Past Pupils

Vmail is all about connecting Mercy women – sharing stories of our Villa Alumnae, current students, and the College. It’s one way all Villa past pupils can keep in touch, reminisce and celebrate our wonderful College.

This is the annual publication of the Villa Maria College Past Pupils’ Association and is emailed or posted to all members of the PPA.

Update Your Details


We’d love to stay in contact with as many Villa past pupils as possible! If you are not sure if the College has your current address, please click here and fill in the Past Pupils Form.
Become a Past Pupils’ Association Member to ensure you keep receiving our Vmail magazine and are kept well informed about PPA events and reunions.

Lifetime Membership $200
Annual membership is $50

Email Finbar Adams at for more information about joining the PPA.

PPA Committee

President – Nicola Anthony (Cantwell)
Treasurer – Rachel McAuley
Secretary – Finbar Adams
Committee Members:
Deborah Brosnahan
Keri Crompton
Kathleen Gallagher
Mikaela Hood
Mary Lynch
Joan-Maria Peoples
Eadaoin Roughan
Dawn Willetts
Talia Wirepa

Address for Correspondence
Past Pupils’ Association
Villa Maria College
21 Peer Street
Christchurch 8041
New Zealand



Members of the Past Pupils Association will…
• Remain actively connected to your Villa friends and classmates
• Be sent our glossy magazine, Vmail, as well as our e-newsletter
• Be the first to know about our Alumnae events and reunions
• Be eligible for discounts to Past Pupil events
• Be personally invited to attend College events
• Be part of supporting your Past Pupils’ Association so that we can continue to grow the community of Mercy women.

Annual Subscriptions are $50
Lifetime Subscriptions are $200


• Credit Card: Complete the Membership form and follow the instructions
• Bank: Villa Maria College – ASB –12-3147-0230728-00
• Cheques to be made out to Villa Maria College
• Eftpos available at the College Office
Contact the Villa Office on 03 348 4165

Mercy Grant – Meet our 2020 Recipient

Catherine Sivertsen Campbell

The Past Pupils’ Association is proud to continue to offer its Mercy Grant, which is worth $2,000 and is awarded to one past Villa girl each year who is undertaking extraordinary work or study that aligns with Villa’s Mercy values.
The PPA is pleased to receive a number of impressive applications for the Grant each year, and it’s wonderful to see so many of our past pupils undertaking life-changing work in the community – both in NZ and overseas.

Catherine’s story

What has poverty got to do with children’s language development? Well, as it turns out, quite a bit.
Meet Catherine Sivertsen Campbell, a Villa past pupil, and this year’s recipient of the PPA Mercy Grant. Catherine attended Villa from 1989 to 1993, and went on to become a Speech Language Therapist.
“Ever since my first Mercy Day at Villa, where I was encouraged to hang out with a non-verbal disabled child in a wheelchair, I have found joy in my work as a Speech Language Therapist, frequently working closely with the poor, the disadvantaged and those on the fringes of New Zealand society,” explains Catherine.
“Language is a taonga, a treasure, it is how we make sense of our world and our place within it, it is inseparable from our thinking skills, and as the foundation for all literacy and learning, language has become the currency of education. Of all the neuro cognitive domains, language is also the most susceptible to poverty. Unfortunately, it is also the easiest to ignore. Language delay is not visible, it’s not immediately obvious and as a result, it is frequently overlooked. It’s so easy to turn a blind eye to poverty in our country and the devastating impact it has on language development and education.”
UNICEF NZ reports that in 2017, 27% of children in New Zealand were living in poverty. UNICEF defines poverty as “children being deprived of the material, spiritual and emotional resources needed to survive, develop and thrive.” Catherine identifies language as one of these resources.
“Research tells us that children from low socioeconomic homes typically hear far fewer words, have fewer words spoken to them, have lower quality interactions and have less rich and diverse conversational experiences than those children from wealthier backgrounds.”
“Children in New Zealand are increasingly starting school with low levels of oral language and communication skills. This can result in behaviours that are not conducive to learning. This has far reaching consequences for future learning, future earning potential, future health status and future quality of life outcomes,” adds Catherine.
Catherine works for a charity organisation providing intervention in early childhood centres where poverty abounds. Her role is to work with these children and their language development.
“These experiences as a Speech Language Therapist lead me to discover that New Zealand has no data on how our young children acquire language, especially in low socioeconomic communities. Without knowledge and data, it is difficult to affect change at higher governmental levels,” she said.
“This prompted me to call on my Mercy background and the Villa motto of Prize What is of Value, and I feel compelled to do more. This year I am studying towards a Master of Science in Child Language Sciences, which includes a thesis on Child Language Development across low socioeconomic communities within New Zealand.”
The PPA Mercy Grant will assist Catherine with her University fees. The desired outcome from her Masters thesis is to shed light on the plight of thousands of young children who are growing up in poverty, and build a detailed data source for government to act upon – therefore creating meaningful change in our society and for the outcomes of our children.
“Being a Mercy woman means not turning away from those who need our help, particularly those close to home, in our own communities, no matter how uncomfortable we might feel. Mercy means helping the invisible become visible and bringing light to those hidden in the shadows.”

Grant Information
Application Cover Sheet
Please send any questions and/or applications to: Villa’s Alumnae Coordinator, Finbar Adams at

We are delighted to inform you that the brand new College Film, “Spirit of Mercy, Ngā Wāhine Atawhai, Villa Maria’s First 100 Years” is now available online to watch at no cost.
This film is a very special project that past pupil Kathleen Gallagher has lovingly crafted. It takes the original College film that was released at the time of Villa’s 90th birthday, and reinvents it to showcase Villa’s first 100 years – a proud moment in the history of the College. The film features the Sisters of Mercy – the very foundation of our College – as well as many staff, students and members of the Villa community.
Spirit of Mercy – Villa Maria’s first 100 years, Ngā Wāhine Atawhai