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Gender-neutral uniforms praised

Modelling Makoura’s new uniform options – standing, Paselio Manesa, Jackson Hookham, Jackson Iasona, Tryke McRoberts, and Aaliyah Masters, and seated, Eden Evans, Jade-Stacey Thompson, Ruby Clark, and Maia Karaitiana-Baker. PHOTO/ERIN KAVANAGH-HALL


Stylish, functional, and inclusive: Makoura College’s updated regalia is ticking all the right boxes with its school community.

Makoura began the 2019 school year by launching its new uniform – with pupils and their whanau embracing the college’s smartened image, range of clothing options, and gender-neutral approach.

Principal Paul Green said the new attire had been in the planning for the past year, with the uniform changes agreed in partnership with both pupils and staff.

So far, the changes have been received positively, with much of the pupil body expected to transition to wearing the new uniform by the end of the year.

The uniform retains Makoura’s signature colour scheme of red, black and silver – a nod to its strong Maori connections – but now includes more formal options, such as monogrammed shirts and ties, longer skirts and trousers, and a
new fitted blazer.

The more casual clothing options have been re-made to prioritise pupils’ comfort, and both formal and informal uniforms have been designed to be worn by both male and female pupils.

Green said the pupils offered plenty of suggestions to improve their daily garb – but the most common request was for a sharper, more slick, and overall more elegant look to showcase the school to the community.

“The students were adamant they wanted to look sharp, have the opportunity to look smarter on special occasions, and to take pride in their appearance,” Green said.

He said he and Makoura’s staff were inspired to update the uniform after pupils expressed discomfort with the previous regalia.

For example, some of the girls felt uncomfortable in “see through” white blouses, while the boys’ polo shirts, made from heavy aertex cotton, could be “stuffy” in warm weather.

After consultation with the pupil body, families, the school’s Board of Trustees, and the wider Masterton community, several new designs were approved and sent to NZ Uniforms for manufacturing.

The pupils now have a choice between casual and dressier attire: the informal clothing consisting of tailored polo shirts with long and short sleeves, re-made in a more breathable and lightweight fabric, grey shorts, a knee-length pleated skirt, and black vest.

For a more dressed-up look, pupils can choose a silver-grey shirt or blouse, which can also be worn with the shorts or pleated skirt, with dress trousers, or an ankle length skirt or lavalava – appropriate, considering the college’s burgeoning Pasifika population.

“They’ve got a whole stable of choices,” Green said.

“There’s no senior or junior uniform, or winter or summer uniform – the students can wear any of the items in whatever combination they’d like.”

Green said the new uniform was intended to be gender-neutral: with girls able to opt for shorts or trousers, and both girls and boys able to choose a lavalava as part of their formal wear.

Schools worldwide have responded to criticisms about overly gendered uniforms by offering more universal clothing options – and Green was happy to follow suit.

“Some young people feel more comfortable in gender-neutral clothing, and we respect that

“We wanted to be as inclusive as possible.”

Green said he was pleased with the school’s new wardrobe – particularly the little touches, such as the red piping on the blazers, the koru motif on the ties, and the detailed monograms on the shirts and blouses.


  1. I really like this uniform I used to go Makoura always wondering when they going to update our uniform now I finished college and I’m so proud they finally did it even tho we missed it lol but way to go Makoura always proud of you my school ☺️❤️❤️

  2. looks trendy and great…. am for school uniforms, then all the pupils are the same and cant do out each other with better fashions! I used to fit children for uniforms in London and it got me a free ticket to NZ in 1970s… still here!

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