Our history

Mary Potter Hospice has a proud history of care, compassion and commitment to the people of Wellington, Porirua and Kāpiti.

The story of Mary Potter Hospice began when the Little Company of Mary, a group of Catholic Sisters founded by the Venerable Mary Potter, established Calvary Hospital in Florence Street, Newtown in 1929.  Sister Margaret Lancaster of the Little Company of Mary led a movement that resulted in the commitment to make hospice services available to all patients regardless of age, religion, financial situation or ethnicity.

Sister Margaret Lancaster of the Little Company of Mary

Sister Margaret Lancaster of the Little Company of Mary

They advocated in the early 1970s to set up beds to nurse the dying and by 1979, the Sisters had established New Zealand’s first Hospice – Mary Potter Hospice.

This year, we celebrate 40 years since Mary Potter Hospice was gifted to the people of the Wellington region. We feel a strong sense of stewardship and accountability to continue to develop the vision of our founders. From humble beginnings we have grown into the organisation we are today – serving close to 900 patients plus their families/whānau every year.

We are proud to be celebrating 40 years with you. We are committed to providing our community with compassionate, free-of-charge palliative care. ​We whole-heatedly thank you, the people of Wellington, Porirua and Kāpiti for your continued support to make this possible.


1979 Mary Potter Hospice at Calvary Hospital is officially opened. Mary Potter Hospice is the first of its kind in New Zealand.

1981 Sister Margaret visits over 40 hospices world-wide, returning to New Zealand knowing that Mary Potter Hospice measures up incredibly well internationally.

A Hospice patient celebrates his birthday with a cake

A Hospice patient celebrates his birthday with a cake

1983 The first Bereavement Counsellor and Occupational Therapist are employed at the Hospice.

1985 The Ministry of Health funds 12 of the 24 beds available. Over $400,000 needs to be raised to cover the remaining costs.

1987 Calvary Hospital is sold. The Hospice is now dependent on the ongoing support of the community.

1988 An independent charitable trust is formed and a Board of Trustees is established.

1989 Prime Minister David Lange launches an appeal for $6.3 million to build a 22-bed Hospice in Newtown. Half is raised from charitable sources and the remaining $3 million is raised through the citizens of Wellington.

The Queen lays the foundation stone for Mary Potter Hospice in Newtown. Later, Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer declares Mary Potter Hospice officially open.

The Queen, Gloria Grattan (left) and then Labour MP Helen Clark and Gordon Moller with a model of the new Hospice in Newtown.

1994 Mary Potter Hospice has its first street appeal.

Mary Potter Community Hospice in Kāpiti opens. The community contributed $364,000 to the project.

1999 A Care Coordinator is appointed to work in Porirua, responding to the needs of the people in the area.

2000 The first Hospice Shop opens in Kilbirnie.

2001 The Camellia Heritage Club is formed to thank and recognise those who have promised a gift in their Will to Mary Potter Hospice.

2002 Mary Potter Community Hospice moves into rooms at Kenepuru Hospital, Porirua expanding our services to include occupational therapy and social work.

2003 A Wellington Community Team is created to ensure the Hospice is responsive to the needs of the community.

Sister Mary Scanlon and the Beat Girls at the Hospice Strawberry Festival.

2005 The first Hospice Strawberry Festival is held.

2007 The first Māori Liaison position is established.

2008 A Hospice Shop opens in Karori. There are now shops in Kilbirnie, Mirarmar, Tawa and Kāpiti.

2009 We celebrate our 30-year anniversary.

2012 Mary Potter Community Hospice at 1 Prosser Street, Porirua formally opens.

2013 A memorial mass to honour the 100-year anniversary of the death of the Venerable Mary Potter is held.

2014 A book on the Hospice’s history, With You – The Mary Potter Hospice Story is released

Newlands Hospice Shop opens

2016 First Pasifika Liaison is established

2017 Hospice staff are equipped with iPads and iPhones to stay connected and to support patients

2018 Work on the Mary Potter Apartments site began 

2019 Te Whare Rānui, our Porirua Community Hospice opens. It’s our 40th birthday – we’re celebrating 40 years with you!

Become a part of our future

Mary Potter Hospice is a local charity and relies on your support. Each year we need to raise around $7 million to keep our services free. Whether you’re donating in memory of a loved one, in appreciation of hospice care, or simply because you believe in the work we do – thank you. It’s people like you that make our work possible.