New Zealand School Uniform: The Blazer

Figure 1.--These New Zealand boys are dressed in their school blazers for an assesmbly program. Blazers are now more commonly worn at private schools than state schools.

The blazer was developed as smart summer wear for affluent Britons as was soon adopted by the country's elite Public Schools. The developing preparatory schools also adopted the blazer. They were viewed as somewhat informal wear. More formal atire would be an Eton suit and hard collar. Blazers were worn with soft collars and the school tie. Blazers followed the English to New Zealand and appeared at secondary schools and cricket pitche in the late 19th century. The blazer remained unchanged until New Zealand schools began to introduce more casual styles to the schools. By the 1990s most New Zealand schools, except for the prep schools and some private secondary schools still wore blazers.


School blazers added great variety to the sometimes dowdy school uniform. State secondary schools like the private schools had highly varied and colorful blazers through the 1950s. New Zealand school uniform was virtually identical to the blazers worn by English school boys.


Most school blazers are a standard style. They are always single breasted. They have patch pockets, especially the chest pocket. Some blazers have ???? pockets with flaps, but this is not the traditional style.


Most New Zealand schools had blazers rather than suits. Several schools, however, choose the option of a suit. In almost all cases the suit was a standard grey one. The younger boys would have short pants, the older boys long pants with an identical jacket.


Most blazers were solid colors, but there were two primary alternatives, stipes and piping. The costs of these alternatives have caused schools in recent years to drop them. Some schools decided on striped blazers. These were particularly popular in the 1950s. The appearance added a little dash to the basic school blazer, but they tended to be more expansive than plain solid blazers. The striped blazer declined in popularity during the 1970s as many schools attempted to simplify the uniform and reduce costs.


Many schools had color piping around the edges of the blazer and on the lapels. The piping was of contrasting colors. Blue blazers, for example, had yellow and white piping. Brown lazers might have red or a white striped piping. Some times piping woukd be used to reflect status at the school. There were two different types of piping, ribon and braided. Ribbon piping was wider and could have multiple colors. Braided piping tend to have aa rooled look. It was narrow and usually a single color.


Some schools had tweed jackets instead of blazers. Unlike the blazers, the tweed jackets were worn without the school logo.


The school crest is worn on the left chest pocket. Often it is the initials of the school, but some schools have, or elaborate crests.


Blazers were once commonly worn in New Zealand, although not at primary schools where uniforms are not commonly worn. Blazers are no longer widely worn at New Zealand schools. They do vontinue to be worn by the older boys at some state secondary schools. They are most commonly worn at private schools, especiall the preparatory schools. Styles and practices, however, have changed somewhat. Colors are no longer as diverse. Some styles such as stripes and blazers with contrasting borders are less common, primarily a matter of cost. A much wider spectrum of the New Zealand population now chooses private education as parents are expressing increasing concern about the standards in the state schools. Many schools have attempted to simplify the uniform. The clothing list required of boys until the 1960s could be quite daunting for a small boy--and very expensive. Multi-colored blazers and those with edging work are more expensive and tnus have gradually disappeared. Even so there are still a wide variety of brightly colored blazers worn by British school children. Often the girls schools now have the most brightly colored blazers. Presumably the girls take a little better care of their lazers than do the boys. The blazer is worn less today than in earlier years. Some schools do now not even have blazers. Most do but they are mostly worn while coming and gong to school and for school functions. While at school during the cooler winter moths, New Zealand boys mostly wear their jumpers (sweaters) or just a shirt during the school day. They rarely put on their blazers.

Figure 2.--Most schools had blazers consisting of blazers and short pants. Boys at a few schools wore grey suits.

Types of Schools

Many private schools closed in the 1970s, choosing the option of integration into the state system. New Zealand probably has the smallest private school system of any of the western democracies.

Elementary schools

State elementary schools do not wear uniforms and thus do not wear blazers.

Preparatory schools

The preparatory schools, private elementary schools, do commonly wear blazers. The boys mostly wear them to and from school. While a school during the winter they wear jumpers. During the summer they wear simple grey cotton shirts.

Private secondary schools

Many private secondary schools continue to require blazers. In many cases they are just worn for dress occasions. Often they are not commonly worn at school.In many cases the boys do not even commonly wear them to school. Often they wear 'their owbn jackets with the school jumper during the winter and simple grey shirts during the summer.

State secondary schools

Blazers used to be widely worn at New Zealand secondary schools. Until the 1960s a rather small portion of New Zealand children finished secondary school. The ones that did go to secondary schools were a much more affluent group of children than the average cross section of New Zealanders. Uniform standards were very high. This began to change in the 1960s that new more casual uniforms were introduced, what many New Zealanfers though of as more in keeping with local conditions. Modern New Zealand boys generally wear mostly jumpers to school. Some blazers are still worn by the older boys, mostly school leaders or boys who have received their colors for sports.

Catholic schools


Related Blazer Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
[Main school uniform blazer page]
[Main blazer page] [Australian blazers] [English blazers] [New Zealand blazers] [Scottish blazers]

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Created: November 25, 1998
Last updated: May 22, 2004