Trisha Shetty (Editor)

Auckland Grammar School

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Type  State, Day & Boarding
Ministry of Education Institution no.  54
Years  9–13
Founded  1868
Ministry of education institution number  54
Established  1868
Headmaster  Tim O'Connor
Phone  +64 9-623 5400
Gender  Single-sex education
Auckland Grammar School

Motto  Per Angusta Ad AugustaThrough difficulties to greatness.
Address  55-87 Mountain Road, Epsom, Auckland 1023, New Zealand

Auckland grammar school

Auckland Grammar School is a state secondary school for years 9 to 13 boys (ages 13 to 17) in Auckland, New Zealand. It has a roll of 2521 as of July 2016, including a number of boarders who live in nearby Tibbs' House, making it New Zealand's largest single-sex school and placing it among the six largest schools in the country.


Grammar is well known for its eccentric traditions. These include the compulsory Latin subject for higher stream first year students and its continued use of the old system of year names.

Grammar regards itself as the pre-eminent academic secondary school in New Zealand. The local publication Metro claimed that "Grammar's results in the Cambridge system are comparable with most private schools, and it scores extremely well in Scholarship too".

1st xv rugby king s college v auckland grammar school sky tv


The school was established in 1850 by the then Governor-in-Chief, Sir George Grey, and was officially recognised as an educational establishment in 1868 through the Grammar School Appropriation Act. The school was initially privately funded, as New Zealand did not have a state education system until 1877.

Auckland Grammar School buildings contain two Category I historic places, the school's main block and a war memorial. An obelisk located in front of the school commemorates former students who fought in various wars. The school's main block, built in 1916 in the "Spanish Mission" style, is used for daily assemblies, exhibitions, and contains various classrooms. Surrounding the main hall in which the daily assembly is held are the school honours boards listing the names of the school's top scholars including Rhodes Scholars and Girdlers Scholars.

The school owns a facility called the VentureLodge located in the township of Ohakune, in the central North Island, which is used by students for camps.

The school's motto is "Per Angusta ad Augusta" which translates to "Through difficulties to greatness." The school has also translated the motto as "Through rough ravines to hallowed heights." The origin of the motto is uncertain, but it was a common maxim at the time of the school's founding.

A documentary on the school titled Grammar Boys was aired in July 2005 on TV3.

The school has and continues to use streaming and scaling. Streaming is the ranking of students in each year from highest to lowest combined average across all subject areas (something that other schools no longer practice). Those students who achieve similar results are placed in classes. These classes are given a letter from A to Q (depending on form roll size). Students scores are also scaled so that the results of each class are in line with expectations.

An important part of Auckland Grammar culture is the compulsory instruction of Latin. Instruction of Latin in upper streams remains compulsory.

Auckland Grammar School students attend assemblies each day which involved updates and awards as well as a reciting of the school prayer which includes the line "Give us the spirit of truthfulness and manliness".


The main building was constructed in 1916, designed by the architectural firm of Arnold & Abbot. It, and the adjacent caretakers residence are in the Spanish Mission style and probably the earliest example of that style in the country. Following the completion of the main building, three smaller buildings were constructed in the same style; The Library block to the north, the Gymnasium to the south and a toilet block adjoining the main building. In the 1950s, a large Science block was constructed to the south of the main block in a modern style with metal windows. Further to the South again is a concrete Block from the early 1970s raised on Pilotis to give access to the upper playing fields. Between it and the 1920 Gymnasium is a large Gymnasium which was constructed in the mid 1970s and opened by the Prime Minister Robert Muldoon.

Adjacent to the Spanish Mission Style Library from the 1920s is the Centennial Theatre (opened 1969) and the Swimming Pool. This abuts the Motorway, the construction of which in the 1960s removed some of the School's land to the north. Between the 1970s and 2014-2015 a complex of 'prefabs' adjacent to the Mountain Road boundary evolved, built to house the increasing roll, but following the development of a new classroom block in 2015 (see below), these have now been almost entirely removed. The loss of playing space on the upper part of the school property meant new Sports Fields need to be created in two former quarries at a lower level than the original school. Each has a sports Pavilion. Recently the pavilion on the upper field was rebuilt.

Between 2014 and 2015, the toilet block adjoining the main building (affectionately know to generations of pupils as the 'Taj', due to its Spanish Mission-style dome) was demolished and a new building constructed in its place for classroom use.


