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Early History

St. Mary's began all the way back in 1922 as an empty four acres of land.  

Bishop Cleary was Bishop of Auckland at the time, but the purchase was negotiated by his co-adjutor, Bishop J.M. Listen.

Legend has it that Bishop Cleary was far from impressed by the purchase of this land, which in those days must have been a long way from anywhere. On the other hand there were local folk who felt that the site should have been larger.

At first St. Mary's was intended to be a convent for the Sisters of Mercy.  Rather than building the convent from the ground up, it was decided that a house would be purchased and placed on the empty site.  

A suitable house that belonged to the Higgins' family was found on Wellington Street in Papakura, and so a wealthy gentleman, along with two Sisters of Mercy, went to the Higgins' home to see if he could purchase it.  This gentleman was most likely not catholic, but had decided to buy the building for the Sisters in appreciation for the care and attention he received in the Mater Hospital.

The Sisters of Mercy soon decided Papakura was not the place for them, but shortly afterwards Father Von Rotter encouraged the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions to consider Papakura.  The Sisters eventually did consider Papakura, not for a convent but for a convent school.

On 21st May 1954, the Sisters arrived to open the new convent school on Clark Road. Though three classrooms were built, only two were operational in the first year.

A total of eighty five pupils enrolled on opening day.

Sister Charles, acting as Principal, taught Standards 3-6, and Sister Margarita taught the Primers through to Standard 2.  Sister Stanislaus, community head, spent most of her time endeavouring to extract musical talent from her pupils.

At the beginning of 1955, with the third classroom now completed, Sister Kieran arrived as infant teacher. In a short time she proved her talents were not confined solely to teaching ABC, but also to coaching rugby on the football field during lunch.

With the arrival of the Sisters, the parish of Papakura reached its maturity.

The stage was now set — and St. Mary's School was born.