Safe Exit

The Good Shepherd Sisters were invited to New Zealand in 1886 to provide care for women and girls that had fallen on hard times. They were a significant role as a residential welfare provider in Australia and New Zealand from 1863 to the 1980s.

Our History

Our History

Good Shepherd Sisters played a significant role as a residential welfare provider in Australia and New Zealand from 1863 to the 1980s.

We remember, acknowledge and honour all the women and children who spent time in Good Shepherd institutions.

Support for Former Residents is provided through the Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand office in Melbourne, including support for former residents (and their families) to access their records.

Click here for further information about Former Resident Support

Apology to former residents

The Sisters of the Good Shepherd apologise whole-heartedly to those who experienced mistreatment and neglect whilst in our care. 

Click here to read the full apology

Arrival in New Zealand

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
picture of Mt Magdala Convent 1920s Christchurch

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 in July 1888 with more than 5,000 people present – and the Sisters’ work began formally in New Zealand.

Click here to read the New Zealand chapter in Pitch your Tents on Distant Shores to learn more about the Sisters journey to 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. 

This short film about the Good Shepherd Sisters in New Zealand, tells the stories of Sister Mary Feehan and Sister Teresa Donworth, and their work in the community.

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 Good Loans can be found in 600 locations across Australia and in New Zealand.

Good Loans in New Zealand can be accessed either in person or over the phone anywhere in the country. 

We partner with BNZ to meet the ongoing need for fair and affordable finance. Together, we’ve established no interest loans for people who need loans for essential items, services or debt consolidation.

We also work with community organisations to deliver the loans, with support from the Ministry for Social Development.

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.

Make a difference

Join us on our mission to create a world that is just, equal and upholds human rights for all. 

Donate today to make an impact.

You can also make a donation, or set up a recurring donation, by contacting us directly


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