Historically, because of its reputation, the demand for places in the school has outstripped capacity, and entry was selective. The school was zoned at least since the 1960s. Since 2000, school zoning is determined by a state school enrolment scheme, which gives first preference to students living in a designated home zone, and then to brothers of current students who live outside the zone. The school argues that zoning increases house prices in the zone, reducing access to the school for students from lower socio-economic groups. Research by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand shows there is a 30 percent premium ($257,000) on houses in-zone compared to those out of zone. In 2014, nearby One Tree Hill College and Selwyn College introduced enrolment schemes which initially planned to overlap parts of the Auckland Grammar zone. Both were forced to backtrack after opposition from parents in the overlapping areas, who feared it could ultimately lead to Auckland Grammar shrinking its zone and affecting the resale value of their homes.

Auckland Grammar's requested voluntary donation is the highest for a non-integrated state school in New Zealand. In 2014, the requested donation reached $1050 per student per year. The school claims the donation is high to cover the gap in government funding between it, a decile 9Q school, and the lowest decile schools (i.e. decile 1A). As a comparison, Auckland Grammar's female counterpart, Epsom Girls' Grammar School, asks for a donation of $665, despite also being decile 9Q.

International students are tested for English language proficiency and some students may be required to complete an intensive course of English language before starting at Auckland Grammar School. The international students at Auckland Grammar School paid the highest tuition fees in New Zealand state schools at more than $20,000 each year.


In 2015, 95.1 percent of students leaving Auckland Grammar held at least NCEA Level 1 or IGCSE, 91.6 percent held at least NCEA Level 2 or AS level, and 81.5 percent held at least NCEA Level 3 or A level. This is compared to 87.1%, 76.3%, and 45.8% respectively for boys nationally.

NCEA controversy

The last headmaster, John Morris, is a vocal critic of the NCEA. In response to what is perceived by the school to be a poorly designed system being forced on them, the school introduced Cambridge International Examinations in 2002, offering the IGCSE, AS Level and A2 examinations to its more talented students. Other students sit NCEA exams. Students placed in an IGCSE/AS/A2 class are allowed to switch to NCEA, but this is usually discouraged by the school. However, in the ensuing years the majority of students were encouraged to take part in CIE qualifications. The introduction of New Zealand Scholarship has been viewed sceptically by the school, and it encourages only the top students to attempt it. Despite this, the school had the highest number of scholarships of any school in New Zealand in 2006. And the 2008 Education Review Office (ERO) report commented the School ranks amongst the highest performing schools in New Zealand from the results in national and international examinations. From 2011, the school will only offer the CIE Form 5 programme to all students in Form 5.

School song

The school song was introduced in March 1955. The words were composed in 1954 by L. W. A. Crawley, senior Classics lecturer at Auckland University College (now the University of Auckland). The song consists of two verses in Latin and includes the school motto as a refrain. It is sung to the melody of the German hymn Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (A Mighty Fortress Is Our God).


  • Andrew Simester – Professor, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore. Taught at the University of Cambridge, University of Birmingham and University of Nottingham, where he was the youngest Law Professor in the UK.
  • Colin Maiden – businessman. Vice-chancellor of University of Auckland 1971 to 1994.
  • Denis Feeney – Professor of Classics and Giger Professor of Latin at Princeton University (also attended St Peter's College)
  • Norman Edson – the first Professor of Biochemistry (1949–1967) at the University of Otago School of Medicine
  • Raymond Firth – social anthropologist
  • David Gerrard '58 - CNZM, OBE Emeritus Professor DSM, Commonwealth Games Gold Medal swimming, Winner of Augusta Award 2016
  • Keith Hunter - Professor of Chemistry at the University of Otago
  • Vaughan Jones – Fields Medal winner
  • Hugh Kawharu – Māori scholar
  • Joseph Peart – Headmaster of King's College, Auckland (1936–1942)
  • John Cowie Reid – professor of English and founding chairman of the Mercury Theatre
  • The Arts

  • Russell Crowe – Academy Award-winning actor
  • Leslie David Gibbard '58 (1945-2010), Political cartoonist The Guardian London, Illustrator, Animator, Journalist
  • Max Gimblett – internationally prominent artist
  • Charles Goldie – artist
  • Zane Lowe - Radio DJ, Live DJ, Record producer and television presenter.
  • James McNeish'44 – Novelist, playwright and biographer
  • Andrew Niccol – Academy Award-nominated director, screenwriter & producer
  • Graeme Revell – film and television score composer
  • Gerald Garrick Cunningham - author and photographer
  • Broadcasting

