New Zealand Industrial Schools

New Zealand Industrial Schools/Orphanages

Before the abolition of the Provinces in 1876, care of neglected and criminal children was the responsibility of the Provincial Governments. A Neglected & Criminal Children's Act 1867, based on English Legislation was passed empowering Provincial Governments to establish Industrial & Reform Schools for children under 15 years of age. Neglected and delinquent children were to be kept separate. Provided that a child spent at least half the period of committal in Industrial School, he could be boarded out with foster parents, friends or placed in employment.

Caversham Industrial School was opened by the Otago Provincial Government in 1869 and Burnham by the Canterbury Provincial Government in 1874. Kohimarama Naval Training School was opened by the Colonial Government in 1874 and became an Industrial School in 1881.

The Justice Department took over the administration of Industrial Schools on the abolition of the Provinces but it was, in due course, transferred to the newly formed Education Department in 1880.

A school for the deaf was opened in Sumner in 1881, and the Howe St. Industrial School, Auckland was taken over by the Government in the same year.

An Adoption of Children Act was passed in 1881, providing for adoption of children under 12 years. The Industrial Schools Act 1882 provided for Government schools, local schools and private institutions which were approved by the Government but privately financed.

Under the Act, courts would commit neglected children under 15 years brought before them by the police. Parents could also bring uncontrollable children to the courts. Alternatively they could arrange privately for a child's admission while retaining guardianship. Managers of Industrial Schools were legal guardians of children committed until they reached 21 years of age. Provision was made for suitable children to be boarded out with foster-parents. Official visitors were appointed to inspect schools, and managers and police supervised children boarded out. The practice of boarding out fell of during the 1890's as prosperity increased and fewer children were committed. Under an Act of 1885 orphanages were placed under the Health Department.

The Children's Protection Act 1890 was passed to prevent cruelty and exploitation of children. Penalties were laid down for the parents of neglected or ill-treated children, and restrictions were placed on child employment. Power was given to courts to remove children from offenders custody and place them with a relative or other fit person. Three years later the Infant Life Protection Act was passed after a scandal involving "Baby Farming". It was designed to protect children under 2 years who were adopted or maintained apart from their parents. Foster homes were registered and regularly inspected by the police. The Industrial Schools Amendment Act 1895 extended authority to make board payments to cover children up to 14 years old. The above legislation was administered for by the Special and Industrial Schools Branch of the Education Department.

Lists showing the children's name, age and date of admission.

Burnham Boys Lyttelton  
Burnham Girls Motueka Orphanage   
Caversham Boys St Joseph's  
Caversham Girls St Mary's   
Howe St (combined) Thames Orphanage & Training School