History of St Michael’s School

In the 1950s, in the aftermath of World War Two, the Mercy Sisters were invited to staff the new St Michael's School in Rotorua. Sister Mary Annunciata, Sister Mary Bertrand and Sister Bernadette arrived from Ireland to answer the call.

From humble beginnings…

St Michael’s was due to officially open at the beginning of the school year in 1958. Unfortunately, all was not plain sailing and the school buildings were not quite ready by January. The sisters, however, were determined to begin their mission and so the school opened in a simple classroom at St Mary’s School at the beginning of the school year. The convent on the St Michael’s property was also incomplete, so the Mercy sisters bunked down with the Josephites at the convent at St Mary’s. 
Mr McGreevy was the builder who built the school buildings, most of which are still being used today. Many in our school community will know his grand-daughter, Tracey Goodrick, currently employed as a Teacher’s Aide at St Michael’s. It was said by the parish priest of the time, Father Ryan, that “Mr. McGreevy worked himself to a shadow building the convent and school.” He was assisted by many parishioners and future parents who gathered for regular Saturday working bees to get the school built.
By 1 March that year the convent was ready for the sisters and they eagerly moved in, commuting each day down to St Mary’s. In those days it was unheard of for religious sisters to drive, so Fathers Logue and Ryan took turns to drive the sisters to work each day.
How happy they must have been when two junior classrooms were finally completed by the beginning of the second term, and the two senior classrooms were ready to be used by the beginning of Term 3.
The school was officially opened by Bishop Liston on October 5, 1958.

The Good Old Days…

Students who attended St Michael’s in those early days remember…

  • wearing aprons over their uniforms to keep clean
  • girls cleaning the classrooms everyday while boys cleaned the toilets
  • going to the convent each week for music lessons
  • school milk warmed on the radiators
  • girls and boys not being allowed to play together and having separate fields to play on
  • St Michael’s parish picnics at Lake Rotoiti
  • the annual fete held each autumn
  • visits from the Catholic Schools Inspector
  • filling the sister’s cupboards with food as they were unpaid teachers