House Colours

Houses at Columba College

In 1933 the House System was introduced by the second principal, Miss Grace McIntosh. The vertical grouping of students from Year 0 to Year 13, enables pupils of different ages to mix together. This system is an important part of the Student Support network at Columba whereby younger pupils can value the friendship and support of their seniors.

There are four School Houses:

  • Braemar (Green)
  • Girton (Red)
  • Iona (Blue)
  • Solway (Yellow)

All students are allocated a House when they enter the College. Students are put in the House with which their family has an association, if they have a prior connection.

House badges are available through the School Office and are charged to accounts.

Inter-House activities and competitions are hotly contested, in the spirit of fun and belonging for everyone. Each House has a Prefect, House colours, chants, badges and meetings. Students build a strong and life-time connection to their House.

House points are gained through many activities, including:

  • Academic
  • Athletics
  • Cross Country
  • Debating
  • Participation
  • Swimming


This was named after Braemar House, 10 Moray Place, Dunedin, a small private school founded in 1887 by Miss Jessie Dick. It was bought in 1895 by the three Miller sisters who ran it successfully until 1914 when the Presbyterian Church bought the school and its pupils became part of the newly-established Columba College. The badge of this school was a thistle and the motto was “Je sème à tout vent” (I sow to every wind). Both of these can be seen in the entry to Columba’s Braemar Science block. The Miller Lecture Theatre has now converted to a classroom (digital technology)


Girton was also a private school founded in 1886 by Miss Caroline Freeman. It was situated in Tennyson Street, near Otago Girls’ High School. Its badge was a lamp and the motto was: “Alere Flammam” (nourish the flame). Miss Frances Ross was First Assistant at Girton, becoming its Principal in 1911 when Miss Freeman moved to Christchurch. Girton College formally closed in December 1914 as Miss Ross was to be the first Principal of the new Columba College on Highgate. The College has many mementoes of this early Girton College and the Girton teaching block contains the Caroline Freeman Theatre and the Frances Ross Common Room.


Iona is an island off the coast of Scotland. It was here that Columba, a monk self-exiled from Ireland, established a Christian community with twelve other monks in the sixth century AD. From this base, he made many, often dangerous, journeys to the Scottish mainland to preach to warring tribes. Columba, whose name in Latin means “a dove”, is credited with bringing Christianity to many parts of Scotland. The College’s badge contains a dove emblem and the College itself, established by the Presbyterian Church, bears the saint’s name. June 9th is kept at the College as St. Columba’s Day.


Solway also relates to Scotland. Over 150 years before Saint Columba, another monk, Saint Ninian first preached the Christian message in Scotland. He was born in south-west Scotland near the Firth of Solway - a stretch of water between Scotland and England. After completing his religious training in Rome he built the first stone church at Whithorn near his birthplace about 397 AD. He made many missionary journeys to convert the people of this area and beyond.

He also established a training centre for monks and the teacher of Saint Columba is said to have studied at Ninian’s centre.

Saint Ninian died about 432 AD and is credited with having first introduced Christianity to a large part of Scotland before Saint Columba continued the work more than a century later.

So two Houses are named after early private schools in Dunedin that gave Columba College its first pupils. The other two Houses are steeped in Scottish church history. This creates a pleasing balance for a Presbyterian Church school firmly established in Dunedin since 1915.