Christian Brothers 140 Years in New Zealand

Christian Brother’s Schools in New Zealand  By Br Graeme Donaldson CFC

On 24 April 1876, the Christian Brothers of Ireland opened their first school in Rattray St. Dunedin with Irish Brother Fursey Bodkin as Principal. Fifty-one years later in 1927, a boarding school, St Kevin’s College, Redcastle, North Oamaru, began with Irish Brother Felix Magee the first Rector.

In 1928, a day school for boys, St Patrick’s opened in town with Brother Norbet Moore as Principal.

It was to be the North Island that the Brothers moved for their fourth school, St Peter’s College, Grafton, Auckland. The school opened on 6 February 1939 with Australian Brother Pius O’Driscoll as Principal.

A second southern school, St Edmund’s opened in 1949 in South Dunedin with Australian Brother Xavier Webster as Principal.

In 1959, New Zealand became a self-governing Province from Australia.

Another South Island school, St Thomas of Canterbury opened in Sockburn, Christchurch in 1961 with New Zealander Brother Ignatius McClintock as Principal.

A second North Island School, Edmund Rice College in Rotorua was opened following the request of Archbishop Liston for a Catholic School in the area in 1963. Brother Antonine Sullivan from Timaru was the first Principal and it was a Form 1 – 7 school (Year 7 – 13).

In 1964, with the expansion of the new buildings in Rattray Street Dunedin, Christian Brothers High School became St Paul’s High School with Dunedin Brother Malachy Hessian as Principal.

The Primary school became Christian Brother’s Junior School on the original site in Tennyson St, with Br Des Waight from Roxburgh, as Principal.

A second Auckland School, Liston College opened in Henderson, West Auckland with Aucklander, Brother Gary Wellsmore as Principal.

The co-educational mission school for the New Zealand Province, St Joseph’s Nukutere College, was established in Raratonga, in 1976 at the request of Bishop Denis Browne (ex-St Peter’s Auckland). The first Principal was Brother Terry McErlane from Dunedin.

In 1982, a Mass Centre and St John’s School with Form 1 and 2 (Year 7 and 8) boy pupils from St Patrick’s School in town, was established on the lower property of St Kevin’s College, Oamaru. Brother Des Hill was the Principal.

Further Development came in 1983 when St Kevin’s College Oamaru combined with the former Dominican schools, St Patrick’s, Teschemakers and St Thomas’ of Oamaru, to become a co-educational school with Brother Joe Lauren as Rector.

In 1989, further development occurred with the forming of Kavanagh College, Dunedin, named after Bishop John Kavanagh, who did so much for the integration of Catholic Schools in New Zealand.

Kavanagh College was formed by St Paul’s High School combining with Moreau College. Moreau College had become a combined Girl’s High School when St Dominic’s combined with St Philomena’s in 1976 and was named after the first resident priest in Dunedin, Father Moreau.

Form 1 and 2 (Year 7 and 8) pupils from the primary schools became part of Kavanagh College, which was established as a Form 1 to Form 7 school (Year 7 – 13). The junior classes used the site of Moreau College, and the senior pupils were at Rattray Street while new buildings were being constructed.

The former St Edmund’s School building became St Patrick’s Primary School

Catholic Primary Schools became feeder schools to the new Kavanagh College Brother Vincent Jury of Auckland was the first Principal of Kavanagh College.

A reunion of these schools will take place in Dunedin on the weekend of 8 – 10 July 2016.

Registrations to G Morris: Email


 Brother G Donaldson: 20a Grove ST, St Kilda, Dunedin 9012.    Telephone: 03 456 5040

Closing date for registrations is 16 June 2016.

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