Located on Dawson Street between the carpark of OMV (previously Shell Todd Oil Services) and the Salvation Army Community Centre, this grotto was built in 1907 on the grounds of the convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions. Built in 1884, the convent and its associated school were designed by local architect James Sanderson and built by Hermann C. Wallath at a cost of £3000, all of which was donated by the local Catholic community.

The founder of the Order of Notre Dames des Missions, established in France in 1861, visited New Plymouth in 1883 to make arrangements for the building of a convent school.

The foundation stone for the convent was laid on 13 January 1884 by Bishop Francis Redwood and the nuns and their pupils (not all of them Catholic)

on 1 September of that year. The curriculum provided by the school included “German, French, and Italian languages, instruction in instrumental and vocal music, painting, drawing, plain and fancy needlework, and all the accomplishments necessary for a young lady to possess”. 

For nearly a century the three-story convent, also known as the Monastery of the Presentation, dominated the skyline of western-central New Plymouth but the land was sold in 1973 to Shell BP Todd and the Salvation Army and the buildings demolished. This grotto is all that survives of the once imposing complex.

Grottos featuring the Mother Mary were based on the original at Lourdes in France. The statue of Mary here would have been removed when the grotto was deconsecrated in 1973.



Of passing interest, Taranaki Daily News 23 June 2014



St Joseph's Church, New Plymouth, circa 1947, Puke Ariki Collection ARC2012-0287

St Joseph's Convent building exterior, 1973, Puke Ariki Collection WD.030307

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