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This page discusses the New Zealand university. For universities in Canterbury, England, see the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University. For a similarly-named, unaccredited institution, see Canterbury University (Seychelles).
University of Canterbury
Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha
Motto Ergo tua rura manebunt (therefore will your fields remain [yours])
(Virgil, Eclogues)
Established 1873
Type Public
Chancellor Rex Williams (from 2008)
Vice-Chancellor Dr Rod Carr
Students 17,768 (2007) [1]
Postgraduates 1,605 (as of 2008)
Location Christchurch, New Zealand
Campus Urban

The University of Canterbury (Māori: Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha; postnominal abbreviation Cantuar. or Cant. for Cantuariensis, the Latin name for Canterbury), New Zealand's second-oldest university, operates in the suburb of Ilam in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand. It offers degrees in Arts, Commerce, Education (physical education), Engineering, Fine Arts, Forestry, Law, Music, Social Work, Speech and Language Therapy, Science, Sports Coaching and Teaching.



The James Hight building at the University of Canterbury

The University has a main campus of 76 hectares at Ilam, a suburb of Christchurch: about 5 km from the centre of the city. Adjacent to the main campus stands the University's College of Education, with its own sports-fields and grounds. The University maintains six libraries, with the Central Library (Māori: Te Puna Mātauraka o Waitaha) housed in the tallest building on campus, the 11-storey James Hight building.

The University's College of Education maintains additional small campuses in Nelson, Tauranga and Timaru, and "teaching centres" in Greymouth, New Plymouth, Rotorua and Timaru. The University has staff in regional information offices in Nelson, Timaru, and Auckland.

Canterbury University has six halls of residence housing around 1800 students. The largest of these are Ilam Apartments and University Hall with 850 residents and 550 residents, respectively. Three of these halls (Ilam Apartments, University Hall and Sonoda Christchurch Campus) are managed by UC Accommodation, a subsidiary of Campus Living Villages, while the university maintains ownership of the property and buildings. Sonoda Christchurch Campus has a close relationship with Sonoda Womans university in Amagasaki, Japan. Bishop Julius, College House and Rochester & Rutherford are run independently.

The six Halls of Residence are:

The Science Lecture Theatre complex with the top of the Rutherford building in the background

The Field Facilities Centre administers four field-stations:

  • Cass Field Station - Provides a wide range of environments: montane grasslands, scrub, riverbed, scree, beech forest, swamp, bog, lake, stream and alpine habitats; all accessible by day-trips on foot
  • Kaikoura Field Station - Provides a wide range of environments: diverse marine habitats, alpine habitats, kanuka forests, rivers, lakes
  • Harihari Field Station - Access to native forests, streams
  • Westport Field Station - for study of the West Coast of New Zealand, particularly mining

The University and its project-partners also operate an additional field-station in the Nigerian Montane Forests Project - this field station stands on the Ngel Nyaki forest edge in Nigeria.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy runs its own field laboratories:

The Department of Physics and Astronomy also has involvement in the Southern African Large Telescope.


Professor Roy Sharp assumed the position of Vice-Chancellor on 1 March 2003.[2] In May 2008 he announced his imminent resignation from the position, following his acceptance of the chief executive position at the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), which he took up on 4 August 2008.[3] The then current Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Town, assumed the role of acting Vice-Chancellor on 1 July 2008. On 15 October 2008 the University announced that Dr Rod Carr would begin a five-year appointment as Vice-Chancellor on 1 February 2009.

The Chancellor chairs the governing body of the University, the Council. Council member and former Pro-Chancellor, Mr Rex Williams, became chancellor in 2008. Council Member John Wood became the new Pro-Chancellor.

The Council includes representatives from the faculties, students and general staff, as well as local industry, employer and trade union representatives (for more details see pp. 14–15 of the University Charter 2003-2010).

In 2004 the University underwent restructuring into four Colleges and a School of Law, administering a number of schools and departments (though a number of departments have involvement in cross-teaching in numerous academic faculties). 2007 saw the addition of a fifth College with the merging of the Christchurch College of Education into the University. The main constituents of the university include:


University structure

Structure administration

The units listed above constitute administrative groups. Each College and the School of Law has as its head a Pro-Vice-Chancellor (PVC), who answers to the Vice-Chancellor for all activities of the College/School. College Offices support the PVCs, providing financial, administrative, academic, and human-resources advice to each PVC. Each College also has a College Manager, who acts as the day-to-day manager of the College.

In addition to the administrative structure, the University has seven faculties:

  1. Humanities and Social Sciences
  2. Commerce
  3. Engineering and Forestry
  4. Education
  5. Science
  6. Visual and Performing Arts
  7. Law

Each faculty consists of the teaching-staff of the departments and schools who offer courses that may form part of the particular degree from that faculty. Student representatives participate in governing the various faculties.

The University receives funding from student fees, the New Zealand government (in partial support of domestic students, and via various research funding mechanisms), non-government research funding agencies, bequests and so on.

Together with the New Zealand government, the University formed the UCi3 ICT Innovation Institute in 2006 to commercialize research and to encourage local high-tech industry. The cluster of technology-companies around Christchurch has led to the name "Silicon Plains" for the area.


As of 2008, the University had a total of 16,539 students, 1,605 of them post-graduates and 1,644 international students (students apart from New Zealand citizens or residents). The University employed 599 academic staff and 1,011 general staff.[4]

Student Association and traditions

The University of Canterbury Students' Association (UCSA) operates on campus with its own radio station (RDU) and magazine (Canta). The Association also runs two bars, the 430-seat Ngaio Marsh Theatre, and several cafes around campus. The popular on-campus bar, "The Foundry", known as "The Common Room" from 2005, has reverted to its former name as promised by 2008 USCA president, Michael Goldstein.

