Our History

Our History

Built upon our history

Auckland Grammar School in 1920

Auckland Grammar School was originally endowed by the Governor of New Zealand, Sir George Grey, in 1850.

Grey made a series of land grants to set up and maintain a grammar school in Auckland that was to be "for the education of all New Zealanders". In 1869, the School was officially opened in Howe Street with 68 boys on the roll by the Duke of Edinburgh.

During the Depression of the 1880s, girls from the Girls' High School joined the Auckland College and Grammar School as it was then known, mainly out of economic necessity. In 1899, the School once again became known as Auckland Grammar School, but girls remained on the roll through until 1909.

Having made several moves throughout its first four decades, the School's current Mountain Road site was acquired between 1911 and 1913.

During the intervening years of World War I, Grammar embarked upon an ambitious and far-sighted building programme, which included the Spanish Mission style main building that is today listed with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

The School's War Memorial was built to pay tribute to those who served and lost their lives while serving in World War I.

As the School's roll grew, a number of specialist facilities were built later that century and into this century.

Year

Poignant events

1850-1854

Governor Sir George Grey made a series of land grants with the objective of setting up and maintaining a 'College and Grammar School'. The Trust Board then waited more than 14 years to be in a position where income from the land could support a school.

1868

By act of the Auckland Provincial Government, a Grammar School was founded and given the old Immigration Barracks in Howe Street and three acres of land.

1869

Auckland Grammar School was officially opened by the Duke of Edinburgh. 68 boys whose parents were willing and able to pay their tuition were enrolled and a Cadet Corps was mustered and trained as part of Auckland's defences.

1871

The growing school moved across to the Albert Barracks in Princes Street. Mr F. Macrae succeeded Dr R. B. Kidd as Headmaster and the following year, the school was named Auckland College and Grammar School.

1878-1880

Having left the Albert Barracks and been moved into three makeshift locations nearby, a new permanent building for the School was opened by Sir George Grey in Symonds Street. For over 40 years, Auckland College and Grammar School remained in Symonds Street, on a few acres now occupied by the University's School of Architecture.

1882

Mr C. F. Bourne was appointed Headmaster. Despite the Depression years and lack of funds, academic standards were raised and the number of free places for boys increased.

1888

With the Depression and withdrawal of Parliament's annual grant to the Girls' High School, girls were accepted into Auckland College and Grammar School. The sexes were kept strictly separate: "co-education without co-existence".

1893

Mr J. W. Tibbs replaced Mr Bourne as Headmaster. The 30 years during which Tibbs was Headmaster proved a great period in the School's history, which included the completion of the monumental Californian Mission style main building in Mountain Road.

1899

Although still co-educational, the School's name was changed back to Auckland Grammar School. By this time it was the largest and most important school in New Zealand.

1909

The long-awaited Auckland Girls' Grammar School was opened on the old Howe Street site and Auckland Grammar School reverted to being an all-boys' school.

1911-1913

Grammar acquired its present site on Mountain Road from the Crown. 15 acres of surplus prison land made up of a vast rocky, brush-covered wasteland overlooking Mt Eden Prison and including a rifle range. Following a keenly-contested architectural competition and later completion of plans, the foundation stone was laid on 1 December 1913.

1914-1918

Despite the changes in fortune and shortages brought about by the Great War, construction on the new site proceeded and the new building was officially opened on 26 April 1916, by the Governor-General, the Earl of Liverpool. The total cost was £31,450 with little furniture.

Messurs Arnold and Abbott, the winning architects, had toured Southern California and been most impressed by the Spanish-Californian Mission style architecture. This had been popularised and modified in the early 1900s but was in fact based on the mission churches built along the Californian coast in the 1770s. The plans for the new school represented an 'H', with two storeys of classrooms opening onto a large arched assembly hall.

From the inside of the rectangle, at the four corners, rose four square towers each capped with a Moorish dome. Arches and pillared colonnades, together with heavy overhanging eaves and a Marseilles tile roof, also mirrored the Californian origin of the design while the roughcast stone exterior imitated the thick adobe walls of the missions seen at Santa Barbara and San Fernando.

Highly visible from many parts of the city, Auckland Grammar School's new Californian Mission style architecture is one of the few examples of this style to be found in Australasia.

1922

Work on the War Memorial in front of the main building began and the central column, topped by a bronze figure of a youth, was unveiled.

Mr J. W. Tibbs retired and Mr J. Drummond became Headmaster. Mr Drummond was the first New Zealand born and Old Boy Headmaster, as well as a University Entrance Scholar from 1890. The upper sports ground area was levelled, earthed and grassed and bordered by a fine wall of boulders from the site.

1927-1928

The first gymnasium was completed. There was continuing success in both academic and sporting records, expansion to the School Sports scheme, and the first playing of the annual rugby match against King's College on Grammar's own grounds. In addition, the first Inter Secondary Athletics Meeting was held, and soccer was introduced.

