Many famous alumni received their education at Hamilton’s Melville High School over the past 59 years, including Devilskin drummer Nic Martin and 1999 Scotland Five Nations rugby champion Glenn Metcalfe, but now, the final bell has rung.
Irish rugby loose forward Andy Ward also attended Melville, and would go on to face former school-mate Metcalfe on the world’s stage.
Martin, a former head student of the school, said that he really enjoyed his high school years at Melville.
“I put that down to the bespoke spirit and school pride that Melville carried itself with. It wasn’t a very large school but I believe Melville students regularly achieved above and beyond expectations, especially in performing arts and sports,” Martin said.
“I’m very proud to say I was head boy during my final year at Melville High School, there’s definitely a sadness that comes with such an integral part of my upbringing coming to an end. But, I do have hope that the Melville spirit will always inhabit the space for many generations to come.”
Wednesday’s final junior prize-giving was the last day for Melville High School students.
In May 2022, the Minister of Education announced that Melville High School and Melville Intermediate School would close at the end of 2023 and a new Year 7-13 College, Mangakōtukutuku College, would open at the start of 2024 on the same site.
“Melville High School closes its doors to students for the 59th and final time,” a statement from Melville High School said on Facebook.
“To the students, teachers, families, and community that have been integral to our kura, we give our most sincere gratitude and thanks.
“May you all find fortune and prosperity in your future endeavours.”
Thursday marked the final day for most Melville High School staff, only a handful remaining behind to complete the final closure procedures.
More than 70 staff were farewelled by team leaders in an emotional end and “many will never pass through the gates again”.
Principal Clive Hamill has been the principal of the decile 4 school since 2005.
“Our high school has a special place in our community and in the lives of several generations. We have nurtured academic, sporting and cultural success while at the same time being a school community that welcomed every young person to the school,” Hamill said.
“It has been an honour to be able to build upon the legacies left by my [five] predecessors. For me the most pleasing aspects of my time as leader has been the steady increase in the academic achievement, particularly our Māori and Pasifika students.
“This has been achieved through the immense effort and care taken by our teaching staff, their curriculum leaders and the growth in their pedagogy [theory and practice of teaching]. Add to this the immense encouragement and assistance provided by our support staff, whānau and others, and these outcomes are impressive.
“We are confident that Mangakōtukutuku College will continue to help grow our rangatahi and develop their capacity to use their education as a tool to serve their families and whānau, chart positive personal pathways forward and make changes in the world.”
Opening in 1964, Melville High School was originally based on the neighbouring Melville Intermediate grounds while the Collins Rd site was home to the Hamilton teachers’ training college and the Waikato branch of Auckland University.
The following year the school moved into the current site as the other education institutes moved to Hillcrest.
In 1977, Melville High School opened its own marae, Te Manaakitanga, the first state secondary school to do so.
Personal note from the writer
A chapter in my own life has come to a close. Melville was the main secondary school that I attended, played my First XV rugby and found my passion for writing at - thanks to the inspirational Margaret Black.
Lunchtimes were a sea of white shirts and green jerseys, a crowd that felt like family.
During my time there we had several students who would become rather well-known.
Devilskin’s Martin was one of the head students.
Retro Valley band member Ethan Rowling gained his education there, as did Waikato Rugby Under 85kg rep Rex Turner-Hunt and former Waikato, Highlanders, now Exeter Chiefs prop Josh Iosefa-Scott.
Perth-based eSports player Te Tuhi “Spud” Kelly, a former No 1 in the Australian and New Zealand Power Rankings, and 61st in the world for Super Smash Bros Melee players in 2022, also attended the school.
Jesse Wood is a multimedia journalist based in Te Awamutu. He joined the Te Awamutu Courier and NZME in 2020.
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