Our Story

From the classroom windows we gaze out across the sea to Cape Kidnappers and from another we are able to see Westshore. These views uplift our spirits and make us smile and realise how lucky we are. In 1867 the view from this position would have been very different. Just as the forces of nature have shaped and altered the physical landscape, the changes in education and society in the past 150 years have altered the way Sacred Heart College operates. What does remain the same though is the vision, the passion and the zeal that Euphrasie Barbier had when establishing her congregation. We may not be a large school but we have a proud history and a future full of promise.

Sacred Heart College, Napier on its present site in Convent Road was founded by The Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions. In 1867 the school for ‘Young Ladies’ that would eventually become known as Sacred Heart College was blessed and opened. It was the first Catholic school and hostel established by the Sisters in New Zealand.

Amazingly, the original buildings withstood the earthquake of 1931. During the 1990’s, the whole site was re-planned, new buildings erected and existing ones upgraded. The new Barbier and Marian blocks were blessed and opened, and Ross and Dennehy blocks were updated and rededicated. A full-sized gymnasium followed, named after Sister Mary Rose Holderness. On June 30 2001 the convent building, the chapel and a section of the hostel were destroyed by fire. During 2009 a major technology and social science upgrade was completed and the buildings were opened by Bishop Peter Cullinane in February 2010.

The boarding hostel, opened around 1867, was finally closed on 1st April 2010. The hostel buildings and the Cultural Centre were demolished at the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015 and a new sacred space and hall has been built on the site. The Mission Centre was opened by Bishop Deuhein in 2016.

The College is now administered by the Diocese of Palmerston North. 

For its first one hundred years the College was staffed predominantly by the Sisters. Sister Mary Rose who completed her term in 1998 was the last Mission Sister to be Principal. Sister Colleen retired at the end of 2014 and was the last Mission Sister teacher. The current staff of the College continue to uphold the missionary spirit of the Sisters in today’s modern environment.

The school motto of Virtue and Knowledge was exemplified by the early Sisters who had the courage and faith to make a long journey to New Zealand in order to minister to and educate young women. These characteristics, ideals and vision are seen today in the idea of ‘heart, mind and spirit in harmony’. The quality education and pursuit of personal excellence empowers our young women to fully participate in the modern world.

Sacred Heart College
​​​​​​​Urupa (Cemetry)

The four pioneer sisters all left Napier to help in the foundation of new establishments and none came to their final resting place in Napier.

When Mother Mary St Elizabeth passed away on 29th July 1891, the Sisters sought permission to have a piece of land set aside on the hill to be used as a private burial ground. Mr Turnbull, a magistrate in Napier granted that permission and the Sisters laid their departed Mother to rest. Eventually twelve Sisters were laid to rest under the shadow of the walls which in life they all loved so well.

Since that time the school has grown and developed and the Urupa is now in the middle of the school surrounded by gardens and tennis courts. With the busy life that goes on each day at the College the burial ground is not a sad lonely place. Each day the students can be reminded of the early sisters who came with such a vision for establishing a school and can reflect the vibrancy of the College in the 21st Century.