Napier Boys' High School will mark its 150th jubilee next month with past and present students, staff and whānau set to come together in celebration at Queen's Birthday Weekend.
Hawke's Bay's oldest state secondary school, it opened on a site in Clyde Rd, Bluff Hill, in 1872, two years before the town of Napier was constituted as a borough, moved in 1927 to its present Te Awa site, about 30ha between Te Awa Ave and Chambers St.
Included in the June 3-5 celebrations and signifying the longevity of the school and its associations will be the 118th Polson Banner 1st XV rugby match between the school and Palmerston North BHS.
Among other events are a mix-and-mingle, a ladies high tea, the Napier Boys' High School and Hawke's Bay Construction jubilee dinner, and a boarders breakfast at Scinde House.
The Queen's Birthday Weekend celebrations will end with a Sunday morning of tours exploring the school's facilities, along with musical and cultural performances by students.
Originally started on Bluff Hill but long based between Te Awa Ave and Chambers St, Napier BHS has had just 14 headmasters, and with a current roll of about 1150, had educated tens of thousands of boys, leading to wide-ranging success across various spheres of academic, professional, business, sporting and cultural achievement around the world.
Headmaster and comparatively recent arrival Jarred Williams says it's important to recognise the influence that NBHS has had on the education of boys in Hawke's Bay.
"The evidence is shown in the wonderful boys to men who have passed through Napier Boys' and are now giving back and part of the community," he said, noting generations of families had been through the school.
In his eight months as headmaster, he's recognised the Māori whakataukī - He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata (What is the most important thing in the world? It is people) - has rung true.
"My standout has been the quality of people and the shared investment that they have for the place," he said. "That's the teachers and staff and boys and old boys who are protective and passionate in wanting to continue to push success forward for the school."
School archivist Phillip Rankin, who has lived and breathed NBHS for the past 50 years, 37 of which were in a teaching role, said in the Axford Room - named after former dux Sir William Ian Axford, a 1946-1950 pupil who became a space scientist and last year posthumously had a mountain named after him – that the school boasts a rich history.
For him, there isn't just one thing that stands out, from tales of resilience in the face of natural disasters to the boys who served in World War I, and the many boys to men who have gone on to have successful careers in a plethora of industries.
He also commented on the generations that passed through the school, saying: "As far as I can tell the Parsons family have had five generations attend, dating back to at least the 1880s, and they are the most continuous."
Names line the corridors and artefacts remind the students of the sacrifices made, and the possibilities that lie ahead, like old boy Edward Herman Weber's bugle and diary.
"Weber was an old boy who fought in WWI and was injured in battle at Chunuk Bair, Gallipoli. He survived by strapping his bugle to his leg and managing to crawl to the beach to safety."
"That's probably our greatest acquisition," he said.
Nelson College is regarded as the oldest state secondary school in New Zealand, having opened in 1856, but Te Aute College had opened as Ahuriri Native Industrial School in 1854.
Wakefield School, near Nelson, claims the title of being the oldest continuously operating school in New Zealand, dating back to 1843.
Limited tickets remain available for the jubilee, with more information and registration at