Our History

The Good Shepherd Sisters were invited to New Zealand in 1886 to look after women and girls that had fallen on hard times.

Good Shepherd was originally founded in France in 1835 by Saint Mary Euphrasia, with the determination to assist women and children in most need. Good Shepherd has worked in New Zealand for more than 130 years.

Around 1880, Father Lawrence Ginaty, a Marist priest whose pastoral care included the women’s prison in Christchurch, became acutely aware of the unmet needs of women when they returned to the community, particularly their need for a safe place to live. 

Having heard of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd and their ministry to disadvantaged women in Melbourne, he contacted them and set in motion a chain of events that resulted in the arrival of the Sisters in Christchurch in 1886.

Portrait of Mary Euphrasia smiling

Saint Mary Euphrasia Pelletier, Foundress of the Good Shepherd Sisters

picture of Mt Magdala Convent 1920s Christchurch

Mt Magdala Convent, Christchurch, 1920 

Father Ginaty set about raising the necessary funds to enable the Sisters to establish a refuge for women and, in due course, land was purchased at Halswell. The foundation stone was laid on 17 February 1886 with more than 5,000 people present – and the Sisters’ work began in New Zealand.

In 1932 a house was established in Auckland and in 1945 in Upper Hutt. The Sisters transferred from Upper Hutt to a more suitable area in the country, Te Horo, in 1953. 

In 1966, they took over the administration of “Rosanna” at Waiwhetu, Lower Hutt, a hostel for young, unmarried expectant mothers. 

After almost 100 years of carrying out their ministry for women and girls in the residential settings, the Sisters responded to changing social policies by closing the institutions. They moved into smaller residences in order to live and work more closely with local communities. 

Over the past 30 years the Sisters have worked in Wellington, Lower Hutt, Palmerston North, Taupo and Mt Roskill, Papakura, Papatoetoe and Manurewa in Auckland.

They have worked to address some of the issues that cause women and girls to become marginalised. This includes homelessness, unemployment, lack of education or work skills, being at risk of exploitation, lack of family support and nurture, addiction and poverty. 

Today, we continue the work begun by the Sisters. The organisation has developed strong, values-based relationships with partners to meet emerging local needs and contribute in a meaningful and sustainable way.

Click here to read in more detail about the Sisters journey to New Zealand.

The Good Shepherd Archive

The Good Shepherd Archive is located in Abbotsford, Melbourne (Australia). 

The Archive cares for the records of the Good Shepherd Sisters in Australia and New Zealand dating from 1863 until the present day.

The collection includes many records about the Sisters’ work with women and girls. 

Register books of admission and discharge have been retained for most residential convents in Australia and New Zealand. 

The Archive offers a research service to former residents, to their relatives and to people interested in the Good Shepherd mission in Australia, New Zealand and Tahiti. The research service operates by mail; the Archive is not open to the public and is a part-time service.

All requests for personal information must be accompanied by some form of personal identification such as a copy of your birth certificate or a copy of your current driver’s licence. 

If you are applying for information about another person, their permission is required. If you are applying for information about a person who is deceased, proof of death is required. Proof of your relationship to the deceased person is also required.

Contact Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand at:
PO Box 182
Abbotsford Vic 3067
Australia

info@goodshep.com.au | Phone: +61 3 9270 9700

History of our loans

The Sisters of the Good Shepherd have a long history of making no interest loans to people in their communities. 

In Auckland in the 1990s, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd provided small, no interest loans to families from refugee backgrounds to help with family reunification costs. 

Prior to this, in Melbourne, the Sisters had been providing loans for essential household items since the early 1980s. 

All of these loans were provided with no interest, and people were trusted to repay them so the money could be loaned again to benefit others in their community.  

Now, NILS (No Interest Loan Scheme) can be found in 600 locations across Australia, and in New Zealand, NILS is part of the Good Loans service that can be accessed either in person or over the phone almost anywhere in the country. Good Shepherd NZ works with community organisations to deliver the loans, with support from the Ministry for Social Development.

We partner with BNZ to meet the ongoing need for fair and affordable finance, and together we’ve established StepUP low interest loans to work alongside NILS for those who need larger loans for purchases such as cars or debt solution loans.

More about us