St Bede's College, Christchurch

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St Bede's College
Hato Peti
St Bede's College, Christchurch 872.JPG
Pedestrian and Cyclist entrance to the college on Main North Road
St Bede's College, Christchurch
210 Main North Road, Papanui, Christchurch, New Zealand
Coordinates 43°29′S172°37.1′E / 43.483°S 172.6183°E / -43.483; 172.6183 Coordinates: 43°29′S172°37.1′E / 43.483°S 172.6183°E / -43.483; 172.6183
Type State Integrated Single Sex Boys College (Year 9–13) with Boarding Facilities
MottoFide et Opere
(By Faith and By Works)
Religious affiliation(s)Catholic
Patron saint(s)St Bede
Established1911; 110 years ago
Sister school Marian College
Ministry of Education Institution no. 315
Rector Justin Boyle
School roll827 [1]
Area22 hectares (54 acres)
Socio-economic decile9

St. Bede's College is a state integrated Roman Catholic day and boarding school in Christchurch, New Zealand, for boys aged 12 (Year 9) to 18 (Year 13). [2] St. Bede's is the oldest Roman Catholic Boys' College in New Zealand's South Island. It is also the only Catholic day and boarding college for boys in New Zealand's South Island. Students at St Bede's are colloquially known as Bedeans. St Bede's College was founded in 1911 by the Marists, a religious congregation founded in Lyon, France in 1816.



Role of the Marists in New Zealand

Father (later Bishop) Jean Baptiste François Pompallier, first bishop of the Roman Catholic Church in New Zealand, was one of the thirteen founders of the Society of Mary (Marists).

The canonical approbation of the Society of Mary was given by Pope Gregory XVI in 1836. Fr Jean-Claude Colin had a close association with Pompallier who accompanied the French Marist Missionaries to New Zealand. The Society of Mary became involved in missionary work and teaching, work that was very similar to the missions of the Jesuits, but which had a distinctive Marian approach.

Before 1877, education in New Zealand was a provincial jurisdiction, with many schools being established by churches or private funding. With the Education Act 1877, the New Zealand Government centralised control through twelve regional education boards to introduce free, compulsory and secular education. Schools intending to teach religious instruction could not receive Government assistance. The Society of Mary continued to build the foundations for a Catholic System of Education, sourcing religious teachers from Ireland, Europe and Australia. In 1885, the Society of Mary established St. Patrick's College in Cambridge Terrace, Wellington. St. Patrick's College was the first Society of Mary secondary school for Boys in New Zealand. [ citation needed ]

Foundation of St. Bede's College

St Bede's College, Christchurch, was established in 1911 at the request of Bishop John Joseph Grimes S.M., and the first Catholic Bishop of Christchurch. The college bears the name of The Venerable Bede (AD 673–735) an English Benedictine monk, scholar, and saint. The Society owned St Bede's College. The school was originally located along Ferry Road, but it outgrew its facilities. The college had the option of purchasing the current site or that of St. Andrew's College, Christchurch in Merivale. The chapel was originally used as a gym, but with the building of Chanel Hall, it became obsolete and so was converted to a chapel. The chapel contains the Board of Honour, honouring Bedeans who fought and died for their country in both world wars, although now has been demolished.[ citation needed ]

College site

The college was moved in 1920 to its present site on 220,000 square meters of fields and trees at the northern entrance to the city. Most of the original buildings had to be demolished in 1981 due to new earthquake safety requirements. However, the chapel and half of Durham remained standing until the 2011 earthquake. Over the years, buildings have continued to be added to the college, including the Alistair Macdonald Centre for the Performing Arts, Jarrow (a senior boarding dorm) as well as a new gymnasium. In addition to the surface buildings, the school has a number of tunnels and bomb shelters under the school, built for evacuation purposes. [ citation needed ]


The current rector of the college, Justin Boyle, was appointed in 2002. He was previously the first lay principal of St. Kevin's College, Oamaru but left at the end of 2001 to become the first lay rector of St Bede's.

Philosophy and Marist Tradition

From its beginnings, St. Bede's College has taught its students by observing a tradition that combines Marian and apostolic elements. For the most part of the previous century, the college had residential Marist priests and brothers as teaching staff. There is still a significant Marist presence at the college.

The college's mission is "To help each boy develop fully by Faith and by Works."

The house system

A house system was instituted at St. Bede's College, with every student allocated to a house. The house system has several functions, including administrative. Each house is named for a distinguished person associated with the college and its name. They compete against each other in annual commpetetions such as Swimming, Athletics, and Haka. There are five houses. These are:

The Head Teachers of each house
House Leaders [3]
BenedictMiss Whelan
ColinMiss Warburton
McCarthyMr Hardinge
MannixMr Bryce
RedwoodMr Shiel

Boarding houses

The boarding houses are for boarding pupils and are located on the college grounds. These are:

Notable alumni

St. Bede's College alumni (referred to as Old Boys) are notably represented in the New Zealand Parliament in the House of Representatives. They accounted for the greatest number of alumni of any New Zealand College to sit in the Legislature of New Zealand's 47th, 48th, 49th, 50th and 51st New Zealand Parliaments.

The following old boys are members of the 53rd New Zealand Parliament;

Other distinguished Old Bedeans include:

Four Bishops of Christchurch (Brian Ashby, Basil Meeking, John Cunneen and Barry Jones) and more than 180 priests attended St Bede's.


St. Bede's retains a tradition of academic, cultural and sporting fixtures with St. Patrick's College, Wellington and St. Patrick's College, Silverstream. St Bede's played St Pat's Town in rugby from the 1920s until the early 1970s when it was dropped due to financial reasons. This was for the Holley Shield and the series between the two colleges stood at St Bede's 24, St Pat's Town 20, with one draw. The game against Silverstream had not been played since the Second World War until it was revived in the 1990s. Today, all three Colleges are part of the legacy of the Society of Mary in New Zealand.

Effects from Canterbury quakes

As a result of the severe 2011 Canterbury earthquake on 22 February, the school was fortunately spared, although the school was shut until 14 March to undergo building inspections. Sister school Marian College in Shirley, Christchurch was not so fortunate, being severely damaged. [6] Marian College is an all-girls school, and it was decided to share facilities with St. Bedes. The boys from St. Bedes attended school using a "morning timetable" up until 13:00, with the girls continuing on in the afternoon and evening. [7] The celebration of the 100th anniversary of St. Bedes College, due to take place at the end of May 2011, was also postponed as a result of the earthquake until a year later in May 2012. The Grimes boarding house was found unsafe due to quake damage resulting in the relocation of year ten and twelve students to the Durham boarding house. Grimes was demolished in early 2013 along with the Chapel of St Bede, previously the only original building on the site. The Chapel hall was demolished at the end of 2013; replaced with a green space known as 'The Knole'. A new chapel was completed in 2020.

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  1. "New Zealand Schools Directory". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  2. St Bede's College, 1911–1986, 75th Jubilee, Christchurch City Library Category #373.93831
  3. "Our People - Heads of House". St Bede's College. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  4. Humes, Myles (20 June 2015). "Ex-St Bede's coach David Lindstrom dropped by Rowing New Zealand". Stuff . Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  5. Stuff News, 4 September 2019 (Retrieved 4 September 2019)
  6. Newslink, Indian (30 March 2011). "Right policy will lift education standard for all".
  7. "St. Bedes to share with Marian College".