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St Mary's College
Location
Guildford Terrace,
Wellington,
New Zealand

Coordinates 41°16′32″S 174°46′33″E / 41.2756°S 174.7758°E / -41.2756; 174.7758Coordinates: 41°16′32″S 174°46′33″E / 41.2756°S 174.7758°E / -41.2756; 174.7758
Information
Type Integrated secondary (year 9-13) single sex, girls
Motto Misericordia et Sapientia (Mercy and Wisdom)
Established 1850; 171 years ago
Ministry of Education Institution no. 286
Principal Catherine Ryan
School roll 628 (July 2016)
Socio-economic decile 9Q

St Mary's College Wellington is situated in the suburb of Thorndon in Wellington, New Zealand. The school is a state-integrated all-girls Catholic secondary school for years 9-13.

History

The school, which is one of the oldest existing schools in New Zealand, was founded in 1850 by Philippe Viard, first Bishop of Wellington and staffed from 1861 by a small group of religious sisters, the "Sisters of Mercy", established by Viard. Part of the land on which the school is situated was donated by Lord Petre, the 11th Baron Petre (1793-1850), who was a director of the New Zealand Company and whose family seat Thorndon Hall in Essex was an important centre of Catholic Recusancy from the time of Queen Elizabeth I. Another part of the site was given by Sir George Grey, Governor of New Zealand out of public funds. In 1861 the school was taken over by the Sisters of Mercy who first arrived in Wellington in that year. To begin with, the school was co-educational (boys and girls) and had a boarding facility attached. Nowadays the boarding facility is gone, and it is a single sex girls' school.

Buildings

While most traces of the original buildings on the site have disappeared, buildings dating from the twentieth century as the latest, including the "Gabriel Block" which is now used as the school hall. The other two main blocks are "Carlow" and "McAuley". McAuley is named after Sister Catherine McAuley, who used her inherited fortune to found the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland.

The school remains in the ownership of the Sisters of Mercy and describes itself as a "Mercy School". The Gabriel Hall and St Joseph's Providence Porch have Category II listings with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

As most other New Zealand Schools do, students in years 11-13 sit NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement) examinations.

Characteristics

  • Number of Teachers: 33
  • International Students: 4
  • Ethnic make up of students: New Zealand European/Pākehā, 45%; Pacific, 22%; Māori, 16%; ; Asian, 14%; Other, 3%

Notable alumnae

  • Patricia Grace – writer
  • Beverley Wakem – public servant, business executive, local-body politician
  • Joy Watson – author
  • Fran Wilde – politician
  • Dame Therese Walsh - Business Woman.

References/Sources

  • Lillian G. Keys, Philip Viard, Bishop of Wellington, Pegasus Press, Christchurch, 1968.
  • Ernest Richard Simmons, Brief history of the Catholic Church in New Zealand, Catholic Publications Centre, Auckland, 1978.
  • Michael King, God's farthest outpost : a history of Catholics in New Zealand, Viking, Auckland 1997.
  • Mary de Porres Flannigan R.S.M., Mercy comes to Wellington : a history of St. Mary’s College, St. Mary’s College Board of Trustees, Wellington, 2000.
  • Michael O'Meeghan S.M., Steadfast in hope : the story of the Catholic Archdiocese of Wellington 1850-2000, Dunmore press, Palmerston North, 2003.
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