Aotearoa New Zealand

Mercy at a Glance

Founded Area of Ministries Website
1850 Education, Health, Aged Care, Community Development, Earth Partnership, Pastoral Care, Spirituality and Creative Arts

Sisters of Mercy were the first religious sisters to come to Aotearoa New Zealand. They arrived in Auckland in 1850, ten years after the country’s foundation. The intended mission of the delegation from Carlow, Ireland, was to minister to the Maori women and children. Four Mercy congregations were founded in the period between 1850 and 1897. Those congregations joined on 12 December 2005 to form one congregation: Nga Whaea Atawhai o Aotearoa: Sisters of Mercy New Zealand. The combination of the Maori and English name of the congregation represents the congregation’s commitment to the Tangata Whenua, the people of the land. The congregation owns and manages five secondary schools, two health facilities, six aged care facilities, five community development facilities, three retreat centres, and has two incorporated organizations with earth partnership initiatives. In the area of community development, Sisters of Mercy are involved in the provision of a wide range of services in consultation and cooperation with Maori people, other ethnic groups, and community agencies. Services include case work, advocacy, crisis intervention, personal development courses, healing therapies, spaces for art, adult education, health promotion, support for at-risk youth, community gardens, and promotion of sustainable communities. Some sisters live in sustainable community housing and are involved in a wetland restoration project and the restoration and ongoing care of local streams. Sisters of Mercy in New Zealand have a long history of involvement in music, speech, and art education, and they continue to nurture the love of arts. Several Sisters of Mercy have advanced degrees in theology and spirituality and teach at the tertiary level in diocesan and university departments of theology. Additional sisters are involved in teaching adult literacy courses and English to non-native speakers, as well as tutoring children and adults.