WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Celebrating 165 years in Thorndon


St Mary’s College

Catherine Ryan

A school by day and a convent by night, St Mary’s College Wellington was opened and blessed by Bishop Viard on 8 September 1850.

The new school was staffed by three young teachers: Catherine McCann, Mary Ann McGarvey, and Elizabeth Walsh who was also known as Sr Teresa Walsh.

These young women established a school that was open to all denominations, a boarding school that catered for girls from all over New Zealand, and an orphanage that was primarily for Māori children.

In 1861, the Sisters of Mercy from Auckland took over the school. St Mary’s Convent School was registered as a college in 1926 and placed on the first list of schools empowered to accredit entrants to the University of New Zealand.

On 2 March 1983, the college integrated into the state-education system. In 1999 the Teresa Walsh Technology block, built on the original site of the first school, was blessed and opened by (then) Bishop John Dew.

Today, the school has a roll of 620 students with a wide multi-cultural background. St Mary’s College is a Sisters of Mercy school, following the teachings of Jesus Christ through the lens and charism of Mercy as Catherine McAuley introduced to her community in Ireland in 1831.

Catherine Ryan is principal of St Mary’s College, Wellington.