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Our place...Aroha Stewart, left, and Claire McCarthy stand in front of St Joseph School's recently installed mural. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

by Chris Tobin

Pupils at St Joseph’s School in Pleasant Point had something to brighten their first day back at school on Monday.

A new mural was installed last week, which captured the spirit of the community and the school.

“The project started seven to eight years ago,” principal Aroha Stewart said.

The children contributed ideas for the mural which was painted by former staff member Karen Scott.

Office administrator Claire McCarthy, who has worked at the school for seven years, said the mural had been put in storage after it was completed.

“When we went to put it up it was found the wall had asbestos in it and it had to be replaced.

“Other factors came into it as well that delayed it.”

Last year the mural was taken out of a storage shed and lacquered.

“A board member works at Fulton Hogan and organised it. Then last week builder Stu Heap put it up,” Mrs Stewart said.

The mural depicted St Mary’s Church, currently closed because of the earthquake risk, two children and a nun: Mother Mary MacKillop, co-foundress of the order Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, which established the school in 1927.

In 1883 the first of the nuns came to New Zealand, to open a school in Temuka. In the next 10 years another nine parish primary schools were opened in rural New Zealand including in Waimate.

St Joseph’s Pleasant Point was staffed in part by nuns until 1992.

Mary MacKillop, who died in 1909, was canonised by the Catholic Church in 2010.

Since the mural went up Mrs Stewart said many people had photographed it.