The Hamilton Boys' High School History

With a history which dates back to 1903 and embraces not only a variety of titles ranging from "Hamilton West District High School" to "The Hamilton High School" but co-educational as well, Hamilton Boys' High School, as we know it today, was officially opened in February 1955 by the Hon. R.M. Algie with a roll of 556 boys eager to add to the fine traditions of the combined School.

Embracing his opportunities, the first Headmaster, Mr H D Tait, set to with a will. With vision and skill, he transformed the expanse of empty fields into the majestic environment of gardens, trees and playing fields that can be admired in their maturity today. With his resignation for health reasons in 1957, his legacy was obvious. He left a School rich in the conservative traditions of academic excellence and sporting prowess - values which have been steadfastly adhered to by his successors.

With the appointment, in 1958, of Mr A G A Baigent as Headmaster, the School encountered a scholar, a sportsman, a lover of theatre, art, literature and music, and a most dedicated Headmaster. A man of considerable insight and vision, he oversaw extensive building development and construction, including the opening of Argyle House, the School's boarding establishment. He enjoyed a tremendous run of success in the fields of scholarship, cultural activities and sport, whilst building around him a highly competent and stable team of teachers. Excellence had, during his time, truly become enshrined as an achievable ambition within the School.

1962 Boys High
1959 HBHS Front view dated by Gingko tree

Mr Baigent's retirement saw the arrival of Mr Richard (Dick) Taylor as Headmaster. Mr Taylor, a man of considerable humanity, was entrusted with the task of seeing the School through the sweeping changes in Education and in society itself, and the consequent opportunities and challenges engendered by the Sixties. He performed this task admirably, ensuring the School maintained its strong value base, whilst being flexible enough to embrace the future.

Mr Anthony (Tony) Steel, as the next Headmaster, was an ideal candidate to build successfully on the sound foundations established by his predecessors. Bringing to the position the youthful vigour that had earned Mr Steel New Zealand All Black and Athletics representative honours, he brought a refreshing vitality to his role as Headmaster. Many new initiatives were established, but regretfully for the School his work at Hamilton Boys' was interrupted with a beckoning call from Parliament.

With Mr Steel's departure, Hamilton Boys' High School was able to welcome one of its most loyal advocates to the Headmaster's office. Mr James Bennett, whose teaching career had demonstrated an enthusiastic dedication to the interests of the School, was selected from a talented and ambitious field of applicants from throughout New Zealand for the position of headmaster. Gifted with the capacity for hard work, highlighted in his twenty years of service as Manager of Argyle House, Mr Bennett proved to be a most able and committed leader. Under his careful guidance, the School embraced new curriculum developments and qualifications with a willingness that has it placed among national leaders in the field of education. All this whilst ensuring that the physical environs of the School make it the most attractive secondary school in the Waikato.

1990 Front of main building
2000 HBHS Birds Eye View

Mr Bennett's retirement in 1999 ended a significant era in the School's history. His thirty five years of service had made a significant impact on the way the School had been shaped in the 70's, 80's and 90's. His successor would need to be able to carry forward the rich traditions of the past, whilst also embracing contemporary theories of educational practice that would allow students in the new millennium to enjoy the very best "boys" education at Hamilton Boys'. The Board of Trustees embarked upon a lengthy and exhaustive campaign to find this person, a process that included a most rigorous and demanding interview structure. It was to the obvious delight of staff, students, parents and the Board that the successful applicant to guide Hamilton Boys' High School into the 21st Century was Mrs Susan Hassall.

Mrs Hassall, like her predecessor, has enjoyed a successful career at the School which spans some twenty years. A most competent teacher of English to Bursary level, Mrs Hassall has used her articulate writing and speaking skills in many positions of responsibility including 7th Form Dean and Assistant Principal. She is an avid sports fan, and can be found strolling the playing fields of the School on Saturday mornings supporting the extensive co-curricular programme.

If the School's history can be reflected on with pride, then under the auspices of Mrs Susan Hassall, its future can be anticipated with both confidence and excitement. Mrs Hassall is a firm believer in single sex education, and maintains a steadfast commitment to developing in her classrooms those teaching strategies which will allow all boys to reach their academic potential. The wealth of knowledge she offers the School in this area, through years of wide reading and research, will surely prove invaluable to the coming generation of students at Hamilton Boys' High School.

Historical Timeline

1903: Hamilton West District High School was established above Garden Place with a roll of 20 girls and boys. The Headmaster was Mr Eben Wilson.

