Burnside High School

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Burnside High School
Burnside Logo.png
Burnside High School 035.JPG
Aerial view of Burnside High
Burnside High School
Greers Road, Burnside


New Zealand
Coordinates 43°30′27″S172°34′34″E / 43.5075°S 172.5762°E / -43.5075; 172.5762 Coordinates: 43°30′27″S172°34′34″E / 43.5075°S 172.5762°E / -43.5075; 172.5762
TypeState, non-integrated
Motto Latin: Recte Sic Dirige Cursum
(Thus direct thy path aright (In this way direct your course correctly))
Ministry of Education Institution no. 319
PrincipalPhil Holstein
School roll2484 [1] (March 2021)
Socio-economic decile8P [2]
Website burnside.school.nz
Burnside High School girls Burnside High School Girls.jpg
Burnside High School girls

Burnside High School (Māori : Waimairi-iri) is a state co-educational secondary school located in the suburb of Burnside in Christchurch, New Zealand. With a roll of 2484 students, [1] it is the largest school in New Zealand outside Auckland, [3] and is among the country's four largest schools.



The Burnside property, an area of 59 hectares (150 acres), belonged to Canterbury University College (later the University of Canterbury) as an endowment. When the college considered moving away from its central city site, the Burnside property was considered, but the college purchased what is now known as the Ilam campus from the late 1940s instead. A reduced land area was used by the Ministry of Education for Burnside High School. [4]

The school's construction started in 1959, and (after a delay in approving tenders) was opened in February 1960. Construction of the new college had been approved by Cabinet on 1 August 1958; tenders were called closing on 30 January 1959. Approval of the lowest tender was delayed until April 1959, losing three months of dry weather for construction and risking the completion in time for the 1960 school year.

A swimming pool was added in 1961, which became fully functional in 1964 after the addition of filtration equipment. The gymnasium was soon constructed afterwards. In 2004 and 2005 construction of a new block, library and administration area began. These were opened in 2006 by Helen Clark, then Prime Minister of New Zealand. The school's fiftieth jubilee was held in 2010, attended by John Key, an ex-pupil and Prime Minister of New Zealand. Following damage caused by the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake, Avonside Girls' High School shared the facilities of Burnside High School. Avonside Girls' High School relocated back to their home site in 2012. [5] Burnside High School, due to being relatively undamaged and with power and water restored shortly after the quake, was used as a welfare centre by Civil Defence. [6]

Burnside High School pupils in Colombo Street, at Gloucester Street corner, Christchurch, 1969 Burnside High School pupils in Colombo Street, at Gloucester Street corner, Christchurch (34034257954).jpg
Burnside High School pupils in Colombo Street, at Gloucester Street corner, Christchurch, 1969

On 28 March 2012 the school was put into lockdown after students reported seeing a man walking the grounds carrying a silver pistol, which was later found by police to be plastic. [7]


Burnside, like many secondary schools in Christchurch, operates an enrolment scheme to help curb roll numbers and prevent overcrowding. The school's zone includes the suburbs of Burnside and Bryndwr, and parts of Bishopdale, Fendalton, Ilam and Avonhead. [8]

At the August 2013 Education Review Office (ERO) review of the school, the school had 2416 students enrolled, including 135 international students. Forty-seven percent of students were male and 53 percent were female. Sixty-three percent of students identified as European (including 56 percent as New Zealand European or Pākehā), 22 percent as Asian, eight percent as Māori, two percent as Pacific Islanders, and five percent as another ethnicity. [9]


The school is split into four divisions – North, South, West and Senior – the first three consisting of students from Years 9–12 and Senior division consisting of only Year 13 students. Each division has a guidance counsellor, three deans and a divisional principal and, in addition, Senior Division includes a careers advisor. The school has a Principal, Second Principal, Assistant Principal, 3 Divisional Principals, 12 deans and 13 Heads of Department.

Allan Hunter was principal from 1969 to 1980, when he retired. [10] The current principal is Phil Holstein, who commenced in 2015; Holstein replaced Warwick Maguire. [11]

Grounds and facilities

Night photo of the historical cabbage tree on the grounds of Burnside High School, September 2016 Cabbage tree Burnside 006c.jpg
Night photo of the historical cabbage tree on the grounds of Burnside High School, September 2016

Like most New Zealand state secondary schools built in the 1960s, the school is largely built to the Nelson Two-Storey plan. The Nelson Two-Storey is distinguished by its two-storey H-shaped classroom blocks, with stairwells at each end of the block and a large ground floor toilet and cloak area on one side. [12] Burnside has five of these blocks: A, B, D, E and F blocks.

The school has a school-broadcast system designed as an Armed Intruder Lockdown Scheme in the event of a Virginia Tech style school shooting [ citation needed ], which informs teachers and students of an armed intruder, and safety measures to be taken to ensure classrooms and buildings are locked down for safety.


As a state school, Burnside High School follows the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). In Years 11 to 13, students complete the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA), the main secondary school qualification in New Zealand.

Notable alumni


  1. 1 2 "New Zealand Schools Directory". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  2. "Decile Change 2014 to 2015 for State & State Integrated Schools". Ministry of Education. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  3. "Are you in one of NZ's biggest high schools? | School Leaver NZ". schoolleaver.nz. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  4. Gardner et al 1973, pp. 332–336.
  5. Sue Hume (July 2011). "Avonside Newsletter 'Tatler' – July 2011" (PDF). Avonside Girls' High School. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 12 November 2011.
  6. "Christchurch Earthquake: What you need to know". nzherald.co.nz. 27 February 2011.
  7. "Toy sparks gun scare at school". Stuff.co.nz . 28 March 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  8. "eLearning Schools Search". Te Kete Ipurangi. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  9. "Burnside High School Education Review". Education Review Office. 9 October 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  10. Hunter, Allan (2015). "70th anniversary of the Normandy landings". 21st Annual report season 2014/2015 (PDF). The Willows Cricket Club. p. 59. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  11. O'Callaghan, Jody (23 September 2014). "Burnside High appoints new principal" . Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  12. "Catalogue of Standard School Building Types" (PDF). Christchurch: Ministry of Education. August 2013. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  13. "Podcast Willi Heinz" . Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  14. "Biography – John Key". Archived from the original on 23 December 2011. Retrieved 18 December 2011.

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