Wanganui Collegiate School

128-132 Liverpool Street, 44 Grey Street, 173-177 London Street, And Glasgow Street, Whanganui

  • Wanganui Collegiate School. Big School and Chapel from Liverpool Street.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: K Astwood. Date: 1/07/2012.
  • Wanganui Collegiate School. Pavilion.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: V Morrell. Date: 24/08/2011.
  • Wanganui Collegiate School. Chapel's choir and altar.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: K Astwood. Date: 13/07/2012.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 9620 Date Entered 10th December 2015 Date of Effect 21st January 2016


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Pt Wanganui Industrial School Reserve, Pt Lot 3B Deeds Plan 73, Lot 5B, 7B, Pt Lot 2B, 3B, 8B Deeds Plan 73 (RT 573222), Wellington Land District, and the buildings and structures known as Wanganui Collegiate School thereon. The extent of this historic place recognises that all buildings and features within the school grounds contribute as a unit to the heritage significance of the place.

Of particular note for their high architectural and/or social and historical heritage values are the following buildings and structures: Big School, Bishops House, Chapel, Chaplain’s Residence (Former), Cricket Pavilion and Scorer’s Box, Dining Hall (Former), Godwin House, Grey House, Hadfield House, Harvey House, Headmaster’s Residence, Izard Sports Centre, Marris House and Music Room (Former), Marris and Porritt House (Former), Prince Edward Auditorium and Foundation Music School, Science Block, Selwyn House, Steward’s Residence (Former), and the two 1910 Toilet Blocks.

The following places are within the boundary of the List Entry but are considered to be of limited heritage significance: the 1966 (current) Dining Hall, the two-storeyed former Kitchen addition (currently Administration) adjoining the former Dining Hall, Empson House, Swimming Pool, the houses at 173-177 London Street, the Bicycle Sheds, Cricket Centre, Physics Laboratories and Classrooms, Woodwork Block, and the 1970s annexe additions to Harvey, Hadfield, Grey and Selwyn Houses.

(Refer to maps in Appendix 1 of the List entry report for further information).

City/District Council

Whanganui District


Horizons (Manawatū-Whanganui) Region

Legal description

Pt Wanganui Industrial School Reserve, Lots 5B, 7B, Pt Lots 2B, 3B, 8B Deeds Plan 73 (RT 573222), Wellington Land District

Location description

The school occupies a large block of land between central Whanganui and the suburb of St John’s Hill. Liverpool Street is at the northern end of Victoria Avenue. When travelling from the central city turn southwest onto Liverpool Street and in approximately 300 metres the school’s main entrance is visible on the northwest side of the road. The GPS coordinates at the main entrance to Big School are: E1774167, N5578109 (margin of error is 3 metres).


Located to the north of the central city, Wanganui Collegiate School is one of New Zealand’s oldest and most prestigious secondary schools and its campus buildings are a nationally important collection of twentieth century architectural styles. The major building programmes of the mid and late twentieth century are of significance as they are indicative of the broader social situation in New Zealand at those times, such as the financial imperative resulting from the 1987 share market crash which saw the student base increased by including girls. Wanganui Collegiate School also has special heritage value through its association with a multitude of important New Zealanders, including Anglican Bishops, Governors-General, prominent architects, and successful former students.

Wanganui Collegiate School was established under the name the Native Industrial School in 1854 after an endowment of land was granted to the Anglican Church by Governor George Grey (1812-1898), and the campus today retains a portion of this original grant. Under the leadership of Reverend Bache Wright Harvey (1835-1888), Wanganui Collegiate modelled itself on English public schools and in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century it was New Zealand’s largest boarding school.

Between 1909 and 1912, a new campus was created on part of its estate to accommodate the expanding college. Designed by architects Atkins and Bacon in the English Domestic style, the new campus buildings were characterised by their red brick and stucco exteriors and Marseille tile roofs. Buildings included Big School, student and staff housing, and residential facilities. A chapel designed by architect William Gray Young was also completed.

Wanganui Collegiate School’s later buildings reflect the earlier style established by Atkins and Bacon. Charles Reginald Ford’s Cricket Pavilion (1917) is another English Domestic style building. Like these earlier buildings, Whanganui architects Don Wilson and Eddie Belchambers’ mid to late twentieth century Modernist contributions, such as the Science Block (1967) and Empson and Marris and Porritt Houses (1969 and 1970), reflect the popular architectural styles of their period. So too does Warren and Mahoney’s design for the Prince Edward Auditorium (1984). This building honours the time His Royal Highness spent as a school House tutor between 1982 and 1983.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Wanganui Collegiate School is one of Whanganui’s oldest institutions, and having been established in 1854, it is New Zealand’s second oldest secondary school. One of only two endowment schools created in this country, Wanganui Collegiate School has considerable historical value having educated thousands of students. Consistently ranked as New Zealand’s largest boarding school, this aspect of school life established in the late nineteenth century has meant that the majority of students have come from the broader region, from around New Zealand, and more recently, internationally.

Wanganui Collegiate School has further historical importance. From a humble campus Wanganui’s Native Industrial School developed into one of New Zealand’s premier private secondary schools, using the English public school model. This position and direction was strengthened by the early twentieth century relocation and expansion of Wanganui Collegiate School to a larger campus on its industrial estate, also known as the College Estate, and the current campus preserves part of Governor Grey’s original land endowment.

Architectural Significance or Value

Wanganui Collegiate School has special architectural significance as a group of buildings which were designed by some of New Zealand’s most respected architects and exemplify many key architectural styles of the twentieth century. The English Domestic style architecture of Atkins and Bacon’s original buildings, with their characteristic red brick and stucco exteriors and Marseille tile roofs, set the tone for future buildings, being recognised at the time as being accomplished examples of a modern style.

Like William Gray Young’s work on the chapel, subsequent locally and nationally important architects have drawn on the architectural language established by Atkins and Bacon while contributing distinctive buildings characteristic of their period. Charles Reginald Ford designed the Cricket Pavilion, and Eddie Belchambers and Warren and Mahoney completed characteristic Modern and Post-modern buildings at the campus.

The careful positioning and inter-play of the buildings and open spaces creates a structured environment for the efficient and effective running of the school’s combined educational and domestic functions, and physically represents the school ethos of providing a well-rounded educational and boarding experience for students.

Social Significance or Value

For over a century the school has housed and trained boys, and since 1990 has provided education for girls as well. The school’s House system has entrenched a sense of community among students and as a result there is a strong Old Boys and Girls tradition. This shared sense of identity has translated into successive generations of families attending the school and manifests itself in the numerous building projects the Wanganui Collegiate School Old Boys and Girls Association have funded, particularly in regard to the Chapel.

Wanganui Collegiate School’s major building programmes of the mid to late twentieth century have social significance being indicative of broader national social and economic trends. The expansion of facilities in the 1960s reflects the greater demand placed on New Zealand’s education system due to the baby boomer boost in population, as well as the increased societal emphasis on the importance of secondary school and tertiary education. In the late 1970s and 1980s Wanganui Collegiate School was directly affected by the economic crises of the period, spurring an upgrade of facilities and the decision to include female students in order to broaden the student base and ensure the school’s future.

Wanganui Collegiate School also has significance to the extended school community because of numerous commemorative elements on the campus, such as those in the Chapel which honour participants in the South African War and the First and Second World Wars. These aspects create a link to past generations of people associated with the school, as do the various namesake buildings.

Spiritual Significance or Value

As an endowment school, Wanganui Collegiate School has had a close connection to the Anglican Church, and its teachings, since the school’s inception in 1854. Chapel has remained an important aspect of school life and therefore, Wanganui Collegiate School has spiritual significance for many people connected with the school.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history

The development of Wanganui Collegiate School along an English public school model is indicative of New Zealand, as a young country in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, tailoring imported British traditions to its own context. This tie was particularly strong for the school as an extension of the works of the Anglican Church in this country.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history

The school itself was founded through a grant involving Anglican Bishop of New Zealand Augustus George Selwyn, and Governor George Grey, two figures of considerable importance in New Zealand’s history. The association with these two figures is celebrated at Wanganui Collegiate School through two namesake boarding houses. The school is also associated with other Governors-General such as Lord Plunket, who laid Big School’s foundation stone. There is a more particular connection with Arthur Porritt, our first New Zealand born Governor-General, who was educated at the school from 1914 to 1918 and opened a building named in his honour in 1971.

