Waitara High School is in the fortunate position of being close to a major urban centre (New Plymouth), yet draws its students from Waitara and the small towns and rural areas to the north.
The cultural diversity of New Zealand is reflected in Waitara High School’s student population. With over 62% of our students identifying as Māori, opportunities are offered to enhance their learning of all things Māori.
Our school works hard to ensure small class sizes; which in turn allows for a more personal interaction between staff and students. We are committed to all students being fully engaged in all school activities.
There is a high level of community support, with members of our community coaching sports teams, providing assistance with school events and with students accessing programmes and work experience within the local community.
On 1 December 1944, the Taranaki Education Board wrote to the Education Department seeking approval to open a high school. The department in reply asked the board to submit a report on the matter of acquisition of a site, construction of buildings and inauguration of a system of conveyance. On 18 January, eight acres were selected, partly of the Bayly Estate and owned by Mrs O.H. Taylor, as the most suitable site. On 8 June the board forwarded the plans and estimates to the Education Department.
On 28 November 1946 contributing schools were notified that Mr Massey had been appointed headmaster from 1 February 1947 and the school opened on that date with a roll of 120 third, fourth and fifth form pupils in five classrooms, a laboratory, a general purpose room and subsidiary accommodation. A further three classrooms and a library were approved in principle in July 1947 and in December of the same year the board was authorised to call tenders for a new manual building comprising a cookery room and woodwork room with a metalwork bay.
The two shades of blue were decided upon by the founding advisory committee. They chose Cambridge blue (light blue) and Oxford blue (dark blue). It was decided that a heraldic style badge was not appropriate for a new school of the era. Instead it was decided to simply use a shield with interlocking letters. The initial WDHS (Waitara District High School) was later replaced with the present WHS. The founding principal, Mr Massey, looked for a motto in Maori which would say – Strive on or Fight on. Mr Rangi Makawe (a member of the committee) was also in favour of this as the school was stood on an old battlefield. Many word combinations were suggested and rejected so finally the words “Whawhai Tonu” were settled on. This was sent to a Maori scholar for his opinion and there concern as the phrase could be interpreted as “Slaughter on”. Eventually Mr Massey requested a Latin translation from Victoria University. The university provided a quotation from Virgil containing the words “Ulterius Tende” meaning to “strive on”.
The school bell was presented to the school from the London County Council in 1946. It is from the Avonmore School at Fulham which was destroyed during the air raids of 1940.
1947 – 1962: EWP Massey
1962 – 1970: JF Sharkey
1970 – 1973: DF Audley
1974 – 1987: RJ Kivell
1987 – 1994: Nevill Jessep
1995 – 2006: H Cast
2006 – 2014: Jenny Gellen
2014 – 2016: Graeme Hood
2017 – Present: Daryl Warburton