Wellington High School (New Zealand)

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For other places with the same name, see Wellington High School (disambiguation).
Wellington High School & Community Education Centre
School Logo
Excellence in Learning
Taranaki Street, Wellington, 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 co-educational years 9-13
Established 1886
Ministry of Education Institution no. 273
Principal Nigel Hanton
School roll 1050[1] (July 2015)
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, as Wellington College of Design, in the 1880s with the intention of providing 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 doesn't 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] The church still conducts services at the school.[citation needed]

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 the 14th of 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]


Wellington High School is home to the student run Wellington High School Debating Society The society is highly praised and considered to be one of the most successful currently in the Wellington Speaking Union, since 1996 it has contributed five members to the Wellington Regional team[13] of which three have represented New Zealand at the World Schools Debating Championships. The society has also won the Wellington Senior Premiere A debating grade several times, most recently in 2015. The Society became student run in 2011 and has over 50 members as of 2015.

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]