Numerous Old Boys have reaped the benefits of their secondary school education at Wanganui Collegiate School and have shone on national and international stages in their respective fields. A prominent former house tutor is His Royal Highness Prince Edward, whose short time at the school was commemorated with the Auditorium.

The buildings at Wanganui Collegiate School are the works of a veritable who’s who of twentieth century New Zealand architects. The designers of the original buildings were important early twentieth century architects Atkins and Bacon, who reprised their role as the school’s architects a decade later in the form of Atkins, Bacon and Mitchell. Charles Reginald Ford’s work at Wanganui Collegiate School came soon after establishing his own Whanganui practice. Later he went onto to become a partner in the influential architectural practice of Gummer and Ford. Warren and Mahoney, associated with the school through their Auditorium design, have also made an impact on a national level. Their building was characteristic of their 1980s contextualist approach, just prior to Sir Miles Warren’s retirement.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the place

Like any school, Wanganui Collegiate School has a large network of past and present students and staff, with this community’s esteem for the place being particularly evident through the well supported Old Boys’ and Girls’ Association who have contributed to the school’s upkeep and building programmes from the outset of the current campus. There is also a broader network of people around New Zealand associated with Wanganui Collegiate because of family traditions of attendance. As an early Whanganui institution, Wanganui Collegiate School is well-known within its district, and the architectural community has shown esteem for buildings at the school through awards. Concerts, public events, funerals and the annual New Zealand Opera School continue to connect the school with the wider public.

(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place

Atkins and Bacon’s original layout of the campus is still strongly evident, which skilfully allows each building efficient space and creates interesting view shafts. The positioning of subsequent major building projects demonstrates that care has generally been taken to carry on this tradition.

Wanganui Collegiate School is an interesting combination of buildings demonstrating a range of twentieth century architectural styles. There are places within this group particularly noteworthy for their design accomplishments.

Big School was specifically designed by Atkins and Bacon as the public face of Wanganui Collegiate School. Through aspects of its design, such as its elevated site when viewed from the street, its scale, and the skilled combination of architectural features, Big School announces the prestige of the institution while also being the central educational space since 1911.

The Chapel was designed by Gray Young to complement the initial Atkins and Bacon campus buildings, but is also a strong ecclesiastical architectural statement. Elements within the Chapel contribute to the overall reverential atmosphere, such as the Gurnsey furniture, reredos, and memorial windows and panels. The 1980s expansion of the Chapel respected these characteristics and won the 1988 New Zealand Institute of Architects National Award for Conservation and Restoration.

Another building which has been recognised for its architectural merit is Marris and Porritt House, which upon its completion won the local 1973 NZIA Bronze Medal Award. Likewise, the Izard Sports Centre received a NZIA Design Award in 1995.

(h) The symbolic or commemorative value of the place

There are many commemorative aspects within Wanganui Collegiate School. The Chapel is the central focus of this with its many war memorial features, such as memorial windows and rolls of honour. Many of the Chapel’s features, and the Cricket Pavilion, were created in memory of an individual associated with the school, but in combination they are a solemn reminder of the impact twentieth century wars have had on the wider Whanganui and New Zealand community.

Likewise, the naming of other buildings at the school honour individuals who have had a close connection with it and impact on its history, and when considered together create an impression of the institution’s august heritage. This is particularly the case when considering the Anglican Bishop of New Zealand Augustus George Selwyn, Governor George Grey, Governor-General Arthur Porritt and His Royal Highness Prince Edward’s namesake buildings.

The close connection with the Anglican Church is continued through the naming of Hadfield House after the prominent early missionary. Various buildings also commemorate those specifically influential in the school’s history or former students who have made a mark nationally or internationally, such as Empson, Godwin, Harvey, and Marris Houses, and the H. G. Carver Memorial Library. This provides a lineage for students and staff to identify with and aspire to.

Summary of Significance or Values

Wanganui Collegiate School has special heritage values as one of New Zealand’s oldest, and most august, secondary schools. Albeit firmly rooted in English public school tradition, this place has considerable significance because its continuance has relied on flexibility when broader social and economic conditions dictate. As New Zealand’s largest boarding school since the late nineteenth century, thousands of students have lived and been educated amidst Wanganui Collegiate School’s buildings which form an impressive microcosm of significant architectural styles spanning the twentieth century. The campus includes buildings designed by some of this country’s most renowned architects and Wanganui Collegiate School also has a special connection to many prominent New Zealanders, including influential Anglican clergy and Governors-General.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Atkins & Bacon

Alfred Atkins (1850-1919) was born in Birmingham, England. He had trained primarily as a civil engineer in England and on his arrival in New Zealand in 1875 he worked on railway location in the Wanganui district. He was elected an Associate Member of the Institute of Civil Engineers in 1886 and two years later became a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects. He set up practice in Wanganui in both professions and during the 1880s Atkins was in partnership with Frederick de Jersey Clere.

When Atkins moved to Wellington in 1908, Roger Bacon joined him in practice and the firm of Atkins and Bacon was established. Shortly after this C H Mitchell (1891-1949) was taken on as a draughtsman. The firm continued to operate a branch in Wanganui and designed buildings at Wanganui Collegiate School including the Big School, boarding houses, Dining Hall and staff residences between 1909-21.

The firm undertook several hospital designs including Cook Hospital, Gisborne (1911), and Wairoa Hospital (1912) and was also responsible for much domestic work in Wellington.

Owing to failing health Roger Bacon had left the firm and moved to Blenheim about 1918. In 1919 Alfred Atkins died. C H Mitchell became a partner in the firm in 1918. Mitchell re-established the firm as a leading one in Wellington. The firm became Gooch Mitchell Macdiarmid.

Atkins & Mitchell

The firm of Atkins and Bacon was established in Wellington in 1908 by Alfred Atkins (1850-1919) and Roger Bacon. Cyril Hawthorn Mitchell (1891-1949) was taken on as a draughtsman in 1909 and became a partner in 1918. This partnership was shortlived, however, as Roger Bacon moved to Blenheim owing to failing health and Alfred Atkins died in 1919 leaving the young Mitchell on his own.

C.H. Mitchell built up the firm of Atkins and Mitchell, renaming it Mitchell and Mitchell when joined by his brother Allan Hawthorn Mitchell (d.-1973) in 1932. The firm of Mitchell and Mitchell continues today as Gooch Mitchell Macdiarmid.

During his time in the firm (1909-1949) C.H. Mitchell was responsible for such buildings as the Commercial Travellers Club Building (1929), the Waterloo Hotel (1936), the Central Fire Station (1935) M.L.C. Building, 33-37 Hunter Street, (1940). He was architect to the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and studied the construction of banking chambers in Europe.

Atkins, Alfred A.

Atkins (1850-1919) was born in Birmingham, England, on 12 June 1850. He studied for seven years at the School of Science and Art in Birmingham under John Millward, a consulting engineer. In 1875 he immigrated to New Zealand, his first job being the Waitara to Wanganui railway line. This was followed in 1879 by his appointment as Engineer to what became the Waitotara County Council.

In addition to being an Associate Member of the Institute of Civil Engineers to which he was elected in 1886, he was also a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects from 1888 and a member of the Royal Sanitary Institute from 1891. During the 1890s Atkins was in partnership for a time with Frederick de Jersey Clere at Wanganui and Wellington. Some of the more notable buildings completed in this period were the Wanganui Technical School in 1892, Wanganui College with Clere in 1894, Wanganui Museum in 1894 and the Wanganui Hospital in 1897. In 1903 he designed the Ward Observatory in Wanganui.

Atkins moved to Wellington in 1908 and set up practice with Roger Bacon. Over the next decade the firm designed many banks and public buildings, their work including several buildings at Wanganui Collegiate School (1909-1910), Cook Hospital, Gisborne (1911), Wairoa Hospital (1912) and much domestic work in Wellington. Atkins died in 1919. The firm known as Atkins and Bacon continues today as Gooch Mitchell Macdiarmid.

