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Bishop's remains returning to NZ

The remains of the bishop who founded the Catholic Church in New Zealand are on their way back to the country.

More than a century after Bishop Jean-Baptiste Pompallier died, a group of Catholic Maori have travelled to Paris to reclaim him.

The Bishop's final journey will take him from Paris to Bangkok, on to Sydney, and then to Auckland.

His remains will then be taken to Dunedin, before a hikoi to his final resting place at Motuti in Hokianga.

The Bishop of Auckland, Patrick Dunn, said he was very happy to see Bishop Pompallier's remains returned.

"This is an event of great significance for us, especially from the Maori perspective because Bishop Pompallier was our first bishop in New Zealand," he says.

Pompallier died in France in 1871. But he left his legacy in New Zealand, leading the first Catholic missionaries, and forging a strong bond with Maori from his base in Hokianga.

While not everyone was happy with Pompallier's work, he is credited with pushing for a fourth unwritten clause in the treaty of Waitangi which advocated freedom of speech.

"His advice to his people on the eve of the signing of the treaty was don't just do what missionaries have told you to do... you think it out for yourself," says Associate Professor Hugh Laracy of Auckland University.

Now, 130 years after he was buried in a pauper's grave in Paris, the French have said goodbye at the Notre Dame Cathedral. SOURCE
One News