Pukekaraka Mission Station
The Pukekaraka Mission Station was founded in 1844 by the Ngāti Kapu and a young French missionary, Father Jean Baptiste Comte. A large number of Ngāti Kapu lived at Pukekaraka. Chief Tonihi, a leader of the Ngāti Kapu people, gifted a block of land at Pukekaraka to the catholic mission to establish a church and school for Ngāti Kapu descendants. The following year, Father Comte built his house and a little church on the hilltop of Pukekaraka, ground given by Tonihi, who himself lived there. Comte had the initiative to adopt agriculture and believed that the Ngāti Kapu could create an economic base for them regarding their land and prosper in the face of increasing numbers of pakeha arriving in New Zealand rather than just for trade. With this in mind, they built a rope walk using flax, which was sent to Wellington for sale by schooner.
Likewise, potatoes, crops of oats, maize barley and kūmara were locally grown and either exported or sold to European settlers. Moreover, Father Comte encouraged the people of Pukekaraka to grow wheat and then built a flour mill using a water wheel located in the Waitohu Stream. Wheat grown from Paekakariki in the South to Manawatu in the North was sent to Pukekaraka for grinding into flour. The Marist Missionaries were hard-working people who worked tirelessly side by side with the Ngāti Kapu of Pukekaraka.
Pā Piripi (Phil Cody) and Pā Pita (Peter Healy) Marist priests of the Society of Mary continue the tireless work of their forebears. They are dedicated men and serve the people of the Pukekaraka community and also the people of Ngāti Raukawa Au ki te Tonga.
"Ina te mahi, he rangatira!" "See how he does, a leader indeed!"