St Mary's College, Auckland

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St Mary's College
11 New Street, Ponsonby, Auckland
Coordinates 36°50′47″S 174°44′54″E / 36.8463°S 174.7484°E / -36.8463; 174.7484Coordinates: 36°50′47″S 174°44′54″E / 36.8463°S 174.7484°E / -36.8463; 174.7484
Type Integrated Catholic Girls Secondary (Year 7-13)
Motto Mater Misericordie
Established 1850
Ministry of Education Institution no. 50
Principal Bernadette Stockman
School roll 925[1] (October 2014)
Socio-economic decile 7[2]

St Mary's College is a year 7 - 13 integrated Catholic girls' high school situated at 11 New Street, Ponsonby, Auckland.


St Mary’s College is the oldest existing secondary school for girls in Auckland and one of the oldest existing schools in New Zealand. It was established in 1850 on the site of the present St Patrick's Cathedral, in Wyndham Street by the Sisters of Mercy, who were founded in Ireland by Catherine McAuley in 1831. The Sisters of Mercy were the first religious sisters to come to Aotearoa New Zealand, arriving in Auckland from Ireland on 9 April 1850.

A large new convent was built in Ponsonby, on a splendid site overlooking the Waitemata Harbour and the central business district of Auckland City and the school was shifted there in 1861.

St Mary’s College has always had an excellent academic record and high achievement in Music and Sport. Its musical tradition goes back to the 1860s. During the 20th Century, under the outstanding direction of the late Dame Sister Mary Leo, the school produced many singers of international fame, notably Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Mina Foley. The school is known for its music with a compulsory music programme running from year 7-9. At St Mary's the school believes that music enhances the mind. They have a number of bands which play at festivals all around the world. In 2005 the Sinfonia was invited to play at the Beijing Arts Festival in China. In 2006 the school's band went to Palm Springs, CA for a music festival.

The Mercy character continues to be a dominant focus of the school's ethos. The college is still owned by the Sisters of Mercy who have established a Board of Directors which works in conjunction with the Board of Trustees to ensure that the Catholic character of the school is not only maintained but enhanced and promoted.



  • A.G Butchers, Young New Zealand, Coulls Somerville Wilkie Ltd, Dunedin, 1929.
  • E.R. Simmons, In Cruce Salus, A History of the Diocese of Auckland 1848 - 1980, Catholic Publication Centre, Auckland 1982.
  • Margaret Lovell-Smith, The Enigma of Sister Mary Leo:, Reed, Auckland, 1998.
  • Nicholas Reid, James Michael Liston: A Life, Victoria University Press, Wellington, 2006.
  • Jenny Carlyon & Diana Morrow, Urban Village: The Story of Ponsonby, Freemans Bay and St Mary's Bay, Random House, Auckland, 2008.

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