Fletcher Construction Company

Fletcher Construction Company was founded by Scottish-born James Fletcher (1886 - 1974), the son of a builder. Six months after his arrival in Dunedin in 1908, Fletcher formed a house-building partnership with Bert Morris. They soon moved into larger-scale construction work, building the St Kilda Town Hall (1911), and the main dormitory block and Ross Chapel at Knox College (1912). Fletcher's brothers, William, Andrew and John joined the business in 1911, which then became known as Fletcher Brothers. A branch was opened in Invercargill.

While holidaying in Auckland in 1916, James tendered for the construction of the the Auckland City Markets. By 1919 the company, then known as Fletcher Construction, was firmly established in Auckland and Wellington. Notable landmarks constructed by the company during the Depression included the Auckland University College Arts Building (completed 1926); Landmark House (the former Auckland Electric Power Board Building, 1927); Auckland Civic Theatre (1929); the Chateau Tongariro (1929); and the Dominion Museum, Wellington (1934).

Prior to the election of the first Labour Government, Fletcher (a Reform supporter) had advised the Labour Party on housing policy as hbe believed in large-scale planning and in the inter-dependence of government and business. However, he declined an approach by Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage in December 1935 to sell the company to the government, when the latter wanted to ensure the large-scale production of rental state housing. Although Fletchers ultimately went on to build many of New Zealand's state houses, for several years Residential Construction Ltd (the subsidiary established to undertake their construction) sustained heavy financial losses.

Fletcher Construction became a public company, Fletcher Holdings, in 1940. Already Fletchers' interests were wide ranging: brickyards, engineering shops, joinery factories, marble quarries, structural steel plants and other enterprises had been added the original construction firm. Further expansion could only be undertaken with outside capital.

During the Second World War James Fletcher, having retired as chairman of Fletcher Holdings, was seconded to the newly created position of Commissioner of State Construction which he held during 1942 and 1943. Directly responsible to Prime Minister Peter Fraser, Fletcher had almost complete control over the deployment of workers and resources. He also became the Commissioner of the Ministry of Works, set up in 1943, a position he held until December 1945.

In 1981 Fletcher Holdings; Tasman Pulp and Paper; and Challenge Corporation amalgamated to form Fletcher Challenge Ltd, at that time New Zealand's largest company.

Williamson Construction Company - main contract

Ford, Charles Reginald

Ford (1880-1972) was born in England and served in the Royal Navy. He was later with Captain Scott's 1901-04 expedition to Antarctica. Ford trained as an architect working in Wanganui and also as an engineer. In 1926 he wrote the first treatise on earthquakes and building construction in the English language.

In 1923 Ford entered into partnership with William Henry Gummer (1884-1966). Gummer and Ford was an architectural partnership of national importance. Gummer was one of the most outstanding architects working in New Zealand in the first half of this century.

The firm was responsible for the design of the State Insurance Building, Wellington (1940), the Dilworth Building (1926), the Guardian Trust Building and the Domain Wintergardens (1921 and 1928), all in Auckland, as well as the Dominion Museum (1936) in Wellington. In addition, Ford designed his own house at Westbourne Road, Auckland.

Gummer and Ford were awarded Gold Medals by the New Zealand Institute of Architects for their designs of Auckland Railway Station and Remuera Library. Ford was President of this Institute from 1921-22.

Young, William G

William Gray Young (1885-1962) was born in Oamaru. When he was a child his family moved to Wellington where he was educated. After leaving school he was articled to the Wellington architectural firm of Crichton and McKay. In 1906 he won a competition for the design of Knox College, Dunedin, and shortly after this he commenced practice on his own account.

He became a prominent New Zealand architect and during a career of 60 years he designed over 500 buildings. His major buildings include the Wellington and Christchurch Railway Stations (1936 and 1954 respectively), Scot's College (1919), Phoenix Assurance Building (1930) and the Australian Mutual Provident Society (AMP) Chambers (1950). At Victoria University College of Wellington he was responsible for the Stout (1930), Kirk (1938), and Easterfield (1957) buildings, and Weir House (1930). Gray Young also achieved recognition for his domestic work such as the Elliott House Wellington, (1913).

His design for the Wellesley Club (1925) earned him the Gold Medal of the New Zealand Institute of Architects in 1932. He was elected a Fellow of the Institute in 1913, served on the executive committee from 1914-35 and was President from 1935-36. He was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and achieved prominence in public affairs.

Pepper & Fromont Ltd

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Meuli, Nicholas

Nicholas Meuli (1856?-1926)

Having emigrated from Switzerland in 1877, Nicholas Meuli entered the construction industry in Whanganui as part of James Tawse’s company. Then in 1886 he branched out on his own. Meuli became a well-known local personality and one notable example of his work is the Wanganui Opera House (1899). Meuli was also responsible for the construction of all of the early buildings at Wanganui Collegiate School’s Liverpool Street campus, including Big School, the original boarding houses, the Headmaster’s Residence, Chapel, and a few years later Harvey House.

The practice was founded in 1955 by Sir Miles Warren in Christchurch where he was later joined in partnership by Maurice Mahoney in 1958; the partnership went on to design buildings that are now regarded as the benchmark of New Zealand Modernism: Harewood Crematorium (1963), College House (1966), Canterbury Students' Union (1967) and Christchurch Town Hall (1972), are amongst many examples of their mid- to late-twentieth century works.

Sir Miles was knighted in 1985 for his services to architecture and in 2003 named one of ten inaugural ‘Icons of the Arts’ by the Arts Foundation of New Zealand.

Since 1979, the practice has expanded to Wellington, Auckland, Queenstown, Sydney and Melbourne, where they have nurtured some of New Zealand’s finest architectural talent. Sir Miles Warren and Maurice Mahoney retired in in the early 1990s. Currently, Warren and Mahoney is an insight led multi-disciplinary practice working across all disciplines of architecture.

The practice has a long association with the refurbishment and restoration of historic buildings in New Zealand and has worked closely with Heritage NZ to achieve best outcomes for these heritage buildings while ensuring the highest possible standards of modern functioning requirements are met. They are conversant with the ICOMOS New Zealand Charter for the Conservation of places of Cultural Heritage Value and the Burra Charters for the conservation of buildings.

Source: List Entry Report for Wanganui Collegiate, List No. 9620 (9 Jun 2015)

Warren & Mahoney

The practice was founded in 1955 by Sir Miles Warren in Christchurch where he was later joined in partnership by Maurice Mahoney in 1958; the partnership went on to design buildings that are now regarded as the benchmark of New Zealand Modernism: Harewood Crematorium (1963), College House (1966), Canterbury Students' Union (1967) and Christchurch Town Hall (1972), are amongst many examples of their mid- to late-twentieth century works.

Sir Miles was knighted in 1985 for his services to architecture and in 2003 named one of ten inaugural ‘Icons of the Arts’ by the Arts Foundation of New Zealand.

Since 1979, the practice has expanded to Wellington, Auckland, Queenstown, Sydney and Melbourne, where they have nurtured some of New Zealand’s finest architectural talent. Sir Miles Warren and Maurice Mahoney retired in in the early 1990s. Currently, Warren and Mahoney is an insight led multi-disciplinary practice working across all disciplines of architecture.

The practice has a long association with the refurbishment and restoration of historic buildings in New Zealand and has worked closely with Heritage NZ to achieve best outcomes for these heritage buildings while ensuring the highest possible standards of modern functioning requirements are met. They are conversant with the ICOMOS New Zealand Charter for the Conservation of places of Cultural Heritage Value and the Burra Charters for the conservation of buildings.

