St. Kevin's College, Oamaru

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St. Kevin's College, Oamaru
St. Kevin's College Oamaru Logo.gif
57 Taward Street
Oamaru, New Zealand
Coordinates 45°04′03″S 170°59′00″E / 45.0674°S 170.9832°E / -45.0674; 170.9832Coordinates: 45°04′03″S 170°59′00″E / 45.0674°S 170.9832°E / -45.0674; 170.9832
Type Integrated co-educational secondary
Motto Latin: Facere et Docere
('To Do and To Teach Through Service to Others')
Patron saint(s) Bishop J. P. Kavanagh
Established 6 February 1927
Founder James Whyte
Ministry of Education Institution no. 369
Headmaster Paul Olsen
Chaplain Wayne Healey
Grades Years 9-13
Enrolment 411 (2011)
Affiliations Roman Catholic, Christian Brothers, Dominican Sisters
decile rating (10 is high) 7

St Kevin's College in Oamaru, New Zealand was founded in 1927. It is a Catholic school run by the Christian Brothers and Dominican Sisters for boaders and day students. St Kevin's became a co-educational school in 1983.

Establishment and history[edit]

Although the establishment of a Catholic boarding school for boys in Otago had been mooted as early as 1890, it was not till 1925 that the project was seriously taken in hand. The Bishop of Dunedin, James White, called for the co-operation of the Christian Brothers, who for many years had conducted a school in Dunedin, to which for some years a hostel was attached. Various sites were inspected by the Bishop and the Provincial of the Christian Brothers, P. I. Hickey. Finally "Redcastle" was settled on as being most suitable.

Property acquired[edit]

In 1925 the Church authorities purchased the homestead and property on which the college now stands, including 40 acres (160,000 m2) of land for 8000 pounds securing an option over ten additional acres, which were purchased for 1000 pounds in 1928.

In May 1926 Rev. Br Moore came to Dunedin to organise a bazaar and art reunion to defray the expenses of the new foundation; and Rev. Br Dowd toured the country districts soliciting donations. These joint operations resulted in a nett return of 7000 pounds. That same year building operations began under the supervision of Rev. Br Prunster.

Opening of the college[edit]

The solemn blessing and opening of the new college, named St. Kevin's after the founder of the monastery and school of Glendalough, took place on Sunday, 6 February 1927. Present were Archbishops Redwood and O'Shea, Bishops Whyte, Cleary, Brodie and Liston, the Reverend Fathers Lynch, Goodman, Dr. Geaney, O'Reilly, Collins, Fenelon, McGettigan, Monaghan, Scanlan and Findlay. Among the some 2,500 laity present were contingents from Dunedin and adjoining parts of both provinces.


In February 1983 St Kevin’s became co-educational with the introduction of boarding and day female students. This step came at the same time as Integration into the state education system.

Until 1979 girls boarded at Teschemakers, about 12 km south of Oamaru. When Teschemakers closed the St Thomas’s Hostel Trust was formed and it bought flats in Balmoral Street. These were used for girls' boarding until 1984 when the hostel moved onto the former junior college site. Today, under the direction of the St Kevin’s College Foundation, it can accommodate over 100 girl boarders.

More buildings, new library, administration block, technical block, gymnasium, art and music suites and refurbished hall, bring us to the present day.

In 1996 the College appointed its first lay principal as Mr Justin Boyle succeeded Brother Joe Lauren who had been the thirteenth and longest serving rector. In 2002 the second lay principal, Brent Russell was appointed. The Christian Brothers handed the school to lay management ending a 75 year presence at Redcastle.

The Christian Brothers remain the school’s proprietors, and look forward to a future of promise and challenge for the college, under the current leadership of Paul R Olsen.


In 2011 the school had a roll of 430 students (52% Female, 48% Male). Its ethnic composition was New Zealand European/Pākehā 84%; Māori 8%; Pacific 2%; Other 6%. 120 of the students were accommodated in St Kevin’s College Hostel, the largest co-educational boarding facility in the South Island.[1]

For senior years the school offers the National Certificate of Educational Achievement assessment system (NCEA). The school is rated among Otago's high achieving academic colleges, outperforming both other Oamaru High Schools.

