Alumni news

Keeping in Touch

It is very important that we keep in touch with as many of our members as possible. There are a number of ways alumni can help us to do this.

  1. Email –
  2. Our Facebook group.
  3. Postal address is 90 Waimairi Rd, Christchurch 8041

News from the Hall

Message from the Alumni President

What a success the Centenary Year has been!


The weekend of celebrations in November was a pleasure to be part of and a true testament to the vibrant life of Bish, past and present. If you attended the weekend celebrations, on behalf of the committee (Nicky and Sharon included), thank you for your enthusiasm and memories shared. I would also like to specifically thank Board members Janet, Naomi and Tim along with BJ staff Michael, Nigel and Tanyia at the Hall for their significant support of the celebrations. Highlights and photos of the weekend follow.

The operations of the Alumni have now merged with the operations of the Hall; the next newsletter you receive will reflect this.

It’s been a pleasure writing to you, and hearing from you, over the last couple of years. I look forward to seeing what the next few will bring.

Katie Penniall (nee Hocking) 2008 –2010

Alumni comments

Joshua Smith | 2009

Kia ora koutou. Historically in NZ almost all doctors have trained straight out of high school, but now at both Auckland and Otago, over 25% of the class enter as graduates from other fields. In many other countries, this is the only way to enter. In my experience, entering as a graduate makes the academic workload more tolerable (having already “learned to study”). More importantly, the extra few years’ life experience is incredibly valuable in medicine – it is much easier to relate to patients and understand the challenges they’re facing when you’ve had time to go through a few of your own.

I also encouraged students in non-science disciplines to consider their options. Medicine will always be both an art and a science. However, in the past 30 years the explosion of research has caused a shift towards the latter, not always to the benefit of our patients. Now more than ever we need bright, creative minds from all corners of the academic map, to preserve the delicate balance between the proteins and the person, from bench top to bedside, hard-science to hospice. Finally, bigger issues like climate change, once all-too-abstract, are now manifesting as tangible clinical problems (such as migration and changing disease patterns), so we need large-scale thinkers too: graduates with a knack for sustainability, geography, business, law, and politics.

My time at BJH gave me the chance to meet truly wonderful people with bright ideas of their own, many of which differed from mine and challenged me. This was one of the most valuable experiences of my career so far. Because above all else, it is the ability to understand others, negotiate, and collaborate, that will allow us to face these major challenges in an informed, effective, and compassionate way.

Sarah Fitzpatrick | 2009

If you had known me when I arrived at Bish you would not at all be surprised by my current occupation. It sounds very much like something the studious, science-loving 18 year old that I was, would end up doing. However, the story of how I came to be back at UC/AgResearch studying towards a PhD is not quite as self-explanatory as you’d imagine.

I graduated in 2012 with a BSc Hons in biochemistry and in 2013 worked as an admin assistant/labouring/working in quality assurance for a Christchurch based construction company doing earthquake remediation projects. I was keen to explore the world and in 2014 headed to Brazil. What an amazing 6 months spent gaining my certificate in TEFL and then working as an English teacher, travelling this amazing country and becoming a fluent speaker of Portuguese. I returned to NZ in 2015 to teach English in Christchurch before in 2016 I worked as a production (lab manufacturing) technician for a little known kiwi pharmaceutical/veterinary pharmaceutical company in Timaru.

Today you can find me either at a lab bench/computer at AgResearch?s Lincoln Research Campus studiously chipping away at my PhD project in Mechanical Engineering.

Many of my undergraduate engineering friends find it hilarious that I am now an engineering student given the age-old rivalry/friendship between engineers and scientists that we shared as undergrads. Ultimately it was not the chemistry, biology or the lecturers who helped me to travel the world, become fluent in another language, secure a biochemistry job (finally) or prove myself as a PhD candidate in an entirely new field. It was the “you can do anything attitude imparted on me by these amazing people who also value curiosity, learning, open-mindedness and passion.