Warren, Frederick Miles

Warren, (Frederick) Miles (later Sir Miles Warren)

Born in Christchurch in 1929, Miles Warren had an early introduction to architecture, working in the office of Cecil Wood (1878-1947) from 1946 to 47. From 1949 to 50 he studied at the Auckland University School of Architecture, after studying the professional course through the Christchurch Atelier. At Auckland, Warren was taught by Vernon Brown (1905-1965) and was exposed to The Group's introduction of modernist principles to New Zealand architecture. After graduating he returned to Christchurch and worked for two years in the office of Bill Trengrove, before leaving for England in 1953. In London, Warren found employment as an architect at London City Council and worked on the design for the Alton West Estate at Roehampton. While in Europe he travelled through the continent, including Scandinavia and experienced first-hand the modernism of Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

In 1955 Warren returned to Christchurch and started his own private practice. For his first large-scale commission, the Dental Nurses Training School in 1958, he enlisted his contemporary Maurice Mahoney to collaborate, forming the beginning of their long partnership. Warren and Mahoney conducted a number of commissions in Christchurch in the 1960s and 1970s that established the practice's signature style of modern architecture, such as Christchurch College (1964), Christchurch Town Hall (1965-72) and a number of residential developments. Later major commissions included the New Zealand Chancery in Washington, DC (1979) and the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington (1983).

Warren is the recipient of a number of honours and awards for his services to architecture, including a CBE in 1974, a KBE in 1985 and was admitted to the Order of New Zealand, New Zealand's highest honour, in 1995. ('Dorset Street Flats', NZHPT Registration Report, 12 April 2010 (Record no. 7804).

Dickson Elliott Lonergan Architects (1985-1991)

Dickson Elliott Lonergan Architects was a Whanganui architectural practice started by Bruce Dickson in 1967. Barry Lonergan joined in 1976. In 1985 this firm was known as Dickson Elliott Lonergan Architects. They won the NZIA National Award for Conservation and Restoration for their work on the Wanganui Collegiate School Chapel in 1988, and over the previous two years had also undertaken the strengthening of the school’s Grey, Hadfield, Harvey and Selwyn Houses. Bruce Dickson’s family has a long association with Wanganui Collegiate School, his grandfather and father did building work there and Bruce attended the school. In 1991, the practice reverted to Dickson Lonergan Architects and in 1994, their Izard Sports Centre was completed at the school. In 2011, the company operated as DLA Architects Limited and in 2012, Bruce Dickson commenced a new practice.

Source: List Entry Report for Wanganui Collegiate, List No. 9620 (9 Jun 2015)

Bruce Dickson Architecture

Bruce Dickson Architecture (1967-1975, 2012 - )

Dickson Lonergan Architects

Dickson Lonergan Architects (1976-1985, 1991-2011);

DLA Architects

DLA Architects (2011 - )

DA Wilson and Associates

This partnership was formed in 1967, consisting of Don A. Wilson, Eddie E. Belchambers and R. W. H. Low. Previously Wilson had headed the practice DA Wilson and Associates and then Belchambers became a partner in Wilson and Belchambers. These practices were responsible for designing the Wanganui Collegiate School’s Dining Hall (1966), Empson House (1969), and Marris and Porritt House (1970), as well as undertaking large additions to its early boarding houses. Wilson, Belchambers, Low and Associates were also responsible for the Wanganui City Council Buildings (1964-68).

Source: List Entry Report for Wanganui Collegiate, List No. 9620 (9 Jun 2015)

Belchambers, E E

Eddie E. Belchambers emigrated from England early in his career to take up work with the Ministry of Works in Whanganui in the late 1950s. Soon after, he began working for Don Wilson, becoming a partner a few years later. Eventually forming his own practice, Belchambers Architects and taking on various partners, he was the architect for Wanganui Collegiate School for several decades from the 1960s, responsible for the current Dining Hall, Science Block, Empson and Marris and Porritt Houses, Foundation Music School, and the Gilligan House Memorial Room, as well as various refurbishment projects. Before retirement, Belchambers was a founding director of BSM Group Architects, a company created when his practice merged with Southcombe McLean and Co Ltd., also from Whanganui.

Source: List Entry Report for Wanganui Collegiate, List No. 9620 (9 Jun 2015)

Wilson, D A (1924-2009)

Donald Alexander Wilson trained at the School of Architecture at Auckland University after the Second World War (encouraged to do so by Robert Talboys). In 1957/58 he travelled on a Fulbright scholarship to the Illinois Institute of Technology to study under Mies van der Rohe. Returning to New Zealand he designed a number of Modernist buildings, including the 1963 Government Life Insurance building (corner Victoria Avenue and Guyton Street) and the 1968 extension to the Whanganui Regional Museum. However, he also did a lot of work for the Anglican Church, including designing St Barnabas church on Durie Hill in 1954 (described by him as ‘the cheapest church imaginable’ ) and a Maori church at Turakina.

As senior partner in his architectural firm with Eddie Belchambers and later Roger Low, Don Wilson’s contribution to his old school, Wanganui Collegiate, and the building redevelopment programme started in the late 1950s with the redevelopment of the swimming baths. Don also was closely involved with the science block, the Dining Hall and Empson House. Don Wilson gave up architecture in 1970 and went into a different career in international aid work and refugee issues. His time in Chicago with multi-cultural people all around him had laid the seeds for this later change of direction.

Source: List Entry Report for Wanganui Collegiate, List No. 9620 (9 Jun 2015)

G. and L. Jones Limited

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Knuckey, William S

William Samuel Knuckey (1869?-1940)

William Knuckey seems to have emigrated from Melbourne in the last decades of the nineteenth century. Between 1899 and 1900, Knuckey was part of the Whanganui contracting partnership of Hagar and Knuckey, which was followed by Oliver and Knuckey. However, William Knuckey soon branched out on his own, becoming a successful local contractor in the early decades of the twen-tieth century. Knuckey constructed the Wanganui Collegiate School Cricket Pa-vilion in 1917. The family has a close connection to the school because Wil-liam’s daughter Grace married local contractor Thomas Norman Dickson who completed works in the Chapel in the 1950s. Their son, Bruce, attended Wan-ganui Collegiate School, later going onto become the school’s architect in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

The practice was founded in 1955 by Sir Miles Warren in Christchurch where he was later joined in partnership by Maurice Mahoney in 1958; the partnership went on to design buildings that are now regarded as the benchmark of New Zealand Modernism: Harewood Crematorium (1963), College House (1966), Canterbury Students' Union (1967) and Christchurch Town Hall (1972), are amongst many examples of their mid- to late-twentieth century works.

Sir Miles was knighted in 1985 for his services to architecture and in 2003 named one of ten inaugural ‘Icons of the Arts’ by the Arts Foundation of New Zealand.

Since 1979, the practice has expanded to Wellington, Auckland, Queenstown, Sydney and Melbourne, where they have nurtured some of New Zealand’s finest architectural talent. Sir Miles Warren and Maurice Mahoney retired in in the early 1990s. Currently, Warren and Mahoney is an insight led multi-disciplinary practice working across all disciplines of architecture.

The practice has a long association with the refurbishment and restoration of historic buildings in New Zealand and has worked closely with Heritage NZ to achieve best outcomes for these heritage buildings while ensuring the highest possible standards of modern functioning requirements are met. They are conversant with the ICOMOS New Zealand Charter for the Conservation of places of Cultural Heritage Value and the Burra Charters for the conservation of buildings.

Source: List Entry Report for Wanganui Collegiate, List No. 9620 (9 Jun 2015)

Wilson and Belchambers

This partnership was formed in 1967, consisting of Don A. Wilson, Eddie E. Belchambers and R. W. H. Low. Previously Wilson had headed the practice DA Wilson and Associates and then Belchambers became a partner in Wilson and Belchambers. These practices were responsible for designing the Wanganui Collegiate School’s Dining Hall (1966), Empson House (1969), and Marris and Porritt House (1970), as well as undertaking large additions to its early boarding houses. Wilson, Belchambers, Low and Associates were also responsible for the Wanganui City Council Buildings (1964-68).

Source: List Entry Report for Wanganui Collegiate, List No. 9620 (9 Jun 2015)

Wilson, Belchambers, Low and Associates

This partnership was formed in 1967, consisting of Don A. Wilson, Eddie E. Belchambers and R. W. H. Low. Previously Wilson had headed the practice DA Wilson and Associates and then Belchambers became a partner in Wilson and Belchambers. These practices were responsible for designing the Wanganui Collegiate School’s Dining Hall (1966), Empson House (1969), and Marris and Porritt House (1970), as well as undertaking large additions to its early boarding houses. Wilson, Belchambers, Low and Associates were also responsible for the Wanganui City Council Buildings (1964-68).

