Michel (Br Basile) Monchanin
From Marist Studies
Br. BASILE (Michel) MONCHANIN, aged 27 (on arrival in New Zealand in Group V on 15 Jun 1841).
- By trade he was a shoemaker, and he remained at Kororareka where he proved very resourceful and versatile in many occupations. In 1845 he went to Opotiki and later to Rotorua. Before leaving with the 1850 Marist exodus for Wellington, he knew his destination was to be Hawkes Bay, and he was in place by the end of that year to remain for 48 years. First at Pakowhai, and then at Meeanee and in tandem with Florentin for 18 years, he developed a sizeable productive farm from swampland. Early on he planted the grapes that would later develop into the Mission Vineyards. Thanks to his initiative, with a drilling rig hired from Wellington, the well on the Heretaunga Plain was sunk on the Mission farm. It released a copious supply of artesian water from which, in time, the whole district would benefit. He lived to see the long term results of his work in the 1890 opening of the Meeanee seminary, and in the first New Zealand born and trained candidates for the priesthood ordained in 1895. He died at Meeanee on 23 April 1898, aged 83, and is buried in Taradale cemetery. Basil Road in Taradale is named after him.
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