Columba College

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Columba College
Coláiste Choilm
Columba College
399 Highgate, Dunedin
Coordinates 45°51′47″S170°29′40″E / 45.863125°S 170.494375°E / -45.863125; 170.494375 Coordinates: 45°51′47″S170°29′40″E / 45.863125°S 170.494375°E / -45.863125; 170.494375
Type State-integrated, Day & Boarding (secondary)
MottoGratia et Disciplina Bona
"With Grace and Good Discipline"
Established1915; [1] 107 years ago
Ministry of Education Institution no. 386
PrincipalPauline Duthie (2019-)
Years offered1 – 13
Genderco-education primary (Year 1-6); single sex girls secondary (Year 7-13)
School roll595 [2] (November 2021)
Socio-economic decile10Z [3]

Columba College (Irish: Coláiste Choilm) is an integrated Presbyterian school in Roslyn, Dunedin, New Zealand. The roll is made up of pupils of all ages. The majority of pupils are in the girls' secondary, day and boarding school, but there is also a primary school for boys and girls in years 1-6.



Bishopscourt building, a Category I Historic Place Bishopscourt (Columba College).jpg
Bishopscourt building, a Category I Historic Place

Columba College was established in 1915 by the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand as a private day and boarding school for girls with co-educational primary classes. The Rev'd Alexander Whyte was a key figure in the foundation of Columba College, through his vision for a Presbyterian girls' school. [1]

Columba College was created from two earlier Dunedin girls' schools, Girton College and Braemar House. Girton College had been founded in 1886 by the first woman graduate of the University of Otago, Caroline Freeman, who sold it to Frances Ross in 1891. Ross then purchased Braemar House and combined it with Girton College.

Frances Ross was appointed by the Presbytery of Dunedin as the first Head Mistress of the newly created Columba College in 1914. The schools moved to the current site at Bishopscourt, purchased from the first Anglican bishop for Otago and Southland, Bishop Nevill. The large house there had been designed by William Mason and built in 1872.

Whereas most church schools took a conservative view of girls' education, Columba built on the traditions of Girton College. High educational standards were set, while due attention was given to music, physical training, domestic science and, of course, religious instruction. The differing abilities and aspirations of the pupils were acknowledged and fostered. Ross expected a great deal from her girls and was not disappointed. Columba girls took prizes, scholarships and degrees at university and made their mark in a range of occupations. [4]

Columba College was integrated as a composite school under the terms of the Private Schools' Integration Act effective 31 January 1994. [5]

Boarding facilities

Attached to the school are boarding facilities, catering for approximately 110 students, both domestic and international from years 7 to 13. Students live in one of two on-campus buildings, Katharine Buchan House or Bishopscourt.

Notable alumnae

Notable staff

Frances Ross   New Zealand school principal

See also


  1. 1 2 "The Columba Story". Columba College. Retrieved 2 November 2021.
  2. "New Zealand Schools Directory". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 22 December 2021.
  3. "Decile Change 2014 to 2015 for State & State Integrated Schools". Ministry of Education. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  4. Ross, Angus. "Frances Jane Ross". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography . Ministry for Culture and Heritage . Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  5. "Integration agreements for state integrated schools: C to E". Education in New Zealand. Archived from the original on 13 September 2019. Retrieved 7 April 2021.

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