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History, Tradition and Values

Ngā Kōrero Tuku Iho me Ngā Uara

Our Vision: To be at the leading edge of high performance educational practice, in a community which values caring for others, tradition, and creativity, in order to provide young people with the roots and wings to flourish in an ever-changing world.

Our Heritage


St Andrew’s College is proud of its heritage, values and the strong sense of community it has developed in over a century since it was founded in the Scottish Presbyterian traditions of the Christian faith.

We take great pride in our long history, firstly as a prestigious independent boys’ school, then since the early 1990s, as the only independent co-educational school in the South Island offering a world class education from Pre-school through to Year 13. During the 1980s girls entered St Andrew’s in the Preparatory School, and in 1991, a decision was made by visionary Rector Dr John Rentoul and the Board of Governors to allow girls to enrol in the Secondary School. Today it is both the ‘sons’ and ‘daughters’ of St Andrew’s who bring life and a special spirit to the College campus.

The College’s founder was Reverend Alexander Thompson, an exceptional orator, scholar, fundraiser and visionary, who served the British and Foreign Bible Society in New Zealand and Australia for 20 years and was instrumental in setting up the Flying Doctor Service. 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. In late 1917, the fledgling St Andrew’s College Board purchased ‘Strowan’ the magnificent property, which is still home to the College today. Its centrepiece, the gracious and fully restored Strowan House has overseen all the comings and goings at St Andrew’s over its long history and is a well loved and highly recognisable landmark on the College campus. 


Our Traditions

Scottish Presbyterian traditions remain at the heart of St Andrew’s, with the skirl of the pipes, twirl of the Highland dancers, the Ferguson tartan, St Andrew’s cross and Scottish thistle intrinsically woven into the fabric of College life. We celebrate our early visionaries at the annual Founders’ Day celebrations when we hold our own version of the Highland Games.

Our Founding Values

We secure our future by inspiring trust and confidence through living out our values and demonstrating our commitment to continuous improvement.

  • Truth / Pono – Integrity in everything we say and do.
  • Excellence / Kairangi – Reaching beyond what people expect of us.
  • Faith / Whakapono – In self, others, and our future.
  • Creativity / Auahatanga – Daring to imagine; turning ideas into reality.
  • Inclusivity / Kanorau – Valuing diversity; embracing different perspectives.


St Andrew’s College also has seven Developing Positive Relationships (DPR) values of Faith, Hope, Compassion, Respect, Honesty, Generosity and Responsibility, which express the way we want people to think and act in our College community.

Celebrating 100 Years of Fine Education

During 2017, St Andrew’s celebrated its Centenary with a wonderful year of celebrations and events which captured the special spirit and culture of the College. Click here to view all the highlights. You can take home your own piece of history by purchasing 'The Spirit of St Andrew’s', a beautiful coffee table book written for our Centenary year.

Our Earthquake Story

The earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 changed the face of Canterbury and its people forever. St Andrew's College did not escape the trauma of this experience, but alongside the distress and the pain, we also grew stronger.
To read more, click here.