1929

The year of the School's 60th Jubilee celebrations and Mr J. D. Mahon was appointed Headmaster.

1931

The Library, primarily a Jubilee gift from the Old Boys, was opened.

1935

Mr Mahon retires and Grammar Old Boy Mr C. M. Littlejohn is appointed Headmaster. He was previously Headmaster of Takapuna Grammar School for eight years.

In the midst of the Depression, the School struggled to maintain standards and equipment. There were shortages of most books, lab materials and sports equipment, and building maintenance and travel were curtailed.

1939

World War II erupted in Europe and thousands of New Zealand youths, including senior schoolboys, went off for training and eventually to battle, for King George VI and Empire, in Libya, Egypt, Italy and later, the South Pacific. A Cadet Corps was formed, with virtually every boy in it. Slit trenches were dug around the building.

1944

The School's 75th Jubilee celebrations take place. The Old Boys' Association pledged a Sports Pavilion to the School.

1953

Extensions to the War Memorial were completed and unveiled by the Governor-General, Sir Willoughby Norrie. The names of those Grammar Old Boys who had lost their lives were listed at the base of the Memorial.

1954

Mr W. H. Cooper became the new Headmaster and the Science Block was opened by the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon G. S. Holland. The original Sports Pavilion was built as a gift from the Old Boys' Association and members of the Grammar community. The rest of the upper ground was cleared of boulders and levelled and grassed for soccer.

1962

A boarding hostel was opened and named in honour of former Headmaster Mr Tibbs. Tibbs House was located opposite the upper ground and accommodated 90 boys.

1963

The construction of the Southern Motorway alongside the School removed the lower sports ground and at the same time exposed the deep lava flow on which Grammar stands. This cliff with the School and War Memorial in front is still one of the most impressive landmarks to be seen along the motorway. New sports grounds were developed below the ridge in the old prison quarry.

1967

The Specialist Block opens, including Physics and Language labs, Music and Geography rooms and an audiovisual theatre.

1969

Centennial celebrations begin on 29 May and the Centennial Theatre, with seating for 360 and a swimming pool beside it, is opened the following day by the Governor-General, Sir Arthur Porritt. Both were strongly supported and funded by the Old Boys' Association.

1972

Mr Cooper retires and Mr D. J. Graham is appointed new Headmaster.

1978

The new gymnasium is opened by the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon Robert Muldoon. The facility was jointly funded by the Old Boys' Association, Parent-Teachers' Association, students and the Government.

1981

A new Sports Pavilion, also a combined gift, came into use for the lower grounds, which now include six new tennis courts as well as expanded sports fields.

1983

The first annual travelling scholarship for a Grammar master was awarded.

Mr C. M. LIttlejohn, who was Headmaster from 1935 to 1954 (through the Depression and World War II years) dies.

1984

The new Music Suite, beside the Centennial Theatre, is opened.

1985

The new Art and Technical Block is completed at a cost of $750,000.

1988

Relocatable classrooms are moved to their new location on the raised section of the upper field.

1990

The Science Block extension is opened by the Mayor of Auckland, Dame Cath Tizard. The School's Outdoor Education Lodge in Ohakune, Venturelodge, is purchased by the School for the use of Form 4 camps and senior leadership camps, as well as for senior subjects study such as Geography and Biology.

1991

The artificial sand-based hockey turf is opened on the Normanby Road playing field. The Careers Department is relocated to what was the 'Senior Common Room' adjacent to the swimming pool.

A new specialised English Block is opened adjacent to the Library and Art and Technology Block.

1992

Auckland Grammar School wins the Secondary Schools' Rowing cup, the Maadi Cup, for the first time.

1993

Sir D. J. Graham, CBE retires after 21 years as Headmaster. Mr J. Morris becomes Headmaster after being Principal of Takapuna Grammar School for almost four years.

1994-1995

The historic Main Block is re-strengthened as part of a Ministry of Education project at a cost of $6.5 million. The Main Block remained out of commission for over a year, with assemblies being held on the upper field on fine days.

The School purchased 17 houses along Clive Road and Barnett Crescent from the Ministry of Justice, most of which are now rented to teachers at the School.

1996

Auckland Grammar School enters the digital age with the appointment of a Director of Information Services and the creation of a computer network and suite of computers.

1997

The extension and refurbishment of the School Library begins, the School swimming pool is heated and approval is gained to build the Hostel masters' accommodation on the Tibbs House site.

A Business Manager is appointed to oversee the non-teaching aspects of the School, which reflects the impact of the self-managing Schools policy on the secondary sector.

1998

The English Block is refurbished and the Headmaster's residence is created at 8 Clive Road, adjacent to Tibbs House.

New practice rooms are built in the Music Suite and an extension to the Specialist Block is built, including classrooms, resource areas and office space.

1999

The Auckland Grammar School community is saddened by the sudden death of Mr I. D. Mackinlay, Associate Headmaster.

