Pompallier Catholic College students Ingrid Tillman and Madeline Bassett always thought the blouses female students had to wear were uncomfortable, unflattering, and tight.

So when they casually complained to the Whangārei school's guidance counsellor Damian Pullen, who told them they could petition to get it changed - they did.

Now the black polo shirt, which had been for male students only, is a unisex uniform item.

"I think we're both really proud of each other that we've been the first people to actually go through this, because as far as I know there hasn't really been any uniform change at our school before us," Tillman said.

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The students are in Year 11 now but have been at the school - and in the white blouses - since year 7.

"The blouses were really uncomfortable, they weren't flattering, they're really tight and they get stained easily," Bassett said.

Tillman agreed.

"I guess our whole schooling life we all thought they were uncomfortable. We just didn't know if we fought hard enough we could get the change."

Pompallier Catholic College students Ingrid Tillman and Madeline Bassett are proud of themselves for getting the uniform changed. Photo / John Stone
Pompallier Catholic College students Ingrid Tillman and Madeline Bassett are proud of themselves for getting the uniform changed. Photo / John Stone

At the beginning of the year, the girls were talking to Pullen and "casually complained" to him about the uniform, so he suggested they do something about it.

"He said it probably won't happen because many people have tried to do it before," Bassett said.

In March, the students started a petition to change the uniform code so they could wear the black polo shirts worn by the boys.

They collected more than 600 signatures - nearly every girl in the school signed, along with some boys and teachers.

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"Every single girl in our year said it was a really good idea," Tillman said.

The next step was to write a letter to the Board of Trustees. They went to Bethells Uniform and took some photos of uniforms from other schools which had unisex options, collected some fabric, and included that in their letter.

They then went to the principal of the school and scheduled a meeting with the Board of Trustees.

At that meeting in May they were told it was a good idea.

"It was really exciting because we didn't expect them to say yes, let alone at the meeting," Bassett said.

Last week, the uniform change was made official.

"The students were really excited about it because everyone was surprised it actually happened," Bassett said.

The girls hoped it encouraged more students to fight for change if they're passionate about something.

"I think if you push hard enough and you show you're really willing to fight for what you want, I think you can get close to anything," Tillman said.

Earlier this year, Whangārei Boys' High School changed its policy after being petitioned by students to allow traditional Pacific Island wear the sulu to be part of the uniform.