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Our Last Year in New Zealand, 1887

By William Garden Cowie, D.D., Bishop of Auckland

London: Kegan, Paul, Trench & Co., 1888.

Appendix D. Women's Home, Diocese of Auckland

(See page 138.)

"The Lord helpeth them that are fallen."--Psa. cxlvi. v. 8.


Superintendent: Mrs. Cowie.

Matron: Miss Hall.

Chaplain: Rev. G. H. S. Walpole.

Committee of Management:

Ven. Archdeacon Dudley.
Rev. J. S. Hill.
Rev. G. H. S. Walpole.
Mrs. Cowie.
Mrs. J. M. Clark.
Mrs. Kinder, Secretary and Treasurer.

Address: Woodcroft, Remuera.

It is now two years since, after much anxious thought and earnest conference, a small house of six rooms was taken by the above Committee, in the Brighton Road, Parnell, to receive young women desirous to return to virtuous living. The urgent need for such a Home in Auckland had long been felt by those who had thought about the matter, or had tried to help any who had gone astray. This need was recognised by the Bishop and some of the clergy of the diocese; who, at a meeting, held at Bishopscourt in August, 1883, after conferring together on the subject, appointed a Committee of three (the [346/347] Ven. Archdeacon Dudley, the Rev. J. S. Hill, and the Rev. G. H. S. Walpole) to consider whether any action could be taken to supply what was wanted. Not long afterwards these three clergymen, having associated with themselves three ladies, namely, Mrs. Cowie, Mrs. J. M. Clark, and Mrs. Kinder, were induced to open a Home without further delay, by the arrival from England of a suitable Matron. Miss Hall brought with her high recommendations, having had several years' experience of similar work in the diocese of Winchester, under Mrs. Harold Browne. The work of the Home was carried on for seven months in the small house above-mentioned; the Committee holding themselves responsible for the rent, the Matron's salary, and other necessary expenses. A lady resident in Auckland, Mrs. Somervell, in her earnest desire to promote the objects of a Women's Home, had set apart £1000 to be invested for this purpose. She willingly, through her trustee, Mr. J. M. Clark, gave the interest of this sum to enable the work to be begun and carried on. The trustees of the former Women's Home also gave a year's interest in furtherance of the work. One kind friend in this diocese gave £50; a clergyman of the diocese of Waiapu gave £25; and many others gave liberally according to their means, to help the work of the Home.

In the month of October, 1884, the Matron had to return to England; but her assistant, Mrs. Constant, remained at the Home, which still has the benefit of her efficient and motherly help. Miss Sparling then, at the urgent request of the Committee, undertook temporarily the office of Matron, and continued her self-denying work at the Home for more than a year, taking a hearty interest in the inmates and studying to promote their welfare, and helping the Home greatly. Miss Hall returned to New Zealand and to the Home in March last, having been invited by the Committee to resume the office of Matron.

Soon after the opening of the Home in 1884, it was found [348/349] that the work could not be carried on satisfactorily in so small a house. As only six inmates could be accommodated at a time, it became necessary to find situations for some of them earlier than would otherwise have been desirable, in order not to refuse admission to more urgent cases. It was also found impossible in the limited area of the Home to give the inmates enough active work to occupy them fully, and to train them in industrial habits. Under these circumstances, in the beginning of 1885 it was decided to secure a suitable freehold property then for sale, near to Bishopscourt, for a permanent Home. This was done; and four bedrooms, a wash-house, with a large self-filling copper and tubs, an ironing-room, and a bath-room were added to the nine-roomed house. Gas and water were laid on. The house was painted throughout and papered where necessary, and the ground properly fenced. The property, with these necessary alterations and additions, has cost about £800. The house now accommodates twelve inmates, besides infants; and there is every convenience for washing, ironing, and needlework. The first day the Home was opened, in June, 1884, a woman sought its shelter, the next day another came, and the third day a young girl with an infant, and so the work has gone on. There have always been on an average five inmates, besides infants, in the Home; and in the present building the average has been much higher. During the two years that the Home has been open 61 inmates, besides infants, have been received. Of these, 18 are now in domestic service, and are generally well reported of by their employers; 8 have been restored to their friends; 6 are marriedand 12 are at present in the Home. In admitting to the Home those who desire its help, no distinction is made as to nationality or religious belief. Among the inmates there have been Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Congregationahsts, Wesleyans, Baptists, and others, as well as members of the Church of England. Besides the washing belonging to the Home between thirty and forty dozen of clothes are got up [349/350] weekly by the inmates; who are thus kept fully employed, while a considerable sum is earned towards the support of the institution. Until the end of November 1885, a Government subsidy was received--of £1 for every £1 otherwise obtained, for the maintenance of the Home. Since that date, in consequence of the passing of "The Hospitals and Charitable Institutions Act," no aid has been received from Government. As this is a work in which all Christians may fairly be expected to help, it is hoped that those who have not yet contributed anything to its furtherance will now do what they can. About £450 of the cost of the freehold property--namely, £800--has already been paid, and the Committee are very desirous that the balance--namely, £350, upon which they are now paying interest--should be cleared off as soon as possible.

Are there not some who will gladly give out of the abundance which God has bestowed on them, for the love of Him who came to seek and to save the lost?

With regard to the working expenses of the Home, the Committee are anxious to have a sufficient guaranteed income to depend upon, that the work may not be hindered by uncertainty of support. All anxiety in this respect would be prevented if sympathisers in each parish would give as they are able, to help on the work; and there is surely none in which we can more truly feel that our Lord is with us.

Any person who reads this report and doubts the necessity for the Home is asked to reflect where some of those mentioned above, as now being in domestic service, or restored to friends, might have been, but for the helping hand held out to them from the Home, in their hour of need. A member of the Committee who has visited some of these strayed ones in their sad lives has been told, more than once, as a reason for their downward course: "I stayed in my place as long as ever I could, and then went from one lodging-house to another, but no one would take me in when they saw how I was; until, footsore and weary, I took the only shelter open to me; and [350/351] afterwards, what use was it for me to try to lift up my head again?"

"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me."

"Shall these, our sisters, sink--
And we so near?
Dare we from danger shrink--
And they so dear?
Ah! ye who still delay,
What if in the last Great Day
Ye should for mercy pray,
And none should hear?

"Christ! let it not be thus--
Be Thou at hand!
Dear Lord, who died for us,
Now by us stand!
Teach us the lost to seek,
Help the strong to help the weak,
Safe through the waters bleak,
Bring all to land!"

(Adapted from A Plea, by Lord Plunket, Archbishop of Dublin.)

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