Avondale College, Auckland

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Avondale College
59 Victor Street
Auckland 1026
New Zealand
Coordinates 36°53′27″S 174°41′25″E / 36.8907°S 174.6903°E / -36.8907; 174.6903Coordinates: 36°53′27″S 174°41′25″E / 36.8907°S 174.6903°E / -36.8907; 174.6903
Funding type State
Motto Kohia nga taikaka (Seek the Heartwood)
Established 1945
Ministry of Education Institution no. 78
Principal Brent Lewis
Years offered 9–13
Gender Coeducational
School roll 2603[1] (October 2014)
Socio-economic decile 4J[2]

Avondale College is a state coeducational secondary school located in the central-western Auckland, New Zealand suburb of Avondale. With a roll of 2603 students from Years 9 to 13 (ages 12 to 18),[1] it is one of the largest schools in New Zealand.


Avondale College, Auckland, New Zealand

The principal of Avondale College and head of the 180 teachers is Brent Lewis. Many staff members of Avondale College come from Britain, through frequent teacher recruitment trips by the principal. Lewis became principal in 2001 after the death of Phil Raffills,[3] who went to great lengths to reform the school. Raffills oversaw the redevelopment of the school buildings after much of the site was destroyed in a fire in 1990.

Brent Lewis took over from acting principal (former deputy principal) Warren Peat, who went on to become principal of Saint Kentigern College.

Chairman of the board is Kevin Glubb.

Avondale College students wear a black and white uniform with the school crest on it that has variations depending on year level and gender, which changed from an older black, white and grey one in 2004. Formal attire is blazers and ties.

Avondale has a sister school in Japan called Daito Bunka, which is a preparatory school for Daito Bunka University, Tokyo.

The school has adopted NCEA for assessments and examinations. Cambridge International Examinations have also been adopted as an alternative to NCEA in 2009 and onwards.


The site and buildings of Avondale College began their life as an American Naval Hospital in 1943: U.S. Naval Mobile Hospital Number 6. At that time the USA was preparing for an extended Second World War battle in the South Pacific and Auckland was chosen as one of a few New Zealand cities for hospitals to tend the wounded army and naval personnel.

The facility was designed by Tibor Donner (then in the NZ Public Works Department) and was built by Fletcher Construction. The Department of Education had some of the site planned for a new secondary school to cope with the overcrowding of Auckland secondary schools. The hospital was given first priority, but a small portion of the buildings were built in permanent materials so that the wards, the gymnasium, the hall and some other buildings could be converted into a school at the end of the war. The extent of the hospital was huge, taking up all of the present school site as well as the nearby Rosebank Park and fields.

The war in the Pacific did not reach the scale preparations had been made for, and the hospital was not used to care for war casualties. In February 1945 a single school committee was appointed to supervise the use of the hospital as a school. As New Zealand was still virtually operating under war conditions, supplies and orders for the school were delayed.

Since 1945 the six principals of Avondale College (L.E Titheridge, A.R. Stephenson, W.R. Familton, A.H. Burton, P. R. Raffills, B. Lewis) have extended and rebuilt the buildings, redeveloped the site and grounds, created an outdoor education camp (Taurewa) in Tongariro National Park, established exchange schools in Japan and Noumea, developed business relationships with the local community, and installed advanced technologies for students and staff.[citation needed].

Much of the school, including the gymnasium, was rebuilt after a fire in 1990.

The school was used in the 1995 feature film Bonjour Timothy, a joint New Zealand/Canadian production, and in the Disney Channel movie, Eddie's Million Dollar Cook-Off and the Te Mana Advertisement.

The school swimming pool was used in an advertisement for Lemon & Paeroa in 2006.[4]

The school was closed for the day on October 24, 2006, after a fatal stabbing outside its gates on Sunday evening October 22, 2006. Fourteen-year-old Manaola Kaume`afaiva died after being stabbed in the chest. Manaola, a student at the College, was attending a church event.[5]

A male teacher (Mr Warren) was stabbed in the back with a knife while teaching a Japanese class on 3 March 2009, by a Korean exchange student studying in the college.[6]

Former New Zealand Hockey captain, Jamie Smith, is director of Commerce at Avondale College.


D Block, part of the first phase of Avondale College's rebuilding project.

The Avondale College school grounds feature a science and IT building as well as a gymnasium, a maths and science block, sport fields, an astroturf complex, a theatre, orchestra pit and flexible seating which can hold up to 700 people.

On June 9, 2006, the New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark visited Avondale College to open the new technical subjects building, the Ferguson Building, that had already been in use through the second half of 2005. It is named after the head of the Chemical and Materials Engineering department at the University of Auckland, Professor George Ferguson, who for many years served the college on the Board of Trustees.

