The Sisters of Mercy in this story first arrived in Hokitika on 1878. The had travelled all the way from Ireland. Read about why these Sisters of Mercy first came to Hokitika, and about their amazing journey in Southern Founding Story.

Once the Sisters of Mercy from Ireland had settled into their new home in Hokitika in 1878, St Mary’s School was handed over to the Sisters of Mercy to begin teaching.


The Sisters also opened a new school for primary and secondary school for girls in their new convent building called St Columbkilles.

The Sisters were also asked to teach the children at Hokitika Boys School for a number of years.

Greymouth soon became very busy as people moved there to look for gold. So the Sisters of Mercy opened a new Convent called All Saints Convent in 1882.
They soon took charge of teaching the children at St Patrick’s School in Greymouth.

St Patricks, Greymouth

There was no secondary school for older children in Greymouth, so the Sisters opened up St Mary’s High School.

For the first few months the Sisters had to travel every day between Hokitika and Greymouth, until they decided it was better to live in Greymouth.

As more and more people arrived in the area to look for gold, they settled in new areas along the West Coast. So the Sisters opened new schools in Cobden, Kaniere, Ross, Runanga, Kumara, Brunner and Rimu.

The Sisters also did a lot of other work within their communities. They visited sick people in hospitals, they visited people in their homes, and they also visited prisoners in jail.

Many of the Sisters were very talented musicians, and they offered music lessons to children. The money that they were paid for teaching these lessons helped the Sisters to pay for food, and resources for the schools such as books, pencils, and blackboards.

Many of the Sisters were wonderful artists, doing painting, calligraphy and drawing.

And the Sisters were always praying for the children and their families in their community.
West Coast Schools

Brunner School
Hokitika Boys School
Sacred Heart School, Cobden
St Joseph’s School, Kaniere
St Joseph’s School, Runanga
St Mary’s School, Rimu
St Mary’s Secondary School, Greymouth
St Mary’s, Hokitika
St Patrick’s Parish School
St Patrick’s School, Ross
St Patrick’s, Kumara
St Ursula’s College Primary, Greymouth
St Columbkilles Convent School