top of page

Our College and our Kawa

Nga korero whakamahuki mete kawa o te kura

In 1974 the gates of Tuakau College opened. Our College has a short but proud history and a long tradition and many foundation pupils have sent their children to be educated here.

The past Principals, teachers, students, Boards of Trustees and the community have made the school what it is today – a culture where sharing, respect, caring and pride are at the forefront. 

Tuakau College is a state, co-educational secondary school (decile 4) near the Waikato River. A Year 7 to 13 composite, rural school it serves the town of Tuakau and its surrounds – mainly market gardening and farming communities. Tuakau is 10 minutes from Pukekohe and 45 minutes from Auckland. The majority of our students come from our contributing schools of Harrisville, Tuakau, Te Kohanga, Pukekawa, Mangatawhiri, Mercer and Pokeno. 

See below for more information!

  • Proudly bi-cultural school, with over 40% of local students from Maori descent

  • Year 7 to 13 semi-rural school of around 600 students

  • 45 minutes from Auckland and 60 minutes to Hamilton

  • Close to a West Coast black sand surf beach and the tranquil white sandy beaches of the East Coast

  • River, sea and land based outdoor activities nearby

  • Enjoy the buoyancy of a small semi-rural community close to both Auckland city and quiet peaceful countryside

  • Culturally rich, diverse, true NZ cultural education experience

  • ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) programme

  • Gateway programme for work experience

  • Access to a range of educational programmes

  • As much choice of subjects as the bigger schools

  • Practical and intellectual curriculum experiences

Science Labs
Modern Classrooms
Hockey Turf
Sports Fields
Te Atarua

KO WAI TATO: Who are we?

Over the past years Tuakau College has developed into a modern learning environment which has strengthened and continued to  value and enhance things Maaori. Maaoritanga is part of what we do at Tuakau College. What we do is called the Tuakau College Culture or Kawa. Treaty of Waitangi obligations ensure that we continue to recognise and provide a context for all our students, especially our Maaori students. 

Our kawa has been a strength of the College since the foundations were laid down by the first Principal, Hiwi Tauroa. He was a visionary leader and the practical steps he put in place towards the school becoming bicultural were implemented before the school opened in 1974. This ensured we followed certain protocols under a cultural umbrella which we cherish, relish and build on as we move forward. 

Tuakau College is culturally rich. When we write in Maaori we use the macron to emphasise a long sound. In Tainui dialect, instead of using a macron, a double vowel is used. So, Maori is written Māori or you will see it as Maaori.

TUAKAU/TŪĀKAU (Two-a-coe) meaning:

Today, in many publications, Tuakau is written as TŪĀKAU. The source of this interpretation is from the NZ History archives. The interpretation is 'Tuu Aakau' (Tūākau). 'Tu' means to stand and 'ākau' means river/bank shore. So it means to stand on the river bank. Tuakau College is part of North Waikato and is affiliated to Tainui and the kingitanga movement. King Tuhetia Potatau Tawhiao is presently the Māori King, residing at Turangawaewae Ngaruawahia. Taupiri is 'te maunga' (the mountain), 'Waikato te Awa' (the river) and 'Turangawaewae te marae, Tainui te iwi' (the tribe).


The logo depicts the fronds of the ponga tree, symbolising nuture, growth and new beginnings for a school relatively young. The larger fronds are the caregivers, staff and parents. The smaller fronds are the students developing and surrounded by the larger fronds for protection and support. The two colours reflect the dual heritage of New Zealand.

The motto "THE VERY BEST IN ALL THINGS, PAI RAWA ATU I NGA MEA KATOA," was created by Hiwi Tauroa, the founding Principal. He says "working well is not sufficient. We desire that you produce the very best work you are able to. We will demand the very best performance from each individual. Poor performance is not failure, a lack of effort is. A low standard of achievement resulting from best effort is success."

bottom of page