History of the College

Ngata Memorial College – The College

When the people of Ngati-Porou met in Uepohatu Hall in August, 1958, there was no doubt as to their wishes for the post-primary education of their children.  They listened patiently to senior Education Department officers, then with spontaneous accord gave their decisions.

First and foremost, they wanted a full Post-primary College in Ruatoria, offering full courses and full opportunities for advancement for the whole of Ngati-Porou.  Next, they wanted to be sure that the College was set up and developed properly and efficiently.  They wanted a Committee of Management to operate under the guidance and support of the Hawke’s Bay Education Board, until such time as the people felt that they could run their own affairs with a Board of Governors.  Then, with unanimous acclaim, they chose the name – Ngata Memorial College.  Thus did the people honour not only their great leader, but also the cause to which he was devoted – the education and progress of Maori youth

When the formalities of Departmental and Ministerial approval were completed, and when the Hon. P.O. Skoglund, Minister of Education, officially opened the College on 12th February, 1959, the Ngati-Porou realised the fulfilment of a deep-seated ambition.  For many years Sir Apirana Ngata, his tribal elders, and the parents, had sought full Post-primary education for their children.  They sought a College offering full Professional Courses leading to the highest realms of scholarship, Agricultural, Industrial, Commercial and home Science Courses leading to the highest positions in all spheres of vocation and in all walks of life.

These ambitions were no idle dreams.  They were well-founded on a tradition of academic education dating back to the first missionaries in the 1840’s, and to the establishment of Te Aute College in 1852 and Hukarere College in 1875.  These famous Colleges were the whare wananga of the Ngati-Porou.  Here Apirana Ngata, Rewiti Kohere, and Tutere Wi Repa, all virile young leaders, inaugurated the Young Maori Party which rejuvenated the whole race.  These men, and many others, went on to Canterbury University.  They set high standards of endeavour and achievement which for many years were nurtured by the many Church Colleges.

Tribute is due to the work of the Maori District High Schools.  The Secondary Department of Manutahi School had for some eighteen years provided Post-Primary education for pupils from eight primary schools in the Ruatoria district.  Many gained School Certificate and university Entrance, and advanced to professional and skilled occupations.  They laid the foundations on which to build.  Both the Church Colleges and the District High Schools served a useful purpose.  But their achievement was limited by virtue of their small numbers and limited scope.

Sir Apirana realised this when he opposed the small schools and urged the establishment of a central Ngati-Porou College.  His struggles and dreams reached fruition in the successful development of the College.  This was Sir Apirana’s ambition for the East Coast.  When the whole of the Ngati-Porou came to Ngata Memorial College, then would the future of our young people be assured – then would they fulfil the high calling of their motto, 

“E tipu, e rea, mo nga ra o tou ao!”

2024 Term Dates

Term 1

Wednesday 7th February  to Friday 12th April  

Term 2

Monday 29th April to Friday 5th July

Term 3

Monday 22nd July to Friday 27th September

Term 4

Monday 14th October to Friday 20th December 


1 College Road North, Ruatoria, Gisborne 4032

Ph: (06) 864-8614