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Our Students


To get an insight into our International Student Programme, we believe our students and their parents are our best voices. Here are just a few examples of what they have to say:

“Our son has literally grown up at Garin from boy to a mature young man – he seems like another person, a better person, and credit to you, the teachers, the students, and Staff at Garin for shaping that growth.  Sending our Kids to Garin has been the best decision we’ve made – Thank you.” Parent 2022

“Masa has been doing great and I and my mother are surprised to see his big change, as you said. I knew Garin College was a good school, with caring teachers and great host family, but I cannot appreciate more for taking care of him.  The time in New Zealand was definitely the most meaningful in his life.” Sister

“Obviously, I’m happy to be at home with my family and friends, but I really miss my life in Nelson. More than once I thanked about my experience, and all looks far away from me, and nostalgia assails me. Lucky I’m keeping in touch a lot with my kiwi and exchanges friends, but it’s not the same. I really wanna come back as soon as possible, because I left in NZ a piece of my heart.” Italian student

“During my time at Garin I’ve had quite a few new experiences, first of all attending a Catholic school. All the values that come with it really surprised me in a positive way. All the students and teachers are really open to new people and give everyone the feeling of being welcome. I really liked how everybody treats each other with respect and appreciate each others company. I enjoyed the variety of subjects and the different system of teaching, compared to Germany. But apart from the actual learning, there is a big focus on non-school activities that are offered in break times and after school, like Show Quest, St. Vinnies and theatre sports.” German student

“Thank you for giving me by far the most precious time in my life in the last few days with prizegiving.  I truly appreciate everything you have done for me over the last 5 years.  I usually don’t believe in God as I believe that people can not rely on God to achieve something (this is my favourite excuse to avoid doing RE assessments btw). However, knowing Garin College was certainly a gift from God. I am very glad to say that I got to grow up along with your support, it’s been such a pleasure studying at Garin.” Japanese student

More Testimonials at the bottom of this page

NZ Education System

New Zealand’s National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) are national qualifications for senior secondary school students.

NCEA challenges students of all abilities in all learning areas, and shows credits and grades for separate skills and knowledge. It enables students to gain credits from both traditional school curriculum areas and alternative programmes.

NCEA and other national certificates are recognised by employers and used as the benchmark for selection by universities and polytechnics. NCEA is also readily accepted overseas, including by universities.

For more information, visit:

You can see some translated information here:






How NCEA Works:

Each year, students study a number of courses or subjects. In each subject, skills and knowledge are assessed against a number of standards. For example, a Mathematics standard could be: Apply numeric reasoning in solving problems. Schools use a range of internal and external assessments to measure how well students meet these standards.

When a student achieves a standard, they gain a number of credits. Students must achieve a certain number of credits to gain an NCEA certificate.

There are three levels of NCEA certificate, depending on the difficulty of the standards achieved. In general, students work through levels 1 to 3 in years 11 to 13 at school. Students are recognised for high achievement at each level by gaining NCEA with Merit or NCEA with Excellence. High achievement in a course is also recognised. For more information, read about Endorsements.

For more information, visit:

Or you can watch a short video here short animation here.

Subject Selection

Our International Director and English Language Teacher help all international students to choose their subjects.

Junior Course of Study (Year 9 – Year 10)

Year 9

Students study all programmes mentioned below in a broad-balanced course designed as a comprehensive introduction to the first year of secondary education and which fully acknowledges national curriculum and special character obligations.

The curriculum supports and empowers all students to learn and achieve personal excellence. In the wider curriculum students continue to partake fully in at least one chosen sport, cultural activity and a service event through Club Garin Inc. The Journey Programme continues to offer students an opportunity to grow spiritually in a challenging, outdoor setting.

Our programme is designed to encourage our students to become confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners.

You can see more here: How to select subjects

Year 10

Students continue to study in all learning areas giving them a wide breadth of subjects which provides them at the completion of their second year of secondary study, with an ideal launching platform into senior school programmes.

The curriculum continues to encourage students to strive for excellence by aiming high and persevering in the face of difficulties.

In the wider curriculum students continue to partake fully in at least one chosen sport, cultural activity and a service event through Club Garin Inc. The Journey Programme continues to offer students an opportunity to grow spiritually in a challenging outdoor setting.

Our programme design encourages our students to be creative, energetic and enterprising. It also allows our students the opportunity to develop the values, knowledge and competencies that will enable them to live full and satisfying lives.

