth, Anne expressed her distraught and upset when she had learnt that the church had been moved to Broad Bay in 1948. “If our people could know what has happened, they would turn around in their graves,” she bitterly complained. When Hyacinth tried to justify the transfer of the church in order to pacify her, Anne became very angry, pointing out that Hyacinth had forgotten about his Polish heritage. She demanded Hyacinth turnover all documents and the family bible that had been received from his grandparents, and left the house. When Anne died in 1955, Hyacinth attended her funeral at Milton, only to discover that Anne in her last will had requested the Salvation Army to cremate her and donated her estate to the Leper Sisters. Hyacinth was not allowed to enter her house or to recover any of the family souvenirs. The moving of the church was obviously a real tragedy to Anna, which she never recovered from and was prepared to defect the very religion that had run through her veins for most of her life.
Polish marriages held at St. Hyacinth.
1900, 15 Aug, Antony James Wisnesky – Margaret Tarbet
1900, 12 Sep, Robert Storie – Martha Orluski
1908, 20 Apr, Frank Orlowski – Mary Gibson
1908, 20 Apr, Hector Stewart – Lucy Groves nee Orlowski
“WEDDINGS AT WAIHOLA. Waihola is doing its share at present in the way of weddings, thus following the example of the many Dunedinites, as recorded in the Times. Last month we had one, and on Monday last the pretty Catholic chapel on the hill, was the scene of much excitement. ” All the world and his wife” turned out to see a double wedding—the first in the district for about 15 years. The contracting parties were Mrs Groves (daughter of Mr John Orlowski) who was married to Mr Hector Stewart, of Lawrence, and Miss Gibson, of Taieri Mouth, who was married to Mr Frank Orlowski (son oi Mr John Orlowski). Both brides were dressed in cream frocks, and looked very pretty, with the orthodox veil, wreath, and bouquet. I will leave a full description of the wedding to an abler wielder of the pen than I am.—Waihola Correspondent.” Bruce Herald, 23 April 1908, p 5
Funerals held at St. Hyacinth.
“FUNERAL NOTICE. THE Friends of Mr Paul Baumgardt (and family) are respectfully invited to attend the funeral of his late Wife, which will leave the Catholic Chapel, Waihola, for the place of interment, Waihola Cemetery, on MONDAY, the 24th inst., at 12 o’clock. JOHN DICKSON, Undertaker, Milton.” Evening Star, 22 February 1908, p 6
“FUNERAL NOTICE. THE Friends of the late Michael Wisnesky (and family) are respect fully invited to attend his Funeral, which will leave the Catholic Chapel on ’WEDNESDAY, at 2 o’clock, for the Waihola Cemetery. JOHN DICKSON, Undertaker, Milton.” Evening Star, 26 December 1911. p 4
“FUNERAL NOTICE: The Friends of Mrs J. C HALBA (and family) are respectfully invited to attend the Funeral of her late HUSBAND, which will leave the Catholic Church, Waihola, on THURSDAY, 21st inst., at 2 o’clock p.m., for the place of interment Waihola Cemetery. JOHN DICKSON, . Undertaker, Milton.” Otago Daily Times, 20 May 1914, p 4
“FUNERAL NOTICE. Joseph ORLOWSKI (and Family) are respectfully invited to attend the Funeral of his late WIFE, which will leave St. Hyacinth’s Church, Waihola, THIS DAY (MONDAY), 9th July, at 2 p.m., for place of interment, Waihola Cemetery. JOHN R. WILSON, Undertaker, Union street, Milton.” Otago Daily Times, 9 July 1917, p 4
“FUNERAL NOTICE. The Friends of FRANCIS ANNIS (and Family.) are respectfully invited to attend the Funeral oi the late SON, FRANCIS, which will leave the Roman Catholic Church, Waihola, TO-MORROW (WEDNESDAY) 10th inst., at 1 p.m., for Waihola Cemetery. HUGH GOURLEY, Undertaker.” Otago Daily Times, 9 November 1920, p 4
“FUNERAL NOTICE. The friends of the late BRIDGET HALBA (and Family) are respectfully invited to attend her Funeral, which will leave the Catholic Church Waihola TO-MORROW (THURSDAY). 9th inst., at 2 p.m., for the place of interment, Waihola Cemetery JOHN DICKSON, Undertaker, Milton.” Otago Daily Times, 8 December 1920, p 4
“FUNERAL NOTICE. THE Friends of the late Franz Annis (and family) are respectfully invited; to attend his Funeral, which will leave St. Hyacinth’s Church TO-MORROW (Sunday), at 2 p.m., for the place of interment, Waihola Cemetery. JOHN R. WILSON, Undertaker, Milton.” Evening Star, 20 August 1921, p 6
“DEATHS. ORLOWSKI.—On June 26. 1930, at his residence, Waihola, Augustus, beloved husband of Fanny Orlowskl; aged 90 years R.l.P.—Funeral will leave St. Hyacinth’s Church, Waihola, To-morrow (Saturday) 28th Inst., at 2 p.m., for place of Interment, Waihola Cemetery; Requiem Mass at 9 a.m., Saturday.—J. R. Wilson, under taker, Milton.” Otago Daily Times, 27 June 1930, p 8
The history of the Parish at Broad Bay begins when Father Loughnan began saying mass each Sunday in the public halls at Macandrew Bay and Broad Bay in March of 1936. The congregation, spurred on by their neighbours in Macandrew Bay, started a building fund and committee towards the building of a church in June of 1940. The committee including Jim and Harry Nyphon, Joe Kane, Alf Neill, and Fr. Ted Fahey purchased a section on which a boarding house once stood but had unfortunately burned down. The fine site was secured in September 1940 for £190 but the plans for the building of a small brick church were indefinitely set aside by the wartime building restrictions. Father Fahey saw the opportunity to acquire the building at Waihola which had outlived its usefulness due to the declining congregation there. This permitted them to have a church much sooner than waiting for the building restrictions to be lifted. The Broad Bay committee purchased the building from the Milton parish for £250. They employed O’Connell and Mckewan builders to remove, transport and erect the church on the section at Broad Bay for the sum of £1085 14s. The church was removed by truck during the month of June in 1948, during which the bell tower was dismantled and the bell was sent down to the catholic church in Balclutha. It is believed that during the haul, the workers would replenish their reserves at the Henley Hotel before continuing on their way. The sections would then be barged from the head of the harbour to their final destination at Broad Bay.
