We are saddened to hear of the death of Fr Peter Ryan MHM, who died on 9 February in New Zealand.

Also known as Pa Mikaere, Fr Peter was born in Port Sunlight on the Wirral in Liverpool. He joined the Mill Hill Missionaries in the early 1950s and once ordained he was immediately appointed to Auckland, New Zealand. He stayed in New Zealand for the rest of his life and was greatly loved by the Māori people he served.

A love of learning and languages

Fr Peter spent nearly seven decades as a missionary among the Māori people, serving in different dioceses. During his life he also completed a Bachelor of Arts in the Māori Language and Anthropology, and later published the bestselling Reed Dictionary of Modern Māori. He continued to make translations of scriptures into Māori, including the Sunday Readings for all three cycles.

A lifetime of achievement

As Fr Peter approached his 25th year of priesthood, the Superior General at the time wrote:

‘You have every reason to feel deeply grateful to God for all He has enabled you to do for Him and the Māori people. You have kept pace with the changing pattern of Māori life. You stand out among the brethren for the very special contribution you have made’.

Pa Mikaere receiving his Papal Award

In 2019 he received the Papal medal Pro Ecclesia et Pontifica in recognition of his many achievements.

Pa Peter Tipene, Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Auckland, presented the medal. He told the congregation that Fr Peter was a ‘wonderful link’ to the community’s history, with stories to tell about almost everyone present. He said:

‘We thank you for the gift that you are, not just to our Catholic Māori, but to the Māori world, throughout New Zealand and the world.’

A much-loved friend

During his 69 years as a missionary amongst the Māori people, Fr Peter grew to love the vibrant communities and their culture in the beautiful surrounds of the Kiwi countryside. Fr Peter said that he had had ‘terrific luck’ in his life and had been helped by so many people on his missionary journey. He added:

‘Thank God for good memories’.

After a meeting of Māori Elders, it has been decided that the funeral for Peter will take place on Saturday 12 February in the parish of Te Unga Waka, Auckland, with Bishop Michael Gielen as the main celebrant.

Images via NZ Catholic