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Sir James AllenHon. Sir James Allen (Minister for Defence during the War)

The Administration Office building, on the present Clyde Street site was the former home of Sir James Allen, the University of Otago Vice Chancellor 1903 -1909 and Chancellor 1909 -1912. Sir James was also an important New Zealand statesman, being a Member of Parliament, Minister of the Crown and Acting Prime Minister. Arana perpetuates Sir James' last name, translated into Maori.

Rev Dr Harold W Turner

The founder and first Warden was the Rev Dr Harold W Turner. The Turner Wing of the modern Arana complex is named after him and was opened at the beginning of 1994.

Arana College opened in 1943 and is one of the original student residential colleges at the University of Otago. As such it has a rich and interesting history.

Building development

For many years the residents of Arana were accommodated in the converted World War II nissen huts.

Main block

It wasn't until 1962 that the major construction work that resulted in the current 'Main Block' began. The Colombo Plan, a scheme that was designed to increase intra-commonwealth cooperation through education, paid for much of this work.

Bates and Colombo wings

The opening of the Bates and Colombo wings for accommodation in 1968 completed the main design for Arana College. By 1968, the number of residents was around 140, but this continues to grow through the acquisition of property on the streets that surround the main grounds.


During 2002, Warden Jamie Gilbertson and the Arana Management team undertook a review of all systems at Arana. Money was won for a new Boiler and Boiler-House in 2003 and this was constucted in 2004.

Kitchen and dining room, Leithview, Rawiri

The Arana team made a significant capital bid for new accommodation buildings as well as kitchen and dining room. After a demanding year of construction in 2005, three new facilites opened just in time for the 2006 season: Leithview housing 60 residents, as well as Rawiri housing 100 residents and a new kitchen, dining room and common rooms.

Our Oldest Building - Otago University

At the top of the hill, in Clyde Street, are some much grander homes. The Allen house, named Arana (a Maori transliteration of Allen), dates from the 1880s, as do several of the others. Please click on link to read about more historical houses that have been incorporated into Arana College

Arana today

Today we have some 404 residents.

Arana College has produced many notable high achievers in most of the different fields of human endeavour, some of the better known of these include kiwi comedian Jon Gadsby, Olympic gold medallist Nathan Cohen, and child cancer researcher, Prof MD Holdaway.

Arana 70th Reunion

When 1940s residents of Otago's Arana Hall return for its 70th Anniversary celebrations this weekend, the sounds of renovations to its Colombo and Bates Wings could easily have them reminiscing about their first arrival. Click on link above to read more about the amazing young men who founded Arana.

To quote The Urchin, a 1947 Arana magazine: “At the beginning of 1943 the home of the late Sir James Allen was invaded by carpenters and the first student residents almost simultaneously; and to the clatter and bang of hammers, students began their year's work until eventually the hammering stopped and they found their rooms built around them.”

Our Coat of Arms

crest new look compact

Arana and Carrington, the two Colleges at Otago that were created and originally administered by the Stuart Residence Halls Council, are now fully administered by the University of Otago.

The Arms of Arana come from the arms of the Stuart Residence Halls Council, whose motto is Non tantum aedificatio sed sodalitas (not only education but community), with the addition of a three-pointed label (as for an eldest son).

Arana College small

Our College Shield – Arana College alongside Carrington were initially administered by the Stuart Residence Halls Council though they are now both fully administered by the University of Otago.

The Arana shield pays respect to the old Coat of Arms of Arana and merges it with the colours of the university.

The college's motto, displayed at the bottom of the Coat of Arms and shield is “Takina te hoe kia rite – Wield the paddles together."

College colours

Our College colours are maroon and blue.

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