At 7.30am, on February 18, 1871, 10 pioneering Irish Dominican Sisters arrived at Port Chalmers with the Reverend Doctor Moran, the newly appointed Bishop of Dunedin, who had travelled with the Sisters from Ireland.
To celebrate 150 years since their arrival, known as Foundresses' Day, staff and students from St Dominic's in Whanganui celebrated with a Te Deum at the church of St Anthony's last Thursday.
"Then we cut the cake and had morning tea with the girls," says Mother Mary Madeleine OP, Prioress of St Dominic's Convent.
After a study time when the students prepared for their upcoming debate on March 8, they left the school and visited the Whanganui Regional Museum, followed by a trip to Upokongaro on the paddlesteamer Waimarie at 2.30pm.
On the journey were 51 schoolgirls, 22 Dominican sisters, a Dominican friar and two of the school's helpers.
"The girls are dressed in 19th century costume for the occasion." With the school's Medieval Fayre last weekend, the girls had to come up with two very different costumes for each occasion.
"A lot made them at home themselves," says Mother Mary Madeleine. She says some were hired from Amdram.
One of the sisters was seen boarding the Waimarie with a keyboard so everyone could sing Irish and New Zealand songs as they travelled up the river.
"Sister Anna is a great musician," says Mother Mary Madeleine. "She plays the violin and the organ, and she sings."
St Dominic's Girls' College began in 1999 with a small roll and a handful of staff. The school is operated by the Society of St Pius X in New Zealand, providing secondary education to young ladies. The Society of St Pius X is assisted by the Dominican Sisters of Wanganui in the teaching and management operations in the school.
Students at St Dominic's obtain internationally recognised qualifications by following courses offered by CAIE (Cambridge Assessment International Education) curriculum in maths, English, history, combined science, physics, biology, French, Latin, and classics.
Other non CIE-qualifying subjects such as music, home economics, physical education, and computer skills are offered to broaden the school's educational scope. Since the Catholic faith is the heart of the school, classes in Catholic doctrine, church history, Christian ethics and sacred scripture take pride of place.
One of St Dominic's form 7 pupils was awarded "Top of the World" this year in AS classics for her Cambridge examination which she sat last year.