Source: List Entry Report for Wanganui Collegiate, List No. 9620 (9 Jun 2015)

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Historical Narrative

The Whanganui River is the major feature of the namesake region and city. Early Maori recognised the river’s potential as a food source and main transport route into the central North Island. The river valley also provided fertile flats for cultivation and, as a result, Te Ati Haunui-a-Paparangi hapu created settlements along the river and into its hinterland. Ngaa Rauru Kiitahi occupied a pa site known as ‘Nukuiro’, that was formerly in the current Wanganui Collegiate School campus.

It was for similar reasons that the area caught the attention of the New Zealand Company when they were planning an auxiliary to their first settlement in Wellington. The initial purchase of the Whanganui block progressed in 1839 between the Company and a small group of chiefs from outside of the large tract of agreed land. Because it was a pre-Treaty of Waitangi purchase, the Government was obligated to later investigate the transaction. This process began in 1843 and the New Zealand Company’s purchase was largely considered invalid. However, the sale of the land near the mouth of the river, which eventually became Whanganui, was deemed legal, despite opposition from local Maori that led to a series of skirmishes.

In 1847, the ‘skirmish’ known as the ‘Battle of St John’s Wood’ occurred very near to the site that would become the Wanganui Collegiate School. In May of that year, 700 Ngati Haua-te-rangi warriors, led by Hemi Topine Te Mamaku (?-1887), blockaded the town of Whanganui. A result of disputed land purchases and sovereignty issues, the catalyst for the blockade appears to have been the hanging of four Maori for the killing of a settler family in April 1847. Governor Grey bolstered the military presence to approximately 800 British soldiers behind the town’s defences, who were supported by Maori from Putiki and the town’s residents. On 19 July the two sides finally met at St John’s Wood. The battle resulted in the deaths of three Maori and two British troops and a total of 21 wounded. Despite not being a decisive victory for either side, a truce was sought and on 23 July, Te Mamuku and his men ended the blockade and returned home. The following year, in 1848, the Whanganui block’s sale became official.

The development of the town was closely linked to its port, which was established only a few years after the New Zealand Company ventured into the area. In 1855 Whanganui became a Port of Entry and a significant trading centre. By this time, the town and farming district’s population had consolidated, numbering nearly 700 people. During this period, the town again became known as Wanganui, revoking the New Zealand Company name, Petre.

The early years of Wanganui Collegiate School

Whanganui was still in its infancy when Wanganui Collegiate School was established in 1854. It is one of the oldest secondary schools in New Zealand, second only to Christ’s College in Christchurch (1851), which both remain the country’s only endowment schools. The current location is the school’s second campus; initially it was based on Victoria Avenue and called the Native Industrial School, and then the Wanganui Endowed School. These names reflect the terms of the Industrial School Estate grant which stated the land’s purpose was to enable ‘the education of children of our subjects of all races and of children of poor and destitute persons.’

The term endowment school comes from the fact that land was granted to Anglican Bishop of New Zealand Augustus George Selwyn (1809-1878) to generate income that would ensure this continued to happen. Therefore, the current Wanganui Collegiate School site has been associated with the school its entire history, being part of a grant by Governor Sir George Grey (1812-1898) in 1852. While much of the land surrounding the current campus has been subdivided and built upon, the northern part of the campus near Glasgow Street (Pt Wanganui Industrial School Reserve) is a relatively unmodified part of the original estate, which may retain subsurface archaeological features from earlier times.

From its Victoria Avenue campus, the school developed slowly. By the twentieth century it had become ‘the New Zealand counterpart of an English public school.’ However, in the early 1870s there were only around 30 students, including a few girls. The school became a single-sex boys’ institution in 1878 and girls did not attend Wanganui Collegiate School again until 1991. It was in the 1880s, under Headmaster Reverend Bache Wright Harvey (1835-1888), that the school began shaping itself along the lines of the English public school model. Harvey was a distinguished Cambridge mathematics graduate and came to New Zealand in the 1860s, with his first position being Vicar of Westport. While some considered this more elitist form of school contrary to the terms of the grant, others, including Governor Grey, felt it permissible to have paying students. The name Wanganui Collegiate School dates from 1882 during Harvey’s tenure.

From the late nineteenth century until 1901, when the public District High School was established, the local option for parents who could afford the fees was to send boys to Wanganui Collegiate School, or their girls to Wanganui Girls’ College. At this time there were 25 secondary schools in New Zealand, and of the 2800 pupils, 1800 were boys. The roll at Wanganui Collegiate School averaged around 200 pupils in the same period. Christ’s College and Wanganui Collegiate School were exempt from the provisions of the 1903 Secondary School’s Act, the two Anglican schools becoming private institutions that were supported by public endowments. It is recorded that at this time both schools had a strong boarding component and drew students from all over New Zealand.

Creating the new campus

Wanganui Collegiate School, as it is recognisable today, was the result of early twentieth century events. The school faced an uncertain time in 1906 during an Education Trust Commission inquiry to determine whether the conditions of the original grant were being adhered to. The Commission’s recommendations led the Board of Trustees to propose shifting the school’s campus to Liverpool Street, despite this being on the outskirts of Whanganui’s residential area at the time.

In late 1908, prominent architectural firm Atkins and Bacon was appointed to design the majority of the new campus’ buildings. The decision to use this firm, instead of the diocesan architect Frederick de Jersey Clere (1856-1952), is said to have been based on partner Roger Francis Bacon’s (d.1959) previous experience practicing in London. Alfred Atkins (1850-1919) was well established locally when Bacon became a partner in his practice in 1907; both were based in Wellington at the time of the Collegiate commission. Atkins had designed several prominent Whanganui buildings including its first public museum in 1893, Wanganui Hospital completed in 1897 and the Ward Observatory in 1903.

Arthur G. Bignell (1861-1944), Board Chairman, has been singled out as a driving force behind the successful transition to the new campus. Bignell, a former Whanganui Mayor (1904-06) advocated for local businesses to undertake the design and building work. Himself a notable local building contractor, Bignell showed considerable understanding and business acumen throughout the tendering process and directed the Board towards those with specific experience, like Bacon.

The Board received Supreme Court permission to borrow up to £35,000 to build and furnish the school buildings. Subsequently, loans of £50,000 were also approved. With plans in hand and funds secured, preparatory site work began in 1908, with the foundation stone being laid by Governor Lord Plunket in 1909. In late 1909, it was publicised that Nicholas Meuli was the successful tenderer for what would be ‘the finest and most up-to-date school in Australasia.’

The building contract was for six separate two-storey school and accommodation buildings. This included Big School:

‘…containing an assembly hall as large as any of the churches in Wanganui, with class-rooms adjoining. This, the main structure, will be a most striking edifice, with every modern convenience, including a large library.’

By Easter 1911, this building was substantively complete with the campus official opening ceremony, by Governor Lord Islington (1866-1936), taking place there. Many of the other buildings were not finished at this time, but the opening was held early to coincide with the annual reunion of former students. A few buildings from the first campus were relocated, for example the former Big School became a gymnasium, and an old headmaster’s residence became a sanatorium for a time. Classes did not begin until the end of May 1911.

The development of Wanganui Collegiate School

Wanganui Collegiate School has an august history, with many well-known New Zealanders being educated there. Many past students have distinguished themselves nationally and internationally in a variety of fields, such as academia, politics, the military, and in sport. Some examples include David Kirk, the former All Black captain and Rhodes Scholar, and Lord Cooke of Thorndon, who served on the judicial committee of the Privy Council.

The hub of the school life for these distinguished alumni, as well as thousands of other past students and staff, was Big School. Initially provision for classrooms and administrative activities was made in the Big School building; its large central hall was also the location for school assemblies and performances. However, as the school became settled into business at the new campus other facilities were gradually added to ease the demand on Big School.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Wanganui Collegiate School was the largest boarding school in New Zealand. When the new campus was opened the House system quickly became the ‘most significant feature of school life.’ This is not surprising considering the majority of students were boarders. For example, in 1925, there were 222 boarders and 31 day students. It has been noted that boarders, in particular, tended to identify strongly with the school. After all, it was the place where they spent the majority of their time. While day boys could go home to their families, the Wanganui Collegiate School campus became a substitute for the family home. The boarding experience left ‘an indelible impression upon the minds of those who spent their adolescence in the close company of one hundred or more of their peers.’

