Christine Leighton and StAC students walking and talking outside Centennial Chapel

Meet our Rector

Tūtaki ki te Tumuaki

Christine Leighton has been Rector (Principal) of St Andrew’s College since 2007, becoming the first woman in this position since the College was founded in 1917. Having spent 41 years in education, Christine has taught in a variety of New Zealand schools including state, single sex, coeducational, independent, plus a year in an American International School.

Christine’s teaching career began as a teacher of English, with an interest in drama and music, debating, netball, rowing and outdoor education.

Her leadership roles have included Assistant Head of English at Nayland College, Head of English at Tauranga Boys’ College, Assistant Principal at Nelson College for Girls, and nine years as Principal at St Hilda’s Collegiate School in Dunedin. In 2007 she took on the role as Rector at St Andrew’s. Christine is married to Gavin, a Chemistry teacher, and they have two sons. 

In her present role, Christine is also a member of the St Andrew’s College Board of Governors. After serving on the Association of the Heads of Independent Schools since 2014 she was appointed as an Independent Schools of New Zealand (ISNZ) Board member and elected as Deputy Chair in 2020.

Christine is a passionate educator who is also committed to ongoing Professional Learning. In 2001 she completed the ISL Strategic Leadership Programme, which has many top performing businesspeople from New Zealand among its alumni. Recently Christine has been included as one of their distinguished alumni.  In 2014 Christine was accepted into a Harvard University Business Programme.

During her long career, Christine has developed professional relationships with many schools across New Zealand and around the world and enjoys professional friendships with Heads of a number of schools in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Scotland. She is a member of several professional associations and has been a regular presenter at community groups in recent years.

“I have chosen to spend my entire working life dedicated to educating children and teenagers. It is indeed a privileged position. Being surrounded by teenagers and the world they inhabit I have watched them thrive, excel, show courage, resilience and compassion, only to then be insensitive, frustrating, impulsive or display poor judgement. Character formation is a lifelong process, and the 13 years young people spend at school helps them to develop character traits which will see them flourish along life’s unpredictable path.

In this VUCA world, rapid and unpredictable change has become the norm and schools must prepare students for this with a focus on creativity, collaboration, teamwork, problem solving and agility. Our vision of “Together, growing better people for life”, requires us to bring our shared values to life on a daily basis, in the way we treat each other and make decisions for the greater good. A strong sense of community will see us through future challenges, as we have experienced in the earthquakes, the tragedy of the mosque shooting and the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a future of hope as long as we remember our whakataukī:

He waka eke noa
We are in this waka together.