Avondale College, Auckland

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Avondale College
Avondale College D Block.jpg
59 Victor Street
New Zealand
Coordinates36°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 typeState
MottoKohia nga taikaka ("Seek the Heartwood")
Ministry of Education Institution no.78
PrincipalBrent Lewis
Years offered9–13
Color(s)Black and white
School roll2773[1] (August 2018)
Socio-economic decile4J[2]

Avondale College is a state coeducational secondary school located in the central Auckland, New Zealand, suburb of Avondale. With a roll of 2773 students from Years 9–13 (ages 12–18),[1] it is one of the largest schools in 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. 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.

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 and CIE for assessments and examinations.[4] CIE was adopted in 2009.


The site and buildings of Avondale College started as an American Naval Hospital in 1943 – U.S. Naval Mobile Hospital Number 6. At that time the United States was preparing for an extended World War II 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.[5]

The facility was designed by Tibor Donner[6] (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, which was originally named "Avondale Technical High School". As New Zealand was still virtually operating under war conditions, supplies and orders for the school were delayed.[5]

Since 1945 the six principals of Avondale College (L.E Titheridge, A.R. Stephenson, W.R. Familton, A.H. Burton, P. R. Raffills, and B. Lewis)[5] have extended and rebuilt the buildings, redeveloped the site and grounds, created an outdoor education camp (Taurewa) in Tongariro National Park,[7] established exchange schools in Japan and Noumea, developed business relationships with the local community, and installed advanced technologies for students and staff.[5]

The school has been used as a location in several films and television commercials. These include the 1979 comedy-drama Middle Age Spread,[8] 1981 horror film Dead Kids,[9] 1995 feature film Bonjour Timothy (which was a joint New Zealand–Canadian production), Disney Channel movie Eddie's Million Dollar Cook-Off, and the Te Mana Advertisement.[citation needed]

The school swimming pool, used in an advertisement for Lemon & Paeroa in 2006,[10] has since been removed.

The school was closed for the day on 24 October 2006, after a fatal stabbing outside its gates on Sunday evening 22 October 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.[11]

In March 2009, a 17-year-old male exchange student stabbed a teacher in the back while he was teaching a Japanese class.[12] The student was subsequently sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay $10,000 in reparation.[13]


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.

Much of the school, including the gymnasium, was rebuilt after a large fire in 1990.[5][6]

On 9 June 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.

The school underwent renovations in 2010–11 which included the building of new science, social science, health, and dance facilities.[14]

Former Prime Minister John Key opened the new mathematics and physics buildings, the C- and D-blocks, on 10 August 2011, which was then the biggest school rebuild project in New Zealand history.[15]

In March 2014, a new atrium, two new two-story buildings, and new sporting courts were built.[16]


At the October 2014 Education Review Office (ERO) review of the school, Avondale College had 2484 students, including 140 international students. 52% of students were male and 48% were 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.[17]

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 and music[edit]

Avondale College has a school orchestra, big band, jazz combos, choir, chamber orchestra, soul band, rock club, string quartet, Performing Arts Academy in Classical and Jazz music, and other chamber ensembles and bands.

The Premier Concert Band was 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 and the National Concert Band Competition. 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 a Gold Award.

The Music department provides a student-based Show Band for the school's annual show. The music department performs at over 50 events in the school and community each year including strong representation at the KBB Festival, Tauranga Jazz Festival, Stand Up Stand Out competition and Auckland School Jazz Band Competition. Public concerts include the Jazz and Soul Night and the Classical Concert.

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, Miss Saigon, Fame, Footloose, and Hairspray.

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 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 13 September 2018". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  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 (10 August 2000). "Feisty principal leaves a rich legacy of respect". The New Zealand Herald.
  4. ^ "About Us". Avondale College. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e "History of Avondale College". Avondale College. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Avondale College". Architecture Now. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  7. ^ "Outdoor Education - Taurewa Camp". Avondale College. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  8. ^ Middle Age Spread on IMDb
  9. ^ "Dead Kids (1981)". IMDb. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  10. ^ "L & P Swimming Pool Bombs". YouTube. 21 July 2006. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  11. ^ "Avondale College opens tomorrow". Newstalk ZB. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007.
  12. ^ "Teacher stabbed in front of 20 students - student charged". The New Zealand Herald. 3 March 2009. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
  13. ^ "Student who stabbed Avondale teacher jailed". Newstalk ZB. ONE News. 24 September 2009. Retrieved 21 March 2015 – via Television New Zealand.
  14. ^ "Newsletter Term 2 2010.pdf" (PDF). Avondale College. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  15. ^ "AVCOL Newsletter 01 2011 Low RES for website.pdf" (PDF). Avondale College. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  16. ^ "Avondale College – Stage 3". NZ Strong. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  17. ^ "Avondale College Education Review". Education Review Office. 21 January 2015. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  18. ^ "John Banks -- Former MPs". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  19. ^ Cleaver, Dylan (11 January 2009). "Cricket: Marty Two-Toes has his foot in the door". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 21 March 2015.
  20. ^ Thomas, Carolyn (17 December 2009). "Meet our lovely star". Western Leader (via Stuff.co.nz). Retrieved 15 February 2015.

External links[edit]