Awatapu College

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Awatapu College
"Whai mana, whai oranga”, “Focussed on Excellence”
434 Botanical Rd, Palmerston North
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Type State Co-Ed Secondary (Year 9-13)
Established 1976
Ministry of Education Institution no. 198
Principal Gary Yeatman[1]
School roll 670[2] (March 2016)
Socio-economic decile 4K[3]

Awatapu College is a State Co-Educational Secondary School in Awapuni, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

About the School


Awatapu College is located in West End, a suburb of Palmerston North, at the bend of Botanical Road. The area known as “Awatapu” started off as an Oxbow lake on the Manawatu River. It later became a lagoon that provided food and shelter to the local Māori of Rangitane. It also provided food for a variety of birds, pests and eels.[4]

History and Design

The school was officially opened on 1 December 1976 as the fifth secondary school in Palmerston North.[5] Like most New Zealand state secondary schools of the 1970s, Awatapu College was built to the S68 design, characterised by single-storey classroom blocks with concrete block walls, low-pitched roofs, protruding clerestory windows, and internal open courtyards.[6]

The name “Awatapu” was chosen because the school is located on the site of an ancient lagoon. It was an ancient name which celebrated a forgotten event in the history of the “Tangata whenua” — the Rangitane people, whose ancestors had for many centuries padded along the bush tracks or splashed up the creek from the river to enjoy the bounty of Awatapu.[7] If that name had not been chosen, it would have probably soon been lost.


The wings of the emblem stand for the three main stages of early life:

  • Learning to fly
  • Then being able to fly under supervision
  • Being ready to fly alone

The half-circle underneath indicates a rocking position to remind us that life is not always stable.

The V for victory reminds us to work for personal achievement.

The rainbow under the college name reminds us there is always some colour around us if we are willing to look for it.


The traditional colours of the school are Black and Gold, as seen in the sports teams and on the collar of the school uniform shirts.


The school uniform consists of a white Polo shirt, grey shorts/trousers or a tartan skirt, grey socks and black leather shoes. Students in Year 12 (6th Form) and Year 13 (7th Form) are not required to wear School Uniform. A copy of the Uniform code can be found in the Awatapu College Logbook.



2013 saw the departure of four major and long serving teaching staff from Awatapu College: Stephen Fisher, Head of Performing Arts — who has taught Music at the college for 33 years, Zoe Codd — who has served at the college for 34 years under various positions, Russell Harris — who has mostly taught Woodwork and Graphics at the college for 25 years and Marc Paterson, the Head of Mathematics, the college's NCEA Advisor and Academic Dean and he has also been the Assistant Principal on numerous occasions.[8]

In Term 3, 2012, Mrs Tina Sims resigned after 10 years of being Awatapu College's Principal. In her replacement, Mr Gary Yeatman was appointed Principal for 2013[1]

In 2012, the school changed from horizontal form classes, where each form class has only one year level (e.g. 9PY, 12BL), to vertical form classes, where each form class has a mixture of different year levels. The form class is named from the first letter of the house name and the teacher's school code (e.g. HTU — Hillary, Mr Turpin).


Each student at Awatapu College is assigned a house. Since 2011, each house is named after a famous New Zealand person.

Each house has two staff leaders (known as Heads of House or simply HOH), and two student leaders (Year 13 students).

House Names and Colours
Hillary Named after Sir Edmund Hillary.
Rutherford Named after Sir Ernest Rutherford.
Sheppard Named after Kate Sheppard.
Ngata Named after Sir Apirana Ngata.

Throughout the year, there are various competitions between the Houses called "House Competitions", additional to the annual Swimming Sports, Athletics Sports and Cross-Country. Previously, each house was named after their colours in Te Reo Māori: Kikorangi, Whero, Kowhai and Kakariki, respectively.

School Grounds

The school is divided into 6 blocks. Each block has specific subjects that it holds. There is also a Main Office, Cafeteria, Library, Gymnasium, Auditorium, Year 13 Common Room, a secure Bicycle compound, an astro turf, and Rugby and Soccer (football) fields.

100 block

The 100 block is the oldest block in the school, and is generally one of the busiest. This block holds classes for Maori, Japanese, Social Studies, Graphics, Digital Technology, Science, Physical Education. The Detention room is also in the 100 block. On occasions the detention room is in the Gymnasium, which as an added bonus is shorter than usual.

200 block

This block holds classes for Technology-based subjects and Art subjects, such as Hard Materials, Soft Materials, Photography, Art Design and Home Economics.

300 block

This block holds most of the school's English classes, it also holds Science and Social Studies classes. There is a room for students who need help with their learning (Learning Support) and the ESOL classroom and Guidance Suite, where students can talk to the school counsellor, are located here as well.

400 block

This block is commonly known as the Special Needs block, the block is specifically for those who have special needs or disabilities, providing an excellent learning environment with modern equipment and a sheltered outdoor area.