Bish Alumni Changing of the Seasons

We have been notified of the following alumni who have passed away in the last two years. We know there will have been others of whom we are not aware. Our thoughts are with their families.

Mavis Bathurst (Kendon) 1936
Gertrude Oxnam (White) 1937
Susanah Manson (Reynish) 1942
Marion Stringer (Dalziel) 1945
Dulcie Watson (Egan) 1946
Jayne Allison (Ellworthy)
(grandaughter of Bishop Julius) 1951

Hall Contact Details

Jo Addison – Principal
Nigel Georgieff – Bursar
Tanyia Legge – Administrator

Phone and postal
90 Waimairi Road
Christchurch 8041
Ph 03 364 2747

Daphne Fahy Memorial cup

Congratulations to Jock Pattie, recipient of the Daphne Fahy Memorial Cup for Citizenship in 2017.

Jock attended Christ’s College and is studying towards a Bachelor of Arts majoring in History and Anthropology.

Centenary Weekend Celebrations

The Welcome Social Event

The weekend kicked off with this event in the Study Centre on Friday Night. It was a fabulous evening of reconnecting with friends and recognizing familiar faces.

Sharon Lysaght, Sue-Ellen Fenelon and Nicky Tucker

Janet Nicoll, Eleanor Okey and Jean Moffat


Diane Hopkins, Margaret Johnstone, Prue Dayton, Carroll Chambers and Lynsey Poore

Cushla McMillan and Principal Michael Welsh


We were welcomed by Principal Michael Welsh

It is obvious that you have affection for one another and to the Hall … in the first hours and days of Hall life you mysteriously become life-long friends sharing the awe of Academia and new-found freedoms of adult life and responsibilities.

Change is the hallmark of our years. In BJ’s first years it was faced with the Great War and the Influenza Pandemic that killed as many people … young women from Bish assisted with the care of Children whose parents were stricken and hospitalised.

During the Canterbury Earthquakes our students made the most of a bleak situation just on seven years ago. Probably Academically one of our best years, ever aware of the challenges they all got on with their work.

The University … requested the Board to consider building more accommodation. So, from here in Waimairi Road to 168 Students. Yes, maybe we have lost some of the charm of being smaller but we have also gained for our Students by being bigger.

Being the Principal of this Hall is a privileged position I am so lucky to share my life with 168 young women and men who are brimming with enthusiasm. They desire to serve their communities and be the future leaders of New Zealand like many of you have done in your chosen fields.

We heard further history of the Hall from Alumni and Chairperson of the Board Dr Janet Baldwin: From small beginnings of 15 women taking up residence in Bishop Julius? home, Bishops Court in 1917 to 170 students this year and many thousands in the intervening 98 years, this weekend provides us with the opportunity to recognize the foresight and vision of Bishop Churchill Julius in establishing what has become an excellent Hall of Residence for students studying at the University of Canterbury.

The Hall has undergone significant transformations over the years… Not only have the buildings changed, but the residents too, with men being admitted in the early 1990s, to the extent that men now outnumber women most years in recent times.

‘Back to Bish’ programme

The formal climax of the weekend was the Back to Bish Programme’on Saturday morning at the Hall.

The very first Bish “Old Girl” and MC for the weekend, Tim Bell

Mingling in the Study Centre


Alumni Patron, Mrs Joyce Edmundson cutting the Centenary Cake

The Centenary cake, decorated by Alumni Claire Adams

A section of the archival display


Alumni and Board Chair, Dr Janet Baldwin, thanking long-serving committee member, Lynne Williams

Dr Janet Baldwin on behalf of the Board:

The Board has an important role with this Hall. Your Alumni organization has also been active in the governance role, having two alumni members elected to the Board every four years. Our building programme has resulted in two new buildings – the 60-bed accommodation block named The Oaks and the new Peter Ballantyne Common Room completed recently. One hundred years is a significant amount of time in the life of this establishment and we look forward to celebrating the 50th year of BJH moving to this site in the year 2024 –not too far off!

