Wellington city acknowledges Suzanne Aubert’s devotion to needy


New Zealand’s capital city has recognised Suzanne Aubert’s lifelong devotion to the sick and the poor, with the installation of a heritage plaque at the crèche she built in 1914.

The plaque was officially unveiled by Wellington City Councillor, Nicola Young, on Friday, the 92nd anniversary of Mother Aubert’s funeral on 5 October 1926.

The funeral is believed to be the largest held for a woman in New Zealand, with mourners lining the cortege’s route between St Mary of the Angels and Karori Cemetery where her body was interred (until 1950 when it was transferred to the grounds of the Home of Compassion in Island Bay).

His Eminence Cardinal John Dew attended the small, informal ceremony despite having returned from Rome only a few hours earlier, and the Sisters of Compassion – the religious order established by Suzanne Aubert (Mother Mary Joseph Aubert) – turned out in force to honour their founder.

‘The heritage plaque scheme will tell people the history and stories of our city,” said Nicola Young who is responsible for the Council’s ‘Central City Projects’ portfolio.

“We’ve started with the recognition of three women because the launch coincides with the 125th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage in New Zealand.”

The first was for radio personality Maud Basham (Aunt Daisy), and the next for Iris Wilkinson (the writer Robin Hyde).

‘I was determined to get a plaque at Mother Aubert’s crèche; it’s been repurposed as the Queen Elizabeth II Pukeahu Education Centre and I wanted people to know the building’s history and the remarkable story of Suzanne Aubert – the young woman who sailed here from France to become a social worker and herbalist and then founded New Zealand’s only indigenous Catholic religious order.’

Mother Aubert and her Sisters of Compassion moved to Wellington in 1899. They opened a hospice, then the Soup Kitchen (now in Tory Street), the crèche, and then the Home of Compassion where they cared for orphans, handicapped children and terminally-ill women.


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