A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Fr Donald Forbes Hamilton SM


Born in Hastings 2 December 1931
Professed 2 February 1952
Ordained 25 July 1956
by Archbishop McKeefry
Died in Hastings 24 January 2018

Donald Hamilton was the ninth of Bill and Nell Hamilton’s thirteen children. The Sisters of St Joseph schooled Don in his primary years at St Joseph’s Convent, Hastings, and in the later 1940s he attended the old St John’s College. He always paid tribute to his inspiring teacher and Principal, Fr Gus Hill SM.

After his priestly Ordination Don’s educational talents were recognised with appointments to various Marist Colleges. In between classes at St Pat’s College, Wellington, he attended Victoria University and gained his Bachelor of Arts degree, specialising in English and History.

In 1976 he became Rector of St Patrick’s High School, Timaru. In 1985 after 27 years teaching, he asked his Provincial for a change of ministry, and was delighted with his appointment to Māori Pastoral Care at Pakipaki, Hawke’s Bay, assistant to the future Māori Bishop, Max Takuira Mariu, SM. It was here among the Pakipaki Māori people that he came to grips with Māori language and custom. He took on leadership roles in Māori Pastoral Care not only at Pakipaki but also at Nga Pekanga in Waitara, at Tū Hono in Porirua, at Te Puna near Tauranga, at Feilding and at Ōtaki. In these years he was dedicated to supporting the training of Māori Catechists at Waka Aroha meetings. If there were opportunities for Catechists to play a part in things Don would encourage them.

Speakers at his Vigil last night praised his family visitation and support for them, not only parents, but especially children. And there was a special love for St Joseph Māori Girls’ College, its staff and students.

We remember the cheeky side to his nature and his sense of humour.

At Windsor Terrace, Don was his cheerful self, leaving the Chapel after Mass, whistling away, greeting the ladies who looked after us with cheerful greetings. He would trudge across the park, walking stick in hand, on the way to Taradale Library. His mail usually featured Napier/Hastings Libraries either informing Don when his ordered books were due to arrive, or indicating fines for books overdue.

Each Sunday, his sisters Margot and Mary would come and pick him up and take him to dinner at their place, Mary Doyle Care Rest Home in Havelock North. Family together, family stories, family love, and, perhaps a glass or two of red wine.

So you lie in state before us Don. Your priestly and personal mana recognised by the korowai covering you. You face your friends here, your Marist Profession Cross on the coffin lid along with the Word of the Lord, the Book of the Gospels; your sacramental chalice and stole. Your wooden-beaded Rosary goes with you. It is unusual: two decades have eleven Hail Marys, a third decade has only seven. I am sure that Mary, your spiritual Mother, will put that right in heaven!

Noho mai rā, e Pā Don!   

Thanks to Fr Earl Crotty SM for this edited version of his tribute to Pā Don.


1957-1959 St Augustine’s College, Wanganui

1960-1961 St Patrick’s College, Wellington

1962-1964 Hato Paora College, Feilding

1965-1970 St Patrick’s High School, Timaru

1971-1973 St Patrick’s College, Wellington

1974-1975 St Patrick’s High School, Timaru

1976-1981 St Patrick’s High School, Timaru (Rector)

1982-1984 St Augustine’s College, Wanganui

1985- October 1992 Pakipaki Maori Mission (Superior from 1989)

1992 October 1993 Waitara, Maori Pastoral Care

1994-1995 Porirua, Tu Hono, Maori Pastoral Care (Superior)

1995 June-December Sabbatical/renewal, Boston, New York, Europe

1996-August 1998 Te Puna, Parish Assistant and Maori Mission

1998 September-2001 Feilding, Parish Priest

2002 Otaki, Maori Mission

2003-2005 Te Puna Parish Priest and Maori Pastoral Care (Superior)

2006-2017 Windsor Terrace, Taradale, Retirement

Tagged as:

Comments are closed.