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The 1920s saw the establishment of the NZ Bible Training Institute, with classes beginning on 1 March 1922. Continued growth of student numbers led to the construction of a two-storey building in Queen Street next to the Baptist Tabernacle, opening in August 1927. 

Rev. Joseph Kemp and Dr Charles Rolls shouldered most of the teaching in the early years, and covered synoptically all books of the Bible, Christian Doctrine, Church History, Public Speaking and Practical Methods of Christian Work.Students were involved in evangelistic work; teaching Bible in Schools and Crusader classes, house-to-house visitation, and open-air services. The Reaper magazine, established by Kemp in 1923, became the official magazine of the Institute in 1928. The first graduate left for missionary service in 1924, and within three years of the College beginning, there were graduates serving on five continents. 

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 Rod Gillanders 


  • First student application received on 10 January 1922: Roderick Murdo Gillanders (later to serve as a missionary in Brazil).

  • Miss Annie Grantham appointed as Housekeeper 

  • First matron of men's hostel (Hopetoun Street): Mrs Alex Mill appointed

  • Classes commenced, offering a 2 year course

  • Second Chairman of the Board/President: RL. Stewart


  • Hostel for women students opens in Esplanade Road, Mt Eden.

  • Miss Afra Dyason is the first student from NZBTI to go overseas (India) as a missionary.

  • Annie Grantham appointed matron of men's hostel 1924

  • First Student Evangelistic Mission conducted at Otahuhu

  • First BTI missionary heads overseas


 First Campus: Hopetoun Street 


 Foundation Stone Laying 20 November 1926 


  • J.O. Sanders appointed

  • Land purchased April 27 1926 in Queen Street for new campus (adjacent to Bapt Tab)


  • A purpose-built facility opens on 20 August 1927 at 411 Queen Street to cater for increasing student numbers.

The first five years saw the Institute fully established, contrary to pessimistic forecasts. The 1926 Annual Report stated:

“The Institute, that seemed to many in its initial stages to be merely an experiment, has now become a permanent and potent factor in the spiritual life, not of New Zealand only, but of  the whole word”. (p4, 1925-6 Annual Report)”


  • The Reaper magazine, started by Joseph Kemp in 1923, becomes the official publication of NZBTI with the aim of promoting Bible study and cultivating spiritual life. It is published for 70 years, becoming The Reality magazine in 1994.

  • Andrew M. Johnston appointed Evangelist under the Extension Dept of the Institute


 The 1924 Graduation Class of the New Zealand Bible Training Institute who were presented with diplomas and prizes by the Superintendent at the annual gathering presided over by Mr R.L.Stewart, Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Back Row (left to right): Messrs J. Nicholson, F.E. Tozer, S. Hamilton, W. Searle.

Front Row: Misses Bessie Cuthbertson, Margaret Cuthbertson, Madeline Forgie, and Isa Galbraith. 

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