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Our History

From the 1850s to today

Wanganui Collegiate School has grown from a simple country home in 1854 to today’s 25 hectares and magnificent array of buildings. Yet despite the changes, the theme of boarding and living together with caring academic staff remains true.

The earliest New Zealand Governor, Sir George Grey, granted land to the Anglican Church to found a school in the then tiny settlement of Wanganui to serve its pioneering community. Through economic good times and bad, wars and peace, the School continued to grow. Its original site was in Victoria Avenue but moved to accommodate an expanding roll.

In the early 20th Century, certain of the School’s strength, Collegiate moved to the outermost edge of the land endowment (now well within the modern city’s limits) and built the core of the School as it is today. Sandhills were levelled, lagoons drained and trees planted - much of the work was undertaken by the students. In 1911 the new School opened with three Boarding Houses, a classroom building (‘Big School’), a dining hall and the Headmaster’s residence.

Funds for a new Chapel were raised by the Old Boys during the first Easter Weekend on the new site. The School has continued to grow, with an increase in day student numbers balancing the traditionally strong national and international boarding base. Co-education in the 1990s completed its modern shape.

In January 2016 Heritage New Zealand recognised the historical significance of Wanganui Collegiate with an Historic Place Category 1 listing of the 105 year old campus and many of its buildings. A link to the Heritage List Report which gives a comprehensive account of the School's history and the buildings is below, together with a link to the official listing details on the HNZ website. 

Wanganui Collegiate School Report - Heritage NZ