Topic: Kawerau College

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Kawerau College commenced with students attending 3 February 1963 and held it's official opening 2 March 1963. At this point the former Kawerau District High School (located at Central School, Bowen Street) ceased to exist.

The first secondary age residents in the District (1953-1954) were required to travel to Whakatane High School but 1 February 1955 saw the Kawerau District High School created on the Kawerau Primary School site in Bowen Street. The first High School began with 13 classrooms and Mr G. Gordan was the first Principal. The High School opened with 40 students and the Primary Department had 224 students. There was considerable pressure exerted on this dual school and it forced the Education Department to open a second primary school (Kawerau North School) to relieve numbers. By 1961, the High School total roll stood at 700 pupils and 22 classrooms. With the population approaching 5000 and the Tasman Company confirming expansion plans, the decision was made to create two new schools, Kawerau College for the high school pupils and the third primary school, Kawerau South School.

Kawerau College opened on the 3rd February 1963 situated at the River Road site which was previously occupied by housing contractors  Churchouse and Shirley. The site formerly held a very large single man's camp and a base working storage depot. The college was officially opened in the afternoon of the 2nd March 1963 by the Honorable W. Blair Tennent who was the Minister of Education. Mr Ray J. Welch was the first principal who had a teaching staff of 11 and a roll of 249 pupils. The school buildings comprised of eight classrooms, library, laboratory, woodwork room, homecraft room and an administration block. With the opening of this school the Kawerau District High School then reverted to its original function, a primary school named Kawerau Central School.

In 2010 the Ministry of Education decided to put a proposal forward to reorganise education in Kawerau. A consultation process was held with the local community and in July 2011, the Minister Of Education, Anne Tolley proposed the merger of Kawerau Intermediate and Kawerau College, which would see a junior high school for years seven to ten, and a senior high school for years eleven to thirteen, as two separate campuses on the same site. This was confirmed by the new Education Minister, Hekia Parata, in December 2011. Kawerau Intermediate School's board of trustees went to the High Court challenging the Government plan to close the school and force it to merge with the town's high school but this was unsuccessful with the new year 7-13 school opening in January 2013.

Principals of Kawerau College 

Ray J. Welch 1963-1964
V. A. S. Powley  1965-Oct 1969
 P. S. Werry  1970-1976
 D. L. John  1977- May 1979
 Brian Atkins  October 1979-May 1994
 Chris Day  May 1994-1997
 Mike Scott  1998-2001
 Steve Hocking  2001-2008
 Alan Rumble  Acting Principal 2009
 Steve Lewis  2010-2012

The Sir James Fletcher Kawerau Museum curated an exhibition of Kawerau College school history September 2012- August 2013.

This history is incomplete so feel free to add any details or photos and memorabilia relating to the school's history.

References: Moore, Ken. "Kawerau: Its history and background" (unpublished manuscript). 1990, education chapter: pp 1-2, 5, 9-10.

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