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Bream Bay College is a Year Seven to Thirteen State Co-educational, decile 5 school, with a roll of 450 students which is expected to grow. Approximately 35% of our students are Maori. It brings together a unique combination of communities.

Click on Time Line below to view history through the years: Waipu District High School 1940 - 1972 Bream Bay College from 1972 to date.

1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s

1989 ROLL1950 YEAR BOOKRoll 1939 - 2000
The College is situated in the centre of Ruakaka, next to the local shopping centre. It serves this community, along with the area of Waipu to the south (a community with a strong Scottish heritage), One Tree Point, Ruakaka, the Marae-based community of Takahiwai to the North and the farming communities inland.

The College was established on its present site in 1972 replacing Waipu District High School. Our main contributing schools are based at Waipu, One Tree Point and Ruakaka.

The College’s Maori and Scottish heritage is evident throughout and has been woven into the organisational structure for pastoral care by linking four Scottish areas with the concept of Whanau to create the basis of the inter-house competition.

Time Line of the History of the College:
1939  Consolidation of 5 local primary schools onto St Mary’s Rd site. A secondary department with 15 students was added in Term 2.
1940  Waipu District High School was officially opened on 18th June by the Minister of Education, the Honourable Peter Fraser. The total roll was 180 students.
1946  The old Cove School building was shifted onto the St Mary’s Rd site and was set up as the Homecraft Centre.
1950  A new 2-class primer block was built
1952  A Woodwork and Metalwork room was built.
1954  Land was purchased in neighbouring Argyle St. Building commenced on a new secondary block.
1956  The new secondary block was opened.
1963  Barbara McKenzie became the first former WDHS student to graduate from university.
1968  The Education Board announced that a new secondary school was to be built at Ruakaka. This led to intense lobbying from angry Waipu residents who did not want the school moved from Waipu.
1972  Waipu District High School renamed Bream Bay College. The Ministry of Education decided that a Form 3 – 6 school would remain at Waipu before shifting to Ruakaka as a Form 1 – 7 school.
1973  Building of the new secondary school commenced on the Marsden Point Rd site.
1974  Bream Bay College opened. Waipu Primary School moved into the old secondary school rooms in Argyll St.
1977  The Administration Block was opened
1987  The Auditorium opened
1989  Tomorrows Schools reforms saw the Board of Governors replaced by the new Board of Trustees. Mr Craig Brown became the first chairman,
2000  Bilingual Unit opened for Years 7 – 8.
2006  The Student Welfare Centre opened. The building, formally the Seaman’s Mission from Marsden Point, was purchased by the Board of Trustees and moved to the BBC site.
2008 New Astro turf Surface
2009 The opening of the Performing Arts Block
2010 The Shade for the Performing Arts Area was installed
2010 New School van was purchased
2014 New Toilets
2014 New School Van was purchased
2015 New Car was purchased
2016 Out Door Gym Equiptment purchased
2018 New Whare completed with Open Classroom learning, kitchen and meeting rooms



The first school to be opened in the district was Waipu Central School. It was opened in 1857 with a roll of 50 students. Initially, lessons were held in the Waipu Church and houses of some of the early settlers. A small room was attached to the church to serve as a residence for Mr Morrison, the first teacher.
In 1876, settlers built a separate school building on a site behind and to the right of the Monument. Today, this building, now located alongside the Presbyterian Church, is still used for Sunday School. The dividing doors that separated the two classrooms were removed and erected in the Caledonian Hall. The doors separated the dining area from the main hall, and are still in use today.
A new school building was erected in 1924 on St Mary’s Rd. When the school closed in 1939 due to consolidation, it had a roll of 72 students. Headmasters of Waipu Central School prior to consolidation included M.H.V. Hall, W.N. Ingram, J.G. Gasparich, A.E. Reynolds, E.H. Mackay, and H.B. Abercrombie.
In 1939, the Waipu Central School buildings were altered to provide two classrooms and a science laboratory for the secondary department of the newly established Waipu District High School.



