In 1838 at the first Catholic Mass, Bishop Pompallier dedicated New Zealand to Our Lady Assumed into Heaven when he celebrated his first Mass here at Totara Point in the Hokianga on 13 January 1838
In 2020 the New Zealand Bishops discussed plans to establish a National Shrine honouring Our Lady with a suitable artwork of Our Lady. This artwork, undertaken by Damian Walker, is to tour around New Zealand after the celebration on the Feast of the Assumption, Sunday 15 August 2021 at St Mary of the Angels’ Church in Wellington, where all the bishops were present. St Mary of the Angels church will become a national shrine to Mary.
A description of the artwork can be read here
The Catholic Bishops of Aotearoa New Zealand have chosen Te Ara a Maria: Mary’s Way as the name of the proposal to renew the country’s dedication to Our Lady Assumed into Heaven. “We needed a formal name for the renewal, and this beautifully captures the role of Mary as the model of discipleship who leads us in the way of missionary discipleship,” said Bishop of Hamilton Stephen Lowe, Secretary of the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference.
There is a website that has been developed for this initiative www.tearaamaria.nz.
It is hoped that this is an opportunity to provide people with inspiration to be refreshed and revitalised in their faith and their connection to Our Lady as Patroness of Aotearoa.
The bishops also confirmed that the historic St Mary of the Angels church in central Wellington will become a national shrine to Mary. A hikoi of a new artwork of Mary and Jesus will take place around the country after a Mass at St Mary of the Angels renewing the dedication on Sunday 15 August, the Feast of the Assumption.
August 15 is always a Holy Day of Obligation for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This year it is also a Sunday. Parishes throughout the country will be invited to join in prayer for the renewal of the dedication.
Te Hīkoi Wairua mo Te Ara a Maria (Pilgrimage of Mary’s Way)
The painting will be making a hikoi (or pilgrimage) throughout New Zealand. It will be in Christchurch Diocese from Sunday 12th September to Wednesday 3rd November 2021. More information will follow about this.