In 1950s, there were many Catholic children living in Otautau. The closest Catholic school was St Columba’s School in Riverton, but there was no bus or train that could take the children from Otautau to Riverton for school each day. So all the Catholic children went to the local state school. The Parish Priest, Fr Walls, asked the Sisters of Mercy if they would help him set up a new Catholic school in Otautau. The Sisters were happy to help, and they opened St Michael’s School in 1957.

The Sisters drove from their convent home in Riverton to St Michael’s School every day. They would pick up children who were walking to school. Soon, there were too many children to fit into their car, so Fr Walls bought the Sisters a small van which the children called “the school bus”.

The Sisters had very little money and had to fundraise to buy school books, reading books, balls, pencils, paper and other things the children needed at school.

The Sisters spent many happy years teaching at St Michael’s School. Unfortunately, as people moved away from Otautau the number of children at St Michael’s dropped, and the school was closed in 1976.