We are extremely proud of our academic record. Ministry of Education data shows that Villa Maria College students consistently perform well above the national averages for all New Zealand schools, including other girls’ schools.
We are a Catholic College; the foundation for everything we do is our Catholic faith, which we express through our Mercy charism.
Villa Maria College aims to offer spiritual formation and pastoral care in the tradition of Catherine McAuley, and the Sisters of Mercy who founded the College in 1918.
Mission Statement: Empowering each young woman to determine her potential, live Gospel values, confidently embrace life-long learning and as a Mercy woman be inspired to make a difference.
Motto: That you may learn to Prize what is of Value – Ut Probetis Potiora
Ut Probetis Potiora, Learn to Prize what is of Value, comes from the Latin version of the scriptures. It was chosen by Sister Pauline O’Regan in the 1960’s (then Sister Jerome, Principal of Villa Maria College). The scripture text is from St Paul’s Letter to the Philippians: (1:3-6, 9-10a,11. New Revised Standard Version)
Mercy Attributes: At the heart of our College are the attributes of Mercy:
Manaakitanga – Hospitality
Whakaute – Respect
Tika – Justice
The Sisters of Mercy purchased the property on which the College is now situated in 1917. The school was opened on 18 February 1918 with 14 pupils enrolled.
Villa Maria began serving the district as a parish school when boys were admitted in 1921. When another Catholic school (St Teresa’s) opened later nearby, boys were transferred from Villa and from 1941 the school reverted to being a college for girls.
Having lost her father as a small child, Catherine became orphaned at 18 with the death of her mother. By this time the family had little money so Catherine and her two siblings moved to live with relatives. Unfortunately her relatives also struggled financially, and so Catherine went to live with wealthy friends of her relatives, the Callahans. Catherine spent her time learning about her religion, praying, and serving the needy.
When Mr Callahan died, he left his entire fortune to Catherine.
It was now 1827 and Catherine did not like what she saw happening to the poor in Dublin. There were so many women with no place to live and so many children who were not receiving proper education. Catherine took the money she had inherited and used it to build a house – an extraordinary house.
Catherine built the house right in the middle of a wealthy neighbourhood. She chose this place intentionally; she wanted the poor to be noticed by the rich, so that once the young women had been trained in sewing, cooking and cleaning they might be given jobs by the rich families in the area. In addition to her classes during the day, Catherine also made the house available to many homeless girls in need of safe lodging.
This house still stands and many people from all over the world go to visit the house built by such a remarkable woman. Catherine McAuley was an idealist in her concept of the power of women for the betterment of society. She was a woman of prayer, penance and humility, with an unbounded confidence in God.
Today, about 20,000 Sisters of Mercy carry on an extensive medical and social apostolate in the tradition of Catherine McAuley whose creed of service was that “the poor need help today, not next week”.
The school continued to grow due to housing developments in the area and additional building was undertaken to keep pace with the growth. This included accommodation for boarders which was maintained until a decision by the Sisters saw the boarding school phased out from 1979 and Villa Maria reverting to a day school.
In 1981 the College was integrated into the New Zealand state school system. In 1992 the last Sister of Mercy Principal resigned and the first lay Principal was appointed.
In 1995 the Sisters gifted the Villa Maria convent buildings to the College for use as classrooms.
In 2018, the whole Villa community – including past and present students, staff and families – acknowledged Villa Maria College’s 100th birthday with a weekend of events and celebrations.