Samuel Marsden Collegiate School

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Samuel Marsden Collegiate School
Marsden Avenue, Karori, Wellington
Coordinates 41°16′59″S 174°44′38″E / 41.2831°S 174.7440°E / -41.2831; 174.7440Coordinates: 41°16′59″S 174°44′38″E / 41.2831°S 174.7440°E / -41.2831; 174.7440
Type Private composite girls school, years 1-13
Motto Ad Summa
Aim For the Highest
Established 1870s
Ministry of Education Institution no. 280
Principal Jenny Williams[1]
School roll 458[2]
Socio-economic decile 10

Samuel Marsden Collegiate School is located in the Wellington suburb of Karori in New Zealand. It has a socio-economic decile of 10 and provides private preschool to year 13 education for girls, but with co-educational kindergarten facilities. It is renowned for being a very academic school with exam results ranking consistently in the top three schools throughout New Zealand. Samuel Marsden Collegiate students complete the New Zealand National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) but the school also offers Cambridge A-Level exams in certain subjects.


The school is named after the Anglican Missionary Samuel Marsden. It was established in 1878 by Mrs Mary Ann Swainson as a day and boarding school for girls from Wellington and the surrounding areas. The school was originally known as the Fitzherbert Terrace School, and Esther Mary Baber was for many years the headmistress.[3] In 1920, the school joined the Anglican Diocese of Wellington, and moved to Karori at this time. Samuel Marsden Collegiate has had 10 principals, only one of whom, Rev. Clarke, has been male.

Present day[edit]

The current head of the school is Jenny Williams, who has moved from Australia. The previous head was Gillian Eadie, who retired after the first term of 2008.

Marsden, as the school is often called, currently has around 700 students. In 2006 it was split from 3 to 4 'schools', the Marsden Primary (previously known as the Lower School), Middle school, Upper school and Senior school. Marsden now has five schools: Pre-school, Marsden Primary, Middle school, Upper school and Senior school. In practice the latter three schools are treated as one, often just referred to as the 'upper school'. Although the Lower school is on the same site, there is little interaction between pupils.

The upper school consists of six houses: Swainson-Riddiford, Baber, Hadfield-Beere, Richmond, Jellicoe and Johnson, all named after friends and benefactors of the school. Girls are placed in houses arbitrarily except when closely related to an old girl, in which case they are placed in the same house as their relative. The Lower School has three separate houses, Sprott, Innes and Fitzherbert, again named for the school's history.

Samuel Marsden has a large variety of subjects, of cultural and sporting activities and is a school rich in tradition. The rules are stringent and the predominantly green uniform, must be worn both correctly and with pride. Girls must wear their hair tied up, are not allowed to wear makeup or jewellery. Assembly occurs twice a week, on Monday and Thursday, and incorporates both religious and ethical themes.

Marsden's calendar is made up of a number of large events including Athletic Sports, Swimming Sports, House debating, House Music, House Sport, Old Girls' Weekend, Carol Service, Prize-giving, Toy Service and various balls at different year levels. Students are taught to cultivate a sense of occasion and for the 125th birthday of Samuel Marsden Collegiate they paraded through Wellington to the steps of Parliament before a celebratory concert in Wellington town hall, where the end of year Leavers' Ball for graduating year 13 students is also held.

The school recently won the New Zealand Computer Institutes Award for Excellence in the use of IT in Schools: Secondary and Primary.

Marsden Whitby[edit]

Established as Whitby Independent College in January 2004, on the site of the old Duck Creek Golf Course, the school was subsequently bought by Samuel Marsden Collegiate in 2005 and renamed to Marsden Whitby. Marsden Whitby's houses bear no relation to the long history of the Karori school, instead carrying the nautical theme that the suburb of Whitby is known for.

Marsden Whitby also differs from the older school because it is co-educational. In 2006 it had just under 100 students compared to fewer than 50 in 2005. Construction of a new classroom block was completed in early 2007 to support the rapidly growing enrollment, along with a new fully functional Science Lab and Gym, the building of a new double story multi-use classroom block is about to get started.

Marsden Whitby is starting to set its own traditions such as House Music, House Drama, Prize Giving, Athletics and more are on the way. The 4 school houses are Discovery, Adventure, Endeavour And Resolution representing Whitby's Captain Cook theme. However the school is becoming less dependent on the Karori school, as not having to regularly commuting to the Karori campus to use their facilities.

Notable old girls[edit]


  1. ^ "Welcome". Samuel Marsden Collegiate School. 
  2. ^ "Directory of Schools - as at 18 April 2016". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 2015-04-19. 
  3. ^ Alington, Margaret (1 September 2010). "Esther Mary Baber - Biography". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Retrieved 17 November 2012. 
  4. ^ "(Isabel) Noeline Baker". Samuel Marsden Collegiate School. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  5. ^ "Old Girl receives Queen's Birthday honours". Samuel Marsden Collegiate School. 2 June 2015. Retrieved 6 June 2015. 

External links[edit]