Greymouth High School has experienced many triumphs and tribulations over the past 90 years. Established as a technical high school in 1923, this first decade under Principal James Hutton OBE laid the school’s foundations. During the 1920s the school pushed forward largely under its own steam through fundraising efforts such as the first school fete in 1924. The school also established a formidable sporting reputation with victories in rugby, netball and soccer. In these early years, the school’s Tribal system, prefects, the “Mawhera Gazette” yearbook and the school’s drama club were first established alongside the completion of the school hostel in 1928.
1930's and 1940's
The 1930s saw the arrival of two new principals, Robert McLaren (1932-36) and William Stewart (1937-1951). In 1939 a new engineering and woodwork block was completed followed by a domestic science block in 1940. Like all of New Zealand, the school suffered the loss, austerity and shortages during the war years which resulted in the death of 37 old boys. Alongside war, the school also had to deal with polio outbreaks in 1937 and 1948.
The 1950s saw the roll increase from 410 in 1950 to around 700 in 1960, causing building and staff numbers to grow rapidly to keep up. In 1951, the school’s fourth principal Earl Coxon arrived. In 1954 Coxon hall was completed with the MacFarlane gymnasium completed in 1957 alongside the swimming pool in 1960. These were accompanied by twelve new classrooms and several prefabs. During this time the school’s former blue and gold shield was introduced. Coxon’s untimely death in 1957 led to the appointment of Arnold Muirhead in 1958.
1960's and 1970's
The 1960s and 1970s were changing times for the school. During the 1960s the traditional environment of the 1950s became increasingly unpopular under Principal John Thompson. His resignation in 1975 was followed by the appointment of the school’s longest serving Principal Des Hinch. During this time French classes visited New Caledonia in 1969 and 1971 and a new science block was built in 1971. In 1979 the school reached a record roll of 912.
The seventies and eighties are still very controversial as they marked the end to many school traditions such as the Tribal system, prefects, and the strict uniform requirements. However, during this time the school expanded and specialised its curriculum, opening up new opportunities for students inside and outside the classroom. The late 1980s saw the introduction of computer suites and sporting opportunities were expanded to include surfing and skiing to name a few. This liberalisation of the school was the greatest change in direction the school has seen.
The 1990s began unfavourably in 1992 with two scandals which damaged public faith in the school. However, the decade had many great achievements. The science department won a Bayer Chemical grant in 1993, a new logo was introduced, the school’s Asian student exchange program helped fund a swimming pool roof and new computer suites. One of the major school achievements was the participation of a group of 11 students led by Rob Roney and Malcolm Deverson who attended the 1995 UNESCO World Youth Forum in Norway as New Zealand’s delegation. The decade also saw the appointment of Arthur Graves as principal in 1997 after John Mote’s resignation in the same year.
2000 - Current year
The last decade saw the closure of the school hostel (now a subdivision next to the hospital) as patronage had got down to one student. This time also saw the development and upgrade of many new buildings such as the new Tech Block, a new gymnasium and Te Whare Akoranga. Following the appointment of principal Jim Luders in 2009, the school again faced challenging times and the Ministry of Education appointed a Commissioner. Acting principals helped to restore order and a permanent principal, Andy England, was appointed in 2013. With the support of the whole school community, the school regained its composure and focus. Karoro Learning, a tertiary provider owned by GHS, was divested, Māwhera Services Academy and the West Coast Trades Academy resituated to the GHS campus, and the school pool demolished.
A new logo and uniform was introduced in 2017 along with a change in the school’s vision and values. GHS formed a formal cluster with most of its contributing primary schools and continues to operate collaboratively with its community. Student achievement and pride has continued to improve along with social diversity: key features now include a Kaupapa Māori Pathway, a substantial learning support resource, a space for students facing obstacles to learning through anxiety and plans for external agencies to be based on site to provide better access to support for students.