The history of this foundation began in December 1884 when Bishop Luck encountered two Little Sisters in a street during a visit to Melbourne – just one month after the arrival of the Little Sisters in Australia.
This chance visit led to the approval of another foundation in Auckland, and five Little Sisters were to arrive from France sometime in 1886. But fate had it otherwise. The foundation in Sydney was made in 1886 and shortly afterwards typhoid fever struck the Sydney community. One Little Sister died and others were gravely ill. The Sisters destined for the Auckland foundation were then needed in the Australian houses.
In June, 1888, two Little Sisters arrived in Auckland to search for a suitable house. With the assistance of Bishop Luck and a benefactor, Mr. Darby, they found a house To Let in Hepburn Street, Ponsonby. This house still exists today. The Sisters had intended to return to Australia and await the Superior destined for Auckland. Once the house was found however, Bishops Luck said to them: "“If the house suits you, in the Name of God take it, and begin immediately your work of charity…”" The Sisters saw this as a clear manifestation of the will of God and so agreed. That evening, a letter was dispatched to Australia saying: “Send the Little Sisters to Auckland on the first available boat.”
When the Sisters took possession of the house, they first needed to wash and scrub and set up beds. There were no tables or chairs. Around lunch time, Mr. Darby, arrived to find the four Sisters enjoying sandwiches which the Sisters of Mercy had given them. There was no other food in the house. Two Sisters were sitting on a packing case, and the other two were sitting on a built-in cupboard. He was so moved by the austerity of this scene that he turned on his heel, with tears in his eyes, and returned some time later with a large saucepan and some meat and groceries.
A few months later they received the first young New Zealand girl who felt the call to live her life as a Little Sister of the Poor, and many more followed.
Time passed, and Providence continued to watch over the concerns and interests of the foundation. Every Saturday Mr. Darby would bring enough provisions for Sunday dinner for the whole house, and M Cauning supplied a casserole of stew every second day. It really hurt this gentleman to see the Sisters carrying bread, meat, groceries and vegetables. They used bags made of hessian and carried large baskets. He was determined, with the help of some charitably minded friends, to purchase a horse and van for them. This was realized on 5th November. Bishop Luck gave the harness and Mr. Cauning the horse and cart.
The collecting Sisters became a familiar sight around Auckland, as they still are today – and they are still received with the same generosity and warmth as those first Little Sisters.
The number of Residents continually increased, and soon, as was the case in every foundation of the Congregation since its beginning, larger premises were necessary.
In January 1889, the Sisters acquired five acres of land in Shelly Beach Road on which a timber structure stood. February 13th was the day of the move from Hepburn Street to Shelly Beach Road. This wooden house, together with a building constructed for the men in 1891 was “Home” until 1904 when it again became necessary to arrange for a larger building.
In 1904 the timber house was transferred to the other side of the road (Tweed Street) where it remains today, with alterations and additions, and is known as “Mollies Hotel.”
Erection of the main building was completed by November 1904 and there were further extensions over the years. In the year 1910 there were eighty two residents in the Home Extensions were added in 1920s so that up to 200 elderly people could be accommodated at a time. This building in its turn was demolished in 1998 and a new modern facility is now in operation.