Keeping faith - and status.
Patrick Dignan came from Ireland on the ship Sophia Pate in 1841, and embarked on a career of “solid rather than spectacular achievement.” (Te Ara, online encyclopedia of New Zealand.)
Dignan was known in Auckland as one of the oldest and earliest settlers, and was one of a number of Irish Catholics who became prominent in business and public affairs in Auckland.
As elsewhere in New Zealand, these leaders “helped to ensure that Catholicism in New Zealand was never the religion solely of a distinctively poor part of the population, and that it was never without influence.” (Te Ara).
He married Mary Derron at the Auckland Catholic Church on 25 July 1846. They had 13 sons and one daughter. They had a house in Wyndham Street, and a 121ha farm at Point Chevalier, with a large ‘summer house.’
Dignan turned to the hospitality trade in 1849, acquiring the licence for the Clanricarde Hotel in Albert Street.
Dignan himself was a member of the committee responsible for building St Patrick's Cathedral; Irish and Catholic functions were often held at 'Dignan's Paddock' in Wyndham Street; he was a part-proprietor of the New Zealand Freeman's Journal; and he was a member of the board of governors of St Peter's school for Catholic boys.
In his political career he supported Māori representation in parliament because they were “natural owners of the soil” and had “a right to full share of the liberties which we claim for ourselves in this country.”
Patrick died at New Plymouth, on board the Takapuna, bound for Auckland on 20 October, 1894. Mary died ten years later on 30 May 1904. His descendants profited from the sale of the Point Chevalier land, which was subdivided in 1911.