by PETER OWENS and PAT McCARTHY

St Theresa’s Church in North Invercargill, one of the largest churches in Southland, was filled on March 26 for a requiem Mass and funeral service for Pat Veltkamp Smith, who died on March 22 in Invercargill, aged 85.

At the time of her death, Mrs Veltkamp Smith was NZ Catholic’s Invercargill correspondent.

She entered journalism in the 1960s, becoming women’s editor of the Southland Daily News and, when that paper
closed in 1968, of the Southland Times.

After she retired, she continued to contribute freelance articles.

When NZ Catholic was launched in 1996, she wrote the lead story in the first edition — about the decision to move the national Catholic seminary from Mosgiel to Auckland.

NZ Catholic’s founding editor, Pat McCarthy, who worked with her on the Southland Daily News, said she seemed to know everyone of note in Dunedin diocese, was highly respected as a journalist and cherished by all who worked
with her.

“She was mother confessor and gentle advisor to a generation of young Southland journalists, and kept in touch with dozens of them after they moved to other centres,” he said.

A history of the Southland Times noted that “her office was a place of healing”.

Tributes to Mrs Veltkamp Smith on a journalists’ facebook page included comments such as “one of the gems of
NZ journalism” and “one of life’s truly kind people”.

Mrs Veltkamp Smith was highly regarded within the Catholic community of Southland, which was evidenced by the number of priests at the requiem Mass. The celebrant was North Invercargill parish priest Fr Tony Harrison, with
concelebrants Frs Vincent Smith, Martin Flannery, Brian Trainor, Jacob Thevasahayampillai and Maurice White.

People from throughout Southland attended the Mass.

While she was actively involved in many organisations and clubs in Invercargill and throughout the South, she was always a staunch member of the Catholic Church and was always proud of being Catholic. She came from the Flannery family, pioneers in the South and among the early members of the Catholic Church in the region.

Tributes to her generosity of spirit and selflessness were paid at the requiem Mass.

Her faith and unconditional love were also noted.

Members of the congregation were unanimous in their support of these tributes.

She married Ben Veltkamp in Invercargill, and after his death, married the Rev. Ivan Smith of Nightcaps, who
was a Presbyterian minister in Western Southland.

She also had the unusual distinction of having her requiem Mass concelebrated by Fr Vincent Smith, who was the general manager of the Southland Times for many years where she was employed as a journalist.

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