Although a Church was opened in 1864, there was no Catholic school. Sisters of Mercy from St Mary’s Convent would travel by train every Sunday to teach the Catholic children living in the area all about God.

A very kind person gave the Sisters a large area of land, and they decided to build an orphanage. The orphanage opened in 1911, with 100 girls moving into their new home of St Joseph’s Orphanage. In 1917, boys were also allowed to live at the orphanage. The Sisters also set up a school for the children living at the orphanage, and other Catholic children living in the area were able to go to school there too.

The Sisters ran a farm on land next to the orphanage, which meant they could grow their own fruit and vegetables, and also raise some animals.

The Sisters worked very hard to raise money to keep the orphanage running. People within the community also gave food and clothes to help.

In 1946 a fire destroyed much of the old orphanage, so a new one was built. This remained open until 1985.

The number of families in Upper Hutt who wanted their children to attend a Catholic school grew, and a new school for children in St Joseph’s Parish was built in 1956.