The Marist Brothers’ contribution to the history of New Zealand and Sacred Heart College began when the first Marist Brothers arrived with the Marist missionary team led by Bishop Pompallier in 1838. They were sent by the Pope to establish the Catholic Church in New Zealand and the South Pacific. However, those first Brothers were not engaged in schools but assisted the mission in teaching catechism to the Maori people, and in tasks such as printing, cooking, building, gardening and making the wine needed for the Mass.
It was in 1876 that the school ministry of the Brothers began in Wellington. From there they spread quickly throughout New Zealand, arriving in Auckland in 1885, where they took over a diocesan school for boys on the corner of Pitt and Wellington Streets. By 1891 it had grown into the Sacred Heart High School. However, wishing to provide better facilities, the Brothers leased some Church land in Richmond Road, Ponsonby where, on 21 June 1903, they opened their own Sacred Heart College.
Sacred Heart’s strong achievements in all fields of Catholic and Champagnat education developed during the next 50 years, until the Brothers saw the need for a more modern establishment to meet the growing needs for Catholic education. Thus, in 1955, they opened the new College on the present magnificent site in Glendowie. The War Memorial Chapel followed in 1958, and since then more facilities have been, and continue to be, constructed to meet the rapid expansion of educational needs, and of the student roll.
The College, now in its 117th year, was for generations staffed mainly by Marist Brothers but in the last 30 to 40 years they have welcomed other highly professional teachers, who now form the majority of staff. However, the Champagnat spirit the Brothers planted in the College remains vibrant and real, especially through the emphasis placed by the Board of Trustees and the Principal and staff on the living of our Catholic faith and by being built on the Pillars of Champagnat Marist education.
Back Row: Brothers Gerard, Murray, Peter, Anthony, Marcel, Humphrey, Reg, Terence
Front Row: Brothers Dunstan, Albert, Richard, Brian, Michael
Marist Brothers continue to teach at the College and currently three communities of Marist Brothers live on site. The presence of the Marist Brothers in and around the school plays a significant role in the Special Character of Sacred Heart College and in the lives of our students.