Christ's College, Christchurch

Christ's College, Christchurch
Christ's College
Rolleston Avenue,
New Zealand New Zealand

Coordinates 43°31′47″S 172°37′33″E / 43.52972°S 172.62583°E / -43.52972; 172.62583Coordinates: 43°31′47″S 172°37′33″E / 43.52972°S 172.62583°E / -43.52972; 172.62583
Type Independent, Single-sex, Secondary (Years 9-13), Day & Boarding
Motto Bene tradita, bene servanda
(Latin for "Good traditions, Well maintained")
Established 1850
Ministry of Education Institution no. 330
School roll 660 (220 boarders and 440 dayboys)
Socio-economic decile 10

Christ's College, Christchurch is an independent, Anglican, secondary, day and boarding school for boys, located in the central city of Christchurch, New Zealand.

Founded in 1850 at Lyttelton as a school for early settlers, College is the oldest independent school in the country.[1] The college currently caters for approximately 647 students from Year 9 to Year 13.

College is an International Member of The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC). The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) represents the Heads of the leading independent schools in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland and International schools mainly from the Commonwealth. Christ's College is one of only three member schools in New Zealand.



Students and school master, c.1903

Christ's College was established in 1850 and directly modelled on the pedagogic vernacular of English public schools, such as Westminster School and Eton College. The school was (probably[2]) named Christ's College by James FitzGerald, Canterbury's first Superintendent, after his old College at Cambridge (Christ's College, Cambridge).[3] At its foundation, the school was run from two rooms at the immigration barracks at Lyttelton,[4] and the emphasis was on a classical education, including Greek and Latin, Modern Languages, Mathematics, English, History and Geography. Students were also expected to conduct scientific experiments, to draw and sing.[1]

The school left Lyttelton in 1852 and moved over the hill to the St Michael's Parsonage in Oxford Terrace with 16 students. Henry Jacobs, the first Headmaster, ensured that his school enabled both boarders and day boys to attend.[1]

Christ's College moved to its present site in 1856, with 35 pupils and a staff of three. This location, adjacent to the Government Domain (now Hagley Park), provided the college with room to expand, and the school gradually began to acquire additional buildings. The first of these building were wooden, providing homes for the staff and their families and an increasing number of boarders. By 1863, 'Big School', the first of the stone buildings, had been built on the west side of the quadrangle in which all classes were taught (in present day it is the schools library with additions by Sir Miles Warren and currently the oldest educational building still in use in New Zealand), followed in 1867 by the Chapel.[1] The school developed slowly around this central quadrangle, and today the 'quad' is treated with reverence, and therefore students are not permitted to walk on it, only staff members and permitted visitors.

In its early days, the College taught boys as young as six, with each boy arriving with a different level of education. Subsequently there was a wide age range in many classes and, until the number of classrooms increased, they were all taught together.[1]

The school motto, Bene Tradita, Bene Servanda in Latin translates to "good traditions, well maintained".

The Christ's College Quad, and Dining Hall


The Christ's College grounds have a collection of nineteenth century, and turn-of-the-century buildings, as well as newly built buildings such as the Old Boys Theatre and the Fine Arts Building. The neogothic style is dominant, as was the case for most notable colonial-period buildings in Christchurch, such as the Cathedral, and the original buildings of Canterbury University (formerly Canterbury College), which is now the Christchurch Arts Centre. 'Big School', built in 1863, is the original classroom for the Christchurch site of the school, and is one of the oldest surviving buildings of its type in New Zealand.

Quad and buildings

Upper department (College House, University of Canterbury)

College House was created as part of Christ's College in 1850.[5] According to College House:

[Christ's College] was instrumental in the establishment of Canterbury University in the early 1870s.

The upper department became a residential college of the university after it was founded, and soon it was referred to as College House.[5] The upper and lower departments (tertiary and secondary departments) separated in 1957, and College House became independent.

College Life

Christ's College Entrance, Administration block to the left, Old Boy's Theatre to the right and School House in the centre background


The chapel.

The chapel is an integral part of the school with compulsory Religious Education being undertaken until Year 11. Every Wednesday congregational practice takes place, in which the whole school sings, and practices hymns, psalms, prayers and chapel routine. Boys are also required to attend chapel on Monday and Friday mornings and usually alternative Sundays, even if it coincide with their own church service outside the school. The school chapel service takes priority and compulsory four services each term are required. Parents are welcome to attend Sunday chapel. Music is an integral part of school life, the Christ's College Chapel Choir consists of approximately eighty boys. The choir sings at chapel services, public and private events and takes part in several singing competitions such as the Big Sing, and in 2007 the international Summa Cum Laude Festival in Vienna (attaining second place).