You can see more here: How to select subjects

Senior Course of Study (Year 11 – Year 13)

Year 11 NCEA Level 1

NCEA enables students to retain a broad range of subjects and the Level 1 package ensures that all doors remain open to students.

In the wider curriculum students continue to partake fully in at least one chosen sport, cultural activity and a service event through Club Garin Inc. The Journey Programme continues to offer students an opportunity to grow spiritually in a challenging, outdoor setting.

You can see more here: How to select subjects

Year 12 NCEA Level 2

Students at this stage have completed their first three years of foundation studies (Years 9-11).

Personal strengths, a greater awareness of future career directions and personalised course counselling, enable students to plan an individualised course of study tailored to their future learning and career needs.

Students are able to select specially designed Vocational Pathways courses. Only Religious Education and English are mandatory to take (and Maths also, if individuals have not yet attained the minimum U.E requirement.) Students need to select four or five courses to make up their total of seven subjects.

You can see more here: How to select subjects

Year 13 NCEA Level 3

Students studying at this level are working toward NCEA Level 3 or entry to specific tertiary training.

Religious Education is the only mandatory programme. English and Maths need to be continued if students have not attained the requirements for University Entrance. Students may choose any other three to five subjects offered, depending on individual circumstances, to make up a total of six subjects.

You can see more here:  How to select subjects

Curriculum Overview

Curriculum Overview




Junior Uniform


The college white short-sleeved blouse for girls, the College royal blue short-sleeved polo shirt, or white short-sleeved shirt for boys.


The college long-sleeved white blouse for girls, the College white long-sleeved shirt for boys.

Items common to both seasons:

  • The college plaid skirt (fitted to be worn from the waist)
  • The college royal blue jersey
  • The college sleeveless polar-fleece with monogram
  • The college uniform shoes are black leather lace-ups with non-marking soles
  • Black leather sandals without socks may be worn in terms 1 and 4
  • With shoes and shorts, boys must wear the College black socks with royal blue stripe; girls must wear white ankle socks or black tights.

The college clerical grey long trousers or shorts (fitted to be worn from the waist). Girls who wish to buy uniform trousers must contact our Uniform Manager.


The college blue and black woollen scarf, the College polar fleece vest for juniors, and the College black woollen vest for seniors.

Please note: items from the sports uniforms, PE uniforms, or tracksuit are not to be worn as part of our normal school uniform. Other items of clothing are not to be worn with our school uniform.

Visit the uniform page for more information.

Senior uniform

All students may choose to wear this uniform at any time, and seniors (years 11-13) must wear it in Terms 2 and 3 and when representing the school on formal occasions.

Summer (Terms 1 and 4) Senior students may wear the college clerical grey long trousers or shorts, black leather sandals, college short-sleeved shirts, and the college black woollen vest without blazer or tie.

Winter (Terms 2 and 3) and on formal occasions

  • Clerical grey uniform trousers for boys or girls, worn with black socks with the royal blue stripe and black leather lace-up shoes.
  • The college plaid skirt for girls (fitted to be worn from the waist)
  • College blazer with monogram
  • College tie or scarf
  • College long-sleeve shirt for boys
  • College long-sleeve blouse for girls
  • Senior girls wear black tights or black stockings above the knee
  • Senior students have the option of wearing the College black woollen vest underneath their blazer (but not instead of the College blazer).

Physical Education Uniform

Year 9-11 students have compulsory PE and need to wear the correct uniform: tee-shirt in house colour and shorts (must be purchased from the College). Students may wear appropriate sports shoes and socks outside with their PE uniform.

Jewellery & Hairstyles

Girls may wear a single sleeper in the lobe of each ear. No other visible body piercing is allowed. Students may wear a cross or taonga. Hair must be a natural colour. Hair must be off the face, and hair for all students must be off the collar or tied back.

Visit the uniform page for more information.

Standards & Expectations

Friends for Life

Becoming a student at Garin is a big step, but one that will be rewarded with great experiences, a great education, and friends for life.

What WE do for you

  • We fully support you to help you reach your goals at Garin College.
  • We respect your culture.
  • We challenge you to be the best person you can be.

What YOU do for us

  • You make a valuable contribution to the diversity within our school by increasing the cultural awareness and understanding of New Zealand students and teachers.
  • You share your culture and experiences with your New Zealand family.
  • You make us proud of your achievements!


We publish a very full calendar each year so that parents can be fully involved in the life of the school.

Term Dates 2024

View 2024 Calendar


Our 2016 Garin College Dux was an international student from Japan. This is an amazing achievement as he was studying in his second language and competing against all the local students. We have other top achievers who were also international students.

