Opened in 1914, Iona College is a NZ boarding school and the oldest Presbyterian School in New Zealand.
It was established as a girls’ boarding school built on land donated by Mr Hugh Campbell.
In its infancy, Iona developed very quickly and prospered under the leadership of Miss Isabel Fraser, the founding headmistress, who offered her services free for the first five years.
Iona has survived wartime, the force of a 7.9 earthquake, the deprivation of the depression years to thrive today as an integrated boarding and day school for girls with a full roll of 300 students.
Iona College was the dream of three visionary yet practical people:
Mr Hugh Campbell of Breadalbane, Havelock North, who offered the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand eight acres of land, initially for the establishment of a Deaconess College.
Reverend Alexander Whyte, Minister of St Columba’s Church, Havelock North, 1898-1910, who saw the need for a Presbyterian Girls’ School and petitioned the Presbyterian Church to establish one.
Miss Isabel Fraser, Principal of Wanganui Girls’ College, 1893 — 1910, whose dreams were for a Christian education for young women and who, in 1909, offered her services to the Presbyterian Church should a girls’ boarding school be established. Incidentally, it was Miss Fraser who introduced the kiwifruit to New Zealand.
These visions coalesced when the 1911 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church set up a committee to ‘investigate the support for the establishment of a girls’ boarding school’. During the next year a further four acres of land were donated by Mr Mason Chambers; Miss Fraser travelled to Britain where she visited schools seeking ideas and models, and funds were sought throughout the North Island in order to meet the conditions of Mr Campbell’s gift.
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