Developments regarding Whitby School's future

Further to the original announcement made by The Samuel Marsden Collegiate School Trust Board on 1 July, there have been new developments regarding Marsden Whitby's future. Please see updates as they happen below: 

Update: 9 August 2019, 6.15pm

Fiso Group Chairman John Fiso ONZM is happy to announce the agreement of terms with the Samuel Marsden Collegiate School Trust Board for the acquisition of the Marsden Whitby School.


Marsden will continue to operate the school until the end of the 2019 school year and the new school, which will be known as Whitby Collegiate School will operate formally from the start of the school year in 2020. This acquisition has no impact on Samuel Marsden Collegiate School in Karori.


Marsden School Whitby is much loved and the announcement of the imminent closure was distressing for the school community. The Marsden School Board was not in a position to continue to run the school beyond 2019.  “It is extremely pleasing that the sale to the Fiso Group will result in the school community continuing to thrive. Whitby Collegiate School intends to retain all of the Marsden Whitby staff, and they will offer the same quality education and student care for which Marsden Whitby is known, valued and loved”, says Marsden Principal Narelle Umbers.


John Fiso Group says that Whitby Collegiate School will operate as a faith based, gospel centred, independent, co-educational school for Years 7-13. It will be the only independent fully co-educational college in the Wellington region. “We acknowledge the contribution of parents, staff, students and the wider school community for their patience and ongoing support during the negotiation time, as well as the Samuel Marsden Collegiate School Boards for their role in working towards completing this important decision. We look forward to working collaboratively with them to ensure a smooth transition. We also look forward to working with this special community in building on the successes of the last 15 years. Whitby Collegiate will be founded on innovation, educational excellence and empathy. Our faith based school underpins our duty of care in encouraging our students to achieve their dreams. Students can enrol in the school with confidence and enrolments for 2020 and beyond are open and being taken by Marsden Whitby school on behalf of us”, says John Fiso.


Enrolments for Whitby Collegiate School in 2020 and beyond are open. For a personal tour, to apply or to organise a day in class for your son or daughter please contact Enrolment Registrar Lorraine Rose on (04) 234 1070 or email The next Open Day is on Friday 23 August between 10am and 2pm.

Update: 24 July 2019, 7pm

On 4 July 2019 the Samuel Marsden Collegiate School Trust Board advised the school community that it was providing the Marsden Whitby parents with the opportunity to negotiate with it regarding the possibility of buying the school as a going concern.


Since then the Board has entered into discussions with John Fiso of Fiso Investment Group Limited, with the support of the Marsden Whitby parents, regarding Fiso's possible purchase of the school as a going concern.


These discussions have resulted in an exclusive Heads of Agreement for the transfer of the ownership and operation of Marsden Whitby to Fiso being signed by the Board and Fiso yesterday. This Agreement does not commit either party to a sale: the detailed terms - including pricing and transitional arrangements - are yet to be agreed. In addition, both parties accept that any sale will be subject to a number of conditions, including required regulatory consents and satisfactory due diligence. So, whilst entry into the Agreement is a significant step, there is still much work to do.

Marsden and Fiso are working hard, and collaboratively, to progress due diligence and agree the detail, so that we can reach a resolution as soon as practicable. We will keep the community posted on any decisions as soon as possible.

Update: 4 July 2019, 4.51pm

The Samuel Marsden Collegiate School Trust Board at a meeting last night confirmed its decision that it is not financially viable for the Trust Board to run Marsden Whitby beyond this year.


However in response to the strong feeling from the school community for the school to remain open the Trust Board has today offered the school community the first opportunity to negotiate the purchase of the school as a going concern. The Trust Board has asked for the group to express an interest in pursuing this option by 26 July. The Board has reiterated that the decision to close the school was made only after a detailed review of operational and financial costs, revenue projections, along with future capital expenditure needs.


A request has also been made to the Trust Board regarding Year 12 boys completing their education at Marsden Karori next year, and this request is under consideration by the school.

Posted: 1 July 2019, 8:29pm

Samuel Marsden Collegiate School appreciates that today’s announcement of the closure of Marsden Whitby School at the end of this year is distressing for the school community.

This is a difficult decision to share and every effort has been made to ensure the entire school community received the news in a timely manner.

Staff were informed at a face to face meeting after school this afternoon, and staff who were away from school today were contacted by phone. Immediately following this conversation with staff, the parents and caregivers of students were informed via email. We wanted to give parents the opportunity to share the news with their children first.

The school’s focus was on ensuring the school community was first to know before the news was released publicly. However, a social media site posted about the closure shortly after the school community was informed. Once the information was available by social media, it was then in the public domain, and Marsden had no choice but to release its public statement to media and other social media pages.

We know foremost the concern for families is where students will attend school next year. Marsden is offering all girls at Whitby school a place at their Karori school. Marsden is also working with other schools to arrange visits for students to help with their school selection.

Whitby School Closure Announcement 1 July 2019

The Samuel Marsden Collegiate School Trust Board has made the difficult and sad decision to close Marsden School Whitby at the end of the 2019 school year. This decision has no impact on Marsden School in Karori, which has been delivering quality education for girls for the past 141 years.


Principal Narelle Umbers advised the school community of the decision on 1 July and says it is with deep regret the Board has reached the conclusion that it is not financially sustainable to continue to run Marsden Whitby beyond this year.


The future of the school has been looked at carefully. The difficult decision to close was only made after the Board explored options to keep the school open. The focus is now on supporting the school community and assisting their transition to new schools. Marsden Whitby staff are committed to continuing to provide Whitby students with a quality education through to the end of the school year. This is an extremely difficult time for our school community and we are supporting and working with students and their families to help them with their school choices for next year.


Marsden Whitby has accomplished much over the past 15 years and the staff, students and families have built a special community spirit at the school. The staff have delivered a quality education and students have excelled academically and outside of the classroom. Many close relationships have been formed, and over the next six months we want to involve our students, staff, families and alumni in how we recognise all the school has achieved.


The decision has no impact on Marsden School in Karori. We will continue to have a strong focus on ensuring girls flourish at Marsden in Karori. The School has recently become New Zealand’s first Visible WellbeingTM School. All Whitby girls will be offered a place at Marsden in Karori and the boys will be assisted in finding a school to continue their education.


If you have any questions please contact Marsden Whitby on (04) 234 1070 or Inge Doig at Marsden Karori (04) 476 8707.