The Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart first came to Aotearoa New Zealand in 1880 to Whanganui and then another foundation in 1883 at Temuka in the South Island.
The following is the story of the second foundation at Temuka.
Three Sisters arrived in his parish of Temuka, South Canterbury on 1 November 1883 and thus began the continuing presence of the Sisters of St Joseph in this country.
By 1894, the year of Mary MacKillop’s first visit to New Zealand, there were four communities in the North Island, (Remuera and Grey Lynn in Auckland; Meeanee near Napier; Matata in the Bay of Plenty) and four in the South Island (Temuka, Kerrytown and Waimate in South Canterbury and Rangiora in North Canterbury). By this time New Zealand women had joined the sisterhood.
The number of sisters grew steadily over the years peaking in the 1950’s and 60’s when there were over 200. These sisters were engaged in education in all of the then four dioceses of the country. Since Vatican II, with its call to a return to the spirit which motivated the founders and pioneers of religious orders, there has been much diversification in the ministries undertaken by the sisters in New Zealand. This has led them into areas such as parish ministry, spiritual direction, social service ministries, nursing, while some have continued in education at all levels.