About Tokomairiro High School


In 1966, our modern-day school replaced the existing District High School, which had its roots in the first school opened on the Tokomairiro Plain in 1856. Our state co-educational high school catering for students Year 7 to Year 14 was the first of its type in the lower part of the South Island.

Our school’s name is derived from pre-European times. The Tokomairiro Plain was a wetland area fed by the Tokomairiro River as it made its way from the hills to the Pacific Ocean. The early Waitaha people who arrived in the area about 445AD travelled the waterways in bullrush (raupo) and canoes (mokihi), which were propelled by poling. The Kati Mamoe (Ngati Mamoe) who followed them and then the Kai Tahu (Ngai Tahu) who came in the late 1700's also poled canoes through the wetland. Based on this story, one explanation of Tokomairiro is to leave in a direction poling a canoe. This explanation is captured in our school’s crest.

Tokomairiro today

Today, Tokomairiro High School is a Year 7 to Year 13 school, situated in Milton, which is on State Highway One, about 55 kilometres south of Dunedin.

We serve the Tokomairiro District. This covers Lake Waihola in the north to the coast south of the Taieri River in the east, Lovells Flat in the south, and the Manuka Gorge on State Highway 8 in the west. Milton, with a population of approximately 2000, is roughly at the centre of the district. The surrounding area is rural in character, with several small townships. The district, as a whole, supports a population of about 3500 people.


The community is employed mostly in farming and forestry industries and their associated services. We have a woollen mill (QualitYarns NZ Ltd), a boat building industry (McLay Boats Ltd), and the headquarters for a major construction and development company (Calder Stewart Industries). Several sawmills operate in the district. Many people also commute to jobs in Dunedin, Mosgiel and Balclutha.

Milton is well served with various facilities, including a heated swimming pool, public library, community recreation centre/gymnasium, a well-staffed medical centre, police station, primary schools, daycare centres and kindergarten.

Tokomairiro High School aims to provide the highest possible educational opportunities to meet the needs of our students and community. We take a balanced and holistic approach to education as well as providing extracurricular opportunities.

The Tokomairiro way is reflected in all dimensions of school endeavour through a nurturing and challenging environment that allows students to develop to their fullest potential.