The school offers students NCEA Levels 1,2,3 and scholarship examinations through NZQA. However in some cases Cambridge Mathematics Examinations are also offered. There are many academic disciplines offered at the school as subjects, varying from the standard English and Mathematics to French, Drama, Classical Studies, Physical Education, Art History, Sciences and many other subjects.

Extra Curricular

The College also places a strong emphasis on extra-curricular activities, sport is compulsory for all year levels with many options available, and throughout the year there are opportunities for the Dramatic Arts, Music, Debating, Model United Nations, and several other extra-curricular activities.

There are opportunities for all boys to be involved with the performing arts, with a Junior and Senior production each year, an annual inter house play festival and more, in fact over half the College population is involved in drama each year.[6]

Saturday Activities have been compulsory for those who do not have games on this day since Saturday morning classes were abolished, there is an extensive list of activities to choose from in 2009 this included, Archery, Mountain Biking, Pool Activities and Scuba Diving, Rock Climbing, Spanish, Theatre Sports, Tennis, Video Production, Workshop and Weight Training; and extra tuition has been available in Art, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Calculus, Drama, Economics, English, German and Music.

Christ's College rugby team, 1940


Sport is compulsory for all boys, there is an extensive selection of sports available with boys choosing both a Summer and Winter option each year. As well as school sports, there are ongoing inter house sporting competitions in which all boys are encouraged to participate. Extra sporting activities are also available, for example the school ski club buses to the ski fields on weekends during winter terms. Sports facilities on site include Upper the school playing field, an all weather facility, a 5 lane indoor 25 metre heated swimming pool, gymnasium and weights room. Offsite facilities include, the nearby 'Christ's College cricket ground' (also has football and rugby fields) consists of four hectares of South Hagley Park, and Kerr's Reach on the Avon River which is home to the Christ's College Rowing club, consisting of a boat house which houses top quality rowing equipment. It is claimed that a form of rugby was being played at the school as early as 1853.[7] Each year its rugby team plays with Wanganui Collegiate School, Wellington College and Nelson College in a tournament known as the "Quadrangular". It also has a long-running rivalry with Christchurch Boys' High School, and an annual rugby match between the two schools is fiercely contested.

The Christ's College Sports Field called Upper, at sunset

House system

In keeping with the tradition of English public schools, Christ's College has ten Houses accommodating around 650 students. There are four boarding houses and the dayboys are organised into six more houses. Each house has a housemaster responsible for the care of the boys.

From the schools early days, Houses were a base for boarders within the school, and these changed their names as Masters came and went. The name Jacobs has been retained, while others have been replaced by School, Richards and Flower's. It was not until 1909 that the first two day boy Houses were established. They were named 'North Town' and 'South Town', and students were allocated to them depending on whether their homes were north or south of Gloucester Street. In 1924, these Houses were named Harper and Julius - Condell's, Corfe, Rolleston and Somes have also been added over the years.[1]

The year groups within the Houses are encouraged to build House spirit and to compete in sporting and cultural competitions. Cricket and football games were established as soon as there were enough boarders to compete against each other, and gradually music and drama competitions have been added.[1]

Day Houses

  • Condell’s
  • Corfe
  • Harper
  • Julius
  • Rolleston
  • Somes

Houses for dayboys provide a place for study and recreation, a Common Room, showers and changing facilities, and areas for storing books and sports clothing. Boys meet here at the beginning of each day for House Assembly where they receive notices for the day and reminders of upcoming events to prepare for from their Housemaster.[8]

Boarding Houses

Flower's House
  • Flower’s
  • Jacobs
  • Richards
  • School

In the boarding environment, the facilities and support systems are more comprehensive. Assisting the Housemaster are an assistant housemaster, a matron, and two live-in tutors who are also studying at university. Most of the school facilities, such as the library, computer room, gymnasium, pool, music and art rooms, and the workshop, are open for use by boarding boys out of school hours. Evening activities during the week include set times for homework, but recreational activities are also encouraged.[8]

The Christ’s College Boarding Programme keeps boarders busy in the weekends. With age-appropriate activities tailored to each year group’s needs, boarders are given a number of opportunities that may not be available to dayboys.[8]


Boys wearing the college's uniform.

The black and white striped blazers and ties Christ's College boys wear are instantly recognisable and well known especially within Christchurch. There are three types of appropriate uniform, called Sport's Uniform, Dress Uniform and Summer Dress. During Winter terms dress uniform is worn on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays, and sports uniform is worn on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Dress uniform is required for chapel services and other formal occasions. A high standard of dress is expected at all times and boys are punished for incorrect or incorrectly worn uniform, boys must always wear their blazers when in town, even with summer uniform.