Alumni President Katie Penniall

Bish was my home for three of my four years at Canterbury in first decade of the 2000s under the watchful eye of Michael, whom we referred to as the Rev. Rev, your detailed recall of your students never ceases to amaze me. I realise now how little of what went on got past you! I remember clearly one spring day, lingering in the dining room after lunch, reluctant to go back to my study, when Michael remarked that the Halls Centenary was approaching in 2017.

Firstly I remember thinking that was a long way off! I also remember wondering, what will my life look then? While the years that have passed are not a long time in the big scheme of things… I have much to be thankful for.

I would like to acknowledge that life does not always turn out as we might hope or plan. If I can think of a fellow student for whom life has been particularly difficult or whom sadly is no longer with us, then I?m sure you can too. I know that we will in our ownway, we will remember these friends, and our own challenging times, over the weeken’d.

What are we leaving for those who will come after us? I doubt Bishop Churchill Julius would have foreseen the impact of establishing a hostel 100 years on, but we can. We may not see the impact we ourselves make, but family, friends, those we teach, mentor and work alongside, others can. I hope that over this weekend you catch a glimpse of the legacy you are leaving. … there will be changes to the structure of the Alumniat the start of next year. These changes will add to the strength of the Bish Alumni community heading into the next 100 years. I am excited to see this community grow and broaden.


Saturday continued with lunch and Tours of the Hall, University on foot and city by bus.

Gala Dinner

The Gala Dinner on Saturday was a highlight with a toast from the VC, grace from the Bishop, a beautiful two-course meal, decade speeches and entertainment from the All Girl Big Band.

Vice Chancellor Rod Carr and Bishop Victoria toast to the future of Bishop Julius Hall

Ruth Morton spoke of life at Bish in the late 50s, Chris Smith of life in the 60s, and Yalini Sundralingam of life in the 90s as an international student

Gala Dinner festivities with the All Girl Big Band in the background

Some of the current senior students joined us


Ruth Morton about life at Bish in the late 50s

More university students were coming to stay in what had originally been a hostel for primary teacher trainees.

The University was in the process of moving to Ilam. The Art School and Engineering school were there but the rest of us had lectures at what later became the Arts Centre. There were Art student residents who took packed lunches and went off to Ilam, often by bike.

Instant coffee came on to the market in 1958 so we were “early adopters” and that explains my continuing addiction, which amuses my children. We boiled up water in electric jugs in our rooms and created fire hazards making toast in toasters with opening sides.

Members of the student committee led frequent (at least weekly) prayer services in the Chapel. Some of the girls were excellent musicians and played for our singing from “Hymns Ancient and Modern”. In those days Capping was a big event. One year Bish students cancanned our way around the route of Procesh on the back of a truck. It was easy to devise a costume as we all had those enormous stiff petticoats, which were the height of fashion then.

Any man who became interested in a Bish girl must have been both besotted, brave and patient. No men ever were allowed upstairs so he had to join the evening chitchat in the common room. It’s worth noting that in New Zealand the pill first became available for married women in 1961, and it was not until 1971 that unmarried woman had any access to it at all. Our world was different from our daughters’.

During the day my friends and I have been reflecting on how fortunate we were. Primary teachers in training were paid a living allowance and most of us who were at university had Studentships. We had enough to live on, simply, and were bonded to teach a year for each year of our study or repay what we had received.

When I started university Gordon Troup said, “If you educate a woman you educate a family” You wouldn’t put it that way today but, not only have many of my contemporaries made significant professional contribution to New Zealand and abroad but also their daughters and their sons have done amazing things.

Chris Smith about life in the 60s

With only one phone for the girls, telephone time was always at a premium. There was no chance for intimate conversation.