  • John Hawkesby – former news presenter for ONE News and 3 News in New Zealand
  • Business

  • Ernest Hyam Davis – businessman, Mayor of Auckland 1935 to 1941
  • James Fletcher – prominent industrialist and philanthropist
  • John Gordon St Clair Buchanan (Class of '56) – Businessman. Deputy Chairman of Vodafone Group, UK; Chairman of Smith & Nephew plc and Senior independent director of BHP Billiton PLC.
  • Peter Haythornthwaite '58 - OMNZ 2016 for services to product design. Founded Peter Haythornthwaite Design 1979, Creativelab 2007.
  • Ian Narev – CEO, Commonwealth Bank of Australia
  • Richard Chandler – Billionaire Investor
  • Terry Jarvis '58 (businessman) NZ Rich list 2014
  • Literature

  • R. A. K. Mason – Poet
  • A. R. D. Fairburn – Poet
  • John Mulgan – Novelist, editor, journalist and Army officer
  • Public service

  • Alfred E. Allen (1912–1987), Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives
  • David Baragwanath – 1954, retired New Zealand judge
  • Thomas Bavin – 24th Premier of New South Wales
  • Francis Bell – first New Zealand-born Prime Minister of New Zealand
  • Jonathan Coleman – politician. In the November 2008 Election Dr Coleman was Minister for Broadcasting and Immigration, and associate minister of tourism and health.
  • Roger Douglas – politician, 35th Minister of Finance
  • Israel Goldstine – Mayor of One Tree Hill (1931–1947) and Chair of the first Local Government Commission
  • Doug Graham – former Justice and Treaty Negotiations Minister
  • Eric Halstead – New Zealand politician. He was Minister for Social Security 1954–1956, Minister for Industry and Commerce 1956–1957, Minister for Customs 1956–1957
  • Kenneth Hayr – former UK Deputy Chief of the Defense Staff
  • Jonathan Hunt – former Cabinet Minister, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
  • Kenneth Keith – judge on the International Court of Justice
  • George Laking – diplomat and Chief Ombudsman
  • Douglas Maclean – Farmer and MP for the Napier electorate (1896–1899)
  • Duncan McMullin – former judge of the High Court and the Court of Appeal.
  • Leslie Munro – former President of the General Assembly of the United Nations
  • Lockwood Smith – 28th and former Speaker of the House of Representatives
  • Graham Speight – New Zealand High Court judge
  • Sam Lotu-Iiga – Member of Parliament
  • Edward Caradus OBE – Director Educational Services RNZAF WW2. 1939–1945. Chief Inspector Post Primary Schools, 1945–1948 and Headmaster Scots College Wellington 1957–1959.
  • Science

  • Raoul Franklin – physicist, Vice-Chancellor of the City University London (1978–1998)
  • Peter Gluckman – world-renowned scientist and doctor
  • Matthew A. Hunter – inventor of the Hunter process.
  • Graham Liggins – medicinal researcher, founder of the Liggins Institute
  • Sport

    Auckland Grammar has produced the most All Blacks out of any New Zealand school; it has a total of over 50 former All Blacks.

  • Ben Atiga – former All Black
  • Mark Burgess '58 - New Zealand Test cricket captain
  • Hamish Carter – 2004 Summer Olympic gold medalist (triathlon)
  • Jeff Crowe – Test cricket captain and ICC referee
  • Martin Crowe – Test cricket captain
  • John Drake – former All Black
  • Grant Fox – former All Black
  • Aaron Gate – Olympic Cyclist
  • Graham Henry – school coach and also All Black coach (himself a student of Christchurch Boys' High School)
  • Edmund Hillary – explorer and mountain climber. First man to climb Everest, 1953.
  • Doug Howlett – international rugby union player
  • Konrad Hurrell – NRL Player
  • Akira Ioane - All Blacks Sevens & Auckland Blues
  • Rieko Ioane - All Blacks Sevens & All Blacks
  • James Neesham - Blackcap
  • Matthew Ridge – former rugby union and rugby league player
  • Thomas Schnackenberg '58 - OBE, OAM, Nuclear physicist, Sail designer & Co-ordinator Americas Cup Australia & NZ, Inductee Americas Cup Hall of Fame 2000
  • Benson Stanley – former All Black
  • Jeremy Stanley – former All Black
  • Sam Webster – track cyclist 3x World Champion, 2x Commonwealth Games medalist and Olympic Medalist
  • Wilson Whineray – former All Black captain and prominent businessman
  • References

    Auckland Grammar School Wikipedia