auckland city mission history
The Auckland City Mission, established in 1920 under the dynamic leadership of the Reverend Jasper Calder, quickly became one of the most significant providers of charitable aid in Auckland. Today, it still is.
The Mission was originally conceived as a religious enterprise to spread the word of God amongst Auckland’s impoverished and working-class. However, the imprint of Calder, who saw the church as a social as well as an evangelical entity, was strong. The coincidence of his tenure with the depression years made clear the overwhelming need for social assistance rather than spiritual guidance.
While “winning souls for Christ” was still on the agenda, so was engaging in social work for the welfare and benefit of youth, meeting the physical needs of sick, aged and poor persons and generally promoting the welfare of the needy.
Over time, the Mission has changed from being seen as ‘the City Mission of the Anglican Church’ to ‘Auckland’s City Mission,’ supported by church congregations and secular organisations alike to provide vital social and health services.
When one’s mind travels back to the 10th June, 1920, when the Mission was first launched, amazement is the only emotion which is possible … when we began our ministrations we had no set programme, other than that we were out to help the underdog in his grim battles against life’s difficulties …. We started with no money, no rules, but with an excellent committee, a lot of enthusiasm and a mighty big faith.
Rev Jasper Calder, Auckland City Missioner, 1934
Reverend Calder challenged the Anglican Church to be responsive to the needs of the neglected poor. Under his dynamic direction the Mission took on a prominent role in administering social services. He oversaw the establishment of a night shelter incorporating a soup kitchen and medical clinic, ran children’s health camps and instituted a clothing jumble shop to help fund the Mission’s work.
Rev Calder developed relationships with other church agencies, local official agencies and central government. Although in the early years the Mission operated solely on public donations and collections, it became increasingly dependent on official sources for income.
The gift of a beach house and land in 1933 enabled the development of Whitneydale Convalescent Home.
A Jack-of-all trades, with a passion for music and the theatre, Rev Calder’s contribution to the poor and needy of Auckland was immense. His dedication to the poor was recognised in 1955 with an MBE.