St Kevin's College, Oamaru

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St Kevin's College, Oamaru
St. Kevin's College Oamaru Logo.gif
57 Taward Street
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')
Established 6 February 1927; 90 years ago
Founder His Lordship Most Rev. Bishop James Whyte D.D., J.C.D
Ministry of Education Institution no. 369
Principal Paul R. Olsen BSc, DipTch
Chaplain Very Rev. Fr Wayne Healey
Years offered 9-13
School roll 455[1] (February 2017)
Socio-economic decile 7O[2]
Affiliations Roman Catholic, Christian Brothers, Dominican Sisters

St Kevin's College (also called Redcastle) in Oamaru, New Zealand is a Catholic, coeducational, integrated, boarding and day, secondary school. It was founded by the Christian Brothers in 1927 for boys and became a co-educational school in 1983 when the Dominican Sisters closed down their school at Teschemakers. Although they no longer are on the staff of the college, the Christian Brothers remain its proprietors and so appoint their own representative to the school's Board of Trustees under the New Zealand Private Schools Conditional Integration Act 1975.[3][4]

The College[edit]

St Kevin's College has a roll of over 400 students including approximately 110 boarding students and 300 day students. Its gender composition in 2013 was female 59% and Male 41%. Its ethnic composition was NZ European/Pākehā 80%, Asian 10%, Pacific 6% and Māori 3%. It has a strong Catholic focus.[5][6]


In February 1983 St Kevin’s became co-educational. Until 1979 girls boarded at Teschemakers, a secondary school located about 12 km south of Oamaru. St Kevin's College currently has boarding capacity for over 100 girls.[4] Also in 1983, the College was integrated as a College with a "special character" under the Private Schools Conditional Integration Act 1975. The special character is broadly the connection of the school with the Catholic faith. Preference of enrolment is given to students who have established a link with the Catholic Church through baptism or membership of a parish. Preference is decided by the appropriate parish priest in each case. A preference certificate from the student's parish is required for each student with their application for enrolment at the school. Under the Act, the school may enrol "non-preference" students but the enrolment of such students is restricted to 5% of the total roll.[7]


The College has produced seven All Blacks and one Silver Fern. Students participate in many sports including: hockey, rugby, basketball, soccer, netball, swimming, rowing, cricket, tennis, squash, badminton, skiing, snowboarding, multi sport, athletics, tramping and kayaking. Swimming, athletic and cross-country sports are particularly emphasised and all students participate.[8] The College has its own golf course, swimming pool, turf and gymnasium.[9] St Kevins strongly participates in Rugby competitions. There is an annual game with Waitaki Boys High School (located near Redcastle) for the Leo O’Malley Memorial Trophy ("the peanut"). This attracts up to 5000 spectators in anticipation 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. This rivalry is often referred to as "the blooder" by St Kevin's students, originating from St Kevins students calling Waitaki Boys blood nuts because of the colour of their blazers.[8] [10]


The College emphasises public speaking, singing, drama, debating, choirs, dance, reading aloud, role plays and scripture reading. Cultural activities, such as the annual choral festival and annual production, are timetabled into the school year so that all students are involved to some degree. The College participates in the annual Bishop's Shield Competition which it has won several times. Debating is also encouraged. Many students learn music and learn to play musical instruments within the school day. The college has music ensembles and some students play in groups and orchestras outside the College. There is a Chapel Choir for College liturgical events.[11]



The establishment of a Catholic boarding school for boys in Otago was first proposed 1890. However, it was not until 1925 that the preparations for the establishment began. The Bishop of Dunedin, James Whyte, asked the Christian Brothers to set up the school. They had, from 1876, conducted the Christian Brothers School in Dunedin.[12] This school had for a time taken boarders in a hostel which operated from 1919 until 1924.[13] Various sites were inspected by the Bishop and the Provincial of the Christian Brothers, P. I. Hickey, and the property called "Redcastle" in Oamaru was chosen as the most suitable site.[12]


The site of the college was originally developed by the McLean and Buckley families. John McLean was born on the island of Mull, Scotland, in 1818. He (with his brothers) made his fortune in developing and exploiting High Country sheep stations (particularly "Morven Hills" in the Lindis Pass) and by selling them at the right time.[14] McLean purchased the Oamaru land in 1857 as part of much larger block for about 10/- an acre. Much of it was sold off, but he retained the area which is now the school, and he resided there from the 1860s. By 1871 he was running 10,000 sheep on the property. He was the Oamaru member for the Otago Provincial Council[14] and he was also a member of the New Zealand Legislative Council (1867-1872).[15] He died in 1902 and the land passed to his nephew, St. John McLean Buckley.[16] The original homestead was one-storied with a thatched roof. When the old house burned down, Buckley built the red brick residence with Oamaru stone facing, now known as the "Castle" and, since he was very fond of horse-racing, he built large stables (a building now named "The Stables"). St. John Buckley died in 1915 and his son, also named John Buckley, sold the property to a syndicate of local people.[17][18] Redcastle was known for its beauty and its sporting associations (particularly those of St John McLean Buckley - He was, apart from his horse racing interests, president of cycling, coursing, gymnastic and tennis clubs[16]). The homestead (the "castle") was (and is) a significant country house. The property comprising 40 acres (160,000 m2) was purchased by the Christian Brothers at a cost of £8000 in 1925 and a further 10 acres (40,000 m2) were added, at a cost of £1000, in 1928. The present campus thus has an area of 27 hectares.[19] In May 1926, Brother Moore, who had experience in fund-raising, came to Dunedin to organise a bazaar and lottery to fund the purchase of the land and the establishment of the college. His confrere, Brother Dowd, toured the country districts to collect donations. These initiatives resulted in a fund of £7000. In 1926 the construction of the buildings began under the supervision of Brother Prunster.[12]


