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Graduation Ceremonies

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The Institute’s first Graduation was held at the Auckland Baptist Tabernacle in December 1923. Seven students received the Institute Diploma for their two-year course. The Tabernacle continued to be the venue of choice for the NZ Bible Training Institute’s graduations until 1956.

In 1957 the decision was made to hire the Auckland Town Hall for the College’s 35th Graduation ceremony, with 49 students graduating. This was at a time of burgeoning growth for the Institute. With a record 104 students that year, the first-year students had to be squeezed into a lecture room as the dining room could not fit everyone for the Graduation Luncheon. Of the decision to hire the Town Hall, Principal John Deane noted:

“This is in harmony with what we have felt to be God’s direction to lengthen our cords and strengthen our stakes so as to be able to enlarge our tent. Of course, it was an act of faith, an act of reasoned trust. The Town Hall holds 2,500. By commencing time there were less than 200 seats left! We took it to be the Lord’s confirmation of our trust, to expect great things from God, and to attempt great things for Him.” [1]

On this occasion the matron, Miss Jean Jaggers, accompanied the congregational singing on the Town Hall’s pipe organ. When presenting the graduating students to the President of the Institute, Robert Laidlaw, Principal Deane paid tribute to Mr Laidlaw as the only remaining member of the little group who founded the Institute with the late Rev. Joseph Kemp.

Graduation ceremonies were held in the Auckland Town Hall for 26 years, before moving to the Waitakere Athletics Stadium in 1984, and various venues since.

In 1977 Bible College of New Zealand (BCNZ) was recognised as an approved College of the Australian College of Theology (ACT), and for a number of years separate graduations were organised by BCNZ to award students their Diplomas in Ministry and Missiology and Bachelor of Theology through ACT.

In 1991 the College became the first Private Training Establishment to be registered with the new NZ Qualifications Authority and was able to grant its own degrees. Thus, the 1994 Graduation was historic as 39 students wearing the College’s own hoods in red and white (chosen because of their spiritual and NZ’s cultural significance) were awarded the Diploma of Ministries, Bachelor of Ministries, and Bachelor of Divinity.

The College began offering its own Masters’ degrees a few years later, and in the 2000s Teacher Education and Counselling degrees were offered. At Laidlaw College’s 99th Auckland Graduation on 29 October 2022, awards were given to 141 students from 11 different programmes across Theology, Education, and Counselling.


[1] “Principal’s Personal Page” Reaper Vol 35/ No. 11, January 1958, p. 403


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