In 1919 two acres in Rawhitiroa Road were purchased at a cost of £860. A building was built at a cost of £950 and Kohimarama School was opened in 1921 as a side school to St Heliers School.
It contained one room only and was over-crowded from the start, as it was built to accommodate 50 children and 54 were enrolled on the first day. However, from May 1922 the newly erected Presbyterian Church was made available to the Education Board for some of the classes.
Mr F J Lownsborough, first assistant at St Heliers School, supervised the school until 1924 when it became independent of St Heliers. Mr Kenny was then appointed as first headmaster. The roll in May 1924 was 180.
The House system is a way of encouraging team spirit among the students. The school has four houses; Selwyn, Colenso, Atkin and Patteson.
While most people will recognise these as street names in Mission Bay, the origins of the house names stem from the Melanesia Mission which has a rich scholastic history of its own in the area. When the school opened the Mission owned much of the ‘Kohimarama Block’ of land in the area.
The Mission was established at the end of the 1840’s by Anglican Bishop George Augustus Selwyn whose diocese included the islands of Melanesia. The mission station was initially at Mission Bay (then known as Kohimarama) where young Melanesian men were taught, until it was transferred to the warmer climate of Norfolk Island in 1867.
The first Bishop of the Mission was Bishop John Coleridge Patteson, who tragically died during an incident at the island of Nukapu in 1871 along with the missionary the Rev. Joseph Atkin. The work of the Mission continued under the second Bishop John Richardson Selwyn (son of the Mission’s founder). A notable member of the mission at that time was Elizabeth Colenso who taught at the mission between 1876 and 1898.
Coat of Arms
The Kohimarama School coat of arms symbolises the diverse history of migration and nautical journeys by peoples to the area, which continues to this day.
Again, the Mission features strongly. Since 1855 the Mission has had successive ships called the ‘Southern Cross’ which linked the Solomon islands to one another and to Norfolk Island and New Zealand. This route is the same migratory path travelled by billfish (such as marlin and broadbill swordfish) with many species still making that same journey today.
Today Kohimarama School welcomes around 100 students whose families have made the journey to our school from countries all over the world.
Another ship well known in the area when the school opened was the scow “Kohi”. It was sailed by Captain Biddick and was part of a fleet used to transport cattle. It was common practice at the time to land cattle on Kohimarama Beach. After selling the fleet in the early 1920s, Biddick became involved with the school. The topmast of the scow “Kohi” was presented to the school by Captain Biddock and is still in use today as the school flagpole. The Ship’s Bell was also donated to the school and is located at the entrance to the Senior School.