The initial Houses were Selwyn, Hadfield, and Grey, named after the important early Anglican clergymen, and the Governor. These buildings were constructed next to each other, featuring adjoining courtyard areas that had small ablutions blocks. It was noted in the mid-twentieth century that these played a part in student hierarchies within the Houses, with junior students relegated to using these external facilities. The construction of the fourth House, Harvey, named after the early Headmaster, was delayed until 1920 because of financial considerations. Once again Atkins and Bacon’s practice, which was now Atkins Bacon and Mitchell because Cyril Mitchell had joined as a partner, were on board to design the building and Meuli was the builder. During this period a day boy’s facility and music room, as well as Chaplain’s and Steward’s residences were also built. Harvey House was opened in 1920. However, fluctuating rolls in the 1920s and 1930s saw it closed and reopened on several occasions. Indeed, because of this Harvey House was described as ‘the barometer of the school’s fortunes.’

Loyalty to one’s House, and competition with rival ones, were important aspects of boarders’ lives and a definite sense of identity and community arose which day boys felt removed from. However, this did not deter day students. In 1914, the day boys had their own Master, and eventually day boy Houses were set up as a means of trying to include the students in this integral aspect of school life. Numbers of day students dramatically increased in the late twentieth century which required more facilities. One of these Houses was named after Governor-General Arthur Porritt, who opened it in 1971. Porritt received his secondary school education at Wanganui Collegiate School from 1914. Later he not only represented New Zealand in the sporting arena, but also became a Rhodes Scholar, before being appointed our first New Zealand born Governor-General.

As an Anglican institution, a chapel was of course part of the original concept for the campus. Its construction was prompted by the retirement of ‘one of the most inspirational and influential early headmasters,’ Walter Empson (1856-1934). Empson suggested that if there was to be a testimony to his time at the school he would appreciate it taking the form of a chapel. Therefore, the chapel differed from the other original buildings because it was paid for through Old Boys subscriptions, and they appointed their own architect, William Gray Young (1885-1962). This project came early in the career of Gray Young, who was on his way to becoming a well-known Wellington architect. Again, Meuli was awarded the building contract along with John Jones. The building was dedicated in Easter 1912, the first anniversary of the opening of the new campus and the laying of its own foundation stone.

By the late twentieth century, students of different Christian denominations, as well as from other religious groups, were attending Wanganui Collegiate School. However, as a traditionally important aspect of the school’s activities, these students were still expected to attend chapel. Because of growth in student numbers, by this time the chapel’s capacity was too small and earthquake strengthening was also an issue. Therefore, the building was extended in the 1980s, a project also paid for through Old Boys’ fundraising efforts. The enlarged chapel was dedicated in September 1986.

Cultural activities, such as music and drama, were fostered at the school. Aside from the teaching that occurred in the music room, there was generally a strong tradition of choral and all school singing, particularly at chapel, which continues today. Performing arts at the school was given a boost in 1984 when a new auditorium was completed, named in His Royal Highness Prince Edward’s honour. He had been Selwyn House’s Tutor for two terms between 1982 and 1983 and was visited there by Prince Charles and Princess Diana during their 1983 tour. The auditorium had substantially better acoustic qualities than Big School’s hall, and was a more appropriate size for the, by now, enlarged school population. Later the Foundation Music School was added to this building. The school also hosts concerts and public events at the auditorium and chapel, and the long-standing relationship that the New Zealand Opera School, held at Godwin House every January, has with the school strengthens its cultural ties with the community.

An essential part of the English public school model was an emphasis on morale and school community-building sporting and cadet experiences. School historian Andrew Sangster noted that in the new campus’ early period someone browsing the school’s magazine, Collegian, could be forgiven ‘for believing that the school’s main care was for sports.’ Rugby, cricket, and rowing have traditionally been very important at the school, although many different field sports were available, and there were swimming, tennis, and hockey facilities developed. All Blacks Jimmy Hunter and David Kirk, Silver Fern netballer Joline Henry, and gold-medallist rower Rebecca Scown are all alumni of the school.

The value of sports to students can be gauged by the fact that the playing fields at the new campus were twice the size that were planned, primarily because students volunteered during holidays to level the grounds. They are also said to have laboured to create the cricket ground (the memorial Pavilion was built later in 1917), swimming pool, bicycle sheds and other minor buildings. In the mid-twentieth century, a new gymnasium, as well as other amenities, was seen as one way of retaining day student levels in light of anticipated competition from a new local public school, Wanganui High School. Indeed, it was from this period that day students began to grow substantially in number. That gymnasium was superseded by the Izard Sports Centre in 1994. The centre was funded by a significant contribution from Old Boy Richard Izard and the school’s extended community also fundraised, buying bricks engraved with donor names which were used in the building’s construction.

Significant changes took place at Wanganui Collegiate School in the late 1960s, with one commentator describing it as possibly ‘the most dramatic private school expansion that is now underway.’ The need to increase capacity was already apparent in the 1950s. With the school roll at a record level in 1956 an entrance exam was introduced as a way to manage the growing waiting list. This demand reflects a general post-war trend in New Zealand in placing greater importance on a full secondary school education. This has been linked to the growth of urban areas and, correspondingly, the professional workforce which required higher qualifications.

The need to expand the school was also driven by baby boomer children reaching secondary school age by the 1960s, further increasing demand for places at Wanganui Collegiate School. In 1960 the roll was 342, considerably more than when the Liverpool Street campus was first created. This pressure on the school’s facilities motivated additions such as a new dining hall, junior boarders’ house (Empson House) and science block, as well as the renovation of many existing buildings. Auxiliary functions located in Big School were also accommodated elsewhere as part of the programme, in order for Big School to become specifically a classroom block. As such, the library was moved into the original dining hall. By 1976, these building projects enabled the school’s roll to increase to 545 students.

By the late 1980s, there was a noticeable drop in the numbers of boarders. This was a worldwide phenomenon not exclusive to Wanganui Collegiate School. The economic effects of the 1987 share market crash on groups from which the school traditionally drew its students, the farming and business communities, worsened the situation for the school. This decline does not seem to have been compensated for with increases in day boy numbers. Therefore, a concerted effort was made to promote the school, but the school fees and the single-sex character were inhibitive. Opening the school up to accepting female pupils (initially only senior students) began in earnest in 1989. Godwin House was built to accommodate female boarders in 1990 and the next year Wanganui Collegiate School received its first female students in over a century.

However, this was not the end of the troubled times at the school. Consolidation was needed, and one measure was to dissolve the day boy Houses and redistribute these students into the boarders Houses. As such, Marris and Porritt House was converted into a technology teaching block in 1999. Despite being testing times for the Board of Trustees in 2003, the atmosphere within the school was said to be positive and the roll began to recover. Because of the continued maintenance of existing assets and new building projects the school environment was described as ‘unsurpassed in New Zealand.’

The debate about whether Wanganui Collegiate School should integrate into the state school system began to gather momentum in the 1970s. This has periodically been a concern of the Board of Trustees in all of the subsequent decades, mostly as a potential remedy for financial woes. However, it was only in late 2009 that the school formally applied to the Ministry of Education for integration. In early November 2012, this was achieved following a ‘difficult and drawn out process.’

Physical Description

Current Description

Wanganui Collegiate School has been described as being ‘a village set within a town’. The campus occupies a large section facing onto Liverpool Street and bounded by the railway line to the northeast, and Glasgow, London, and Grey Streets. Playing fields are also located on the opposite side of Grey Street, but these are not within the extent of the historic place.

Connecting the two entrance points on both Liverpool and Grey Streets is The Drive. This and other paths wind their way through the schools buildings, structures and open spaces. In general the original buildings are located in the southeast quadrant, and as the school has developed building works have progressed towards London Street endeavouring to maintain the original layout principle of providing an environment structured for the efficient and effective running of the school. Despite this growth, there has been a conscious effort to retain large open spaces, such as the cricket grounds associated with the Pavilion, and the less formal and public hilly area located at the rear of the boarding houses, acting as a communal backyard and golf course. The careful campus design, balancing open and built spaces, physically represents the school ethos of providing a well-rounded educational and boarding experience for students.

