Wanganui Collegiate School

Wanganui Collegiate School

Vestigia Nulla Retrorsum
Liverpool Street, Whanganui,
Manawatu-Wanganui, New Zealand
Coordinates 39°55′44.51″S 175°2′15.48″E / 39.9290306°S 175.0376333°E / -39.9290306; 175.0376333Coordinates: 39°55′44.51″S 175°2′15.48″E / 39.9290306°S 175.0376333°E / -39.9290306; 175.0376333
Type State integrated
Day & Boarding
Denomination Anglican
Established 1854
Ministry of Education Institution no. 192
Headmaster Chris Moller[1]
Years 9–15
Gender Coeducational
School roll 449[2] (July 2016)
Socio-economic decile 9Q[3]
The school and chapel in 1912

Wanganui Collegiate School is a state-integrated coeducational, day and boarding secondary school in Whanganui, Manawatu-Wanganui region, New Zealand. The school is affiliated to the Anglican church.


The Wanganui Collegiate School was founded by a land grant in 1852 by the Governor of New Zealand, Sir George Grey, to the Bishop of New Zealand, George Augustus Selwyn, for the purpose of establishing a school. It was originally a boys-only school but in 1991 began admitting girls at senior levels and went fully co-educational in 1999. The school celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2004.

The school amalgamated with St George’s School in 2010. The combined schools provide primary education for day students on the St George campus, and secondary education for day and boarding students on the Collegiate campus.[4]

Collegiate is an International Member of The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) which represents heads of the leading independent schools in Ireland, the United Kingdom and international schools mainly from the Commonwealth. Wanganui Collegiate is one of only three member schools in New Zealand.

Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, spent two terms in 1982 at the school as a junior master during his gap year.

In November 2012, it was announced that the school would integrate into the state system effective January 2013, after requiring a $3.8 million bailout from the government to stay afloat.[5]

School life

As a boarding school, the house system plays a significant role in student life. Each house (of which there are 6 in total; four for boys and two for girls) accommodates approximately 80 students, and each has its own Housemaster, Assistant Housemaster and Matron. The school houses are named Harvey, Hadfield, Grey, Selwyn, Godwin and Bishops.

The school grounds are also host to numerous sporting facilities, including the Izard Gymnasium, High Performance Cricket Centre, a full-sized Cross Country Course and many team sports fields. The nearby Whanganui River is used by students for rowing training and competitions; Rowing being one of the sports in which Collegiate has traditionally excelled, having won the Maadi Cup 17 times, a national record. The School also hosts the nationally popular Wanganui Cricket Festival each year which sees over 1000 cricketers display their skills throughout the month of January.

Since 1925, the school's 'First XV' rugby team has played Christ's College, Wellington College and Nelson College in an annual quadrangular rugby tournament. In recent times, this tournament has been dominated by Wellington College. Wanganui Collegiate last won in 1991.

Notable alumni


Early history

The first head of the school was Rev. Charles Henry Sinderby Nicholls, who remained at the school from 1854 until 1860. At the time of the Rev. Mr. Nicholls advent, the greater part of the Wanganui Industrial estate-250 acres (1.0 km2) fronting Victoria Avenue, and within ten minutes' walk of the post office was a wilderness of swamp, and hills, scrub, fern ‘toe-toe’, and flax.

It was originally intended as a training school and educational establishment for the poor and indigent natives and half castes of both races in New Zealand and the islands adjacent thereto, but at the very beginning the school was beset by various problems. Not least were the problems of the local community as it found its feet in the new land. The Pākehā and Māori relationship was no worse in Wanganui than elsewhere in the north island, but the cultural differences did affect the early school and the later Māori Land wars certainly curtailed potential growth in the boarding.

There were also sharp differences of opinion amongst the local leading personalities, not only concerning the land development on which the school was sited, but concerning the function of the school itself. There is little doubt that Richard Taylor and Governor Sir George Grey envisaged that the school’s primary function was to be a Native School for Christianizing the Māori. On the other hand, George Augustus Selwyn and Nicholls, laid equal stress on the Industrial Nature of the proposed school, and these two concepts, the Industrial and the Native, tend to clash. The industrial aspect demanded a considerable amount of manual labour, which the Māori resented, and, it is reported, many of the Pākehā colonists objected to their children working alongside the Māori.

One of the main problems which led to the failure of the school only six years after its opening, was the basic philosophy reflected in its original name, ‘The Church of England Native and Industrial School’. Nicholls and Selwyn both appear to have concurred that the school should embrace a variety of concepts and popular ideas originating from the Swiss born Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746–1827) in that they were establishing a school for destitute children of a self-supporting type based on agricultural means. However the Māori inhabitants did not appreciate the industrial philosophy, Nicholls was also accused of exceeded the work/labor aspect and it was accused that he saw the pupils too much in the light of cheap labour. As early as 1853, when concerned about the enormity of the labour required in preparing the school land, he wrote to Selwyn that matters would improve “when we get the labor of the pupils”. Richard Taylor wrote that “the Bishop of New Zealand introduced the industrial or self-supporting system, but it did not succeed. The parents as well as the scholars got the idea that there was more labour than teaching, and that they gave more than they gained.

Nicholls' concept of the industrial school, together with the demands of converting swamp and barren sand ridges to building and agricultural land, undoubtedly clashed with the expectations and demands of the native aspect of the school’s title. This basic interference of one philosophy with another, together with the characters involved sowed the seeds of the troubles for the school in its opening years.


  1. Welcome to Wanganui Collegiate School
  2. "Directory of Schools - as at 2 August 2016". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 2016-08-16.
  3. "Decile Change 2014 to 2015 for State & State Integrated Schools". Ministry of Education. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  4. "Headmaster's Welcome". Wanganui Collegiate. Archived from the original on 27 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-27.
  5. "Bailout of Wanganui Collegiate 'a sign of things to come'". Television New Zealand. 2 November 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2012.
  6. Gustafson 1986, p. 315.
  7. Gustafson 1986, p. 313.
  8. "Eminent Old Alleynians : Sport". Dulwich College. Retrieved 26 August 2009.
  9. "Major Rab Brougham Bruce-Lockhart". Retrieved 26 August 2009.
  10. "Their Brilliant Careers" (PDF). Ingenio. University of Auckland: 24. Autumn 2005. Retrieved 26 August 2009.
  11. Full list with biographies in The Register of the Wanganui Collegiate School, 1854-2003, 7th edition, 2003, ed. P. N Irvine, ISBN 0-473-09863-6, pp 21-23


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