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Auckland Grammar School

Auckland Grammar School
The school is built in 'Spanish Mission' style architecture.
Per Angusta Ad Augusta
Through difficulties to greatness.[1]
87 Mountain Road
Auckland 1023
New Zealand
Type State, Day & Boarding
Established 1868
Ministry of Education Institution no. 54
Headmaster Tim O'Connor
Years 913
Gender Boys
School roll 2499[2] (July 2015)
Socio-economic decile 9[3]

Auckland Grammar School is a state secondary school for years 9 to 13 boys in Auckland, New Zealand. It has a roll of 2499 as of July 2015,[2] 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.[4]

Grammar regards itself as the pre-eminent academic secondary school in New Zealand.[5] 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".[6]


  • History 1
  • Architecture 2
  • Enrolment 3
  • Academics 4
    • Results 4.1
  • Controversies 5
    • NCEA controversy 5.1
    • Allegations over Nazism worship 5.2
  • School song 6
  • Headmasters 7
  • Notable alumni 8
    • Academia 8.1
    • The Arts 8.2
    • Broadcasting 8.3
    • Business 8.4
    • Literature 8.5
    • Public service 8.6
    • Science 8.7
    • Sport 8.8
  • Notes 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


The school was established in 1850 by the then

  • Official school website
  • Regularly updated school intranet
  • Education Review Office (ERO) reports for the school
  • Biography of past Headmaster J.W. Tibbs

External links

  • Nicholls ("Streak"), C. N. (1987). Fifty Years at Grammar or Tales out of School. Auckland: ESA Books. 
  • Trembath, K. A. (1969). Ad Augusta. Auckland: The Auckland Grammar School Old Boys' Association.  


  1. ^ "Augusta Fellowship". 
  2. ^ a b "Directory of Schools - as at 17 August 2015". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 2015-08-20. 
  3. ^ "Decile Change 2014 to 2015 for State & State Integrated Schools". Ministry of Education. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  4. ^ "New Zealand Schools – Education Counts". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 9 September 2011. 
  5. ^ Top Academic School | Auckland Grammar School. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
  6. ^ "Auckland Grammar School". Metro Magazine. July–Aug 2011. 
  7. ^ Auckland Grammar School (----). "Enrolment". Auckland Grammar School. Archived from the original on 21 June 2006. Retrieved 2 July 2006. 
  8. ^ "Auckland Grammar School (Main Block)". Register of Historic Places.  
  9. ^ "War Memorial, Auckland Grammar School". Register of Historic Places.  
  10. ^ Auckland Grammar School (----). "School Campus". Auckland Grammar School. Archived from the original on 5 May 2006. Retrieved 2 July 2006. 
  11. ^ Venture Lodge | Auckland Grammar School. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  12. ^ Trembath, 358.
  13. ^ Trembath, 55.
  14. ^ "Programme Catalogue". New Zealand On Air. ----. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 2 July 2006. 
  15. ^ About Grammar | Auckland Grammar School. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Enrolment | Auckland Grammar School. (6 September 2010). Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  18. ^ Nichols, Lane (27 January 2015). "Revealed: Cost of buying in Auckland's top school zones". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 24 February 2015. 
  19. ^ Jones, Nicholas (23 July 2014). "College backs down on zoning plan after hostile feedback". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  20. ^ Wynn, Kirsty (26 January 2014). "Auckland school donation exceeds $1k". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 17 February 2015. 
  21. ^ "Financial Support". Epsom Girls' Grammar School. Retrieved 17 February 2015. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ Application Process for International Students | Auckland Grammar School. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  24. ^ "School Qualifications -- Auckland Grammar School". Ministry of Education. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  25. ^ Grammar School, Auckland (7 May 2006). "NCEA Scholarship Results 2006". Auckland Grammar School. Archived from the original on 30 June 2007. Retrieved 5 July 2007. 
  26. ^ Review Report, Education (7 October 2008). "Education REVIEW REPORT:AUCKLAND GRAMMAR SCHOOL, OCTOBER 2008". Education Review Office. Retrieved 7 June 2010. 
  27. ^ Grammar School, Auckland (26 June 2010). "Extension of IGCSE to Form 5 in 2011". Auckland Grammar School. Retrieved 7 June 2010. 
  28. ^
  29. ^ Trembath, 313.
  30. ^ Page22: Augusta Awards
  31. ^ A serial director who has seen it all.
  33. ^ Denis Feeney ’68 | Auckland Grammar School. (PDF) . Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  34. ^ Raymond Firth
  35. ^ Sir Hugh Kawharu | Auckland Grammar School. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  36. ^ Sir Roger Moses ’68 | Auckland Grammar School. (2 September 2009). Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  37. ^ Russell Crowe: Sweet, egotistical and charming – one of the biggest entertainment stars at. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  38. ^ Max Gimblett ’50 | Auckland Grammar School. (PDF) . Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  39. ^ Charles Goldie. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  40. ^ a b Page 22: Augusta Awards
  41. ^ The New Zealand Edge : Media / NEWZEDGE : Arts: Russell Crowe:
  42. ^ BIOGRAPHY – Sir James Fletcher. The Fletcher Trust. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  43. ^ [2]. Dr John Gordon St Clair Buchanan. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  44. ^ Gustafson, Barry (1986). The First 50 Years : A History of the New Zealand National Party. Auckland: Reed Methuen. pp. 296–297.  
  45. ^ Sir Thomas Rainsford BAVIN [Former Member]. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  46. ^ New Zealand Government Ministers Hon Doug Graham. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  47. ^ Augusta Awards / Old Boy of the Year | Auckland Grammar School
  48. ^ Sir Kenneth Keith | Auckland Grammar School. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  49. ^ Sir George laking dies at 95, ending a life of public service | New Zealand's local news community
  50. ^ "Obituary".  
  51. ^ Sir Duncan McMullin ’40 | Auckland Grammar School. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  52. ^ SIR LESLIE MUNRO – 12th Session. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  53. ^ Hon Dr Lockwood Smith ’61 | Auckland Grammar School. (PDF) . Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  54. ^ Sir Graham Liggins | Auckland Grammar School. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  55. ^ "All Sports". Auckland Grammar School. Retrieved 18 April 2015. 
  56. ^ New Zealand All Blacks Player Profiles, Match Details and Statistics. (5 May 1983). Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  57. ^ Hamish Carter | Auckland Grammar School. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  58. ^ a b Russell Crowe Media Man Australia. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  59. ^ New Zealand All Blacks Player Profiles, Match Details and Statistics. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  60. ^ Wales Coach Archive: Graham Henry: 1998 – 2002. WRU. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  61. ^ Sir Edmund Hillary | Auckland Grammar School. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  62. ^ Doug Howlett (rugby player) – Biography Research Guide. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  63. ^ New Zealand All Blacks Player Profiles, Match Details and Statistics. Retrieved 10 August 2011.


