A Brief History of Karamu High School

Karamu High School was opened in 1962, the city of Hastings first co-educational high school and came at a time when the city and its suburbs where undergoing significant growth.

The school's name was derived from the Karamu tree Coprosma lucida. This tree had great significance in early Maori religion. It symbolised life and all the goodness in the earth and mankind. It also had the power to cleanse both spiritually and mentally. Currently the school has numerous Karamu trees forming a hedge which surrounds the main student recreation area.

The school opened with 8 staff and 175 pupils, it reached its peak in 1974 with 70 staff and 1,339 pupils. In 1975, Havelock North High School was built to service the Havelock North community and this eased the overcrowding at Karamu. In the 1990's Flaxmere College was opened to serve the Flaxmere community and today Karamu has a stable roll 900 pupils and a staff of 90.

The school's motto, Knowledge Is Strength He Mana tā Te Mātauranga emphasises the important role knowledge plays in a strong and successful life and is the basis of good citizenship.

In 2009 the Ministry of Education announced that a 8 Million dollar modernisation project would take place at Karamu which was officially opened at the 50th Jubilee celebrations in 2012.

Past Principals

During the past fifty years Karamu has had seven Principals (incl current):

  • Mr N Wilde, B.A. M.Sc. (Hons) – 1962 - 1971
  • Mr R D McGarvey, M.A. – 1972 - 1985
  • Mr M J Lewis, M.Sc. – 1986 - 1999
  • Mr M J Purcell, B.A., Dip.Spec.Ed., M.Ed.(Cant)., M.Ed.Admin - 2000 - 2008
  • Mr M J O'Grady, B.Agr., PGDipEdAdminLead. – 2008 - 2015
  • Mr M Leitch, B.Ed., Dip Tchg. - 2016 - 2019
  • Mrs D Thomas, M.Ed Admin & Lead., B.Ph.Ed., Dip Tchg. -  2020 - current

Past Pupils

Prominent past pupils of Karamu High School include:

  • Sir Paul Holmes – Broadcasting
  • Ms Annah Stretton – Clothing Design
  • Mr Mike Williams – Politics
  • Hon. David Butcher – Politics
  • Mr James Griffin – NZ Film and TV
  • Mr Jonathan Krebs – Law
  • Dr Karen Cooper – Science Research
  • Mr Peter Wardle – Art
  • Ms Mojo Mathers – Politics
  • Ms Meka Whitiri - Member of Parliment for Ikaroa Rawhiti
  • Mr Ngahiwi Tomoana - Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Chairman