“NEW CHURCH FOR PENINSULA. Through the enterprise of Father E. J. Fahey, of the South Dunedin parish, Roman Catholic residents on the Lower Peninsula will soon have an almost new church for about half the cost of a similar structure built under present-day conditions. The church, which has been extensively reconditioned, was built in Waihola about 60 years ago, when there was a large Polish population. As there was a general move to other centres in later years, however, and the few remaining parishioners are fairly close to Milton. Father Fahey investigated the possibilities of purchasing the church and transferring il to Broad Bay. It was decided that the need was much greater on the Peninsula than in the Waihola district, and after a permit had been obtained for its removal and re-erection, the shifting in sections commenced in June. Within a fortnight a complete removal to the new site had been effected. At present the finishing touches are being completed, but it is expected to hold the official opening within two or three weeks time. The timber has kept in remarkably good condition, and the grey stone rough-casting gives the church a practically new appearance. It will fill a much needed want in this area, as the Roman Catholic residents were planning to build in 1940. but were unable to do so because of the war. They carried on with the raising of funds, however, and have almost the total estimated cost of £1500 on hand. Even if a permit were obtainable for a new building of similar type, the cost would be at least double that amount. Through Father Fahey’s foresight. however. his parishioners have now their much desired church at a very reasonable price.” Otago Daily Times, 30 September 1948, p 8
On the 7th of November 1948 the church was re-opened for service as Mary Queen of Peace, the right Rev. Mgr. Delany, V.G., officiating at the ceremony.
“PENINSULA CATHOLICS – NEW CHURCH AT BROAD BAY OFFICIAL OPENING CEREMONY
An important milestone in the history of the Roman Catholic community of the Otago Peninsula was reached on Sunday, when a church, the first to be erected on the Peninsula by that religious organisation, was opened at Broad Bay in the afternoon in the presence of a very large gathering, not only from the Peninsula, but also from Dunedin and the Taieri districts. Representatives of local bodies and prominent local residents also attended. Father Fahey had charge of the proceedings, and associated with him were Monsignor Delany and Father Loughran. Father Fahey briefly outlined the history of the efforts that led up to that day’s historic occasion. Several years ago. he said, a fund was opened at Macandrew Bay, with the ultimate object of providing a church for that district, and that fund had now reached the substantial sum of approximately £I2OO. Shortly after, a similar fund was opened in Broad Bay, with the idea of having a church established to provide for the lower end of the Peninsula. This fund was immediately headed with donations of £5O each from the late Mr. J. J. Nyhon and the late Mr. M. J. Nyhon. of Broad Bay, and Mr. and Mrs. A. G. Neill, of Hooper’s Inlet. Other donations speedily brought the total to a substantial amount, but the great difficulty was to procure a permit and the necessary materials. This difficulty was. however, overcome by the purchase and removal to Broad Bay of an old Catholic Church building at Waihola. It was found that the woodwork of the building was in an excellent state of preservation and it was successfully transferred in sections to a site which had been purchased in Broad Bay. This section occupies a commanding position in the bay. overlooking the harbour and the surrounding hills. The official opening ceremony was then performed by Monsignor Delany. assisted by Father Loughnan. Addresses were also given by Mr. A. G. Neill and Mr. G. O’Connell (builder). Tributes were paid to all those who had assisted in the effort, especially to Father Fahey, without whose valuable assistance it would still have been years before the church would have been an established fact. The new building, which has been roughcast, with the interior handsomely decorated, should be the means of serving the Roman Catholic community at the lower end of the Peninsula for many years to come. Those responsible for the successful conclusion of the effort express gratification that as a result of the day’s collection the new church building has been opened practically free of debt.” Otago Daily Times, Issue 26924, 9 November 1948, P 7.
