Nelson College

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Nelson College
67 Waimea Road


New Zealand
Coordinates 41°17′8″S173°16′36″E / 41.28556°S 173.27667°E / -41.28556; 173.27667 Coordinates: 41°17′8″S173°16′36″E / 41.28556°S 173.27667°E / -41.28556; 173.27667
Type State secondary, day and boarding
MottoPietas Probitas et Sapientia
(Loyalty, honesty and wisdom)
Established1856; 163 years ago
Sister school Nelson College for Girls
Ministry of Education Institution no. 294
HeadmasterGary O'Shea
School roll1084 [1] (March 2019)
Socio-economic decile7

Nelson College is the oldest state secondary school in New Zealand. [2] It is a boys-only school in the City of Nelson that teaches from years 9 to 13. In addition, it runs a private Preparatory School for year 7 and 8 boys. The school also has places for boarders, who live in three boarding houses adjacent to the main school buildings on the same campus. These boarding houses are called Rutherford, Barnicoat and Fell. In 2017 and 2018 Rutherford received a complete interior overhaul and reopened in late 2018. Fell house will be receiving the same treatment during 2019 and 2020 and is currently closed to boarders.

Secondary school building and organization where secondary education is provided

A secondary school is both an organization that provides secondary education and the building where this takes place. Some secondary schools can provide both lower secondary education and upper secondary education, but these can also be provided in separate schools, as in the American middle and high school system.

New Zealand Country in Oceania

New Zealand is a sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses—the North Island, and the South Island —and around 600 smaller islands. New Zealand is situated some 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal, and plant life. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, while its most populous city is Auckland.

Nelson, New Zealand City in Nelson City, New Zealand

Nelson is a city on the eastern shores of Tasman Bay. Nelson is the oldest city in the South Island and the second-oldest settled city in New Zealand – it was established in 1841 and was proclaimed a city by royal charter in 1858.


It was a Nelson College old boy that was instrumental in introducing the game of rugby into New Zealand. [3] [4]

The terms Old Boys and Old Girls are the usual expressions in use in the United Kingdom for former pupils of primary and secondary schools. While these are traditionally associated with independent schools, they are also used for some schools in the state sector. The term is also used for those who attended New Zealand schools, Sri Lankan schools, a few universities in the UK and, to a lesser extent, schools in Australia, Canada, South Africa and Spain.

Rugby refers to the team sports rugby league and rugby union, but generally refers to rugby union due to its popularity throughout the globe.


The school opened with eight students on 7 April 1856 in premises in Trafalgar Square, Nelson, but shortly thereafter moved to a site in Manuka Street. In 1861, the school moved again to its current site in Waimea Road. The Deed of Foundation was signed in 1857 and set out the curriculum to be followed by the College. It included English language and literature, one or more modern languages, geography, mathematics, classics, history, drawing, music and such other branches of science as the Council of Governors should determine. [5] The Deed stated that the purpose of the school was the "advancement of religion and morality, and the promotion of useful knowledge, by offering to the youth of the Province general education of a superior character."

In 1858, the General Assembly passed the Nelson College Act, which confirmed the status of the school. There were nine initial trustees, and the notable ones are Charles Elliott, David Monro, John Barnicoat, Charles Bigg Wither, William Wells, and Alfred Domett. [6] In that same year, Alfred Fell gifted the common seal, containing the college's badge and motto, "Pietas, Probitas et Sapientia" (Loyalty, honesty and wisdom). [5] A team from Nelson College took part in the first game of rugby played in New Zealand, against the Nelson Rugby Football Club on 14 May 1870 at what is now known as the Botanic Reserve, Nelson, and, in 1876, the first inter-College rugby match in New Zealand was played between Nelson College and Wellington College. [5]

Charles Elliott (1811–1876) was a New Zealand politician. He represented the Waimea electorate in the 2nd New Zealand Parliament from 1855 to 1858, and resigned before the end of his term.

David Monro New Zealand politician

Sir David Monro was a New Zealand politician. He served as Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives from 1861 to 1870.

