Julian Tenison Woods seldom looked away from nature’s realities. He appreciated and pursued unexplored fields which were opened to him during his short life span. No wonder so many Josephites have spread far and wide deeply connecting with the Whenua – ‘the womb which gives us life’.

Sr Makareta and I travelled to the far north of ‘Te Ika a Maui’ (The Fish of Maui) and visited Hokianga Harbour to explore the arrowpoint of Aotearoa’s (New Zealand) human story.

We stayed with Sr Magdalen DOLC, Daughter of Our Lady of Compassion. One of the few religious working there now. Sr Marie Brown RSM and another Mercy Sister involved in health work stay at Pawarenga for a short time each month.

Over two nights and days we experienced Te Kore (the Creation), Te Pō (the development), and Te o Mararma (the evolution) of the peoples, Ngā Puhi, who inhabited and named each rugged range, mountain peak, harbour, coast and river, inhabited also now, by Pākehā.

Christianity came with settlers, French ‘Marists’, Franciscans, then mainly Dutch ‘Mill Hill’ priests. The Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart came in 1918 and the school was immediately transformed into a ward for those suffering from influenza.

As we travelled south from Waipu Cove, the sunrise ‘caught our breath’ as we closed the page on our pilgrimage. We easily muttered words Julian’s might have said.

We owe a great debt of gratitude to ‘awesome beauty’ laid out all around us; we felt the ‘inness and outness’ of things carrying us through space, at this time. We had been swallowed within Earth’s rugged, mountainous, wild and beautiful terrain, where majestic Kauri, Rata, Rimu, and Totora overshadowed Marae Whanau and Hapu, Churches and missionaries. Men and women of the calibre of Whina Cooper are memorialised here with the Church, ‘Hato Maria’ (The Assumption of Mary) at Punguru.

Noelene Landrigan rsj