Past rectors and principals of the college[edit]

Further information and some biographical details see: Congregation of Christian Brothers in New Zealand

  • 1927 - 1933 B. F. Magee
  • 1933 - 1936 M. M. O'Connor
  • 1936 - 1938 J. B. Gettons
  • 1939 - 1945 M. D. McCarthy
  • 1945 - 1951 P. C. Ryan
  • 1951 - 1952 J. A. Morris
  • 1953 - 1957 J. I. Carroll
  • 1958 - 1961 J. B. Duffy
  • 1961 - 1967 P. A. McManus
  • 1968 - 1971 J. M. Hessian
  • 1972 - 1974 P. A. Boyd
  • 1975 - 1979 M. B. Scanlan
  • 1980 - 1996 B. J. Lauren
  • 1996 - 2001 J. G. Boyle
  • 2002–2010 C. B. Russell
  • 2010–present P. R. Olsen

The Christian Brothers[edit]

In 2001 The Christian Brothers left their Oamaru base at Recastle, which is on the site of the College. The last Christian Brother to teach was Brother Tony Sisson, who left at the end of 2001. In 2002 the Brothers handed the school over to lay management.

The last Christian Brother to be rector was B J Lauren, 1980 - 1996. He was the 13th and longest serving rector. He relinquished the rectorship in 1996 to become leader of The Christian Brothers Province in New Zealand.

The last Christian Brother to be on the Senior Management/Administration team at the College, holding the positions of Senior Administrator and Dean of Year 13, was Frank W. Perkins. He left in 1999 to become Principal of Nukutere College in Rarotonga, Cook Islands.

The Dominican Sisters[edit]

In 1983 the Dominican Sisters came to the college when it amalgamated with St Thomas' and Dominican College, Teschmakers, girls' schools. The three sisters to come to the college were Sister Joan, Sister Catherine-Laboure and Sister Madeleine.

Sister M. Therese and Sister Bennett were on the Board of Trustees in the late 1980s and early 1990s although they never taught at the College.

Sister Catherine-Laboure, who was headmistresss of St Thomas', took up the positions of Senior Mistress and Director of Religious Studies and Christian Living. Sister Madeleine took up the post of Dean of Form 3 (Year 9). The Dominican Sisters have now left the College and until the end of 2008 there were Sisters on the Board of Trustees.

Lay principals[edit]

In 1996 the College appointed its first lay principal, Justin Boyle. In 2002 Brent Russell was appointed as the 15th principal and second lay principal.

The first lay deputy principal was K. C. Walker appointed in 1985 as he succeeded I. T. Mahon.

The First Senior Mistress (Assistant Principal) was Mrs J. I. Palmer appointed to the position in 1987. The last Brother to hold the position of Senior Master was Bro. D. M. Murray, who held the position from 1975 until 1994. He was also Boarding Master up until 1992 when he relinquished that position.

Lay staff and these days lay management and principals have become necessary in Christian Brothers schools because of the ageing congregation, lack of recruits and the requirements of the Private Schools Conditional Integration Act 1975.

The first lay person to be the Director of Religious Studies and Head of Special Character was Mr James Barns, as he succeeded Bro Michael McMenamin MA (Hons). Mr J. Barnes was appointed in 1988. He held the position for nearly ten years, when he returned to his native America during 1997. Karen Austin, the year 9 Dean at the time.

The Directors of Religious Studies for 2008 were:

Mrs M. J. Burton (1st half of the year)

Mr A. J. Mullally (2nd half of the year)

The role was shared as Karen Austin was appointed to the Position of Assistant Principal of the college and a permanent replacement had not yet been found.

