When the New Zealand Company had insufficient applicants migrate to Nelson, they advertised in the German newspapers and a company called De Chapeaurouge was established to bring new emigrants to New Zealand. The first German settlers arrived on two ships in 1843.

As conditions in Germany were depressed, some people were keen to improve their lot in a new land. A Count Ranzau felt strongly about the difficulties faced by people in Germany and did his best to help the emigrants. Fedora Kelling was in charge of the “Skiold” expedition and he was granted 150 acres at Waimea West, in partnership with his brother Carl. A village soon developed and the Kelling property was called Ranzau, after the help by the German Count.

The original Kelling house, built of brick and wood with a shingle roof, is situated in Whites Road, across Patons Road near the hills. The Ranzau Village was renamed Hope.

The first Ranzau School was started in the Kelling House in 1845 using German as the basic language.

In 1848, the Lutherans decided to build a church and a school at Ranzau. This was the beginning of schooling on the current site. At this time, lessons were still in German. In 1854, 9 pupils attended Ranzau School. In 1856, the school was taken over by the central Board of Education and the roll grew to 31.

Since these early days, Ranzau has grown steadily. The school buildings were replaced in 1908 and a second room added in 1918. In 1957, these rooms were remodelled and enlarged. The third room was built in 1962 and the fourth in 1968.

Major remodelling of the school occurred in 1979. The old school was shifted to the Hope Domain where it remains today. A fifth class was added at this time. In 1996, the roll had reached almost 200 and construction of the eighth classroom was commissioned.

In 1997, the administration area was extended and modernised and the library relocated into what used to be room 1, the oldest remaining building in the school.

Our 150th jubilee was held 1998 making us one of New Zealand’s oldest schools.

A multipurpose room, library modernisation and the introduction of ICT over the last 10 years enables us to proudly say our school is now very well resourced.

Most recently we developed our classrooms into collaborative learning communities (hapori) Mural enabling us to effectively deliver appropriate 21st century curriculum to empower our students to be life long learners.

A mural depicting the history of Ranzau School is at the main entrance.


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