Life at StAC

Te Ao o te Ākonga

First and foremost, St Andrew’s College is a place of learning, with a focus on developing our students’ growth mindset and a love of learning. Taking part in our broad co-curricular programmes, whole-school celebrations, and service activities also helps our students to learn many valuable skills and attributes, which complement their academic learning.

Secondary and Preparatory students parading through the school.

"I love the community spirit - it is difficult to express it to those who have not experienced it; however, it is conveyed in the confidence of the students, their support and appreciation of the College, and of each other."

Current Parent

A spirit of celebration

Life at St Andrew’s is about celebrating success in all its forms. Whether students achieve top honours in a national sporting competition, lift their academic performance to a new high, or contribute to a worthy cause, their extraordinary effort and determination will be recognised.

Nowhere is that spirit more evident than at our regular assemblies and annual Prizegiving. Academic, sporting and cultural effort is acknowledged openly and warmly, and our top achievers become role models and mentors for their peers.

St Andrew's College student shaking the Rector's hand as he accepts an award at a Preparatory School assembly.

Learning at StAC

We are committed to providing a first-class learning environment which values innovation and creativity alongside tradition and knowledge. Our teachers are passionate and skilled professionals who create innovative and inspirational learning experiences for our students, fostering curiosity, excellence, and lifelong learning.

Students working on VEX robot in a group

Well-being and Pastoral Care

On joining the St Andrew’s College community, students gain the support and friendship of an entire network of people who take an active interest in their welfare. This large, caring team includes teachers, tutors, Deans, boarding staff if applicable, a guidance and counselling team, College management, Peer Support, and student leaders.

Teachers with students talking outside of Centennial Chapel

Sport at StAC

St Andrew’s is well regarded in sporting pursuits, producing both individual and team champions at South Island and national level. The College’s Athlete Sports Performance programme encourages the growth and success of our highest performing athletes. A 'Balance is Better' approach recognises the efforts of student participation at all levels, creating an environment where they can thrive and find success.

1st XI Girls hockey team celebrating their success in a team huddle on the hockey field.

Cultural Activities

The Arts figure highly on our list of priorities for many students. The diverse cultural opportunities on offer at St Andrew’s include numerous music groups, ballet and dance, kapa haka, drama, chess, robotics, filmmaking, Pipe Band, theatre productions, speech and drama, and Māori and Pasifika group.

Students dancing in production performance.

Beyond the Classroom

Stepping outside of the classroom is a wonderful opportunity to discover new interests, create strong friendships and develop leadership qualities. Annual camps for Year 7–10 students at our Alistair Sidey Mountain Lodge in Castle Hill see them enjoy independent adventures away from home, though to overnight expeditions and snow caving.

Students hiking at Castle Hill.

Student Leadership and Community Service

We pride ourselves on instilling skills and values, which will help our students become the business and community leaders of tomorrow. We provide many opportunities for our students to develop and demonstrate leadership qualities as they move through the school. Community service is also an intrinsic part of student life, with chapel services, theme days and special student efforts providing support for local and international charities.

2024 prefects with the rector.

Our House system

The House system at St Andrew’s is an integral part of school life, reflecting the College’s core values. We have four Houses, which are named after the College’s founding figures and main benefactors: Erwin, MacGibbon, Rutherford and Thompson.

The House system helps students to develop a sense of identity and pride in their House, as they engage in friendly, positive competition against the other three Houses. Houses compete against each other in a range of sports and activities throughout the year, including touch, swimming, haka, athletic sports, cross country, Highland Games, chess, debating, volleyball, basketball and singing, to name a few. Points are awarded at each competition with the Houses competing fiercely for the coveted House Cup, which is awarded at our annual Prizegiving.

  • History of the House System

    The St Andrew’s College House system started in 1925 with the creation of four Houses – two for boarders – Strowan and Rutherford, and two for dayboys, Erwin and Thompson. These were named after the College property (Strowan), the benefactor who enabled the College to purchase it (Mr Duncan Rutherford), the Board’s first Chairman (the Reverend Dr Robert Erwin) and the College founder (the Rev. A T Thompson).