North River School 1860 - 1939

The North River School was built in 1860, with Mr G.M. Fraser as its teacher. At that stage about 95% of the students would have spoken Gaelic as their first language. Students had to walk up to 6km along muddy tracks to get to the school, and the ages of these students ranged from 5 to 18 years of age. The roll of this school was around 40 – 50 students for several decades, but from 1910, never exceeded 30 students
A total of 62 young men and 2 women served overseas in the two World Wars. Of these, 15 made the ultimate sacrifice.
On consolidation, a Roll of Honour was presented to the new consolidated school listing the names of 42 old boys and 2 old girls who had served in World War One. The old school building was transported to One Tree Point where it served for many years as a Public Hall.



The Braigh School 1862 - 1939

The Braigh School opened in 1862 on a site beside the highway near the turn-off to Finlayson’s Brook. Originally named the Upper District School, it later became known as the Braigh School. The first teacher was Mr Hugh McKenzie. He had previously been a teacher in Cape Breton.
The Braigh School opened in 1862 with a roll of 40 students. At its height the roll grew to 80 students, and it was at 20 when the school closed in 1939.
In 1877 the school building was lengthened and a fireplace and chimney installed.
In 1907, the Braigh School celebrated its diamond jubilee with 300 old pupils attending on the day.
The Braigh School was the first school in the Auckland Province to be opened under the new Education Board system. When it closed in 1939, it was the oldest continuously occupied school building in New Zealand. Although additions had been made to it over the years, the original school building was still being used in 1939.




Waipu Cove School 1863 - 1939

Waipu Cove School opened in 1863 with a roll of over 30 students. The founding teacher was Mr Aeneas Morrison who had earlier established the Waipu Central School in 1857. The first school building was erected by the early settlers near the Pa on Boakes farm; it closed in 1867 when the Provincial Government withdrew a 50 pound subsidy of the teacher’s salary. A further school was built in 1870 on a low hill near Waipu Cove. It was a temporary structure as the land owner, Mr McGregor was insistent that the land revert to him when a proper school was built. A permanent building was finally opened in 1877 on the original site. When the school closed in1939, this building was transported to St Mary’s Rd behind the secondary block, where it became the cooking room. When the primary school moved to Argyle St, the building was sold and moved to South Rd, and is now the Tile Factory.
An early school roll illustrated how young men and women who were taking the opportunity to gain an education. On the roll was a young man of 22 and a young woman of 24 years of age.


Mata School 1898 - 1939
Mata School opened on July 12th 1889 in an old fishing shed at Springfield, before moving to a building nearby. The first teacher was Mr Walters, and there were 18 students. In 1911 the school moved to an old house next to the Mata Hall, before shifting into a new building in 1913. Here the school remained until it closed in 1939.
During the fifty years of its existence, Mata School changed form periods of having a fulltime teacher to periods when it was part-time with either Ruakaka or Springfield. For a time prior to consolidation in 1939, student numbers increased to the point that a second class was taught in the Mata Hall.
The Mata School building can still be seen today from the highway. It sits behind the Mata Hall, and is now used as a hay barn.

Richard Fleet’s School 1860 – 1870s
It is difficult to provide accurate information on this school as no written records from it survive today.
Richard Fleet’s school was situated on a tea-tree scrub hill beside a bridle track between Waipu and Ruakaka, close to where SH1 now passes over the Lagoon bridge south of Marsden Point Rd. The school opened around 1860, and closed in the late 1870s. The teacher was Mr Richard Fleet, who had his home near to where the school building was located.
Children from the Prescott, Ruddell and Serjeant families of Ruakaka attended the school. When it closed, most of the students then went to North River School.

Bream Tail School 1898 - 1919
Few records exist about this school. Bream Tail School opened in 1889 to provide an education for the children in the southern area of Bream Bay. Due to the poor state of the road, the children could not access nearby Waipu Cove School. Some of the students had to walk up to 7 km to get to the school along muddy tracks.
Because of the small number of students, Bream Tail School became a half-time school along with Cove School. Between 1899 and 1919, each school was open for 3 days a week, with the same teacher conducting both schools.
When it closed in 1919, the small number of students at the school transferred to nearby Waipu Cove School.

Marsden Point School 1914 - 1928
Marsden Point School opened in 1914 at Marsden Point to provide an education for children living along the harbour shore who could not get to Ruakaka School because of the poor state of the roads. In 1915 the building, about 20 feet by 12 feet and constructed of corrugated iron, was moved to a more elevated position near Blacksmiths Creek. The roll at this point was 15 students.
The first teacher was Mr McGregor, who boarded with the Monro family. A later teacher was Miss Mary Chapman, who was also the local Postmistress. Miss Chapman had a Model T and would pick up children on the way to school – perhaps the first school bus in the district.
Due to a dwindling school roll and improved road access to Ruakaka, Marsden Point School closed in 1928.