Our international student graduates attend universities in New Zealand, UK, USA, Australia, Japan, Korea, Germany, Italy and others.

So we are really proud of our exam results! Our international students have shown that if you put in the work you can achieve excellent results. We have had international students amongst the top achieving students for NCEA Level 3. This is an amazing achievement as they are studying in their second language and still manage to achieve as well as our best New Zealand students.

Garin College students achieved above the national average in the national NCEA assessments at all levels.

Garin NCEA Level 1:

Pass Rate 87.1%

Garin NCEA Level 2:

Pass Rate 89%

Garin NCEA Level 3:

Pass Rate 82% (National Average 85.7%)

Garin University Entrance 66.2% 

International Students gaining entrance to University 100%

Universities our International Students have graduated to include:

  • Edinburgh University in the UK
  • Waseda University in Japan
  • Keio University in Japan
  • Aoyama Gakuin University in Japan
  • University of Warwick in the UK
  • ANU (Australia National University) in Australia
  • University of Auckland in New Zealand
  • Otago University in New Zealand
  • Canterbury University in New Zealand
  • Sydney University in Australia
  • Macquarie University in Sydney Australia
  • RMIT University in Melbourne Australia
  • APU University in Tokyo
  • Obelin University in Japan
  • Hong Kong University
  • Pacific International Hotel Management School in New Zealand
  • Assumption University in Thailand


Thank you for giving me by far the most precious time in my life in the last few days. 

Denise, thank you for doing all accounts over the five years. I wouldn’t have been able to stay at Garin if you weren’t there, right?

Jacqui, I truly appreciate everything you have done for me, even knocking my room’s window hard to wake me up. Seriously, thank you so much.

Diana, I feel like I have you as my second mother, haha.

I am very glad to say that I got to grow up along with your support, it’s been such a pleasure studying at Garin. 

Japanese Dux in 2016

My Stay at Garin was absolutely amazing. I never really felt out of place, simply because everybody is so, so nice.

To be honest, before I came, I was a bit nervous, because Garin is such a small school, and since my school in Germany has around 2000 students, I thought, I might not be able to fit able to fit in, but that definitely wasn’t the case and I made many friends, because everybody here is so open and accepting and so I constantly spoke english, and while it was never really bad to start with, (In Germany you start learning english at a really young age) it improved a lot during my stay here. I think and dream in english and sometimes I even forget some german words. I was never really homesick, because I had an awesome Host Family and they and my friends became like my second Family.

Also, Denise, Diana and Jacqui are very helpful and while I never had any big problems, I knew, that if something would happen, they would do their best to make me feel better and help me.

I just can’t thank Garin and especially the International Office enough, for making me feel so welcome and helping me to achieve an amazing time in New Zealand.

German Student, Gwen

We made a right and great decision to send him to Garin College and Nelson as he wished. From what we see from photo and learned from him, he had a wonderful experience and learning both in school and with his host family. He really enjoyed the classes. He shared great feedback about the teachers, his classmate and activities he did at school. He felt very welcomed and felt comfortable making friends and blend in with NZ friends.

I would like to thank Denise who was so kind to help us out during the first few day. She went out of her way to pick us up from the airport because I had some issue with car rental. Really appreciate all her advice and first orientation to school and the city.

Thank you Jacqui, for all the wonderful support and advice given to my son during his stay.  Last but not least, thank you for giving my son an opportunity to get exposure in Garin and to select a wonderful host family for him.

Thai parent

We appreciate everything you and Diana did for our son, he went there below 14 years old, from a little shy boy to become self-motivation young man it’s really a great change.

We are very happy to see him become sunshine young man under Garin College school life. 

Thank you very much for everything Garin College provided to him.

Hong Kong parent

I really miss Garin and all the people there. It was such a pleasure to be part of the school and being able to join mahi Toi and the international team! 

German student

My English improved because there were not many Koreans and I learned independence. If I didn’t go to Garin College, I would not be accepted into this University.

Korean student, currently studying Engineering at Sydney University

We enjoy working with you over these years, we really appreciated your care to our students, and you are such a nice friend of us too.

Agent from Hong Kong

I chose Garin College because it is small and I can know almost everyone. I think the New Zealand students at Garin are much nicer than other schools.

I didn’t like some other nationalities before I came here but now I am friends with them. I want to help other people to lose their prejudice about other nationalities. We have to know each other. This is why I want to go to an international university. I want to know more about people who come from different countries.

I was not like this when I first came to New Zealand. It was really good to go overseas and study like us because it changed the way I think. If I am still in my country my thinking would still be the same.