    There is sometimes a bit of confusion because there are two types of Houses at StAC: boarding houses and competition Houses, and these two types of Houses have often carried the same names.

    In 1982, Rector Dr John Rentoul rearranged the House system, allocating all students a competition house regardless of whether they were boarders or not. All teaching staff were also allocated a competition house. From 1983 onwards, Houses have been scored for their successes in a wide range of activities beyond just the Athletics Day and Swimming Sports events.

    Each House has a Staff Leader with Student Leaders at both the Middle and Senior School levels. The Houses are distinguished by different colours – Thompson (Green), Erwin (Red), Rutherford (Blue) and MacGibbon (Yellow).

    The House system builds a closer rapport between students and teachers and helps new staff and students to adapt to the culture of St Andrew’s.

  • Erwin House

    Erwin House was named after The Very Reverend Dr Robert Erwin, who was the first Chairman of the St Andrew's College Board. He was regarded as a man of flawless integrity, visionary ideas, great knowledge, and biblical commitment.

    Erwin was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and emigrated to New Zealand in 1882, where he was licensed to the Auckland Presbytery. After a brief time at Papatoetoe, he accepted a call to the North Belt Church in Christchurch, now known as Knox Church.

    As Board Chairman, Erwin guided the College from its inception in 1917 until 1931, and he was also College Chaplain for much of this time, leaving a lasting mark on the school. While students may have found his Scripture lessons a bit dry, there is no denying that Robert Erwin's seasoned wisdom and resolute leadership made the College grow and prosper.

  • MacGibbon House

    MacGibbon House is not only a competition House, but also a boarding house for boys from Years 9–11. Its name honours William S. MacGibbon, a Scottish-born accountant who was an early advocate of St Andrew's College, as well as the first treasurer of the College's first Board of Governors, and on his death in May 1962, a major benefactor of the College.

    MacGibbon left a substantial amount of money to the College; his generous bequest allowed a number of upgrades and new builds, including the construction of a mountain lodge in Castle Hill and the start of our Outdoor Education programme. The mountain lodge was officially opened on 1 May 1965 after 19 months of hard work by the entire College community, and then rebuilt in 2008 into the award-winning Alistair Sidey Mountain Lodge, the state-of-the-art centre for outdoor programmes which are enjoyed by hundreds of St Andrew’s College students every year.

    There are very few schools with such exceptional facilities and outstanding Outdoor Education programmes, and the College is very grateful to William MacGibbon for the legacy he helped to create with his generous bequest.

  • Rutherford House

    In addition to being a competition House, Rutherford House is also a boarding house for boys from Years 11–13. It was named after one of our first major bequestors, Duncan Rutherford, who enabled the College to purchase Strowan House and grounds.

    Rutherford was born in South Australia and came to New Zealand when he was seven. He was a successful, generous runholder in North Canterbury and a founder of Hanmer township and its hospital. Rutherford left a generous gift to the College in his will around the same time the Stead family put their property ‘Strowan Park’ on the market, and his bequest enabled St Andrew’s College to find its home in 1917.

    Duncan Rutherford is remembered in a variety of ways throughout the College, and one of these is the 1917 Society – a special group through which we recognise all those who have chosen to make a gift to the College through their Will. His legacy continues to live on not only through our school, but also through the people who share his generosity of spirit.

  • Thompson House

    Thompson is not only a competition House, but also our only boarding house for girls from Years 9–13, its name honours the founder of St Andrew's College, Reverend Alexander Thomas Thompson.

    Thompson was minister of three parishes, an exceptional orator, scholar, fundraiser and visionary. He served in the British and Foreign Bible Society in New Zealand and Australia for 20 years, and was part of the Flying Doctor Service’s early years. However, he was most proud of founding St Andrew's College; he devoted decades of his life to the College and was the driving force behind the Memorial Chapel.

    His driving ambition was to ‘educate the sons of the Presbyterian and Scottish community of Canterbury’, and due to his determination, St Andrew’s College opened its doors in Christchurch in 1917, with 19 boys and four teachers. We are thankful to Reverend Alexander Thompson and his efforts which enabled our College to exist and thrive.

The four house crests at St Andrew's College