Location: Entrance between 14 and 20 Tongariro Street, Paraparaumu
One of the most dramatic landmarks on the Kāpiti Coast is this 14-metre-high statue of the Virgin Mary on the 75-metre-knoll above St Patrick's Church. It was commissioned by the parish priest, Father J.S. Dunn in 1958 to mark the 100th anniversary of the apparition of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes.
A Dutch artist, Martin Roestenberg, built the statue, one of the largest in the world of its kind. He moulded the two-metre high head at his home at Taihape. At the site, a crane lifted it onto scaffolding. The statue grew from the head downward as layers of plaster-of-paris were applied to scrim and moulded into the shape of draperies. A small door in the base gives access to a trapdoor leading up to the head. Through a winter of cold gales the artist persevered until, in August 1958, the massive statue was completed with its crown of 17 lights. When floodlit, its sparkling halo is visible for kilometres.
Later, to protect it from vandalism and weathering, the statue was protected by several layers of fibreglass. ‘Stations of the Cross’, scenes of Christ's passion in mosaics, were placed beside the hilltop path.
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