Japanese Student

It was good for me to come to Garin because it is small and the teacher can look after you more because there are not many students. I also had Chris and Jenny helping me to understand everything better in the classes, for assessments and homework.

I feel that I will not grow up like this if I went to bigger school with more international students and also more Kiwi students. I feel proud of myself now. I can pass my assessments and I know what I am doing and I know what is good and what is bad. I think a Catholic school is more friendly.

Thai student

We are all together like a big family. Everyone is friends.

Korean student

I met special people who helped me in a good way.

Japanese student

We study with the Kiwis. We can be friends with the Kiwi’s more easily.

Korean student

I can aim for higher universities at Garin.

Korean student

It’s easier to make friends with the New Zealand students because it’s small and you know everybody.

German student

I was not sure if I could come to Garin because it was such a small school but the people are friendlier and they get to know you sooner because I have to mix with them. There are only 3 Germans here.

German student

It’s easier to know the people because the school is small and I have the same people in some of my classes.

German student

I could talk with the Kiwi students. This is the biggest thing. I made friends and they are coming to the airport to say goodbye. I had a little gathering with my friends on Saturday and it was so nice. Many friends came and they were all Kiwi friends except for one.

I can have a conversation with Kiwi people now. When I came here I couldn’t have a conversation. So I don’t want to leave here really – I want to come back next year. The saddest thing is I can’t make any memory with my Kiwi friends next year. That is the saddest thing. It was a very good study abroad programme.

Japanese student

When I went to Wellington I met some of the people from my language school and they said it was very hard to make Kiwi friends because their school is very big and the Asian community is very big. So I am very happy I came to a small school because I can make friends with anyone of any age. It is a very good thing. It is the best memory in my life because I didn’t know if I could do it”

Student Y graduated from Year 13 in 2008 and attended the University of Warwick in England in 2009. She graduated from university in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and completed her Masters Degree at ANU (Australian National University) which is the number one university in Australia. She is now working at the Japanese embassy in Sri Lanka.  Here is her story:

“When I first arrived at the tiny Nelson Airport, I was a little disappointed because I did not think the city looked like NZ at all. But soon after that, this small city became my favourite. Having no abilities to understand and speak English, I did not know how I was going to adjust into the new environment but with the great excitement pumping inside me, I just looked forward to getting to know this place and its different culture.

Click here to read more: Student Story

Japanese student

We would like to thank you for all your support and great guidance in our daughter’s school life. We know that her life in Nelson has made such a great impact on her and her experience has given her strength because she seems more confident than she has ever been. Thank you again for your warm support.

Parent of a former international student at Garin College

Thank you so much for the last 3 years. Without your support I would not have reached this far and I’m very glad that I chose Garin and I met all of you. Through my years at Garin I have learned many things including social skills and of course other academic skills. My English has improved too! I was so nervous about coming to New Zealand because I did not believe in myself. But because I came to New Zealand now I know who I am and I am very confident about it. All of my success both academic and friends etc were achieved because of you. I just want to say thank you for all you have done for me.

Japanese student leaving to go to university in the UK

Garin College- is a lovely school. I came to Garin College because it is Catholic, boys and girls and new. It’s quite small.

Everybody thinks good school has to be big but think- principle and teachers know your name and Garin College is more like a place where you can play with your friends. (As well as studying) Students and teachers are nice to me. Even though it’s hard to them to help me.
Such as understanding me, explaining what I have to do etc. When I came here at first my friends tried to understand what I said. I’m pretty sure it was hard to them. But they are all so friendly and also there are great teachers here. Teachers helped me. It must have been difficult to them. And also system for international students is really good. We don’t have many international students at Garin because if there were lots of Korean students here, I wouldn’t speak English. I think it is thoughtful concern of them. It really helps me to improve my English. I love Garin College. That’s why I’m coming back to Garin College next year!


I’m so glad that I chose Garin College, Garin is small, but it’s a really good school. All the teachers and students in here are friendly and always happy to help you. I’m so glad that I had a chance to come here, and meet all the teachers and friends. I was so nervous when I just came to Nelson. I was not sure I could adapt in a new country and a whole new different culture. And now, I love it here! Although I only stayed 2 years at Garin I learned a lot of things – new skills, new culture, and made a lot of new friends! I had a really good time in Garin. I want to thank all the teachers and friends that helping me a lot when I was trying to reach my goal in here, and helping me improve my skills, subjects and my English. Thanks again for all the teachers that helping me and taking good care of me in these 2 years!

A student from Taiwan