Madonna and Child

The Story of our Madonna

A Madonna is a representation of Mary, either alone or with her child Jesus. The word Madonna comes from the Italian madonna, “My Lady”. 

 The relationship between Mary and her Son is used to display the tenderness of a mother to her infant child.  The Madonna and child reminds the viewer of the loving care of Mary towards her Son, a love that continued throughout His life and continues today. 

 Throughout history, the image of the Madonna has been used to express the loving relationship between Mary and the Infant Jesus. People of different cultures have set that image within their own cultural context, thereby proclaiming that Mary and her Son belong to all people.

 Our Madonna is portrayed as Māori, in recognition of our location in Aotearoa New Zealand. The Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand is committed to expressing our faith within a bicultural context and this image is a reminder of that commitment, while at the same time continuing the artistic tradition of the faithful in honouring Our Lady and the Infant Jesus.

You will notice that the upper sections of the art work denote the Pahurehure estuary, and the redness of the earth references our local maunga Pukekiwiriki, or “Red Hill”. You will also see our Charter in Te Reo Māori and in English, acknowledging the charism of our founding order, the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions, with its emphasis on prayer, contemplation and communion.

 The Madonna is bordered with our St Mary’s school kowhaiwhai pattern and shows Mary holding a taiaha made of pounamu-greenstone. Mary is also wearing a greenstone tiki and a korowai which are special Māori taonga. Mary was a simple, kind-hearted woman of God but is treasured by us all and held in very high regard as a wahine-woman with great mana-prestige.


The artist, Nerys Baker-Ngaruhe, is of Te Tai Rawhiti, Ngati Kahungunu and Ngai Tahu descent and lives in Nelson. Nery’s link to our school is through her sister-in-law  Kerryn Baker, who teaches at St Mary’s