A richly illustrated and comprehensive history of St Joseph’s Maori Girls’ College

Over 200 guests and past pupils gathered at St Joseph’s Māori Girls’College in Napier on September 10, to celebrate the launch of “A History of St Joseph’s Māori Girls’ College” by Dr Malcolm Mulholland (Ngāti Kahungunu).  

Covering more than 150 years, the book explores the college’s religious founding, the challenges and prejudices it has overcome, the stellar reputation it has built, and its countless influential alumni. 

The college is highly regarded for its academic excellence. Notable past-pupils include Dame Whina Cooper ONZ, DBE, Dame Kāterina Mataira, DNZM, the present principal Dame Georgina Kingi, DNZM, QSO, Dame Hinewhehi Mohi DNZM, Lady June Mead, and recently appointed Chief Justice Kiri Tahana.  

The St Joseph’s choir and kapa haka is internationally renowned for its distinctive sound, with well-known singers Maisey Rika, Moana Maniapoto, MNZM, Whirimako Black, MNZM, to name but a few “trailblazers” that the college has produced over the years. 

Author Dr Malcolm Mulholland conducted more than 160 interviews with former pupils, staff and their whanau for the book. These recollections are dispersed through the book, highlighting the numerous stories of intergenerational success and areas of influence associated with the college, such as sport, music, health, journalism, the defence force, and Māori language revitalisation. 

“Malcolm has written more than a history here; he has captured the unique spirit of sisterhood and pride in being Māori that is so prevalent at this college. The result is an important keepsake for anyone connected to the college, but also an insight into the role a college of this calibre plays in shaping the history and future of Aotearoa,” said Eboni Waitere, executive director of Huia Publishers.  

Dr Mulholland is a senior researcher at Te Pūtahi-a-Toi, School of Māori Studies, Massey University, and is recognised for his research, commentary and books on Māori issues and history. 

This latest topic of enquiry, St Joseph’s Māori Girls’ College, was founded by the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions (of French origin) in 1867, making it the second oldest Māori boarding school.  

Dr Mulholland’s extensive research examines the influence of the Catholic Church at the time, and the enduring relationship the school has with the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions, and its religious values. The book covers how the college overcame challenges such as the Napier earthquake and underfunding, as well as racial, gender and religious prejudice. 

“A History of St Joseph’s Māori Girls’ College” is a richly illustrated and comprehensive history. It is published by Huia Publishers, and is available for $45 at local bookstores, or online at huia.co.nz. 

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