1905: The school enlarged and Secondary classes were moved to the Knox Street Volunteer Hall for lessons. The next year classes moved again, this time to the basement of the old Town Hall, whilst alterations to the original school took place. The whole school worked in one large single supper room. Pupils could hear and watch the construction of the traffic bridge on Bridge Street at the same time.

There were calls for the establishment of a new, permanent High School in Hamilton as the only other High School in the whole Waikato/Bay of Plenty area was at Thames.

1911: Hamilton High School begins. Mr Eben Wilson and two staff members and 70 boys and girls moved into the new school on the site of the present Girls’ High School.

1921: The Board of Governors of Hamilton High School acquired 47 acres in Peachgrove Road for a new High School.
By the early 1950’s Hamilton High School had grown to the point where it was split in two separate Boys’ and Girls’ High Schools.

1955: Hamilton Boys’ High School officially opens at Peachgrove Road with 556 pupils and 24 masters. The first Headmaster, H D Tait, had been a staff member of Hamilton High School since 1920. He set about the considerable task of developing the rough 47-acre area and planned the environment of trees, gardens and playing fields that today give Hamilton Boys’ High School its attractive appearance.

1957: Mr A G A Baigent was appointed Headmaster. A man of considerable talent and vision, he oversaw extensive building developments and the school experienced impressive results in Scholarship, sporting and cultural activities.

1970: Mr R J Taylor began duties as Headmaster. He had worked as a teacher for H.D.Tait at Hamilton High School in 1947. The 1970’s was a testing time for the School and Mr Taylor had to face teacher shortages, a new zoning scheme and most importantly, a threat to do away with single sex schools. The School’s successes in Scholarship, sporting and cultural activities continued to impress.

1980: Mr A G Steel was appointed Headmaster and a proposal to combine the two single-sex schools in Hamilton was dropped. An extensive building programme commenced and a range of refurbishments, including art rooms, science laboratories, staff and administration areas, a Maori studies room and an engineering workshop were all completed.

1990: Mr James Bennett became Headmaster. Mr Bennett led Hamilton Boys’ High School for the next nine years. In 1995, an enrolment scheme was implemented. The 1990’s was a decade of considerable educational change.

A new faculty system based on the Essential Learning Areas was introduced, new curriculum initiatives, a Qualifications Framework, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and the Education Review Office all emerged.

1999: Present Headmaster, Mrs Susan Hassall assumed her leadership of the school. The roll subsequently increases to over 2200 and the school, under Mrs Hassall’s leadership, builds a formidable reputation both scholastically and across a wide range of sporting and cultural activities.

2009: Hamilton Boys’ High School won six National titles, cementing its position as the top sporting school in New Zealand. This followed sporting and cultural achievements in 2008 which were considered at the time as being ‘difficult to emulate.’ Highlights of the 2009 successes include:
- Rowing: Springbok Shield won for a third year in a row (overall total of 13 occasions); Maadi Cup also won for the third year in a row.
- Touch: the Secondary Schools Touch National Championship was won for two years in a row.
- Rugby: the School’s 1st XV was crowned NZ Secondary Schools’ champion in winning and retaining the Moascar Cup.
- Multisport: Hamilton Boys’ High School won the National Secondary Schools’ event, the Motu Challenge.

2010: HBHS achieves NCEA, Cambridge & Scholarship results which place it 7th in NZ and ahead of all other Waikato schools. In 2010 HBHS achieved 48 Scholarships and in cocurricular, 8 NZ titles in Maadi & Springbok Rowing, Touch, Triathlon, Cross Country, Athletics, Waka Ama and Junior Softball.

2011: Hamilton Boys’ and Girls’ High Schools celebrate a century of education.

2012: Headmaster, Mrs Hassall is awarded National School Leadership Award (NEITA). HBHS achieves 63 Scholarships and National Titles in Premier Scholar, AS History and Economics, IGCSE Science and Geography and ICAS Mathematics. In cocurricular, NZ titles in Cycling, Touch and Triathlon.

2013: HBHS achieves National Titles in Rugby, Hockey, Touch, Cycling, Cross Country, Wrestling, Maadi, Springbok and top school in Rowing. Curriculum NZ titles in Economics, Computing and Teen Agriculture.

2014: HBHS was named NZ School of Character. National Titles in Rowing, Touch, Rugby, Hockey. Curriculum Achievements in Science World 1st IGCSE, Economics, Geography, NZ 1st Top 5 subjects IGCSE.

2015: National Titles in Shooting, Duathlon, Wrestling and Rowing NZ

2016: World 1sts in Science, History, Business Economics and Mathematics, English, Science, 83 NZ Scholarships. Christopher Mayo becomes the first HBHS student to be named NZ’s Top Secondary School Scholar.