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Meet the Principal: Nelson College

Richard Dykes – Head Master


“My tenure as Headmaster at Nelson College began very recently, in June 2020. My educational philosophy is simple…to make amazing young people even more amazing. At Nelson College, I have seen already that we have impressive young men. They’re confident, articulate and resilient. My job is to provide our students with amazing opportunities, support and challenge – by employing and supporting dedicated teachers. Nelson College is a place where we build a legacy and a future through academic, sporting, artistic, student leadership and service”.




Nelson College Boarding is well known for its welcoming family environment.

This was highlighted when the COVID Lockdown occurred.

Most of our internationally based students chose to stay, along with staff, and form a safe bubble of 80.

This included Year 13 kiwi student Mac Harris, whose parents live in Japan.

When the lockdown happened, Mac thought about going home, but decided it was safer to stay at school. “I wanted to stay here in case things got worse and I couldn’t come back,” Mac says.

“Being in lockdown with all the international students also meant I got to know everyone really well. They’re pretty awesome.”

Nelson College has long been a progressive and innovative boys’ school.

Our learning environment focuses on ‘inspiring young men to take their place in the world by fostering the values of manaakitanga through quality education’.

We take great pride in nurturing each boy’s individual interests and potential across all areas of academia, sport, arts, culture, and leadership.

“Our boarders sit at the heart of the school and we’re incredibly proud of them,” Director of Boarding Samme Hippolite says.

“We know how formative these years are, and we want the boys to have every opportunity to develop their interests. We also want them to have fun, make lifelong friendships and create unforgettable memories within the context of a clear and safe structure.”

Set alongside the main college campus, the college’s two boarding houses – Rutherford and Barnicoat – are large heritage buildings that have recently had major refurbishments.

“Our experienced staff are committed to creating a strong and caring community within the boarding fraternity,” Samme says.

“We ensure that our boys are supported throughout their educational endeavours, and we also make sure that they get to experience everything our beautiful Nelson region offers.


Meet the Principal 2019: Gary O’Shea of Nelson College


For more than 160 years, Nelson College has continued to provide high quality education for all boys. The college encourages its students to enjoy diverse opportunities, pursue passions and become resilient in their quest for excellence. Each boy is valued and supported through a positive school culture that is based on respectful relationships. At its core, a quest for excellence requires a pervasive, strong and positive school culture. This culture needs to be driven by dedicated staff and I am fortunate to have a staff of the highest calibre. At Nelson College, each boy is valued, respected and encouraged along his journey through adolescence.



Nelson College is New Zealand’s oldest state secondary school. Its proud traditions sit as a backdrop to cultural diversity, innovative teaching practice and widespread opportunities for boys. Its reputation as a high achieving school continues to be affirmed as the school inspires its young men to take their place in the world through the values of manaakitanga. Every boy is encouraged to develop a strong work ethic, alongside valuing themselves and others through respect, inclusiveness, generosity and service. Nelson College welcomes the involvement of whānau and recognises the value of the wider community’s support in helping to create a shared culture of excellence in every aspect of college life.

Nelson College provides a quality education for boys. Academic results are consistently above national average rates of achievement for boys. This is due to their use of teaching approaches and courses that cater for boys and their style of learning, as well as the school promoting a culture of self-review and improvement. Alongside a strong academic focus, Nelson College offers courses in arts, drama, music, technology and community; providing a well-rounded learning environment. Nelson College’s well-established Sports Academies provide programmes for both individual and team activities, which continue to meet success at a national level.

At the heart of the school are the two newly renovated boarding houses – Rutherford and Barnicoat – where boys from around New Zealand and the world live in a community in which they are supported throughout their education. In addition, Nelson College is located in one of New Zealand’s most thriving regional centres, with access to everything the region has to offer.