Buildings and structures included in the Historic Place

The places below have been assessed as being of particular importance to the overarching heritage values of Wanganui Collegiate School. These are not ranked in terms of significance; instead this section is generally structured geographically and by function – taking the viewpoint of a visitor entering through the main entrance on Liverpool Street and moving through the school before exiting using the north Grey Street driveway.

Big School (1910-11). Big School is the public face of the school as well as central to school life. Others in this group of initial buildings designed by Atkins and Bacon include: Grey, Hadfield and Selwyn Houses, their associated toilet blocks, the original Dining Hall, and the Headmaster’s Residence. These were described at the time of their construction as being ‘treated in a frankly modern manner’ that recalled English Domestic architecture. The campus’ original buildings can be identified by their 1910 dated downpipe caps. Other shared features include Marseille tile roofing and two-toned brick and stucco exteriors.

Big School is a two storey building constructed around a large central double height gabled hall. Excepting a few post-1911 single storey additions on the southeast side, this building is strongly symmetrical. Fronting Liverpool Street, Big School features areas of ornamental brickwork, and upper storey arch windows that repeat the main entrance’s form.

Big School’s original decorative arched parapets were removed as an earthquake safety precaution in the early 1930s. Likewise, the chimneys on Big School, and the other older buildings, are now purely aesthetic constructions because of later earthquake concerns.

A feature of particular note in this classroom block is the hall, touted by Hon. Henry George Ell (1862-1934) soon after it opened as ‘one of the finest in the Dominion.’ Big School was refurbished and strengthened in 1990-91. The works by architects Belchambers Bondy included creating a balcony at the northeast end of the hall to link the galleries. The interior steel and timber beams, added during the post-Hawke’s Bay earthquake works, were tied together at roof level with steel rods and the posts likewise reinforced.

Centrally located on the northwest side of Big School, the Gilligan House Memorial Room was added in 1991 and also designed by Belchambers Bondy. With its gabled roof terminating over an apse, this building is a memorial to one of the school’s former off-site boarding houses and is a versatile theatre-style space. On the adjoining lawn, between the current library and Selwyn House, is a bronze Paul Dibble (b.1943) sculpture commissioned in 1999.

Chapel (1911-1912). The placement of the Chapel and Big School on either side of the main entrance forthrightly states the school’s twin pillars of education and religion for visiting public and students alike. Although part of the new campus’ planned complement of buildings, the Chapel had a different architect, William Gray Young, who won the competition run by the WCS Old Boys Association. However, it sits comfortably among the Atkins and Bacon buildings, through sympathetic style and scale, and similar materials, although in the Chapel stucco gives way to Oamaru stone detailing and tracery and slate roofing instead of Marseille tiles.

There are three stained glass windows in the Chapel which were relocated from the school’s earlier church, including a South African (Boer) War memorial window. Many more memorial windows have been added to over the last century, commemorating those killed in World War One as well as others associated with the school. Other World War One memorial features include the sanctuary’s 1921 reredos and panelling, and the pulpit. A carved partition at the southwest end of the building creates a vestibule known as the Porch of Memories, beneath the World War One memorial organ in its loft. Names of fallen Old Boys have been progressively added to this, commemorating those who fought in the South African War, and World Wars One and Two.

The Chapel has beautifully intricate examples of carved timber altar furniture. Among these are the 1936 oak choir, chaplain and headmaster’s stalls by noteworthy craftsman, Frederick George Gurnsey (1868-1953).

Between 1985 and 1986 the Chapel was strengthened and extended through the addition of an aisle either side of the nave. This increased seating capacity from 300 to 600 people. The architects for the project were Dickson Elliott Lonergan, Whanganui, and Smith Lechars, Wellington. The project won the 1988 New Zealand Institute of Architects National Award for Conservation and Restoration.

Hadfield, Selwyn, Grey (1910-1911), and Harvey (1921) Houses and Toilet Blocks (1910-11). From the beginning, boarding has been an essential aspect of school life at Wanganui Collegiate. The close proximity of these early residential buildings to Big School and the Chapel created a village-like cluster, with Atkins and Bacon’s use of the English Domestic style particularly suited to conveying a reassuring sense of home comforts in the boarding Houses. Each was also designed to include accommodation for the housemaster and his family.

Although seemingly democratically similar to the design of Hadfield, Selwyn and Grey Houses, Harvey House was built to be somewhat more spacious than its decade-old siblings. This collection of two storey buildings, side by side on a crescent shaped drive, has an I-shaped footprint, with Harvey House’s rear longitudinal wing being slightly longer than the others. In the courtyards between Harvey and Hadfield, and Grey and Selwyn, are the two single storey hipped-roofed brick ablutions blocks.

The four Houses were extended and upgraded in the 1970s to increase capacity and improve conditions, which were substandard in comparison with the new buildings like Empson and Marris and Porritt Houses. Each extension consisted of a large double storey concrete block and timber building along the rear. A staggered work programme saw this work largely completed between 1972 and 1978.

Headmaster’s Residence (1910-1911). This is among the group of original buildings said to be ‘a monument to the genius of Messrs Atkins and Bacon, the architects.’ Befitting the Headmaster’s important role in the school, this building is placed relatively centrally within the campus among the line of boarding and day houses. When built, this large, two storey, six bedroom house also featured four reception rooms, as well as other domestic necessities. The building faces north and backs onto The Drive. At the rear, and to the west, additional gables and lean-tos seem to have been added by the mid-twentieth century.

Steward’s and Chaplain’s Residences (1921). These buildings are smaller, but stylistically similar to the earlier Headmaster’s Residence, and together these staff residences flank the early boarding houses and Marris and Porritt House, being a reminder of watchful authority for students but also allowing staff and their families a measure of privacy. Indeed, in the late twentieth century these were used by day boy Housemasters. They are located north of the Chapel on Liverpool Street, with a lane running between them. The two storey houses are staggered on their neighbouring large residential sections and tie in with the brick and stucco look of the other early buildings.

Dining Hall, current H. G. Carver Memorial Library (1910-1911). Located conveniently for students on a trajectory between the main boarding houses and Big School, this is also an example of an original campus building. Now used as a library, the original Dining Hall has buttressing along its north side and the long gable of the hall has a central belfry. It sits alongside the old kitchen (formerly featuring maid’s quarters on first floor) to the south. Another feature of the current library is its large east and west tracery windows, with a circular window above that recalls the one beside Big School’s northern entrance.

In 1967, a new dining hall was completed and its predecessor was converted into the H. G. Carver Memorial Library. Wilson, Belchambers, Low and Associates’ designed the interior changes which included constructing a mezzanine floor. Staffroom and administrative facilities were created in the adjoining former kitchen.

Marris House and Music Room (Former), current Museum and Archive (1921). Like other early buildings, Wanganui Collegiate School’s first day boy house is located near Big School, towards the Liverpool Street frontage. Along with Harvey House and the Chaplain and Steward’s Residences, this building (named Marris House in 1926) was designed by Atkins, Bacon and Mitchell, continuing this firm’s work establishing the campus. Another thing all the early buildings, including the Chapel, have in common is that they were constructed by Nicholas Meuli. The red brick at ground level and a stuccoed second storey in the Marris House section is typical of the other early buildings. A larger adjoining day boys’ common room was opened in 1960. After the removal of music teaching to the Foundation Music School in 1991, the 70 year old building was transformed into the current Museum and Archive.

Marris and Porritt House, current Technology Block (1970). Marris and Porritt House was constructed to expand the day boys’ facilities available at earlier incarnations of Marris House, but unlike its 1921 predecessor, Marris and Porritt House’s location next to Harvey House meant day boys were better integrated into House life at the school as well as having direct access to the school’s backyard. Continuing the association with the school established through the Science Block, this building was designed by Wilson, Belchambers, Low and Associates. Constructed by Pepper & Fromont Limited, Marris and Porritt House forms three sides of a central courtyard on a site lower than its neighbour, Harvey House. The concrete block and fair face concrete building won the local 1973 New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) Bronze Medal Award. This building has now been converted into a technology teaching block.