Auckland Grammar has produced the most All Blacks out of any New Zealand school; it has a total of over 50 former All Blacks.[55]



Public service



  • John Hawkesby – former news presenter for ONE News and 3 News in New Zealand
  • Kipsan Beck – former news presenter for Channel 11 Morning Talk, MCOTWorld, NBT, MCM, MTV in Thailand


The Arts


The main building shortly after its completion in 1916

Notable alumni

Period Headmasters
1869–1870 Dr Robert Boyd Kidd, BA, LLD (Dublin)
1871–1882 Farquhar Macrae
1882–1892 Charles Frederick Bourne, MA (Oxon)
1893–1922 James William Tibbs, CMG, MA (Oxon)
1922–1928 James Drummond, MA
1928–1935 Harold James Del Monte Mahon, BA
1935–1954 Colin McGregor Littlejohn, Coronation Medal, BSc, MA,
1954–1972 Sir Henry Cooper, Kt, CBE, MA (Hons)
1973–1993 Sir John Graham, KNZM, CBE, ED, MA (Hons)
1994–2012 John Morris, ONZM, MA (Hons)
2012 – Tim O'Connor, BEd


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).[29]

School song

Allegations were raised over the worship of Nazism by students of the school after 5 students were caught bowing to and saluting Nazi symbols at the Auckland War Memorial Museum on October 2009.[28] The students have since been expelled from the school.

Allegations over Nazism worship

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.[25] 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.[26] From 2011, the school will only offer the CIE Form 5 programme to all students in Form 5.[27]

NCEA controversy


In 2013, 94.1 percent of students leaving Auckland held at least NCEA Level 1 or IGCSE, 91.5 percent held at least NCEA Level 2 or AS, and 81.8 percent held at least University Entrance standard. This is compared to 83.7%, 71.4%, and 42.7% respectively for boys nationally.[24]



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.[22][23]

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).[20] As a comparison, Auckland Grammar's female counterpart, Epsom Girls' Grammar School, asks for a donation of $665,[21] despite also being decile 9Q.

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.[17] 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.[18] 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.[19]

Auckland Grammar's enrolment home zone covers the eastern Auckland CBD and inner suburbs south-east of the CBD. The school is marked by the red circle.


Between 2014 and 2015, the toilet block adjoining the main building was demolished and a new building constructed in its place for classroom use.[16]

Adjacent to the Spanish Mission Style Library from the 1920s is the Centennial Theatre (opened 1977) and the Swimming Pool. This abuts the Motorway, the construction of which in the 1970s removed some of the School's land to the north. There is now a complex of 'prefabs' adjacent to the Mountain Road boundary, built to house the increasing roll. 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.[15]

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 Rob Muldoon.

A closer look at the architectural style of the main building.


A documentary on the school titled Grammar Boys was aired in July 2005 on TV3.[14]

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."[12] The origin of the motto is uncertain, but it was a common maxim at the time of the school's founding.[13]

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.[11]

Auckland Grammar School buildings contain two Category I historic places, the school's main block and a war memorial.[8][9][10] 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 was initially privately funded, as New Zealand did not have a state education system until 1877. [7]

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