History of St Michael’s

St Michaels1

History of our Church

Contact: StMichaels@teawakairangi.nz

The Parish of St Michael’s, Taita was originally a Catholic Men’s Hut moved from Trentham Military Camp in 1947 and placed on 4.5 acres that Fr. Leo Daly, Parish Priest from Lower Hutt, bought in 1945; the same land that the church, school and presbytery still stands on today. Mass was first celebrated in Taita by Fr. J.J. Fletcher during April of 1948 while it was still part of the Lower Hutt parish. Taita became its own parish in March 1952 under the care of Fr. Joe Leahy.

The first Order of Presentation Sisters in New Zealand arrived in Taita during January 1951 to teach the 56 children at St Michael’s school. A Convent was built on the land near the church in November to house the original five Sisters; Mother Xavier, Sr. Philomena, Sr. Asicus, Sr. Perpetua and Sr. Pius. The Army hut was used as the church, hall and school with parishioners spending Friday and Sunday evenings moving the desks in and out of the church until a separate school was built in 1953.

Fr Joe, as he was affectionately known, took wonderful care of his flock’s spiritual needs but he was also a real organiser and leader with plenty of initiative which facilitated the parish to grow. Through the hard work of the parish, many volunteering their own time and money, by 1961 expansions on the church, school and Convent had been finished as well as completion of the Presbytery.

Tragedy stuck on 6 June 1963 when the church burned completely to the ground, mass was celebrated in the community hall until, under the same guidance of Fr. Joe, the new church opened on 29 May 1966.

During the 50 years since the church was rebuilt the community has grown with the Presentation Sisters welcoming new members and new Orders in the Wellington area. Cultural diversity became the special character of the parish, not only with the Samoan and Tokelauan move into the area but also with the international character of the Divine Word missionaries and St Vincent de Paul missionaries.

In 2008 Fr. Patrick McCullough became the Parish Priest of St. Michael’s and has lead the congregation with compassion and love. February 2015 saw the creation of Te Awakairangi Parish as the churches of St Michael’s, St Bernadette’s, St Martin de Porres and Ss Peter and Paul’s amalgamated to form one parish for the Hutt Valley.