Culture at St Kevin's College[edit]

Culture is a large part in the life of a St Kevin's College student. Major cultural events on the SKC calendar include:

  • House Drama
  • Bishop's Shield - Debating, Scripture Reading, Public Speaking, Drama
  • Choral Festival
  • Major Production - in 2011 Seussical the Musical
  • Stage Challenge
  • Inter-House Debating
  • Scripture Reading Competitions
  • Public Speaking Competitions
  • Writing Competitions

Sport at St Kevin's College[edit]

Sport has played a key part in the fabric of the college with a very high participation rate by all students in sport. The School has produced seven All Blacks and one Silver Fern. The School has since the turn of the 21st century churned many successful athletes in other areas including a world silver medalist in Kayaking. Since 2009 the school has produced outstanding results in rowing at Maadi Cup level. This rowing has been strongly held up by the girls eight which won 2 golds in the under 15 level (2009) and under 16 level (2010). The girls in what turned out to be the final year for the eight won silver at under 17's then raced a year above and gained a bronze in the under 18's. More medals were won in the quad, doubles and pair over those four years. Many of the crew went onto higher honours representing the south island vs. north island reggata. Johannah Kearney made the New Zealand representative side at under 18 level winning bronze at junior worlds in 2012. She has currently joined the New Zealand under 23 side and is now based in Waikato.

St Kevins has a proud history in rugby with strong sides coming through different year groups. The 1st XV has competed in the highlanders competition since 2007. It started slowly at this level, having to readjust to competing against the bigger schools in the region. The side has had some memorable years, going unbeaten one year in the early 2000s with 17 wins. The side won four otago wide schools competitions in seven years being a dominant force through the turn of the century. The side has a great rivalry with Waitaki Boys High School annually playing for the Leo O’Malley Memorial Trophy more commonly known as the peanut. The annual game attracts up to 5000 spectators in anticapation of a tight match. Over the years Waitaki has been a more frequent winner hoisting the trophy on 53 occasions to St Kevins 21 wins with 5 draws.[2] This rivalry is often referred to the blooder by the students, this originated from St Kevins students calling Waitaki Boys blood nuts because of the colour of their blazers.

Traditionally rugby, and in the last decade netball, was played in the interschool with the Waitaki Schools but in 2012 this changed. A full itinery of sports was played on the last day of the second term with around 300 students participating in a sport. These included rugby, netball, soccer, hockey, basketball from all age groups of under 14 to the top sides. St Kevins won only a few sports as the greater number of students allowed Waitaki to be fresher than St Kevins. But there were wins on the day for the boys 1st XI soccer and the girls 1st XV rugby. This big day looks to be in for many more years to come and looks bright for 2013 and the future.

Notable alumni[edit]

The College has produced 19 Christian Brothers and 7 Brothers belonging to other Religious Orders, 101 Priests[citation needed], 1 Bishop, 1 Archbishop (who was also a cardinal). In sport, 1 Silver Fern and 7 All Blacks (including 3 captains) have been students at St Kevin's.

Notable former students include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Education Review Report
  2. ^ Rugby results table
  3. ^ New Zealand Who's Who Aotearoa 2001, p. 198.

Main sources[edit]

  • Redcastle, for the years: 1927, 1963, 1966, 1977, 1980, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2006–2008 and 2009.
  • J.C. O'Neill, The History of the Work of the Christian Brothers in New Zealand, unpublished Dip. Ed. thesis, University of Auckland, 1968.
  • Redcastle Recollections, A Golden Jubilee Volume, St Kevin's College, Oamaru, 1977.
  • Paul Malcolm Robertson, Nga Parata Karaitiana The Christian Brothers, A Public Culture in Transition, A Comparative Study of the Indian and New Zealand Provinces, an unpublished thesis for MA in Anthropology, University of Auckland, 1996.[1].
  • Graeme Donaldson, To All Parts of the Kingdom: Christian Brothers In New Zealand 1876-2001, Christian Brothers New Zealand Province, Christchurch, 2001.
  • "College Personnel", Redcastle, 2009 Page 4.