Palmerston North Boys' High School

Palmerston North Boys' High School is a traditional boys school located in Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Palmerston North Boys' High School
PNBHS logo.png
263 Featherston St, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Coordinates40°20′55″S 175°36′26″E / 40.3485°S 175.6073°E / -40.3485; 175.6073Coordinates: 40°20′55″S 175°36′26″E / 40.3485°S 175.6073°E / -40.3485; 175.6073
TypeState, Day and Boarding
MottoNihil Boni Sine Labore
commonly translated as 'Nothing Achieved Without Hard Work'
Established1902; 119 years ago
Ministry of Education Institution no.202
RectorDavid M. Bovey[1]
School roll1739[2] (March 2021)
Socio-economic decile8P[3]


Palmerston North Boys' High School has a campus located on Featherston Street between Rangitikei and North Streets in the central city. There are secondary entrances to the school on Wellesbourne Street, Ivanhoe Terrace, Edgeware Road and North Street. The rear boundary is shared with Queen Elizabeth College.

Students and school cultureEdit

Most of the school's approximately 1,700 students are "day boys" from Palmerston North and surrounding townships such as Ashhurst, Levin, and Feilding. Around 170 boys are housed in an onsite boarding hostel – College House (Also known as 'Murray House,' after former Rector John Murray; his former home is part of the hostel).

The school's mission statement is to "develop educated men of outstanding character".

History and controversyEdit

In 1902, Palmerston North High School was established as a co-educational secondary school with an initial roll of 84 students (40 boys and 44 girls, the first person being on the roll was a girl). The first classes were held at St Andrew's Presbyterian Church Sunday School hall. In 1920, Palmerston North High School was split into two single-sex schools: Palmerston North Girls' High School and Palmerston North Boys' High School.

In a 1990 case, M & R v Syms and the Board of Trustees of Palmerston North Boys High School [2003] NZAR 705,[4] the plaintiffs challenged the steps taken by the Rector in suspending both students for consumption of alcohol, and later by the Board expelling M. McGechan J gave judgment for the plaintiffs holding that the Rector's discretion as to whether to suspend the pupils "is not to be ignored, as if non-existent. Nor is it to be fettered by a Principal through self imposed rules permitting no exceptions". The Judge further found that the Board did not exercise its mind on the ultimate discretion whether or not to uplift suspension or procure removal.[5]

In September 2006 the school had an outbreak of tuberculosis in which a substantial number of students contracted a latent form of tuberculosis, as well as a small number of students who had active tuberculosis.[6] However this outbreak was resolved and the school has since been running normally.

The then Rector, Tim O'Connor, was awarded a Woolf Fisher Fellowship and the Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award in 2007.[7]


The school has had ten rectors since 1902:

Period Rector
1902 William Gray
1902–1918 John E. Vernon
1919–1946 John Murray
1947–1954 O. J. Begg
1954–1963 Edward S. Craven
1963–1970 Percy A. Muirhead
1971–1987 Eric D. P. White
1987–2002 D. A. Syms
2002–2012 T. M. O'Connor
2012–present D. M. Bovey[8]


Palmerston North Boys' High School at the main entrance

The school has the following facilities:

These include:

  • Library
  • ICT computer suites
  • Specialised technology/workshop block
  • College House – Boarding facilities for approximately 180 students[9]
  • War Memorial Gallery and archive room

College HouseEdit

College House is a boarding facility for approximately 180 students[10] College House provides seven day boarding for students that attend Palmerston North Boys' High School. Seven day boarding means that students can remain in the hostel during the weekends. Parents apply for weekend leave to allow their sons to go home in any given weekend.

Teaching BlocksEdit

The school has 12[11] main teaching blocks. These include:

  • H Block - Drama & English
  • M Block - Music
  • E Block - Commerce & Social Studies
  • S Block - Science
  • G Block
  • C Block
  • A Block
  • B Block
  • T Block - Technology
  • F Block - Art
  • P Block
  • D Block


  • Ian Colquhoun Memorial Hall – 1700-seat auditorium
  • The Speirs Centre
  • Recording facilities
  • Rehearsal rooms
  • David A. Syms Auditorium – 400-seat theatre
  • Little Theatre – 80-seat theatre


  • Two multiuse gymnasiums
  • Full-sized basketball court
  • Weights room
  • Heated indoor swimming pool
  • Two rugby fields
  • Football field
  • Three artificial cricket wickets and a grass wicket
  • Cricket training nets
  • Astroturf all-weather tennis and hockey courts
  • Two sports pavilions
  • Grandstand


Palmerston North Boys' High School is divided into six 'clubs'.[12] On enrolment students are placed in a club at random, or into a house with a family tie (the same as his brothers, father, grandfather or uncles). Staff are also placed in clubs, with the exception of the Rector.

The clubs names and colours are as follows:

Colours Name Reason for name
Albion Named for the founding club secretary
Gordon Named for the founding club secretary
Kia Ora The reason for this name unknown. See: Kia Ora.
Murray Named for former Rector Mr John Murray
Phoenix Named for the Phoenix on the school crest
Vernon Named for the school's second Rector, Mr J. Vernon

Murray Club, also known as College House, is composed of the school's boarding students.

The Clubs compete in sports and codes, including team sports, individual sports, and whole club activities, such as Road-Race and Marching competitions. For each code the clubs are ranked first to last, with the winning club gaining one point, and the loser gaining six. The club with the fewest points at the end of the school year wins the Shand Shield.


The school has experienced success nationally in sports such as football, cycling, badminton, squash, basketball, hockey and rugby.[13][14]

The rugby union 1st XV plays in an all-white strip. Other rugby teams from Boys' High are likely to play in blue and white hooped jerseys, similar to Auckland or St Kentigern College.

Notable alumniEdit







Motor RacingEdit


Rugby LeagueEdit


Politics and public serviceEdit



See alsoEdit


  • Murray, J. "Palmerston North Boys' High School: An Historical Survey", Palmerston North, 1952
  • Browne, R., ed. "The Palmerstonian" Vol. 104, 2010
  1. ^ "New rector takes charge next term". Manawatu Standard. 18 September 2012. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
  2. ^ "New Zealand Schools Directory". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  3. ^ "Decile Change 2014 to 2015 for State & State Integrated Schools". Ministry of Education. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 5 January 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^
  6. ^ Tuberculosis (TB) at Palmerston North Boys' High School Archived 8 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "The Sir Peter Blake Leadership Awards". Sunday Star Times. 29 July 2007. Retrieved 21 November 2007.
  8. ^ "New Boy's High Rector Announced". Manawatu Standard. 17 September 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Cricket". PNBHS Website.
  14. ^ "Rugby". PNBHS Website.
  15. ^ Gustafson, Barry (1986). The First 50 Years : A History of the New Zealand National Party. Auckland: Reed Methuen. p. 303. ISBN 0-474-00177-6.
  16. ^ Hancock, Mervyn (December 2005). "Trevor Albert De Cleene : Member of Parliament for Palmerston North 1981–1990" (PDF). Palmerston North Library. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 March 2012. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
  17. ^ "Judge who toppled a government dies, aged 95". 3 News. NZPA. 29 March 2010. Retrieved 1 November 2011.
  18. ^ Poananga, Henare Matauru (Pon). "Poananga, Brian Matauru – Biography". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
  19. ^ "Grant Smith elected mayor of Palmerston North". Fairfax New Zealand. Manawatu Standard. 10 February 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2018.

External linksEdit