Ko to matou korero: Te Waipuna Puawai

Catherine McAuley and the Sisters of Mercy

The korero (story) of Te Waipuna Puawai begins with the Sisters of Mercy. Mercy founder Catherine McAuley opened the first House of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland in 1827 and founded Sisters of Mercy in 1831.

Having experienced hardship herself Catherine felt called to offer practical assistance to those in need.

What was important to Catherine and remains a guiding force for Te Waipuna Puawai is the commitment to meeting the unmet needs of women, children and the community.

Working together to strengthen women, strengthen families and strengthen community

Te Waipuna Puawai grew out of the work of the Sisters of Mercy and Mercy house based in Waddell Ave from 1990. In 1999, Te Waipuna Puawai opened its doors in Glen Innes to the Tamaki community, invited by the women of Glen Innes who were looking for support for personal and professional development, with a focus on childcare.Built on the values of respect, compassion, justice, hospitality and mutual enhancement, our vision was to create a space to serve those in the community, fostering well-being for whānau and restoration of the earth.

At the heart of Te Waipuna Puawai is a respect for the karanga call from the community. Beginning with the wahine Māori who issued the first karanga to the Sisters of Mercy in Ireland, and welcomed them to Aotearoa in 1850, Māori now play an important role in Te Waipuna Puawai, as educators, community leaders and in leadership roles.Over 20 years on and the people we serve remain at the heart of Te Waipuna Puawai. Our values are a guiding force, directing our initiatives, programmes and role in the Tamaki community.

Our Mercy oasis

Te Waipuna Puawai translates to “the mercy oasis” and that vision is an important part of what we do, centred on our deep connection to Papatūānuku, the land.

Nestled in beautiful wetlands, our Ellerslie house was created as a safe space for women and children who have suffered hardships. Built on land chosen by the community, we’ve created a beautiful nurturing environment where people can learn, reflect and heal.

Our house in Waddell is a place where the door is always open. By having a community house in the heart of Tamaki, we’re able to remain connected to the local community, as a place for community gatherings, educational programmes, and where people are always welcomed

Working in the Tamaki community


Our programmes drive our mission and are set up to actively address the needs of families in the community. Today, we run five programmes in the Tamaki community: HEART, G-FIT, HIPPY, Community Education and Family Support Services.

We’re continually growing and developing our programmes to make sure they’re continuing to providing meaningful value, support and development to community members.

Our whānau

Judy Whiteman, Tumuaki, Chair


“As an executive coach, mentor, facilitator and consultant in both the commercial and not-for-profit sectors, I’m passionate about helping people achieve success for themselves, their people and their organisations. I came to Te Waipuna Puawai because I was inspired by the work they’re doing to make a difference in the lives of whānau in Tamaki and wanted to share the various skills and experiences I have to support the organisation to achieve the success they desire for themselves, their people, and their community. ”

Bill Takerei, Manukura, Chief Executive


“As Chief Executive of Te Waipuna Puawai, I bring 20 years of management experience to my role in assisting the board to achieve their strategic and operational objectives. My fluency in my Maori culture and ability to foster strong relationships helps Te Waipuna Puawai retain itself as a strong community leader in its approach and space of community development. Te Waipuna Puawai is a community provider that has a heart and can reach the community in many ways, something that I’m grateful and proud to be a part of.”

Patricia Rowe, rsm, Board Member

“As a Sister of Mercy, the kaupapa of Te Waipuna Puawai is dear to my heart and reflects Mercy’s long term commitment to the people and communities of Tamaki. I value the opportunity to contribute to an organisation that makes a difference through working in innovative and collaborative ways towards whakawhanaungatanga making right relationship happen, care of Papatūānuku and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.”

Luke Ryan, Board Member


“Being Ngapuhi and growing up in the Tamaki community, my family and I relied on the same kind of services Te Waipuna Puawai provide, which have shaped me into the person I am today. I felt a calling to play an active role in the Tamaki community so joined Te Waipuna Puawai as a board member, drawing on my skills and experience in Corporate Finance and Technology, as well as running a copywriting business. Being a part of Te Waipuna Puawai has also helped me gain a deeper understanding of my own Maori heritage.”

Kylie Dunn, Board Member


“As the fourth generation in my family to attend a Sisters of Mercy school, I’ve always felt a strong affinity with Sisters of Mercy and their message. My family has also benefited from the assistance of the Sisters over many years. With nine years experience in governance roles within the Sisters of Mercy and as a lawyer, I value the opportunity to use my skills in the important work that Te Waipuna Puawai is doing.”

Anna Jacob, Board Member


“I come from a background in public health and community development, having worked directly in the Tamaki community. Bringing all my governance experience from a range of community organisations and not-for-profits (as well as a healthy dose of optimism), I’m passionate about my role as Te Waipuna Puawai Director. I love working in the Tamaki community and being involved in Te Waipuna Puawai allows me to give back to a community that has given me so much, both personally and professionally.”

Tyrone Tangata Makiri, Board Member


“With experience in community development and a local understanding of Tamaki, I was drawn to the vision of strengthening women and families and making a positive impact in the community. Having also attended events and been involved in the services Te Waipuna Puawai provides, I feel grateful for the opportunity as a board member to contribute to the wider organisation.”

Whānau are at the heart of Te Waipuna Puawai. It’s the people that enable us to create positive change in our community.


There are many ways you can be a part of our mission.