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What is Family Start?
Family Start is a FREE home visiting programme that focuses on im-
proving children’s growth and health, learning and relationships, family
circumstances, environment and safety.
Family Start will begin to support babies and their parents/caregivers
early – before baby’s birth or in their first year.
How does Family Start work?
How will it help my family?
A Family Start whanau worker will:
Visit you at home
Find out what parts of being a parent
you’ve already got sorted and what
you need help with
Help get the right health care for
Explain how your baby is growing
and changing at different ages
Help you work out what you want to
achieve and make a plan with you to
help you get there
Put you in touch with other help or
services you need
Support you until your child turns 5
How can I get started?
Call into our Te Kuiti Family Health Whanau
Ora Centre – 10/1 Ward Street and com-
plete a referral form or
Contact Jo on 021 0237 4072 or
Phone 0800 445 560 and ask to speak
to the Family Start team.
“ The saying ‘what goes around comes around’
very much applies to the Piopio parish,” he says.
“From being somewhat in ‘no man’s land’ in
the early days to being visited by early itinerant
missionaries such as Father McDonald and by
Mill Hill Missionary Father Langerwerf as well
as by Father de Bree from Ohura it became part
of the Te Kuiti parish.
“ Then it became a parish in its own right and
it is now part of the Te Kuiti parish again.
“ Talk about swings and roundabouts.”
He says in 1951 the Mill Hill Missionaries
from Waihi near Tokaanu established a base at
Aria where a small section of Maori land was
donated by Bill Ormsby of Te Kuiti.
“Father John van Tilborg took up residence
there in a small cottage which he built together
with Father Nico Zeyen who was the Waikato
Maori Missionary, and parish priest of Tau-
marunui,” he says.
The cottage had no facilities such as running
water or a flush toilet.
“I succeeded Father van Tilborg in April 1955
and like him served both Maori and Europeans
covering a vast area stretching from Marokopa to
Pureora and from Ngahape outside Te Awamutu
to Waitaki outside Taumarunui.”
Not long after, Father Lorenzo Bracken joined
the Aria parish as curate to Father O’Brien.
As time passed, Piopio became the new cen-
tre of the former Aria parish territory and in
1961, plans were set in motion to move there
Funds for a new presbytery (the house of a
Catholic parish priest) came from the sale of the
Aria cottage, raffles, dances and donations with
the major contribution coming from the Mill Hill
Maori Mission Fund in Auckland.
However, the church had to be moved nearer
the road so that the house could be built on the
church site, with local residents the Smyth broth-
ers, doing the work voluntarily.
However, the priests had to leave Aria be-
fore the presbytery was complete because their
cottage had been sold to local resident the late
In a show of true Piopio hospitality, Martin
and Doreen Ellis offered the two fathers tempo-
rary accommodation in the Post Office house
and from there they moved to stay with John
and Joyce McGarvey.
“Opening day was a big parish event with
people from all the outside centres attending
including a busload of Tuwharetoa Maori people
from Taumarunui and Archbishop Liston,” says
“Mass, the special blessing and confirma-
tion made the opening day very special and
On February 18, 1962, Archbishop Liston
blessed the new Piopio presbytery, gave First
Holy Communion to 35 children and in the
afternoon administered confirmation to 58
Father O’Brien says in subsequent years Pio-
pio, as a township, didn’t become a bustling
centre of business had been hoped.
“Perhaps, with hindsight, that has proved a
blessing because I am told that it retains its old
Piopio feel and character,” he says,
“Long may it do so and long may the Piopio
parishioners retain their faith, their sense of
community and their camaraderie.”
Father O’Brien served the Piopio parish from
1955-1964 and briefly again in 1987-1989 before
moving to England.
Today, aged 90, he has retired to live in Ireland
After Father O’Brien and Father Bracken
moved on from Piopio in 1964 they were suc-
ceed by Fathers Flannery, Laidler, Horrigan and
Consolidating St Mary’s de-consecration,
its pews have been removed and taken to the
reinstated Chapel of St Theresa at Bethlehem,
north of Tauranga.
Other items including the church’s crucifix,
statues and confessional grill will also be re-
homed according to need.
To continue practicing their faith, Father Joe
says Piopio parishioners have been invited to
attend services at St George’s Catholic Church
in Te Kuiti.
The Te Awamutu, Otorohanga and Te Kuiti
parish (as part of the Hamilton Diocese) is cov-
ered by two priests – Te Awamutu-based Father
Joe and Father Matt McAuslin in Te Kuiti.
from page 4
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