The Health Centre is opened and the Tuck Shop is extended and upgraded. New changing rooms are built beside the heated swimming pool and a new weight training room is created under the Specialist Block extension. The Library extension is completed. The No. 3 rugby field converted to a sand carpet field.

The Development Office and Foundation Trust is set up to help raise additional money for the School, focusing on the Academic Endowment Fund to help recruit, retain and reward our best teachers, the new Sports Complex and the Annual Giving Programme.

2000

Auckland Grammar School introduces international examinations to New Zealand in addition to NCEA. The University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) are trialled for the first time in New Zealand.

2002

The School's new Technology Block is built and the Learning Support Department moves into the refurbished area that was previously home to the Technology Department. Two new classrooms are built on the 'D' floor of the Main Block, which were originally the tractor sheds.

The lower football fields are refurbished into sand carpet fields.

2003

The ground floor of the new Technology Block is converted into two Computer labs plus office and resource space. The building wins a national architectural award.

Foundations are laid for a new three-level extension to the Specialist Block.

2004

The new Specialist Block extension is completed, housing the History, Geography and Languages Departments.

Plans are drawn up for a new Sports Centre.

The Caretaker's Cottage is renovated and designated as Augusta House, the new base for the Development Office and the Old Boys' Association. The Augusta Fellowship, the School's bequest society, was established.

Old Boy Hamish Carter won Grammar's first Olympic gold medal in the Triathlon in Athens.

2005

The School's roll reaches 2500, as a result of government enrolment legislation that guarantees enrolment for all boys living in the 'Grammar Zone'.

An all-weather sports practice turf is created on the upper field.

The original Specialist Block is restrengthened as part of a Ministry of Education programme.

A full suite of Cambridge International Exams is offered for the first time: IGCSE, AS and A Level and Auckland Grammar School students gain exceptional results.

The UK Friends of Auckland Grammar School is established.

2006

Issues with the Ministry of Education over zone requirements continue.

The new Sports Centre is opened by the Minister of Education, Mr Mallard. It incorporates a double gym space, three classrooms, a staffroom and resource area and four changing rooms.

The original gym (built in the 1930s) is converted into a Study Centre for senior students.

Plans are sought for the construction of a new Pavilion and Squash Courts on the upper field.

2007

The upper field is converted to a sand carpet base. The Old Boys' Pavilion and Squash Courts are opened by Old Boy Sir Wilson Whineray, replacing the original pavilion.

Over 50 schools throughout New Zealand are now involved in CIE exams.

The Old Boy of the Year Award is replaced by the annual Augusta Awards.

2008

Grammar's most famous Old Boy, Sir Edmund Hillary, passed away.

2009

Dr Robert Kirkpatrick retires from the Chairmanship of the Board of Trustees after a tenure of 12 years.

2010

Mr A. J. Blackburn '67 becomes Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

The School's Heritage Hall Forms fundraising initiative is launched.

The Pavilion Changing Rooms are opened.

A legislative change allowed sons of Old Boys to attend the family school from out of zone.

2011

The School secured its second Maadi Cup in rowing.

Sir D. J. Graham CBE, Grammar's ninth Headmaster, is awarded a KNZM in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

IGCSE is made available to all Form 5 students.

The refurbishment of the World War I War Memorial takes place.

2012

The School's boarding establishment, Tibbs House, celebrated its 50-year anniversary.

Headmaster Mr J. Morris retires at the end of Term 3. Mr T. O'Connor becomes the School's 11th Headmaster.

2014

The construction of the New Classroom Block, which will be connected to the B floor of the Main block, starts in May.

Auckland Grammar School and King's College celebrate the 200th game of 1st XV rugby with a lavish dinner at Vector Arena with over 1,300 people from both schools in attendance.

The first full School assembly (the 2014 Colours Assembly) is live-streamed.

2015

The 2015 Form 3 cohort start their journey at Auckland Grammar School and will be the Form 7 leaders when the 150th celebrations take place in 2019.

The New Classroom Block is officially opened by His Excellency, Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae GNZM QSO, Governor-General of New Zealand.

The pre-fab 'O Zone' buildings are removed and the field adjacent to Clive Road is re-established in September 2015.

2016

The School introduces Te Reo Maori as a compulsory subject for all Form 3 students.

The School's Main Block turned 100 with a grand event in April.

The inaugural Grammar Art House Tour took place in November with a Launch event featuring over 30 pieces of student art, a live auction and a tour of 10 beautiful houses within the Grammar zone, with four art galleries exhibiting a number of their artists.

A new year-round astro turf is built adjacent to the Hockey Pavilion, perfect for Rugby and Football.

2017

The 2017 Form 5 cohort are the first year group to have an 8-period day, studying six subjects. This gives them more flexibility when it comes to choosing options in Forms 6 and 7.

2019

Auckland Grammar School will celebrate its sesquicentenary with a myriad of celebrations.