Avondale College is undergoing the second of a three-phase renovation project.[7] This will see the entire school rebuilt, with the old prefabricated buildings being replaced by new two-storey departments with flying walkways between them.

The first and second reconstruction has been completed with State of the Art architecture and opened in 2011 by New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key. This has created new C & D Blocks that have been upheld for Mathematics, Science & Social Studies classes. Each building has engraved the school's motto of " Kohia Nga Taikaka " - Seek The Heartwood & the logo on the building's sides. The third & last reconstruction that will hold new classrooms for subjects such as English, Media Studies & Social Studies will take place at the end of 2012. The new rebuild was estimated to cost around $22 million.[8] Government funding and approval for the third phase is still pending.


At the 2014 Education Review Office (ERO) review of the school, Avondale College had 2484 students, including 140 international students. The school roll's gender composition was 52% male and 48% female. The school is highly multicultural, with at least eleven identifiable ethnic groups; at the ERO review, 21% of students identified as New Zealand European (Pākehā), 15% as Samoan, 12% as Māori, 11% as Indian, 7% as Chinese, 5% as South East Asian, 4% each as African and Tongan, 3% each as Cook Islands Māori and Niuean, 2% each as Fijian and Middle Eastern, and 11% as another ethnicity.

The school has a socio-economic decile rating of 4J (low-band decile 4), meaning it draws its school community from areas of moderate to moderately-high socio-economic disadvantage when compared to other New Zealand schools. The current decile came into force in January 2015, after a nationwide review of deciles following the 2013 Census. Previously, Avondale had a decile of 4L (high-band decile 4).[2]

Arts & Music[edit]

Avondale College has a school orchestra, big band, jazz combo, concert band, choir, chamber orchestra, soul band, rock club, string quartets and other chamber ensembles and bands.

The Premier Concert Band is one of the major music bands of the school, travelling to Sydney in June 2006 to participate in the International Music Festival, where they were awarded a Silver Award. The band has also been awarded Bronze, Silver and Gold at numerous other competitions, such as the KBB Music Festival, the National Band Competition and the Tauranga National Jazz Festival.

Also participating in Sydney's International Music Festival competition that year was the college's string group Spiccato. This octet also received a Silver Award and was one point off receiving the Gold Award.

Avondale College offers instrument tuition through itinerant teachers and has instruments available for students' use. It provides a student-based Show Band for the school's annual show. Concerts are held throughout the year to showcase the department's talents. These include the Friends and Family Concerts, Jazz and Soul Concert, Classical Concert and Best of the Best Concert. The music department has several classrooms, a computer suite with Sibelius software, a Steinway grand piano and a recording studio.

Avondale College has been named one of the best New Zealand secondary schools in performing School Shows. They each occur annually and is usually a musical. In the past times, the school has performed plays, but ended in the early 2000s all performed at the Avondale College Theatre. Recent shows have included Grease, High School Musical, South Pacific, Guys and Dolls, Oliver! , Godspell, and Fame.

The school musical for 2013 was Miss Saigon, a story of romance between an American GI and a Vietnamese bar girl, based on Giacomo Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly.

Avondale College has participated in the Rock Eisteddfod Challenge (Stage Challenge) for many years and have been placed numerous times. The school has won first place successfully with two wins all in a row within their divisions. Each win in 2011 and 2012. In 2013, they placed second overall. The school has been well awarded on many awards of dance and drama in the competition.

Notable alumni and staff[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Directory of Schools - as at 5 November 2014". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 2014-12-06. 
  2. ^ a b "Decile Change 2014 to 2015 for State & State Integrated Schools". Ministry of Education. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  3. ^ Stacey Bodger and Bernard Orsman (August 10, 2000). "Feisty principal leaves a rich legacy of respect". The New Zealand Herald. 
  4. ^ "L & P Swimming Pool Bombs". YouTube. 2006-07-21. Retrieved 2012-03-24. 
  5. ^ Avondale College opens tomorrow[dead link]
  6. ^ "Teacher stabbed in front of 20 students - student charged". The New Zealand Herald. 3 March 2009. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  7. ^ "Pacifecon Analysis Of Top-end Building & Construction Activity In New Zealand During February 2010". voxy.co.nz. Retrieved 9 August 2010. 
  8. ^ "Building Project". avcol.school.nz. Archived from the original on 16 July 2010. Retrieved 9 August 2010. 
  9. ^ Thomas, Carolyn (17 December 2009). "Meet our lovely star". Western Leader (via Stuff.co.nz). Retrieved 15 February 2015. 

External links[edit]