Godwin House (1990). Designed by Bruce Dickson, the first girls’ boarding house at Wanganui Collegiate consists of several wings around a central courtyard at the western end of The Drive. Godwin House strongly references the stucco wall surfaces, tile gabled roofs, and round and arched topped windows of the original Atkins and Bacon buildings.

Bishops House (1999). This was the second house built for female students, constructed for junior girls in preference to adapting Empson House for that purpose. It was designed by Bruce Dickson to also reference architectural elements of the other campus buildings and was named for all of the bishops who had contributed to the school.

Science Block (1967). Originally all classrooms and administrative activities were in Big School, but additional facilities were developed to meet the needs of the growing school roll. Throughout its history, buildings constructed subsequent to Wanganui Collegiate School’s initial development took place away from the main public face on Liverpool Street. However, in 1967, the Science Block was built on Liverpool Street south of the Big School, a visible signal that the school was expanding and modernising.

Strongly rectangular, the building’s red brick and cream painted concrete references the cladding materials common to the campus’ early buildings. The interplay between large solid sections of brick wall and recessed glazing is stylistically typical of its era, and the work of Eddie Belchambers, and his boss Don Wilson, who Belchambers soon joined as a practice partner. Wilson was a Wanganui Collegiate Old Boy and these architects were able to introduce a Modernist direction to the campus’ architecture because of strong support from the school’s Chairman, Bryan Silk.

Cricket Pavilion and Scorer’s Box (1917). On the northwest edge of the cricket field, the raked-floored swimming pool was dug out by the students when the campus was initially developed, with new walls and changing sheds constructed in 1966. While the playing fields were also levelled when the campus was established, it was not until 1917 that the Cricket Pavilion was constructed. This area is a formal semi-public leisure space much like a residential front yard, which draws people to the school for organised sporting events.

The Pavilion is another of the school’s First World War memorial features, designed by Charles Reginald Ford and built by William Knuckey; it was commissioned by master and subsequent WCS headmaster John Allen in memory of his brother Charles Bramwell Allen and his cricketing friend and WCS master Hugh Montagu Butterworth, who died in France in 1915. Ford was based in Whanganui at this time, but in 1923 he went on to form influential New Zealand architectural practice Gummer and Ford in Auckland. The central section of the building has concrete terracing and the north side is heavily glazed creating a sheltered spectator area. The small Scorer’s Box, now several metres northeast of the Pavilion but formerly to its southwest, is in a similar style to its neighbour. Both continue the visual language of the early Atkins and Bacon buildings.

Prince Edward Auditorium (1983-1984) and Foundation Music School (1991). Constructed by Fletcher Building, Warren and Mahoney’s Auditorium is another semi-public school space for assemblies and indoor school cultural events, located across the playing field from the Cricket Pavilion and next to the swimming pool. This Post-modern building’s exterior cladding echoes the brick, stucco, and tile of the Atkins and Bacon buildings, and its roof pitches harmoniously too. Sir Miles Warren cites the Auditorium as a successful example of the company’s 1980s contextualist direction, noting that this approach ‘worked only when there was a worthwhile context.’ Each corner of the roof has a distinctive arch-topped vent.

The music suite has internal access to the Auditorium. This addition was designed by Belchambers with two main sections, which ascend in size eastwards from the Auditorium. This creates an interesting stepped form when viewed from The Drive.

Izard Sports Centre (1994). The architectural principles employed in the Prince Edward Auditorium influenced Bruce Dickson’s design for its neighbouring building, the Izard Sport Centre. Opened in October 1994, this building upgraded and expanded the school’s existing gymnasium facility. The project garnered considerable support from the wider school community, which is acknowledged in the building’s west wall featuring hundreds of fundraising bricks engraved with donor names. As well as a sports hall, the building has a classroom, squash courts, a spectator gallery which also provides views of the adjacent sports field and changing rooms accessible from the swimming pool. The Izard Sports Centre received an NZIA Design Award in 1995.


Wanganui Collegiate School is comparable to other New Zealand schools whose campus buildings have been recognised by Heritage New Zealand for their architectural merits, like Christ’s College, Christchurch, and Auckland Grammar School. Each of these schools is a collection of buildings built at different times but presenting a cohesive architectural theme. Like Christ’s College’s complement of buildings, which are predominantly Gothic Revival style or reference it, architectural consideration has gone into Wanganui Collegiate School’s buildings. They generally draw on Atkins and Bacon’s English Domestic style characteristics in order to create a cohesive campus, even though later buildings were completed in different styles by a variety of architects. The current Auckland Grammar School campus is a close contemporary to that of Wanganui Collegiate. These both departed from the Gothic Revival tradition for educational buildings, but unlike Wanganui Collegiate School, Auckland Grammar’s original architects opted for buildings strongly influenced by the Spanish Mission style.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1910 - 1911
Original new campus buildings constructed, including Big School, Dining Hall (now H. G. Carver Memorial Library) and adjoining kitchen (now administration area), Selwyn, Hadfield and Grey Houses and their associated ablution blocks, the Headmaster’s Residence, and the swimming pool is created

Original Construction
1911 - 1912
Chapel constructed

Original Construction
1917 -
Cricket Pavilion constructed

Original Construction
- 1920
Harvey House completed

Original Construction
- 1921
Marris House and Music Room, Chaplain and Steward’s Residences completed

1957 -
Swimming pool redeveloped, including a new filtration system

Original Construction
- 1958
Gymnasium completed

Original Construction
1960 -
Second Marris House (common room and classrooms) constructed

Original Construction
- 1966
New dining hall completed and new swimming pool surrounds and changing sheds

Original Construction
- 1967
Science Block completed, original dining hall converted into H. G. Carver Memorial Library, and the kitchen becomes a staff and administration area

Original Construction
- 1969
Empson House completed

Original Construction
- 1970
Marris and Porritt House completed

1972 -
Selwyn House extended and upgraded

1973 -
Grey House extended and upgraded

1974 -
Hadfield House extended and upgraded

1978 -
Harvey House extended and upgraded

Original Construction
- 1984
Prince Edward Auditorium completed

Structural upgrade
1986 -
Grey House strengthened and refurbished

Structural upgrade
1987 -
Selwyn House strengthened and refurbished; Chapel strengthened and extended

Structural upgrade
1988 -
Hadfield House strengthened and refurbished

Structural upgrade
1989 -
Harvey House strengthened and refurbished

Original Construction
1990 -
Godwin House constructed

Structural upgrade
1990 - 1991
Big School strengthened and refurbished

Foundation Music School added to Prince Edward Auditorium. Gilligan House Memorial Room addition to Big School

1992 -
Former Music Block converted into Museum and Archive

Original Construction
1994 -
Izard Sports Centre constructed

Grey, Hadfield, Harvey and Selwyn Houses altered and refurbished

2013 -
Chapel exterior and window restoration

Construction Details

Brick, concrete, steel, glass, timber

Completion Date

9th June 2015

Report Written By

Karen Astwood

Information Sources

Shaw, 1997 (2003)

Peter Shaw, A History of New Zealand Architecture, Auckland, 1997

Voelkerling, 1986

R. Voelkerling and K Stewart, From Sand to Papa: A History of the Wanganui County, Wanganui, 1986

Gatley, 2008

Julia Gatley (ed.), Long Live the Modern: New Zealand's New Architecture 1904-1984, Auckland University Press, Auckland, 2008

Hamilton, 2003

Hamilton, B & D., Never a Footstep Back: A history of the Wanganui Collegiate School, 1854-2003, Whanganui, Board of Trustees, Wanganui Collegiate School, 2003

Irvine, 2003

Irvine, P. N. (ed.), The Register of the Wanganui Collegiate School, 1854-2003, Whanganui, Wanganui Collegiate School Old Boys’ and Girls’ Association (Inc.), 2003

Sangster, 1985

Sangster, A., Pathway to Establishment: The history of Wanganui Collegiate School, Wanganui, Wanganui Collegiate School, 1985

Pettigrew, 2012

Pettigrew, Wendy, The Heart of a Great School: The Chapels of Wanganui Collegiate School, Whanganui, Wanganui Collegiate School Museum Trust, 2012

Other Information

A fully referenced New Zealand Heritage List report is available on request from the Central Region Office of Heriatge New Zealand.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.