Each house has a different uniform for inter house sporting events and is made up of a rugby jersey or singlet in the house colour and black or white shorts, depending on the house. Each different sport also has its own uniform for games, a tracksuit consisting of black pants and a black tracksuit top with College crest is required for travelling to and from games venues and for field trips where the uniform of the day is not suitable.

Fees (2010)

New Zealand Residents

Tuition $18,050[8]

Boarding $12,778[8]

Overseas Residents

$45,598.00 (Fees exclude subscription fees for textbooks, school trips and a laundry charge that is added to boarders' disbursement accounts at the end of each term.)[8]


The Christ's College governing body comprises a Chairman, Warden and Fellows.[9] The Bishop of Christchurch is ex officio Warden.


Mr. Simon Leese
Deputy Headmaster
Mr. Robert Donaldson
Bishop Victoria Matthews

Notable alumni

Old Boys' Theatre, and Jacobs House

Alumni of Christ's College are known as Old Boys, and may elect to join the school's alumni association, the Christ's College Old Boys' Association (CCOBA).[10] Some notable Christ's College Old Boys include:



  • Sir John Anderson - Chief Executive and Director of ANZ National Bank Limited
  • Dr Don Elder - CEO of Solid Energy
  • Sir Peter Elworthy – prominent rural businessman
  • Richard James Evans - Chief Executive Officer of the Sydney Opera House[14]
  • Sir William Hamilton - inventor of the jet boat
  • Henry van Asch - co-founder of commercial bungy jumping
  • Sir Tim Wallis - deer industry pioneer, developer of warbirds over Wanaka
William Pember Reeves
  • Sir Miles Warren - architect
  • Richard Woods - former Director of the S.I.S.
  • Ian Gilmour - Director of the Southland Times.

Entertainment, media and the arts


Captain Charles Upham, VC and Bar

Public service

  • Peter Boyce - Commissioner for the Health and Community Services Complaints Commission Northern Territory (1998–2005); Northern Territory Ombudsman for the Office of Ombudsman (1995–2005); Police Complaints Authority South Australia (1992–95)[15]
  • Michael Cullen - former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance
  • Sir Michael Fowler - architect and former Mayor of Wellington
  • Sir Arthur Guinness - politician, former Speaker of Parliament
  • Sam Johnson - organiser of the Student Volunteer Army[16]
  • Rt Hon. Justice Andrew Tipping - Justice of the Supreme Court of New Zealand
  • Hon William Young - President of the New Zealand Court of Appeal



See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "History". About Us. Christ's College. Retrieved 2007-12-22. 
  2. ^ McIntyre, W. David (updated 22 June 2007). "FitzGerald, James Edward 1818 - 1896". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  3. ^ College, Christ's College 125 Years. Bascands Ltd.
  4. ^ "Christ's College Memorial Dining Room". Register of Historic Places. New Zealand Historic Places Trust. Retrieved 2008-02-10. 
  5. ^ a b "History". College House. College House Canterbury. Retrieved 2007-12-22. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Christchurch Chronology 1853". Christchurch: a chronology. Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved 2006-07-03. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f
  9. ^ "Who's who". Christ's College. Christ's College. Retrieved 2007-12-22. 
  10. ^ "Christ's College Old Boys' Association". College Life. Christ's College. Retrieved 2008-02-10. 
  11. ^ Waitakere City Council. (2009). Going west. Retrieved 3 April 2010, from
  12. ^ Suzannah Pearce, ed (17 November 2006). "Wells Murray Charles". Who's Who in Australia Live!. North Melbourne, Vic: Crown Content Pty Ltd. 
  13. ^ Suzannah Pearce, ed (17 November 2006). "Wilson Paul Richard". Who's Who in Australia Live!. North Melbourne, Vic: Crown Content Pty Ltd. 
  14. ^ Suzannah Pearce, ed (17 November 2006). "Evans Richard James". Who's Who in Australia Live!. North Melbourne, Vic: Crown Content Pty Ltd. 
  15. ^ Suzannah Pearce, ed (17 November 2006). "Boyce Peter". Who's Who in Australia Live!. North Melbourne, Vic: Crown Content Pty Ltd. 
  16. ^ "Sam the man". New Zealand Listener. 18 April 2011. Retrieved 14 July 2011. 
  17. ^ Jack Hazlett at
  18. ^ Simon Maling at
  19. ^ Alastair Robinson at
  20. ^ James Ryan at

External links

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