On Thursday, 13 September 1877 at 9.30am, Christchurch Girls' High School opened for education. The first principal, Mrs Georgiana Ingle (1877 - 1882), admitted 74 girls who were instructed in: English, French, Latin, Mathematics, Elements of Natural History, Class Singing and Needlework. The true objective was not only to prepare students for Matriculation and University Scholarship but also build up a well-balanced character.
By February 1878, there were 115 students and four new classrooms, the largest capable of holding 100 pupils. In September 1881, the school moved to a purpose built school in Cranmer Square and left the University site.
Miss Helen Connon (1883 - 1894) became the second lady principal of Christchurch Girls' High School in 1883. She was the first woman to graduate with Honours in the British Empire.
Mrs Emily S Foster (1894 - 1898) was chosen by ballot as the next principal. She introduced the school colours of navy-blue, light-blue and red and the prefect system.
Miss Mary Victoria Gibson (1898 - 1928) succeeded Emily S Foster in 1898 and remained principal for 30 years. Mary Gibson was among those who signed the petition which resulted in the enfranchisement of women in 1893.
In 1898 Christchurch Girls' High School was still small with 126 pupils but by 1926 more than 600 girls were on the roll. In 1928, Avonside severed its ties with Christchurch Girls' High School and became a fully autonomous school.
Miss Patricia Clark (1928 - 1941) had, by the time of her resignation, seen a swimming pool built and developed a curriculum which allowed students more scope to pursue their own interests.
Miss Margaret Samuel (1941 - 1948) was the sixth principal of the school and the first to abandon bicycle power in favour of a car.
Miss Jenny Stewart (1948 - 1954) signalled a new era as the school was no longer entitled to use the Canterbury University seal and motto. The new motto was to be Sapientia et Veritas (Wisdom and Truth).
Miss Clarissa Tyndall (1954 - 1961) followed Jenny Stewart. Her tenure saw buildings develop: a science block, new geography and social studies rooms, a music room and offices for First Assistant and Careers Mistress.
Miss Pauline Robinson (1961 - 1969) was a former Old Girl and staff member. Developments in music were notably encouraged by Pauline Robinson.
Miss Joan Prisk (1969 - 1987) presided over a major change. The school site simply had not enough space and the school moved in 1986 to its current Matai Street site.
Dame Dawn Lamb (1987 - 1998) was responsible, after much hard lobbying, for the development of the Technology Block. She was a strong supporter of music and sport.
Mrs Prue Taylor (1999 - 2013), the school's twelfth head, continued with the school's founding principles of quality academic instruction and a holistic approach to education.
"Sapientia et Veritas"
This Latin expression means Wisdom - the kind that goes beyond the book learning to knowing ourselves - and Truth. The general sense is to aim for integrity and honesty in ourselves and towards others.
The first school crest is hanging inside the public foyer. It is the crest of Canterbury University College which controlled the school from 1877 to 1949. An angel against a background of stars symbolises the institution being in the hand of God in its pursuit of knowledge and heavenly wisdom.
The school crest on the Christchurch Girls' High School blazer pocket and inscribed into the marble wall has added the symbols of Canterbury: the plough and the fleece; the symbol of Christianity: the stole; and the symbol of knowledge: the star. This has been our school crest since 1949.
Te Kura o Hine Waiora
In 2015, the school community chose a complementary Maori name for Christchurch Girls' High School.
Literally the name denotes: Te Kura - the school Hine - female Waiora - healing waters
However, the name has many associations: as a school for girls such an important part of its identity deserves to be repeated in two languages and the school is situated on a waterway that has been a significant part of both Maori and European food gathering and production. The name also contains an echo of our brother school in the words Te Kura and adds richness of meaning in the metaphorical imagery of healing waters, the concept that water provides life and knowledge, and that young women can be sustained by education as they journey through life.