Our reach is nationwide and our unique combination of social services and early childhood education means we provide the broadest range of child–centred services in Aotearoa.
Every day, our professional and dedicated staff help build communities where all children are nurtured and supported so they can reach their full potential. This is no small task. The challenge we face is that many children don't get the opportunities they deserve
We are dedicated to achieving our vision of an Aotearoa New Zealand where every child shines bright. They deserve nothing less.
Our Executive Leadership Team (often shortened to just ELT) oversee our organisation’s day to day strategic, operational and financial decision making, working closely with the Barnardos Board. Each member of ELT brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Barnardos. Find out more in the videos below:
1845–1905 - Dr Thomas Barnardos
Thomas John Barnardo was born in Dublin in 1845 and in 1866, he headed to London to study medicine, with the aim of becoming a medical missionary in China. But a cholera epidemic, overcrowding, poor housing and thousands of destitute and homeless children in London's East End prompted him to stay and help children closer to home.
He set up his first 'ragged' school in the East End of London in 1867. Here, poor children could get a basic education. Three years later in 1870 he opened his first home for boys in Stepney Causeway.
Around this time, people in New Zealand began giving money to support the work of Dr Barnardo in England. His work progressed rapidly – by the time of his death in 1905, there were 112 district homes throughout the UK.
The homes fed, clothed and educated children in need. Younger children were usually sent to stay with families in the countryside, while girls over 14 were sent to industrial training homes to learn domestic occupations, and older boys were also put in training for trades. Dr Barnardo also ran a rescue home for girls in serious danger and a hospital for the terribly sick.
During his lifetime, Dr Barnardo admitted 59,000 children to his homes, emigrated more than 20,000 others to Canada and had given material assistance in some form to at least another 250,000.
In 1972 we opened our very first service in Mangere, Manukau City - it included a childcare centre, on-site social workers and housing for solo mothers and their children. The Mangere site still exists as an early learning centre.
The 1980s were a time of expansion for Barnardos NZ. In the early 80s, we made our first foster care placement, opened the Richmond Centre (similar to the Opawa Centre) in Christchurch as part of a partnership with Christchurch North East Rotary Club, and established the Family Support Service in Aranui, Christchurch. The Family Support Service recruited ‘neighbourhood workers’ from local communities. The idea was that they would work with two or three families at one time, under guidance from qualified social workers.
By early 1983, the Family Day Care Project was also growing with 24 additional service units under development around New Zealand.
The late 1980s, saw the establishment of the Family in Action Foster Care Service in Auckland. This was foster care for children and young people, with Barnardos providing all support and care to foster parents.
In 1974/75, the model of the Mangere Centre was semi-replicated in Christchurch, with the establishment of the Opawa Centre. The aim of the Opawa Centre was to help children of families under stress due to financial, health, marital or similar problems, and to assist solo parents experiencing difficulties.
We changed our name from Dr Barnardos in New Zealand to Barnardos New Zealand in 1977.
And in 1978, we established the Family Day Care Project in Wellington. This was the fore runner to our BEL Home Based service. Within five years, the Family Day Care Project was running in Wellington, Dunedin, Auckland, Christchurch and Palmerston North.
Around this time, we also established the Families Playgroup at the Mangere Centre.