We used to put on a duffle coat over our nightie and walk down to the hole in the wall in Colombo Street to buy 10 or 12 hamburgers with onion, without onion, no bacon or beetroot, just a meat pattie, for a late night feast. Would you do that now?

The hostel social life was as busy as you wanted it to be –balls to plan and attend at the Winter Gardens, the Brevet Club, the Student Union, with a different dress for each occasion. And then we had to work out how to get into our rooms without disturbing Mrs Stow!! Remember that wire above the side gate?

Living in Cranmer Square meant we were so close to Teachers? College and university, the other hostels and town. In fact, everything was within walking or biking distance – it was a fabulous location.

Curfews were accepted and we just signed ourselves in and out –except if you wanted to come home late, you had to be creative or be the head girl!

Yalini Sundralingam on life as an international student in the 90s

One of my fondest food memories of Bish was of the Mississippi mud cake we occasionally had for dessert.

Another of my memories of Bish …I had the privilege of sharing the tutors flat. I moved … for my last month at Bish, dutifully cleaned and tidied the flat as I moved out, only to have demolishing work start on it almost the week after!

My overarching memory and impression of Bish, however, is one of family; As much as I’ve made some dear friends from the student body, that family for me was so much about the staff, all those people who nurture these young adults coming through their doors, and help them make that transition from home to the real world. To all the staff who gone before, and to those there now, I’d like to express my heartfelt thanks and gratitude. Thank you for making us all feel so welcome and so at home.

Thanksgiving service on Sunday, in the Transitional Cathedral

Bishop Victoria

The Mabel Hendrie altar setting in the Transitional Cathedral.

The Bishop spoke of the foresight of her predecessor, Bishop Churchill Julius.

Today we give thanks for the legacy of Bishop Churchill Julius, second bishop of Christchurch and second Primate of New Zealand… Bishop Julius wanted people to wake up and observe what was being ignored in society. In ???? he declared himself a Socialist because he said ?I find Socialism in every page of the New Testament?. Julius urged the abandonment of individualism, and the co-operation of capital and labourer. He was a staunch defender of trade unions and a ready critic of poor working conditions as a time when such views were not fashionable among Anglican Church leaders. He opposed secular education as hostile to religion and advocated religious education in every school.

Specific to the vision of Bishop Julius was his attention to the education of women… Bishop Julius Hall now has men and women, but Bishop Julius Hall’s founding vision was one of equality for women based on Anglican values.

On this day in the Church Year, when we remember Christ as Sovereign, we do well to think of two aspects of the Reign of Christ. First the good news: ultimately all things on heaven and on earth will be restored in Christ the King. Secondly the sobering news: we are accountable for how we live our lives as a nation, and at this time New Zealand has a lot to answer for… So 100 years on, all 170 students at Bishop Julius Hall and 100% of the Alumni need to know that part of every student?s university education is that gender inequality is not okay and needs addressing. That is also true for every Anglican and all Christians… There is a real sense that in New Zealand we too are prone to consume rather than care for the least, the lost and the last in our midst. It simply isn?t good enough. There is no Jesus in such behaviour. So, I ask you to do something; write a letter, make a call, volunteer; speak out. Be an agent of change.

Today’s readings call for social justice as well as social services. It calls for a radical change in a comfortable New Zealand Society. They call us to remember every country is only as good as the way the most vulnerable are treated. And we, as Christians, need to remember that any church that lives to itself will die to itself. Like Bishop Churchill Julius, our vision needs to be outwards and life-giving.

In the words of Christ to the nations, “Whatever you did not do for the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did not do for me?”

The committee received some lovely feedback from attendees, which they are pleased to share: I am writing to say a hugeThank Youfor the wonderful celebration we’ve just experienced… I’ve always been quietly proud of being a Bish girl. Even more now. The highlight memories of the weekend will last forever.

Thank you and your committee for a marvelous weekend. It was great to meet up with other Bish friends again. We loved staying in the new Bish too – a real treat.