A Catholic Monthly Magazine

St Mary’s Catholic Church and School, 100 years

Celebrating 100 years at Labour Weekend – Oct 19th - 21st, 2012
Text & Images supplied by Colleen Linnell.
St Mary's School pupils 1914

St Mary's School pupils 1914

In 1910 the Catholics of Kaikorai, Dunedin, bought a section in Taieri Rd on which to build their Church and in June 1912 the foundation stone was laid by the then Bishop of Dunedin, Bishop Verdon.

In a few short months the church was completed and opened on December 8th the same year. Unfortunately the Bishop was on a visit to the Hot Springs so the ceremony was performed by Rev Fr Coffey. For a number of years Father Coffey travelled from Rattray St. to St Mary’s by horse and trap on a Sunday morning to say Mass and tie up the horse where the hall is now.  Then Father became the proud owner of a Model T Ford which he used to drive into the church yard.   However history relates he was not so happy when one morning he drove it over the bank; the same history does not say if anything apart from his pride was hurt.

In February of 1913 the Dominican Sisters came to teach school in the back half of the Church which was curtained off. There was a promised attendance of 40 children and 32 were listed as first day pupils ranging in age from 5 to 10 years.

A new departure was made in favour of the new suburban school. The Dominican Sisters, for the first time made use of Cable Cars from the Octagon up Stuart St, to the terminus at the Nairn St. Cable sheds, which meant that the Sisters had to walk up Taieri Road in all weathers. As a result sometime the Sisters arrived badly ‘weather-beaten’. However, there were many compensations.

The school can claim bright sunshine, pure air and a beautiful view. The children too are affectionate and were never as happy as when performing some service for the Nuns, so that it is a pleasure to teach and train them. Every year many desirable pupils pass from St Mary’s to Christian Brothers Secondary School and St Dominic’s. In both establishments the Kaikorai pupils take a good stand. Indeed some of the most successful pupils in the higher examinations come from the Kaikorai Hill.’ -

The new school of three class rooms and assembly hall was built in 1927/28, and opened on 24 February 1929.   Father Collins the Administrator at the Cathedral, and Father McMahon the priest responsible for the Kaikorai part of the parish were present with Mons. Delaney.

St Mary's building stone wall Kaikorai, Dunedin 1951

St Mary's building stone wall Kaikorai, Dunedin 1951

Father Antony Loughnan- First Parish Priest 1950

Father Antony Loughnan - First Parish Priest 1950

With the widening of Taieri Road about 1943 the church and the school property lost its vehicle entrance to the grounds. After a lot of communication between the committee and the Dunedin City council in which the council would not accept any responsibility, it was decided when the parish was formed (1950) to construct a stone wall.   Father Loughnan used the progress of the wall to advertise to all and sundry through the Tablet that St Mary’s could do it.  And do it they did.   After 100 yards of rock and many tons of cement and hundreds of man hours, the job was completed both for the church property and the convent.   Mention must also be made of the hundreds of cups of tea and scones produced every Saturday by the ladies of the parish during the above mammoth task.   The effort brought together parishioners who would otherwise never have met.

St. Mary's Kaikorai - New School

St. Mary's Kaikorai - New School

In 1953 two new classrooms were built further up the school ‘paddock’ so that the girls would not have to leave and go to St. Dominic’s for their Form 1 & 2 years. Then in 2005 further buildings were added and now the school operates from one site.

St. Mary's Church Kaikorai Dunedin

St. Mary's Church Kaikorai Dunedin

Centennial Celebrations are planned for October 19th – 21st 2012 which is Labour Weekend and the organising committee invite everyone who has connections to the Church and School to register ASAP to


Or phone 03 4877853 

Or write to

The Secretary, St.Mary’s Centennial Organising Committee, 

36 Middleton Rd, Kew, Dunedin 9012  

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