Sweet Mary of the Coast


Our Lady of Lourdes hangs out in Paraparaumu

I loved her from the minute I laid eyes on her, always fleetingly, but I never understood her. I think that’s why I loved her. She never seemed to fit quite right. I never knew how she got there.

But sure enough there she always is – still – demure, forever the suppliant, every time we hit the road out of town. Either with her  halo aglow in the rush-hour gloaming or otherwise radiating that supreme whiteness, stark against whatever seasonal sky.

(And what is she made out off to be so radiatingly white, anyway – the stuff boats are made out of? rock? soap? alabaster? pumice or limestone? mdf?)

Today I tried to get a bit closer to her. I was doing some consulting work up the coast and figured I wouldn’t rush immediately back to my office in the big smoke. I was going to find her. For some reason I even thought about smoking a cigarette. Although I didn’t (mainly because I don’t smoke).

I found the faded green heritage sign that said STATUE OF OUR LADY and thought I was on the right track. I drove up a hill and paused at the crude PRIVATE DRIVEWAY sign halfway up. But why would they have a public sign pointing to a private driveway, I thought to myself, and drove on undeterred. Past a housebus with its own awning/porch sort of set-up, up a windy gravel road. Feeling somewhat intrepid and even a little like a detective (I don’t get out of the city much).

The dead end I came upon featured a house, a tethered pitbull (or something equally ferocious-looking but actually quite cute) and a squealy fuck-off alarm (and I know this because I set it off).

I didn’t even get a good look at Mary, although I could see the promising flicker of her glorious whiteness beyond a thicket of trees. The dog looked at me like it was actually quite pleased to see me. Either that or it was just thinking here we go again.

Anyway, the story doesn’t go much further than this. I drove away, back into town, even more hellbent on my own personal myth of Mary, elusive as ever.

(It turns out that she can only be visited via a walking track. I’ll be back.

Also, and by the way, she has been there since 1958, in case you were wondering.)


One Response to “Sweet Mary of the Coast”

  1. 1 birdsong1

    lol, my friends owned the house with the crude driveway sign. Nice people! Honest:) The view from up by mary is worth the walk up btw.

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