Reefton Schools

Reefton and Westport Founding Story

The township of Reefton grew very quickly after becoming an area for goldmining. With many families moving to Reefton the Parish Priest, Father Cummins, wanted a group of Sisters of Mercy to come and live in the community and set up Catholic schools for the many children living there. Father Cummins knew that the Mercy communities already in New Zealand were very busy and would not be able to set up a new community in Reefton. So he contacted the Mercy Convent in Singleton, Australia. He was very pleased when four Sisters agreed to come to Reefton to set up a new Mercy Foundation.

The Sisters arrived in 1890 to begin their work with the Reefton community. Soon after they arrived in Reefton the Sisters opened new schools, including Sacred Heart School.

It was not long before the people in Westport saw the good works the Sisters of Mercy were doing in the Reefton community. In 1894, the Reefton Sisters were asked to set up a new community in Westport. Five Mercy Sisters agreed to move from Reefton to Westport. These Sisters worked in schools, visited the sick in their homes and the local hospital, and helped the community of Westport in any way they could. This included teaching for many years at St Canice’s School.