The College was named after the Irish saint, Kevin (498-618), the founder of the monastery and school of Glendalough. The blessing and opening of the college took place on Sunday, 6 February 1927. There were several Bishops present: Archbishop Redwood and Bishops O'Shea, Whyte, Cleary, Brodie and Liston. There were many priests and more than 2,500 friends and well-wishers present coming from Dunedin and nearby parts of both Otago and Canterbury.[12] Classes commenced on Tuesday, 8 February 1927. There were 60 boarders and 31 day students. The Christian Brothers on the first staff were Brother Magee (the Rector) and Brothers Bowler, Brennan, Le Breton, Dowd, Ryan, Mills and Maye.[20] The Rector of Waitaki Boys' High School, Frank Milner, was present at the opening. When Frank Milner ("a firm friend of St Kevin's") died in 1944, the St Kevin's Boys formed a guard of honour for his remains as they left the church after the funeral service. [21]


St Kevin's College was typical of Christian Brother boarding institutions in Australia and New Zealand. They were designed to provide a Catholic education for rural Catholic families. For the Christian Brothers they were places of particularly hard work. Individual Brothers taught throughout the day, coached sports teams after school, supervised meals and study, and were responsible for the dormitories at night. The Brothers generally had to be young men with energy.[22]


  • 1927-1933: Brother B. F. Magee
  • 1933-1936: Brother M. M. O'Connor
  • 1936-1938: Brother J. B. Gettons
  • 1939-1945: Brother M. D. McCarthy BA
  • 1945-1951: Brother P. C. Ryan BA
  • 1951-1952: Brother J. A. Morris
  • 1953-1957: Brother J. I. Carroll BA, MusB
  • 1958-1961: Brother J. B. Duffy BA, BEd (Hons)
  • 1961-1967: Brother P. A. McManus BA, DipEd
  • 1968-1971: Brother J. M. Hessian BSc, MACE
  • 1972-1974: Brother P. A. Boyd
  • 1975-1979: Brother M. B. Scanlan BSc, DipEd
  • 1980-1996: Brother B. J. Lauren BA, TTC, DipEd, DipCat, DipRE
  • 1996-2001: Mr J. G. Boyle BA, DipTch
  • 2002-2010: Mr C. B. Russell BA, DipEd, DipTch
  • 2010-present: Mr P. R. Olsen BSc, DipTch[12][4]

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. ^ "Directory of Schools - as at 6 March 2017". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 10 April 2017. 
  2. ^ "Decile Change 2014 to 2015 for State & State Integrated Schools". Ministry of Education. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  3. ^ "History of St Kevin's College" (Retrieved 30 August 2014)
  4. ^ a b c Graeme Donaldson, pp. 8 and 10.
  5. ^ "St Kevins College (Oamaru) 13/09/2013", Education Review Office, School report (Retrieved 30 August 2014)
  6. ^ "St Kevin's College, Profile (Retrieved 30 August 2014)
  7. ^ "St Kevin's College enrolment" (Retrieved 1 September 2014)
  8. ^ a b "St Kevin' s College Sport" (Retrieved 1 September 2014)
  9. ^ "About St Kevin's College" (Retrieved 1 September 2014)
  10. ^ Rugby results table (Retrieved 1 September 2014)
  11. ^ "St Kevin's College Culture" (Retrieved 1 September 2014)
  12. ^ a b c d e Redcastle Recollections, A Golden Jubilee Volume, p. 2.
  13. ^ O'Neill, p. 78.
  14. ^ a b Robert Pinney, Early Northern Otago Runs, Collins, Auckland, 1981, pp. 141-143.
  15. ^ Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. p. 158. OCLC 154283103. 
  16. ^ a b "Buckley, St. John Mclean", The Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Otago & Southland Provincial Districts (Retrieved 2 September 2014)
  17. ^ O'Neill, pp. 79 and 81.
  18. ^ "St Kevin's College: A Brief History" (Retrieved 1 September 2014)
  19. ^ "About St Kevin's College" (Retrieved 30 August 2014)
  20. ^ O'Neill, p. 84.
  21. ^ O'Neill, pp. 83 and 90.
  22. ^ Robertson, p. 40.
  23. ^ New Zealand Who's Who Aotearoa 2001, p. 198.

Main sources[edit]

  • 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.
  • Robert Pinney, Early Northern Otago Runs, Collins, Auckland, 1981.
  • 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.
  • Graeme Donaldson, To All Parts of the Kingdom: Christian Brothers In New Zealand 1876-2001, Christian Brothers New Zealand Province, Christchurch, 2001.
  • St Kevin's College website (Retrieved 2 September 2014)