Dunedin's Selwyn College celebrates 125th jubilee

Former All Blacks are rubbing shoulders with politicians as Dunedin's Selwyn College celebrates its 125th jubilee.

It's been home for thousands of University of Otago students, with traditions including the all-male Selwyn Ballet.

More than 250 former residents returned for Selwyn's big birthday.

The country's oldest residential university college boasts alumni including Rhodes scholars and a Governor-General.

Rugby World Cup-winning captain David Kirk remembers his time there fondly.

"You know, when you go from being a naive school kid and two years later you're a sophisticated university student, Selwyn's in the middle of that. Selwyn's what helped you make that transition."

Residential colleges are a big part of University of Otago life. Around 80 percent of first-years live in one of Dunedin's 15 halls.

Health Minister David Clark both studied and worked at Selwyn, the fifth college Selwyn College warden Ashley Day has helped run.

"Otago's just such a fantastic place," says Mr Day. "I think it's the only real collegial university in the country, where everybody lives almost on campus."

Living together means plenty of time for fun, with activities like the Lindskii Battle against former residents.

One of the most famous traditions is the all-male Selwyn Ballet, part of the annual Capping Show.

Former Prime Minister Bill English missed out on that after an accident while carrying a bath for the annual Leith Run.

"Oh no, I broke my foot in the middle of a bath-stealing expedition. But it did help me meet the young woman who's now my wife, so it turned out okay."

Like many former residents, he saw children, nieces and nephews follow in his footsteps, Selwyn's play hard/work hard attitude helping it survive 125 years of university life.