The University has over 100 academic, sporting, recreational and cultural societies and clubs. The most prominent of these include the University of Canterbury Engineering Society (ENSOC), the Law Society (LAWSOC), the Commerce Society (UCom), as well as the largest non-faculty clubs such as BYCSOC (Backyard Cricket Society), CUBA (Canterbury University Boardriders' Association), CurrySoc, The Gentlemen's Club, and KAOS (Killing As Organised Sport). The University of Canterbury Drama Society (Dramasoc) achieved fame for its 1942-1969 Shakespeare productions under Dame Ngaio Marsh, but regularly performs as an active student- and alumni-run arts fixture in the small Christchurch theatre-scene. The Musical Society, MuSoc, engages in comparable activities.

One major student tradition, the Undie 500, involves an annual car-rally from Christchurch to Dunedin run by ENSOC. The rules require only the use of a road-legal car costing under $500 with a sober driver. The 2007 event gained international news coverage (including on CNN and BBC World) when it ended in rioting in the student quarter of Dunedin and in North East Valley. ENSOC cancelled the planned 2008 event: its future now seems murky.


The University originated in 1873 in the centre of Christchurch as Canterbury College, the first constituent college of the University of New Zealand. It became the second institution in New Zealand providing tertiary-level education (following the University of Otago, established in 1869), and the fourth in Australasia.

The Canterbury Museum and Library and Christ's College, dissatisfied with the state of higher education in Canterbury, had both worked towards setting up Canterbury College.[5] In 1933, the name changed from Canterbury College to Canterbury University College. In 1957 the name changed again to the present University of Canterbury.

Until 1961, the University formed part of the University of New Zealand (UNZ), and issued degrees in its name. That year saw the dissolution of the federal system of tertiary education in New Zealand, and the University of Canterbury became an independent University awarding its own degrees. Upon the UNZ's demise, Canterbury Agricultural College became a constituent college of the University of Canterbury, as Lincoln College.[6] Lincoln College became independent in 1990 as a full university in its own right.

Over the period from 1961 to 1974, the university campus relocated from the centre of the city to its much larger current site in the suburb of Ilam. The neo-gothic buildings of the old campus became the site of the Christchurch Arts Centre, a hub for arts, crafts and entertainment in Christchurch.

For many years the university worked closely with the Christchurch College of Education, leading to a full merger in 2007.[7]

Coat of arms

With the dissolution of the University of New Zealand, the newly independent University of Canterbury devised its own coat of arms, blazoned:

"murrey a fleece argent, in base a plough or, and on a chief wavy or an open book proper bound murrey, edged and clasped or between a pall azure charged with four crosses formy fitchy or and a cross flory azure."

This replaced the arms formerly used by Canterbury College — an unofficial, simplified version of the Canterbury Province coat of arms.

The fleece symbolises the pastoral, and the plough at the base the agricultural background of the province of Canterbury. The Bishop's pall and the cross flory represent Canterbury's ecclesiastical connections, and the open book denotes scholarship.

As it relates to an institution of learning, the University's coat of arms does not have a helmet, crest or mantling on its bearings.

A more detailed history of the arms, including their formal heraldic description, appears on the University website.


The University was awarded the 2006 Cycle Friendly Award for the best cycle-friendly commitment by a public organisation in New Zealand.[8]

Notable alumni and staff



  • Dr Robin Mann ( -2008)
  • Rex Williams (2008- )


  • Rex Williams ( -2008)
  • John Wood (2008- )


  • Professor Roy Sharp (2003-2008)[2][11]
  • Professor Ian Town (1 July 2008 - 31 January 2009) (acting)
  • Dr Rod Carr (1 February 2009 - )


College of Arts
  • Professor Jarg Pettinga (acting) (2009 - )
College of Business and Economics
College of Education
  • Dr Graham Stoop ( - 2007)
  • Professor Gail Gillon (2007- )[13]
College of Engineering
  • Professor Peter Jackson ( - 2009)
  • Professor Jan Evans-Freeman (2009 - )[14]
College of Science
  • Professor Ian Shaw ( - 2009)
  • Professor Paul Fleming (2009 - )[15]


School of Law
  • Associate Professor Richard Scragg

See also


  1. ^ Provider-Based Enrolments
  2. ^ a b University News - Communications and Development - University of Canterbury
  3. ^ TEC appoints new Chief Executive
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ New Zealand Recreation Association press release; accessed 2 January 2010
  9. ^ "Peter Spiller". Faculty of Law. Victoria University of Wellington. 2008-05-01. Retrieved 2008-10-31. "PhD Canterbury" 
  10. ^ "The Judges of the Court of Appeal". Courts of New Zealand. Ministry of Justice. Archived from the original on 2009-10-29. Retrieved 2009-10-29. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Two new PVCs bring international experience". 18 December 2003. 
  13. ^ "College of Education welcomes new Pro-Vice-Chancellor". 5 September 2007. 
  14. ^ "New Pro-Vice-Chancellor for College of Engineering". 29 April 2009. 
  15. ^ "Chemistry Newsletter" (PDF). University of Canterbury Department of Chemistry. 12 June 2009. 

External links

Coordinates: 43°31′24″S 172°34′55″E / 43.52333°S 172.58194°E / -43.52333; 172.58194


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