Jean Pezant

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From THE FIRST WAVE OF FRENCH MARISTS by Michael O'Meeghan SM, 2008, 16.

Fr Jean PEZANT, aged 29 (on arrival in New Zealand in Group IV on 11 Jul 1840).

At the end of July, when the Aube sailed on to Akaroa to supervise the arrival of French colonists, Pezant was on board. Near the end of the year he returned to Kororareka. In March 1841 he replaced Viard at Tauranga. From here Pezant ranged through the Waikato and down the Mokau River to northern Taranaki. After three years Pompallier shifted him to Matamata (to replace Séon), but he soon moved his mission base to Rangiaowhia where he built up a strong Catholic Maori community. In 1850 he missed the Viard Marist exodus to Wellington and travelled later on the Fairy Queen arriving in Wellington on 15 August. From Wellington he made two lengthy exploratory visits to New Plymouth. These resulted in mid-January 1852 in his appointment to Wanganui for the next 16 years.

From there until 1860 when a Catholic Chaplain was appointed to the New Plymouth garrison, he had oversight of Taranaki, balancing a mission to Maori with ministry to settlers. As war made the mission to the north untenable, he was confined between the Patea and Rangitikei rivers. To give him some respite, in mid-1868 he was appointed curate in Blenheim and, three years later, Parish Priest in Picton when this was detached as a separate parish which included the Marlborough Sounds. He died on 22 December 1880, aged 69, and is buried in Picton.

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