About Us


St Stephen’s School | Tīpene is among Aotearoa New Zealand’s oldest and most prestigious boarding schools, predominantly serving young Māori men since it began operations in 1849, and is the brother school to Queen Victoria | Kuini Wikitoria. In 1933 the kura relocated to its current location in the Bombay Hills, south of Tāmaki Makaurau.

After more than 151 years of service to the community, the school was closed in 2000. At the time, the decision to close the school was seen by the School’s Trust Board and the church as being in the best interests of Māori education, to ensure the school could renew and retain its status as a taonga for Māori. Since then, the collective efforts of many alumni have kept the spirit of the school alive.

The Charitable Society, St Stephen’s School Old Boys Association has played an integral role in continuing to advance the educational aspirations of the School’s alumni and supporters. Thousands of hours of pro-bono work have gone into keeping the mana of the school intact, and ensuring that one day, the doors would reopen. Tīpene entrenches tikanga Māori with Anglican values to develop character beyond the curriculum. We recognize that nothing is more important than the essential goal of building good character. Our commitment to character is seen in our focus on the Tīpene Graduate.

Our kura focuses not only on what is learned but how it is learned, providing a holistic approach to education that fosters the talents and development of each tauira. We concentrate on creating an environment that elevates rangatahi through providing an equitable education model with a deliberate goal to ensure rangatahi excel. Our kura is committed to Te Reo Māori and its use is prevalent within our grounds. We acknowledge the connection to one’s whakapapa and tūrangawaewae is paramount and give attention to crafting leaders who are empowered to give back to their community.



Trust Established

A trust was established by Bishop G. A. Selwyn in 1848 ‘for the education of children of both races of New Zealand and the islands of the Pacific’.


Open for Business

The school began operation in 1849 on a site at Taurarua (Parnell) in what is now St Stephen’s Avenue, and was the first New Zealand school to celebrate its centenary. Through its long life the roll of the school has been predominantly Māori, and many alumni have achieved success in their own right, notably: rugby players, politicians, and recipients of distinguished medals and awards.


New Zealand Education Act

Education Act 1877, instruction followed closely the state primary school system, and most pupils gained the Proficiency Certificate, some of them staying on for a year in Standard VII.

Aug 1920-1930


In the 1920–30 period, St Stephen’s slowly developed its own secondary department.


St Stephen’s Relocated to the Countryside.

After 1931, when the school moved to the beautiful Bombay site, the secondary roll grew steadily. Pupils stayed on for University Entrance Examination and further study in Form VI.The move to the country also allowed the development of an agriculture course.


St Stephen’s requisitioned as a hospital.

During the 1939–45 war the school was requisitioned as a hospital, and its senior pupils went to Te Aute and Wesley Colleges, but without losing their St Stephen’s identity.



The physical school reopened post-war in 1949.


St Stephen’s closure

The school closed its doors again some decades later in 2000, as at the time, this was seen by the School’s Trust Board and the church as being in the best interests of Māori education, to ensure the school could renew and retain its status as a taonga for Māori.