History and Tradition

marcellin-webOur Founder

St Marcellin Champagnat was born on 20 May 1789 in the hamlet of Le Rosey, near Marlhes in France. Following his ordination as a priest in 1816, he was appointed curate in the village of La Valla. His compassion, conciliatory spirit, cheerfulness, orderly life and agreeable nature inspired the people of La Valla to love him. He showed remarkable teaching skills with the children and had a gift for guiding people in their faith.

Marcellin was part of a group of young priests who wanted to form a new Marist society of priests, sisters and laity. However, he insisted that, in the wake of the French Revolution, there was an urgent need for Marist Brothers to teach the faith to young men. In October 1816, Marcellin visited a local home where 16-year-old Jean-Baptiste Montagne was dying. He was shocked to find the boy completely ignorant about God and the Catholic faith, which led him to act on his plan to launch a society of Marist teaching Brothers.

The beginning of Marist schools

Marcellin enlisted Jean-Marie Granjon and Jean-Baptiste Audras to help him create the first Marist Brothers school. They borrowed money to buy a house in La Valla and his teaching community was established on 2 January 1817. That day is now honoured as the foundation date of the Little Brothers of Mary. Marcellin devoted the rest of his life to training young men as Marist Brothers, capable of going forth as teachers and religious educators. By the time he died in 1840, the teaching order had 48 establishments in France and 278 Brothers. The Marist Brothers’ Institute was formally approved in 1863 by Pope Pius IX. Marcellin Champagnat was canonised by Pope John Paul II on 18 April 1999.

A worldwide teaching tradition

The Marist Brothers – currently 3,100 in number – work in 78 countries around the world. Each Brother is devoted to providing Catholic Marist and Champagnat education for the young. At Sacred Heart we are very privileged to have Marist Brothers still involved with the College. As a school, we celebrate the feast day of St Marcellin Champagnat on 6 June – the anniversary of our founder’s death.

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Our History

Originally located at Richmond Road in Ponsonby, Auckland; Sacred Heart College was officially opened on Sunday 21 June 1903 as a day and boarding school. As the first school owned by the Marist Brothers in New Zealand, the College grew quickly and boarding facilities soon became stretched. Consequently, land was acquired in Glendowie in Auckland's Eastern Suburbs, to build a new school. The resited Sacred Heart College was opened on 5 June 1955 with a roll of 250 students.

Today Sacred Heart College is recognised as one of New Zealand’s leading Catholic boys’ schools with a roll of 1,260. Students of the College have contributed to a rich tradition of success and achievement. Old Boys continue to attain many distinctions in Church life, academia, the arts, sport and business. Representatives on our Arts Honours Board include musicians Tim and Neil Finn, Dave Dobbyn and Mike Chunn. We are equally proud of our national icons in the sporting field – the College can claim 24 All Blacks, including former All Black captain Sean Fitzpatrick.

Students at Sacred Heart College enjoy an outstanding campus which encompasses 22 hectares (55 acres) of rolling grounds. College buildings and the Hostel are set along an elevation so that many rooms have wonderful sea views. As well as standard classrooms, there are specialist rooms for Art, Science, Hospitality, Music, Performing Arts Theatre, Carpentry and Information and Communications Technology.

Extensive fields are used year-round for sports, along with the gymnasium, indoor aquatic centre, outdoor swimming pool and tennis courts. The boarding Hostel is home for up to 170 boarders. A 1,500-seat Auditorium allows the full school to come together weekly for assemblies and many other celebrations.

The Chapel is the centre for prayer and liturgies within the College. The Blessed Sacrament Chapel is to one side providing a tranquil space where students, staff, Brothers and visitors can pray.

The College is known for its strong Catholic, Marist Special Character. The spirit and values of St Marcellin Champagnat live on through the Marist Brothers, who still have a presence at the College, in the school, Hostel, and retirement. A genuine bond exists between past and present students, their families, the Marist Brothers, and present and past staff.new crest

The School Crest

The College Motto translates as
It comes from the Old Testament where, in the first book of Kings (2:2, 2), is the passage:
“The Days of David drew nigh that he should die, and he charged his son Solomon, saying ‘I’m going the way of all flesh. Take courage, and show yourself a man’.”

Both the crest and the motto were adopted by the Brothers in the early years of Sacred Heart College. The College colours are Cambridge and Oxford blue, the liturgical colours for the Virgin Mary, and red, the colour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ.

The silver fern represents the loyalty of the members of the College community as members of this land of Aotearoa.

The open Bible is a reminder of the Christian basis of the College. Our values are those of Jesus
Christ as expressed in scriptures, our worship and lived within the Catholic tradition.

In the centre of the crest is the cross. This symbolises Jesus Christ Himself, who is the centre of all Christian life and the heart of all that is done here.

The stylised 'M' of the Marist Brothers, with a crown of 12 stars, symbolises the appearance of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes in France and her importance in the life of St Marcellin and the Brothers, who were founded at La Valla near Lyons in the South of France.

The heart represents the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The crown of thorns and the cross symbolise Christ’s sufferings for all.

The College Song

The blue of our heavens,
The blue of our seas,
Comrades, O comrades,
Our colours are these;
Brightly and bravely
They float on the breeze
Brightly and bravely
They float on the breeze


Comrades, comrades, keep the colours flying,
United we stand for God and our land,
For truth and our College with courage undying,
We’ll fight heart and hand,
We’ll fight heart and hand.

The land of the rata,
The realm of the pine,
Comrades, O comrades,
Your country and mine.
Proudly and nobly
Her future shall shine,
Proudly and nobly
Her future shall shine.