Wellington High School (New Zealand)

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Wellington High School & Community Education Centre
Māori: Te Kura Tuarua o Taraika ki Pukeahu
School Logo
249 Taranaki Street
Wellington, 6011
New Zealand
Coordinates 41°18′03″S 174°46′29″E / 41.3009°S 174.7748°E / -41.3009; 174.7748Coordinates: 41°18′03″S 174°46′29″E / 41.3009°S 174.7748°E / -41.3009; 174.7748
Type State secondary
Motto Excellence in Learning
Established 1886
Ministry of Education Institution no. 273
Principal Dominic Killalea
Grades 913
Gender Coeducational
School roll 1252[1] (February 2018)
Socio-economic decile 9Q[2]

Wellington High School is a co-educational (since 1905) secondary school in downtown Wellington, New Zealand. In 2005 the roll was approximately 1100 students. It was founded in the 1880s as the Wellington College of Design (later the Wellington Technical Art School) to provide a more appropriate education for the Dominion than the narrow academic training provided by the existing schools. It is the first co-educational secondary in New Zealand.[citation needed] It is one of only two schools in Wellington (along with Onslow College), and one of only a few New Zealand secondary schools that does not have a school uniform.

Many of the current buildings date from the 1980s and are in the neo-brutalist style pyramidal roofs.


Wellington High School, and the institutions from which the current school evolved, have a significant place in the history of public education in New Zealand. It was founded in 1886 by Arthur Dewhurst Riley as the Wellington College of Design. In 1891 the school became Wellington Technical School. It moved to its present site on Taranaki Street from Mercer Street in 1922. Riley was a pioneer of technical and vocational education in New Zealand and his views influenced the Manual and Technical Instruction Act of 1900.

In 1964 the secondary and tertiary education parts separated, the upper part becoming Wellington Polytechnical School. Wellington Poly has now become Massey University's Wellington Campus. Other technical schools have also gone on to become tertiary institutions, including Auckland University of Technology and Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology. The school retains a large community education programme.

In 2014, an additional Māori name was chosen to sit alongside the established and venerable name of Wellington High School; "Te Kura Tuarua o Taraika ki Pukeahu". Māori language students were deeply involved in the planning and implementation of the additional name. Taraika is the name of the school Marae. Pukeahu is the area of land on which the school stands. The students presented their idea to the school’s whānau group, Te Whānau a Taraika and the school’s Board of Trustees as well as consultation undertaken with Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o te Ika te mana whenua. The additional name was formally adopted at the school's annual Whakanuia celebration in October 2014.

Current affairs[edit]

The neo-brutalist architecture of WHS

The School was New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Export Awards Education Exporter of the Year 2004.[3]

In 2004, the school made the national headlines when students campaigned for the eviction of the Wellington branch of the Destiny Church, which was using the school hall for its services.[4] Over 50% of enrolled students signing their names to a petition.[5][6]

In 2006, in response to research on Wellington High students,[7] and an award-winning student video,[8] Principal Prue Kelly introduced a scheme which allows senior students' first classes to begin at 10:20am (as opposed to 8:45am). This issue has received much media coverage,[9][10] and generated very little controversy. Principal Prue Kelly was confident that this progressive trial in timetable restructuring will "catch on" and other schools would begin to adopt it as well.

Radio station[edit]

The school had a student-run radio station, LiveWire, which transmitted at 107.1. It had a range of approximately 4 km. The radio station ceased broadcasting at the end of 2007. On 14 February 2011, the radio station was revived as High-Fi FM. It is operated by students from the school. The radio station still has the same specifications of a 4 km broadcast range and runs 24/7 on 107.3FM.[11] [12]

Board of Trustees[edit]

The Wellington High School board consists of eleven appointed and elected members. It is currently chaired by Deanne Daysh.[13]

Notable alumni[edit]


  • Noel Harrison, The school that Riley built: The story of the Wellington Technical College from 1886 to the present day (ASIN: B0007JSZJ2): The history of Wellington Technical College up to 1961.

External links[edit]