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New horizons for ‘Mrs Mac’


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Ask Director of Boarding, Dianne MacDonald what is most special about her almost 30 year career at St Andrew’s College, and she quotes a line from an old Māori proverb – ‘He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata’, which translates to ‘the people, the people, the people’.

“I’ve loved it here with the St Andrew’s students and their families, along with the committed and dedicated boarding and day staff, management, and support staff. It has been wonderful to care for so many students during their teenage years – to be available for them, share their successes, support them during their lows, and help them to develop maturity and independence. I have also taken great interest in following their journeys beyond school.”

The College campus will certainly be a less colourful place when Dianne (lovingly referred to by the students as ‘Mrs Mac’) finishes at St Andrew’s at the end of the year, after 21 years as Director of Boarding. Her one-of-a-kind bright outfits, trademark blonde hair, and irrepressible smile will be missed by boarding and day students alike, along with many others in the St Andrew’s family who have benefited from her caring nature.

Rector Christine Leighton says Dianne has brought flair, warmth and genuine concern for the students to her role. “Dianne has real passion for the boarding family, with her dedication never more obvious than during the disruptive years following the earthquakes. She is a person of enormous heart, attention to detail and thoughtful ways, who has brought style to lots of occasions at St Andrew’s and helped many people with her acts of kindness. Dianne has created a boarding culture which is inclusive and nurturing of every student. We are very grateful for her long years of service to St Andrew’s College.”

Dianne’s association with the College began in 1989, when her late husband John MacDonald was appointed Headmaster of the Preparatory School. Their two sons, Nathan (OC 1993) and Mitchell (OC 1995) attended the College as day students, and John and Dianne loved being StAC parents. During this time, she was the ESOL teacher in the Preparatory School, a role she ‘absolutely loved’ after the time she had spent working in refugee camps in Singapore. “A highlight of my early career at the College was the introduction of girls in the Preparatory School, which was instigated by the Rector, Dr John Rentoul and supported by John and myself.”

After John passed away in 1995, Dianne continued to work as an ESOL teacher, then in 1998, Rector Barry Maister asked her to become Director of Boarding.

As well as creating the warm family culture in the boarding houses and introducing lots of fun activities, Dianne has been involved in many other aspects of College life. She has been a passionate follower of StAC sports teams, and was a one-time manager of the First XV. “I’ve also loved the Secondary School tutor groups I’ve had, the Chapel services, and the various cultural activities.”

She says the most challenging time was post earthquake when the boarders were spread among seven motels on Papanui Road, while a highlight was the opening of the new boarding houses in 2013.

Dianne has lots of plans, which include spending more time with family and friends, travel, days spent near the ocean, cooking, and taking up new work opportunities. “I’m definitely not retiring as I have lots of things I still want to do while I have the energy and health. Many people will know me for my famous saying ‘every day is a gift’, and this has certainly been true of my 29 wonderful years at St Andrew’s College.”


Ask Director of Boarding, Dianne MacDonald what is most special about her almost 30 year career at St Andrew’s College, and she quotes a line from an old Māori proverb – ‘He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata’, which translates to ‘the people, the people, the people’.