John Wallis Barnicoat was a member of the New Zealand Legislative Council from 14 May 1883 to 21 June 1902, when he resigned.

On 7 December 1904, the College was almost completely destroyed by fire. The main building, designed by William Beatson, was said to be a "miniature of Eton," the architect being an old Etonian. [7] In 1926, Nelson College was invited to join the annual rugby tournament between Christ's College, Wanganui Collegiate School and Wellington College, known as the "Quadrangular". [5] In the 1929 Murchison earthquake, the main building of the College was once again severely damaged, although only two boys were injured. [5]

William Beatson New Zealander architect (1807-1870)

William Beatson (1807–1870) was a London trained architect who immigrated to New Zealand. He adapted contemporary English building design to meet the rigors of the New Zealand environment.

Eton College British independent boarding school located in Eton

Eton College is an English 13–18 independent boarding school and sixth form for boys in the parish of Eton, near Windsor in Berkshire. It was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as Kynge's College of Our Ladye of Eton besyde Windesore , as a sister institution to King's College, Cambridge, making it the 18th-oldest Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference school.

Christs College, Christchurch independent, Anglican, secondary, day and boarding school for boys, located in the central city of Christchurch, New Zealand

Christ's College, Christchurch is an independent, Anglican, secondary, day and boarding school for boys, located in the city centre of Christchurch, New Zealand.

In 2011, Nelson College became the first all-boys college in New Zealand to form a gay-straight alliance support group. [8] The alliance operated from its own room. In 2017, the group was re-formed, after a failed attempt in 2015.

House system

The College has a house system with, as of 16 May 2019, six different houses that compete across a range of sporting codes including cross country running and swimming together with varied cultural activities:

In 2004, two new houses were formed, to add to the then existing three boarding and three day-scholar houses. However, following a boarding restructure in 2014, Rutherford House ceased to exist as an entity in the Nelson College inter-house competitions. The 'Rutherford House' physical building was refurbished and repurposed into the Nelson College Preparatory School in 2016, while Rutherford boarders were merged into Barnicoat. [9]

Notable staff


Since its foundation in 1856, Nelson College has had 20 headmasters. The following is a complete list: [10] [11]

1John Charles Bagshaw1856–1858
2George Heppel1859–1861
3Reginald Broughton1862
4John Danforth Greenwood1863–1865
5 Charles Lendrick MacLean 1866–1868
6Frank Churchill Simmons1868–1876
7 John Chapman Andrew 1876–1886
8 William Justice Ford 1886–1888
9John William Joynt1889–1898
10 William Still Littlejohn 1899–1903
11Harry Lewis Fowler1904–1921
12 Charles Harrington Broad 1922–1933
13Herbert Victor Searle1933–1956
14Basil Henry Wakelin1957–1969
15E.J. "Doug" Brewster1970–1981
16Barry Beckingsale1981–1985
17Tony Cooper1985–1988
18Gary Bowler1988–1995
19Salvi Gargiulo1995–2006
20Gary O'Shea2006–present

Notable alumni

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  1. "Directory of Schools - as at 3 April 2019". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  2. "1870s". New Zealand Rugby Museum. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
  3. "New Zealand's First Game of Rugby". Retrieved 30 June 2018.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 L.R. Palmer, "A Short History of Nelson College". In: "Nelson College Old Boys' Register 18561981" (5th edn.)
  5. "Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Nelson Trust Funds, for the Year Ending 21st December, 1857". The Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle . XVII (3). 9 January 1858. p. 2. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  6. "The Evening Post", 8 December 1904
  7. Roberts, Adam (6 April 2011). "Boys' college backs gay, straight students". The Nelson Mail . Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  8. DUNN, Sarah; MANN, Brittany. "Boarding changes to go ahead". Nelson Mail. Fairfax Madia. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
  9. Nelson College Old Boys' Register, 1856–2006, 6th edition (CD-ROM).
  10. "O'Shea for head". The Press. 5 July 2006. p. 4.
  11. "Dr. Wallaston". The Week. Brisbane, Queensland. 18 February 1912. p. 13.