Nelson College for Girls

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Nelson College for Girls
Physical education class at Nelson College for Girls - Photographer unidentified, 1913.jpg
A 1913 physical education class at Nelson College for Girls.
Trafalgar St
New Zealand
Coordinates 41°16′45″S 173°16′56″E / 41.2791°S 173.2821°E / -41.2791; 173.2821Coordinates: 41°16′45″S 173°16′56″E / 41.2791°S 173.2821°E / -41.2791; 173.2821
Type State secondary, day and boarding
Motto Pietas Probitas et Sapientia
("Loyalty, honesty and wisdom")
Established 1883
Sister school Nelson College
Ministry of Education Institution no. 295
School roll 1097[1] (July 2017)
Socio-economic decile 7

Nelson College for Girls is a single-sex state school in Nelson, New Zealand. Established in 1883, it has close ties with Nelson College and has a private Preparatory School.

Nelson College for Girls was one of the highest rankings school in the Nelson region for NCEA with an average of 71% of Year 13 students achieved NCEA Level 3 in 2005. (This compares with a National average of 51.2% and Decile 7 Girls' schools - 68.9%) The boarding house, Clarice Johnstone House is headed by Mrs. Barbara Symonds and caters for around 120 girls from years 7-13.


The school was established in 1883, and its first principal was Kate Edger, who was the first woman to graduate with a university degree in New Zealand. She resigned on her marriage in 1890,[2] and Beatrice Gibson was appointed principal in her place. Gibson also resigned on her marriage, in 1900, and Althea Tendall took her place for a period of five years, followed by Margaret Lorimer from 1906 to 1926.[3]

All four of these early principals were graduates of Canterbury College, Christchurch, which came to an agreement with the school to enable pupils resident in Nelson, and enrolled at Nelson College for Girls, to receive university tuition from its staff. The pupils in Nelson were able to enrol in the same university classes as those available in Christchurch, sit the same examinations and receive the same qualifications. This arrangement continued until the 1920s.[4]

The arts[edit]

Music and arts are also very strong at the school, choirs, jazz band and orchestra and private tuition available for the musically inclined. The annual Arts Week organised by the Arts Committee is always a highlight in the year, presenting students from all over the school (even if not normally involved in the arts department) a chance to do fun artistic activities. The sports awards, house music event and weekly assemblies all provide chances for students to receive recognition from their peers for various achievements. Every week, they have a singing assembly. The arts committee chooses two or three for the girls to sing, they vary from cultural and traditional songs to jumpy, new hits. The whole school is very involved in the arts.


The school has five "houses" which divide the girls into groups for school competitions such as athletics, swimming, music, drama and academics. They are named after local landmarks, mountains, rivers and plains; Dun, Maitai, Maungatapu, Waimea and the boarding house, Whangamoa. Points are collected for each event and the end of the year overall winner is awarded with the Whangamoa Shield.

Notable alumnae[edit]

Notable staff[edit]


  1. ^ "Directory of Schools - as at 2 August 2017". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  2. ^ "Kate Edger | NZHistory, New Zealand history online". Retrieved 2016-02-12. 
  3. ^ "Graduate Detail". Retrieved 2016-02-12. 
  4. ^ Fitzgerald, Tanya (2014). Women Educators, Leaders and Activists: Educational Lives and Networks 1900-1960. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-137-30351-6. 
  5. ^ McNae, Pete (21 June 2012). "Bygate adds a spark". The Nelson Mail. Retrieved 29 October 2016.