500 block

Holds classes for Physical Education, Home Economics, Drama and more notably Music.

600 block

Formally known as the 400 block, this block holds most of the school's classes for Mathematics. Science is also taught in the 600 block.

Annual Events and Publications

School Magazine

The School Magazine, or “Yearbook” is given to students at the end of each year, usually on the senior sign out day. Students receive a copy of the magazine for free if they have paid the activity donation in their school fees, or can buy one for just $15. Early on, the magazine was titled “CHRYSALIS”, referring to the transition of students from adolescence to more mature adults.

Throughout the year, a committee of Year 13 students and teachers organise the content, design and publishing of the magazine. Usually, the cover of the magazine is a photo of a special event or a submitted design.

In 2013, many older magazines were scanned and uploaded to the school’s website by College Archivist Dr Sue Stirling, making them available for anyone to download and view. These range from 1995 through to 2008. According to Dr Stirling, older versions may be made available.[9][10]

Senior Honours Awards

The Senior Honours Awards signifies the end of the school year for seniors, and for some Year 13s, it’s their last chance to say goodbye. This event is held to honour those who have achieved great success throughout the year academically in years 11, 12 and 13. The event usually consists of musical entertainment and supper afterwards for Year 13s, parents/caregivers, and visitors.

The official party consists of:

  • The Senior Management team — the Principal, Deputy Principals and Assistant Principal
  • Heads of Departments
  • Previous Staff Members of the school (including ex-Principals)
  • Staff leaving at the end of the year and special guests (who, for example, may be the local Member of Parliament)
  • Representatives from the groups, companies and organisations sponsoring awards and prizes.

The event starts with a Māori Karakia and Mihi, followed by the National Anthem. Afterwards a speech from the chairperson of the Board of Trustees will be read. The Student Co-Leaders for the current year will also read a speech. The event ends with a closing Karakia and a Māori waiata. The awards include Certificates, the Principal’s Special Awards, Distinction Awards and Honours Awards, which include the year’s Dux Ludorum and Dux Litterarum. The next year's student leaders are also announced.

2016's student co-leaders are Rowan Todd and Cindy Liu.


The school uses a 10-day timetable with 5 periods each day, a 30-minute Interval and a 45-minute Lunch break. Each day starts with a 15-minute form time, where a roll is taken and daily notices are read. School starts at 8:45 am Monday to Thursday, 9:30 am on Fridays and finishes at 3:15 pm every day.

An example of a normal day’s timetable at Awatapu College:

Year 9 example:

  • Form time: RNC (Rutherford, Mr. Nicklin)
  • Period 1: English
  • Period 2: Physical Education
  • Interval
  • Period 3: Social Studies
  • Period 4: Drama
  • Lunch
  • Period 5: Art

If a class is taken in period 5 there will be no class for that subject the next day — this is how the timetable varies. *Timetables vary for each year level so this statement may or may not be true.*

The school uses KAMAR, a FileMaker Pro database application, for student administration and timetable organisation, and uses RM Connect 4 by RM Education for IT management.

Sporting rivalries

Awatapu have a local sporting rivalry with Freyberg High School. Awatapu have been the holders of the Mark Ranby Trophy which is a rugby union competition between these schools.


Awatapu College has students who partake in many kinds of sports, anywhere from Small-Bore rifle Shooting to speedskating.

Sports exchange

Awatapu has an annual sports exchange with Cullinane College, Whanganui for junior students (Years 9, 10 and occasionally, but rarely 11) generally competing in Basketball and Netball. In 2015 Cullinane travelled to Awatapu and came away overall winners. Awatapu travel to Cullinane in 2016. The exchange has been running as long as Cullinane has existed.

Notable alumni


  1. 1.0 1.1 Emma Horsley (9 December 2012). New principal for city high school. Manawatu Standard. Retrieved on: 2013-01-04.
  2. "Directory of Schools - as at 18 April 2016". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 2015-04-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Decile Change 2014 to 2015 for State & State Integrated Schools". Ministry of Education. Retrieved 12 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Local History - Awatapu College". Retrieved 8 November 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "History of Palmerston North - 1970s". Palmerston North City Council. Retrieved 9 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Catalogue of Standard School Building Types" (PDF). Christchurch: Ministry of Education. August 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "The School Name - Awatapu College". Retrieved 8 November 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Awatapu College Honours Awards Ceremony 7 Nov 2013
  9. As stated by Mark Wasley, a member of the School’s Archiving and Book Club.
  10. Old Yearbooks. Awatapu College Website. Retrieved on: 8 November 2013.
  11. Lampp, Peter (14 May 2010). "Awatapu old boy selected for England". Manawatu Standard. Retrieved 17 September 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Horsley, Emma. "Singer takes to the road". Manawatu Standard. Manawatu Standard. Retrieved 4 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links