Mercy Hospital

The Sisters of Mercy arrived in Auckland in 1850 and were the first order of religious sisters to come to New Zealand.

Catherine McAuley, the order's founder, had a vision of one-to-one care of the sick and the dying. In the beginning, a handful of sisters with a few lay staff ran the Mater as a convalescent hospital, with limited facilities for surgery. The hospital was a place where the sisters took patients into their home and from where they went into the homes of others. As early as the 1920s the hospital was already a thriving surgical hospital, with more in common with its present form, than with the small cottage hospital of only two decades earlier.

In the second period from 1918 to 1936 the hospital grew quickly, meeting an increasing demand from Aucklanders for private surgery alongside a growing Auckland Public Hospital. This period of growth led to the building and opening in 1936 of the large main block.

But by the mid-1960s, the hospital began to specialise and in particular developed the first private cardio-thoracic unit in New Zealand, under the direction of Sir Brian Barrett-Boyes.

The 1970s were years of crisis, as the Sisters of Mercy adjusted to the new post Vatican II world. Social change reduced recruitment. Religious life was also transformed as the order reconsidered their ministries and embraced new forms of mission. The hospital came under enormous financial pressure, until in 1979 it was forced to close its maternity ward. In the early 1980s the hospital modernised its facilities, and dedicated itself to becoming a high-quality private hospital. In the last decade the Sisters of Mercy progressively withdrew from an active role in managing and working within the hospital.

Mercy Hospital

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