Elizabeth Maree Caroll (Maree) has given decades of generous service to the community in which she lives. Maree was known for her work with the St Dominic’s School for the Deaf in Feilding, being the first layperson to be employed as school secretary in 1969. Maree was heavily involved in organizing the school reunions which enabled the school community to remain connected over many decades. Maree also continued her work with the New Zealand Catholic Association and Catholic Deaf Ministry. Maree was instrumental in establishing the Manawatu Deaf Society, taking a leading role. Opening her farm for Deaf chaplaincy meetings and numerous Deaf Society activities over the years. Maree’s quiet and unassuming contribution went unacknowledged for several decades. In 2005, Maree was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, for her work with the Deaf community.

  • Life Stories

St Dominic’s School for the Deaf

Maree Carroll

On 2 May 1970, Maree married Alphonse (Phonse) Carroll who was a fellow pupil at St Dominic’s. They married at St Patricks Church on 197 Broadway Avenue, Palmerston North. Phonse and Maree had a family of three children and farmed near Rongotea all their married life.

Maree Ward started school at St Dominic’s in 1945 at the age of four and received all her education there, leaving at end of 1955. Like Daniel Beech, she was part of the small group that began to organize past pupil gatherings from the early 1960s. Maree was always willing to help out with some of the administration work as volunteer. In March 1969, she was the first layperson to be employed as school secretary, and worked there until the following year.

Maree was also one of the organisers of the first reunion held at the school to celebrate the 21st anniversary of its founding. From that time Maree has been a member of the committee for each of the reunions that have been organised for St Dominic’s – the 25th, 40th, 50th and 60th – and has been committee chairperson or secretary for a good number of those events.

Maree was one of the first past pupils of St Dominic’s to brave the difficulties of overseas travel. In 1969, when Maree and her friend and fellow St Dominic’s past pupil, Marlene Rush, flew off to Sydney and Melbourne for a happy fortnight’s sightseeing they were talking on an adventure that few Deaf people were willing to attempt. Their experiences were later reported in the Deaf News.

Maree continued to work in Deaf Education by becoming a Teacher Aide at the Freyburg Deaf Education Centre.

Maree and the Manuwatu Deaf Club

1965/66 Manawatu Deaf Society Committee. Top left to right: John McKenna, Barbara Hazelwood, Maree Carroll (nee Ward), Daniel Beech. Bottom left to right: Mary Johnson, Keith Gordon, Albert Hanson, Joan Bailey.

In 1962 Maree was a founding member of the Manawatu Deaf Club – which later developed into the Manawatu Deaf Society (1975). The Carrolls’ farm was the venue for numerous Deaf Society activities held over many years.

Maree was also active in the Deaf Womens’ Social Group that became part of the Society’s activities, serving as secretary/treasurer in the late 1970s.

Maree in the New Zealand Deaf Catholic Community

Maree Carroll, year and event unknown.

Taken on 3rd August 2005 at an event to celebrate with Maree Carroll her QSM Award at Manawatu Deaf Society Inc. clubrooms along with the Deaf community.

Maree was an inaugural member of the Manawatu Adult Catholic Deaf Committee when it was formed in 1978 and was elected President the following year. In July 1980, when the New Zealand Catholic Deaf Association was founded, Maree Carroll was a member of the Executive and took over from Daniel Beech as President in 1984.

From the time the Catholic Adult Deaf Ministry was established, Maree took a leading role in its work and activities in Manawatu. When the Manawatu Catholic Deaf group had its first combined Mass with a hearing parish, at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Palmerston North on 4 November 1979, it was Maree who did the Reading during the service. It was not the first time that Maree had stepped forward to take on the challenge of speaking in public at an important event. Nearly 30 years before, as a child at St Dominic’s in Dower Street, it was Maree Ward who had read the address of welcome to Professor and Doctor Ewing from Manchester, during their 1950 VIP visit to the school.

In 1986 Sister Maureen organised the first Renew group for Deaf people in Manawatu as part of her Deaf Chaplaincy programme, and these meetings were held at the Carrolls’ home. Maree attended Catholic Association for Deaf and Hearing Impaired People of Australia (CADHIPA) conferences in various parts of Australia from the late 1980s. During the period that Sister Maureen was chaplain for the Palmerston North and Wellington Diocese Maree worked with her in a support role, with one of her duties being to assist with the production of the Ephpheta newsletter from 1990 – 1993.

Maree continued to be heavily involved with the Ministry, working to develop a book ‘See What I Mean,’ which was a publication about the history of St Dominic’s School for Deaf Children and the Catholic Ministry in New Zealand. She worked alongside David Loving-Molloy, a Deaf priest.

Maree passed away on 4th September 2010, the first day of the Canterbury earthquakes.