Ask any King’s College student or Old Collegian about their ties to the college and they’ll often start by talking about their House and what it means to them. Houses at King’s are the backdrop to major school events, daily gatherings and lifelong friendships.
Houses are also an integral part of King’s hands‑on approach to pastoral care, designed to help students develop a sense of belonging and to forge their identity within the school community.
In 2020 there are 12 school Houses and three of these are dedicated girls’ Houses: Middlemore House for boarders with Housemaster Bridget White, and Taylor and Marion Bruce Houses for day girls, with Housemasters Robyn Wright and Gina Adams respectively. The Houses are a ‘home away from home’ for more than 200 girls.
A look at the history of these Houses, and what came before them, shows how things have changed since the first cohort of girls began in 1980.
When girls first arrived at King’s they were each assigned to one of the boys’ Houses but they weren’t part of the daily gatherings inside the Houses. Instead, they were given a girls-only common room in the Quad, surrounded by the sea of boys that vastly outnumbered them.
It would be four years before the girls got their own place to belong to, with the arrival of Middlemore Lodge in 1984. The purpose-built House provided a real base for the girls for the first time and, as former housemaster Alison Bird reflected in 1995, it was a sign the experiment had been deemed a success and that “girls were here to stay”.
When the Middlemore House motto was chosen it showed a growing confidence in the girls’ place within the school: Nulli secundus, which means “second to none”.
In the first year of Middlemore Lodge it was home to 35 girls, evenly split across day girls and boarders. By 1994, extensions were being built to accommodate growing student numbers.
Middlemore’s Head of House in 1996, Valerie Boyer (Middlemore, 1995–96), said: “Now, with approximately 100 girls, I feel that we are an integral part of King’s College.”
In 2005, with the number of girls continuing to grow, Middlemore House became boarders only and a new House was introduced for day girls. The split allowed for more tailored pastoral care for day girls and boarders but it was also further acknowledgement of the growing importance of girls within the school community. Taylor House chose the motto Potens pollensque, “Capable and strong”.
When the number of day girls in Taylor House peaked at 150, plans were made for a second day girl House. Marion Bruce House opened its doors at the start of 2020 and now each of the Houses is home to around 70 girls from Years 11, 12 and 13. The motto for Marion Bruce House is Fortitudo et curiositas, meaning “Courage and curiosity”.
Each of the girls’ Houses has its own unique history and identity but they share a common purpose: for the girls at King’s College these Houses are a place to belong to and a foundation for enduring friendships.
This story is from Trailblazers a special publication created by the College to celebrate 40 years of girls at King’s. You can read more about the young women who blazed a trail for King’s students today at kingscollege.school.nz/girls