Otago Benevolent Institution, Caversham

Dates: 1866-1896

The Otago Benevolent Institution was founded in 1852, funded by a combination of public support and government subsidies. It initially provided only “outdoor support” (grants to the needy) but in 1866 it opened as a home for those in need. It took in both children and the elderly – children formed the majority of residents until the 1870s.

The Institution had its own school, with a teacher provided by the Otago Education Board. The school closed in 1893.

When the government opened the Caversham Industrial School in 1869, a few children were transferred there, but the Otago Benevolent Institution did continue to admit children and numbers remained high through the 1880s. In the 1890s, a policy change led to most of the children moving into foster care. After 1896 only the occasional child stayed short term at the Benevolent Institution, which became a home for the elderly alone.

The Institution seems to have admitted children from Southland as well as Otago, until the opening of the Bowmont Street Home in Invercargill.