History of Kaikōura High School

A primary school in a paddock went on to produce not one but two schools, one of which became Kaikoura High School. In 1866, the little Ludstone School, situated on the corner of Mt Fyffe and Ludstone Roads, was a single room sole teacher affair. It went on to become the Kaikoura Town School when in 1876, a celebration opened a new ‘school house’ on the ‘Police Paddock’ on Killarney Street, in the growing Kaikoura township. It took until 1903 however, when 20 pupils wanted secondary schooling, that the Education Board approved converting the school to a district high school with its very one and only secondary department. The department was only partially successful though, because not only was attendance often very poor, lack of space was an issue, (the students still had to share a room with upper primary pupils), but more seriously, a fire destroyed the school in March 1905. A revived secondary department reopened in May 1908 in the recently completed new school and the 22 students chose a navy blue blazer with a gold monogram to mark the occasion. The students were still being crammed in with the primary students, so an additional room was built in 1928 and ‘Room 6’was proudly claimed by the secondary department as its own. By 1944 however, 50 pupils were being taught in Room 6 by two teachers, so a two room prefabricated building was put up at the back of the Postmaster’s house to better suit the department’s needs and occupied in 1947. In 1955 a brand new purpose built secondary block was opened to more easily offer the students three types of subjects, namely general core subjects, academic and commercial.

School ‘Houses’ for sports and games were started up in the 1950’s, the first two being Monk and Cooke named after distinguished ex-pupils. Winston F Monk (1912-1954), obtained the dux medal in 1925 and Thomas Cooke (1881-1916), was awarded the Victoria Cross for most ‘conspicuous bravery’ during The Great War. Soon after, two more distinguished ex-pupils were chosen to represent the other two houses namely, Arthur E Flower (1874-1952) and Catherine C Braddock (1881-1922). Both of them had become university scholars.

The translation of ‘Kaikoura District High School to a Forms 1 to 7 High School’ was announced by the Ministry of Education on September 14, 1969. Opening in February, 1971 the school, still on the Killarney Street site, became a separate school with its own governing body. A brand new manual training block opened at the same time. For 9 years after that, the main aim of the Board of Governors was to secure a completely new site for the school. A 1979 South Island newspaper reported that, since the ‘Te Anau’ architectural plan had been chosen for the new school, generous financial contributions had been coming in from all areas of the community, so that , the ‘palatial’ layout and facilities included not only tennis/netball courts, but also a gymnasium ‘unequalled in any other school or district of similar size, or indeed in few other schools or places of any size in New Zealand’.

The grand opening of Kaikoura High School on the corner of Ludstone and Rorrisons Roads was held on Thursday, December 6, 1979 at 1.30pm, (after the Junior Prize Giving had taken place in the morning).

The most devastating event to hit the school to date was the 1993 Christmas flood. The school had to be refurbished, and the front entrance was redesigned, which included relocating the Wharenui to where it now stands at the front of the school, and adding a kitchen facility to the back of it. The refurbishments were completed in time for the 25 Jubilee Year celebrations held in 1995.


Our School Grows Up by J R Spence, 1958

Kaikoura High School Magazine 1971

Kaikoura High School photograph albums/scrapbooks

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