A Migrant History

  The Polish Girls’ Hostel ‘Ngaroma’ in Lyall Bay, 1950. Image from: New Zealand’s First Refugees: Pahiatia’s Polish Children, (Polish Children’s Reunion Committee, Wellington), 2004, page XVI

The Polish Girls’ Hostel ‘Ngaroma’ in Lyall Bay, 1950. Image from: New Zealand’s First Refugees: Pahiatia’s Polish Children, (Polish Children’s Reunion Committee, Wellington), 2004, page XVI

St Vincent de Paul Wellington has a proud tradition of welcoming refugees to our city, providing support and assistance to them as they seek to integrate within our communities.

Nearly sixty years ago St Vincent de Paul managed five hostels in Wellington, providing emergency accommodation to refugees. Those hostels were located in Island Bay, Thorndon, Mount Victoria and Lyall Bay. More than 100 refugees were accommodated at any one time.

The most prominent Hostel was Ngaroma, owned by the Holy See since 1947 and used as the Polish Girls Hostel till 1957 when it was taken over by SVDP to house refugees. The change in use was initiated though the generosity of Archbishop McKeefry. Hungarian refugee families, totalling 31 people, were housed there. They shared accommodation, bathrooms, laundry and the kitchen, but each family undertook its own cooking. At various times Ngaroma, along with the other hostels, offered accommodation to Russians, Maltese, Italians, Spaniards and Asian refugees.


St Vincent de Paul continued its involvement in the provision of accommodation for nearly a decade. From 1969 to 2015 Ngaroma was the residence of the Apostolate Nuncio and in 2015 it was acquired by Sir Peter Jackson. Although SVDP in Wellington ceased to be involved in the direct provision of housing refugees it remained actively involved in welcoming Vietnamese and latterly refugees from Sri Lanka, Eritrea, Somalia, Columbia, and Syria.


If you are interested in supporting future refugees, please contact:
refugees@wn-catholicsocialservices.org.nz or call 04-385-8642.

  Ngaroma Polish Girls Hostel

Ngaroma Polish Girls Hostel