Our Heritage


In 1922, one of our founders Robert Laidlaw, imagined a college that brought theology to the marketplace in order to form leaders passionate about the biblical story, and capable of being successful across all of society. Robert himself was a man highly respected for his faith, integrity, and successful work in both the church and business world. In August 2008, to honour and reinvigorate this dream, we adopted Laidlaw as the name of our college.


Laidlaw College was founded in 1922 by Reverend Joseph Kemp and businessman Robert Laidlaw. Originally known as the Bible Training Institute (BTI), the College trained men and women in the Scriptures and theology. In 1972 the Institute was renamed the Bible College of New Zealand (BCNZ). The College has continued training men and women for work in the fields of pastoral ministry and mission but has also equipped its students for leadership and service in a broad range of roles across society.

In 2005 the College appointed Dr Mark Strom with a mandate to clarify the College’s vision and purpose and deepen its capacity to inspire and educate men and women for leadership and influence within the churches and society of New Zealand and beyond. Mark led the College through a time of significant transition, including the simplification and strengthening of our programmes, the restructure of regional education, the addition of new senior faculty, the accreditation of the Bachelor of Counselling programme and the formation of the School of Education which formerly operated as MASTERS Institute.

In August 2008, to reflect the broader scope of the programmes offered, the College changed its name to Laidlaw College in honour of Robert Laidlaw (founder of the Farmers Trading Company). He dreamed of a College that brought theology to the marketplace in order to form leaders passionate about the biblical story and capable of being successful across all of society.

In September 2010, Dr Rod Thompson was appointed National Principal/CEO and has led the College through its most recent phase of strengthening and growth.

In 2016, Dr Stephen Garner (Head of School – Theology) and Nigel Smith (Academic Director) were co-chairs of the Senior Leadership Team and led the College throughout the year.

On 1 February 2017, Dr Roshan Allpress commenced as the new National Principal of Laidlaw College.

For a detailed look at our history please go to our www.laidlaw100.ac.nz website, which has been collated in celebration of our Centenary milestone.


Every great story begins with a problem to be solved - an ambiguity that needs clarification - a conflict demanding resolution. The Laidlaw College story is driven by the most profound problem facing humanity: how to live out the Gospel of Christ in a world that is broken, fragmented, and resistant to the grace of God. As a university-level educational institution Laidlaw College is committed to the preparation of graduates who will boldly re-imagine their worlds. As a college with a profoundly Christian story, Laidlaw's imperative is to ground that imagination in the gospel, and to graduate men and women of character, wisdom, grace and love; men and women whose stories have been transformed by the gospel and who burn to see society transformed in the same way.

All good stories are shaped by the diverse characters that inhabit the plot. The Laidlaw College story brings together men and women from many cultures, with experiences that are distinct, and passions and gifts that are unique. Laidlaw's integrated approach to learning facilitates a dialogue that is rich and imaginative, and which honours the distinctiveness of each student's voice. Laidlaw College provides the space in which students not only discover what role they will play in the grand narrative of the gospel, but also what it is to be the community of God's people.

The Laidlaw College story is driven by the desire for resolution that is at the heart of the story of scripture - and at the core of our human condition. It invites you to discover what part in the story you are being called to enact.