Our Josphite and School History


Two Sisters of St Joseph arrived from Sydney aboard the Wairarapa on 19 March 1884. They were Sister Teresa Maginnes and Sister Ignatius Griffen.  They were joined by Sister Casimir Meskill who came from the South Island.

They lived in a cottage on the site of the present St Benedict’s Convent. The first school “Butcher’s Shop School” was next to the Star Hotel which was on the corner of Newton Road. The Sisters walked the rough, muddy Newton Road each day to go to school.

198421 April Sisters began teaching – 40 pupils
May – 110 pupils
December – 200 pupils
1885June – Property bought at 2 Sussex St. Surrey Hills Church built at 3 Tennyson (now Turakina). St – still part of St Benedict’s parish.
1886Sisters moved to Sussex St. Sisters began teaching in Church / School 6 Feb 1886.
1895Mother Mary MacKillop stayed with the Sisters in Sussex St.
1900Parish of Grey Lynn was begun.
1902New 2 storey wooden convent was built in Sussex St. The Church continued to be used as a school during the week.
1917November – New brick school was blessed and opened on Great North Road site. The Convent was moved from Sussex St to a site beside the new school.
1918New school opened in February with 320 pupils. The church in Turakina St was then used as a church only.
1918Late in the year the great influenza epidemic struck the whole of N.Z. The School became a hospital and the Sisters nursed the sick and visited homes taking food and medicines, and consoled the bereaved.
1920The Church moved from Turakina St., to the Great North Road property.  It was put on the site of the present church.
1921Holy Thursday night there was a fire which destroyed the Convent. 12 Sisters and 8 boarders escaped unharmed.
1921/22The Convent was rebuilt in brick and opened on November 12 1922.
1930Newspaper ran a competition “Popular Man” and Fr Holebrook’s name was entered.  He won a considerable sum of money and used the prize to purchase a 2 storey hall which was put at the back of the new school.
1960The Secondary Department closed and the Boarding school closed.
1972/73P.T.A. paid for additions and alterations to the school so that more pupils could be accepted.
1978Convent was renovated inside and the outside painted. 2 rooms downstairs were turned into classrooms.
1983The School was integrated into the State system.
1984Sister Anne Holley became Principal.
1990The present new school was built behind the old school. Before the August holidays everything was packed into containers. The old school was knocked down during the holidays. Pupils had 2 weeks extra holiday while staff moved equipment into new school.
1990The playground and grounds of the new school were completed.  This was a very stressful term for all as the noise of heavy machinery was intense and there was no-where for the children to play.
1991Sister Anne Holley Principal – resigned.
1992Mr. Shearer assumed the principalship in May. Sister Veronica was the only Sister of St Joseph on the staff.
1992Grey Lynn Convent was sold and the Sisters moved to other communities.
 Mr John Shearer resigned from St Joseph’s to take up a position at Sir Edmund Hillary CollegeteJenny Bernard assumed the principalship in July 2005.  Jenny completed her Master degree in 2010.100th year celebration of St Joseph’s Church.12th October.

Since 1992 the Sisters of St Joseph have remained interested and involved in Grey Lynn School and Parish.

Sister Veronica has retired from St Joseph’s and lives at Mission Bay Convent.

Sister Veronica has has a stroke and received a triple by pass in September 2010.

Sister Marianne has been a Member of the Board of Trustees since it began.

Sister also takes Communion to the Sick on the third Sunday of the month.

Sister Denise was one of the people involved in setting up the St Joseph’s playgroup.

Sister Edwina and Sister Catherine, who are retired and living at Mission Bay continue to be interested in St Joseph’s Grey Lynn.

2014 60th year Jubilee of Sister Veronica Keane who was the last teaching sister at St Joseph’s.

Veronica hails from County Clare in Ireland.  As a young 18 year old she entered the Congregation and travelled the long distance from her home country and from her family to Australia.  A true missionary at the time! In those days there was little chance of her ever seeing family again so it must have been quite a wrench.

Over the sixty years of her professed religious life, Veronica has taught in 18 schools all over New Zealand and in NSW Australia.  She was known to be a very good reading teacher with a particular interest in those who struggled.  This led her to train as a reading recovery teacher and many children who had difficulty with the written word have benefited from the care and interest she took in them.  While most teachers retire some time in their sixties, Veronica continued on at St Joseph’s school, as a part time teacher until she was 77.

While she worked on at school, Veronica also took on the role of faithfully caring for the Priest Chaplains for 13 years.  They were well looked after! She was also a very good knitter often making garments for children in South Auckland which her sister Mary was able to deliver.  Veronica shows a great interest in others and continues to be a caring presence here at Mary MacKillop Centre

We congratulate and bless you on your 60 years of loving service as a Sister of St Joseph.