Takahiwai School 1899 - 1973

The Native Schools Act 1867 allowed for establishment of primary schools for Maori students. Takahiwai School opened in 1899 as a Native school. As such, the Government provided much of the equipment and funding for the school. While the majority of the students were Maori, some Pakeha children attended as well.
In 1937, the school was relocated from its initial hillside location to a site down on the flats.
In 1963, Takahiwai School was reclassified as a Maori School, and came under the control of the Auckland Education Board.
Takahiwai School closed in 1973, with students transferring to either Bream Bay College or Ruakaka School. The school buildings are now part of the Takahiwai Marae Trust.



Waipu District High School 1939 - 1971
Mr S.B. Dunn 1940- 1942
Mr C. Adams 1942-1945
Mr R. Inglis 1945-1949
Mr A. McKenzie 1949-1952
Mr A.Baildon 1953-1957
Mr Laird 1958-1959
Mr N Smith 1960
Mr S. McNichol 1961-1964
Mr G. Berquist 1965-1968
Mr L.Baxter 1969-1971

The Waipu District High School badge incorporates the thistle and lion, which represent the Scottish-Nova Scotian origins of the Waipu settlers, and the smallest ship ‘Spray’ represented the migration to Waipu. The motto ‘Saorsa’ is Gaelic for freedom.
The McFarlane tartan was chosen for the school tie. There were several reasons for the decision. The Rev McFarlane was the minister for the Presbyterian Church in Waipu at that time, and he was a strong supporter of the consolidation of the schools. Also, as none of the Waipu settlers were of McFarlane descent, no claims of favouritism could be made.

The students were divided into four houses for sporting competitions. The names of Sutherland, Argyll, Ross, and Inverness were chosen, representing four shires in the Scottish Highlands from which many of the settlers had originated.


Sunshine Block

Waipu District High School originally had two main buildings. The ‘sunshine’ block, which had four classrooms, two cloakrooms and a headmaster’s office, served as the primary school. The old primary school of two classrooms, with an additional science laboratory, served as the secondary school. There was also a dental clinic and bus garage.

In 1940, the old three-sided bus shelter from the Cove School was relocated to beside the bus garage. When a similar structure was added, it produced a low roofed shed that became the woodwork room, later to be known by students as the ‘dog box’.

In 1946, the old Cove School building was shifted to the St Mary’s Rd site, and became the Homecraft Centre for the girls.
A continual shortage of classroom space led to the Education Board building a two classroom Primer Block in 1950. Continued roll growth resulted in the School Committee requesting the Education Board to buy more land for additional buildings and playground. In 1954, the Board purchased land in Argyle Street, and a new secondary block was built. This block was opened in 1956 by the Hon R.M. Algie. In late 1954, a new swimming pool was opened on the school grounds. Until then, swimming lessons were held in the Waihoihoi River. For junior students, an 11 metre by 5 metre wooden pen, known as the ‘pig pen’, was built and lowered into the river to provide a safe swimming area.



1. Stile on the boundary to provide access to the Waihoihoi River and the ‘pig pen’
2. Five oak trees, representing the five consolidating schools. One was later cut down to make way for Saorsa Village
3. Dental clinic
4. Two kauri trees planted when the District High School was officially opened in 1940
5. ‘Cuppy’ McLean’s house
6. New secondary block
7. Land purchased in 1963, presumably for an extended school
8. Bus garage
9. Sunshine Block
10. Classrooms – old secondary block
11. Primer block
12. ‘Dog Box’ – original Technical workshop made up of two old bus shelters joined together.
13. Homecraft Room (old Cove School)
14. Technical Training block
15. Caretaker’s shed
16. Swimming baths – opened in 1954







The tartan originally chosen for Waipu District High School.
Represented today in the red blazers and jerseys.








The tartan of Rev Norman McLeod, the founder of Waipu
Represented today in the school sports shirts.








The tartan chosen for the current school skirt.


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2 Peter Snell Drive, Ruakaka

+64 9 432 8226

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