About this time Cyril Hart took over as Mr “Fixit”, groundsman, caretaker, cleaner and sacristan. The priests would call in to 10 John street for a cup of tea on the 9 a.m. Mass accompanied with hot toast or some of Zella’s date loaf and a cuppa on the 10.30 a.am Mass. The stained-glass windows, which the Polish settlers of Waihola and Catholics of Broad Bay were so rightly proud of, fell victim to local stone-throwing boys in the early 1960s. They were replaced with opaque green glass and wire mesh was placed over them for future protection. After Vatican II, the altar was brought forward to face the congregation on 28 July 1968. The turned altar rails were removed, the floors of the sanctuary extended out into the body of the church, and a new single communion rail erected. The first Mass in the new way was celebrated on 21 September 1968. Cyril faithfully carried out the church duties till one Sunday morning on 10 September 1972, when his grandson, Peter, found him collapsed on the altar steps. He had died of a heart attack whilst doing the thing he loved most, assisting the work of his creator. His body was moved to the Sacristy and lay there until Sunday Mass was completed. Church duties were naturally passed on to his son Brian Hart, who had helped his father, joined by his wife until 1990 when a roaster was set up.
The cross that adorned the casket of Cyril Hart, now proudly hangs in view from the Sanctuary in recognition to the Hart family for their years of dedication to the parish and church. Helen Henderson, who lived next door to the church, took over to see sugar buns and tea were always available for Mass and on a Tuesday, which was the traditional visiting day on the Peninsula. When Helen died, her youngest sister, Hyacinth carried on the tradition and made sure the priests were always well looked after. When the church was reduced to mass every fortnight, and was prone to getting smelly and damp, Hyacinth very generously stored the vestments at her home. She would bring them to the church as required.
Since 1995 the church has provided not only a special place of worship for the locals of Broad Bay, but also for the Polish community of Dunedin and Polish descendants who come to visit the church. It was during April 1999 that the church bell had been found and purchased by the original donors, the Bungard family. The bell was re-located to its rightful place in time for the church’s centenary celebrations which were held in May of 1999. Fortunately, during 2001, the windows in the sanctuary have been authentically recreated and once again dominate the church.
1998 – Painted windows inside.
1998 – Mass officiated by the Most Reverend, Bishop Boyle in conjunction with 150th Otago Anniversary.
1999 – Painted outside walls and windows.
1999 – Conservation of the Stations of the Cross, thanks to Ludmila Sakowski, hang proudly in the church.
1999 – Original church bell is located in Balclutha garden by Patricia Clark and rededicated by the Bungard family.
1999 – Church celebrates Centenary, officiated by Celebrants, Fr. P. Maloney & Fr. M. McGettigan.
2001 – Mass was celebrated every fourth Sunday of the month at 9. a.m. Church organist; Sr. Kathleen Halpin
2001 – Reinstalled Stained Glass Windows recreated by Terry Powers and blessed by the Most Reverend, Bishop Boyle.
2003 – Conservation of historic bell and construction of Bell Tower, designed and built by Marek Tomaszkiewicz.
2003 – Development of the Old Roses Heritage & Memorial Gardens are maintained by the locals of Broad Bay.
2008 – Restoration of original Esty Reed Organ carried out by Dr Ron Newton of Oamaru.
2011 – Painting and maintenance of church roof, outside walls and windows.
2016 – Installation of protection panels for stain glass windows.
2019 – Church celebrates 120 years, Mass officiated by newly ordained Bishop, the Most Reverend Michael Dooley.
2019 – Repairs to back of church with overhaul of back doors and installation of new history panel at entrance of church, courtesy of DCC.
2021 – Church undergoing historical restoration and maintenance in time for the 150th Celebrations.
2022 – Mass is celebrated on every third Sunday of the month at 11 a.m. Church organist; Mary-Beth Mitchell.
Bruce Herald, Hocken Library, Dunedin
Catholic Baptism & Marriage Records, St. Joseph’s, Catholic Archives, Dunedin. Kindly compiled by Pauline Lee
Hart Brian, A Broad Bay Remembrance
Pobόg-Jaworowski J. W., History of the Polish Settlers in New Zealand, Warsaw, 1990, pages 29 & 30
Compiled by Paul Klemick (2022)
The Polish Heritage of Otago & Southland Charitable Trust
Chairperson ..... Ewa Rozecka-Pollard
Phone ......+64 3 477 5552
Secretary ..... Anna McCreath Munro
Phone ..... +64 3 464 0053
facebook ..... Poles Down South
Contact Poles Down South
Poles in New Zealand We would like to hear from Poles or people with any Polish connection, who visited New Zealand and particularly those of you who paid a visit or lived anywhere in Otago or Southland.
Polski “Poles Down South” jest stroną internetową organizacji polonijnej w Nowej Zelandii działającej w rejonie Otago i Southland na Wyspie Południowej. Siedzibą organizacji jest Dunedin.