A Religious College

This old college was a religious secondary school built in a religious “commune” solely by volunteer labour missionaries in the 1950’s who worked for the church. The school has a huge American influence as you can tell by the pictures, it is huge! The amount of things left behind is also astonishing, what a waste!
The school was closed when church leaders accepted that mainstream schools offered “quality education” and the school has started to be demolished to either be converted to farmland or some other future usage.

Our explore here began by cautiously entering a construction zone, in the past we had been greeted by angry residents who live on the commune and we were chased into a wet marsh behind the school, so this time we did our best to avoid that situation. After finding access presumably created by vandals, we were greeted by a huge American style school including full size swimming pool, gym and theatre, all without any signs of vandalism and the only graffiti being that of previous students to the school, making it the best abandoned school we have seen so far in New Zealand.

See our video too.



47 thoughts on “A Religious College

      1. nicola

        If you did some proper research these things are all for auction for anyone. Anything and everything. not a waste, the school served it’s purpose and now to bigger and better v
        entures for the area. Great pictures.

      2. urbexcentral Post author

        Have not seen anything about an auction, we are interested in the history and it’s future, we don’t have the resources to go to turners auctions in person to check if some of the now useless junk is trying to be auctioned off.

      3. Daz

        The church does not recieve 1 cent of taxes from the govt to run the school. God doesnt tick up. The money to pay for upkeep is used by the church in other countries that need money more.

      4. DT

        Indeed. LDS inc earns over $7 billion a year alone from tithing donations. Members, including the poor, are required to pay 10% of their incomes to the corp and missionaries are required to fund their own missions of up to $15,000, and sometimes more, just to preach/attract more followers to the church. A Lucrative business model.

        There was no need to invest any more money into CCNZ’s future with other high school options to choose from in Hamilton. CCNZ had served it’s purpose in creating a large Mormon population in NZ strong enough to continue the American Church’s growth and ignorant enough for the people to continue having large families to ultimately create Future Tithe Payers. A scam but that’s just what you call business.

      5. Sandy

        No funds spent here were wasted–they were spent ‘building’ thousands of great students and propelling them on to great opportunities. Money well spent if you ask me. I can’t think of anything better to spend money on than people and their education and this place supplemented a great education for many poor families of whom I was a part. Sorry you spoil your wonderful photos with such cynicism and lack of knowledge. I would expect your work to be even better if you did some historical research first. It would help you capture the ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’ of a place. Thanks for the photos.

      6. urbexcentral Post author

        Our post talks about the facility as a whole going to waste when it was once such a well equipped school, seems a waste for it to be demolished, that is just our opinion – perhaps with some lack of faith.

  1. THE D.R

    aswome man deaf going to check it out you guys keep blowing me away with what you come across keep up the good work!!

  2. myra

    The other reason it was closed was it needed a $0,000,000’s refurb to earthquake-proof it. Possibly reason it hasn’t had everything disposed of is demolition was halted due to environment court proceedings. That’s since changed and now with these pictures every man/woman and their kuri will be rocking up with trailers wanting a piece of history, or just a free mixing desk, table, organ etc! Mean photo’s though 🙂

  3. Eileen

    It is such a shame to see a church facility that was once a thriving pillar of the community. And yet the youth of the church who attends SMYC or EFY in that country from all over the country, have to use other facility such as Kings College and pay a huge amount ($450-$500) per student to attend and yet LDS Church College is left not used and abandoned…..Sad waste NZ!

    1. Kerin

      No – the new Camp Tuhikaramea (old Hamons Bush area) will be ready for this coming summer.(NZ summer). It has been purpose built for the youth of NZ – to be able to participate in Camps – just like the youth of the US (Utah esp.) have had for many years.

    2. Jedi

      Agree Eileen, dorms should have been done up – no earthquake problems have been identified with them. Very close to the Temple too. Instead people will have to walk kilometers to get from the ‘camp’ to the Temple. Or take a car in the wet weather. I wonder what the cost comparison is between building the camp and renovating a few of the dorms. Yes, a waste of heritage buildings.

  4. me

    My old school too. Some nice solitary images there. To correct the caption – its not a commune, the adjacent housing was for laborers and later, staff. Additional housing was built up over time into a suburb with no exclusive conditions to reside there. Also, the reason the place has been on lockdown is because the process to close it down isn’t complete and its been hit by looters and vandals, love the images but get the info right.

  5. Audrey Girl

    Ahhhhhh the Memories!!!! Yes, very powerful images even if you are trying to put a negative spin on my school.

      1. Jedi

        The pictures were awesome! Perhaps people think their negative pictures because the buildings are being left to decay, which isn’t your fault.

      2. Aroha

        Yeah, I guess they can seem a bit closed sometimes, but they can also be very welcoming, and are usually keen to share their stories with people who are interested. I’m actually surprised someone hasn’t invited you around for dinner yet , but then I haven’t read all the way down 🙂

        Great pics. I didn’t view the article as negative – not entirely accurate, but not negative. Though I don’t identify as LDS I attended CCNZ in the 90’s. I think the relatively good condition of the facilities is a sign of the care and respect shown by the community and the students.
        It may seem a waste to be demolishing buildings that aren’t completely decrepit, but the school’s time was done. I understand the decision that the church made not to repurpose or sell the buildings. I get that they feel there’s something special about the school and don’t want to have that diminished by some unknown future endeavour.

  6. Vahn

    I haven’t been back to my Alma Mater since it closed. These pics are eerily beautiful and sad at the same time. So many memories that stir so many emotions. When it opened in 1958 it had the best facilities in the country and remained like that until recently when other schools started to follow suit. Loved my time there. Shame my kids will never know what I felt. This was so much more than a school,it was an experience!

    1. April-Marie Neho

      Yeah, me too Vahn. Wish my kids could have seen it in it’s glory days. State of the art it was. Home away from home. Still miss the toast, sausages and tomatoes for breakfast, and the Rasperry cream buns at the canteen. And what about the Friday night Basketball matches. Songfess!!! Brilliant place be it was!!!

  7. Captain Moroni

    Thanks @urbexcentral for giving us an insight into the harsh reality of what has become of The Lord’s school. These pictures are compelling.

    Whilst attending there, I was told on several occasions that Three Nephites watched over the place and protected it from harm and danger. It seems that they too have abandoned it. Perhaps they also ran out of money?

    Do expect some backlash from your photos, some Mormons still live back at CCNZ and find it hard to move on.

    Great portfolio, keep it up!

      1. Captain Moroni

        My experience at CCNZ was wonderful and I will always treasure the experiences I had.

        However, in saying that, I know students, who are now adults with children, that sadly had a terrible experience at CCNZ being constantly bullied and mocked by fellow Mormons who claim to be the ‘Chosen People’. For those students, I am glad the school has closed down.

        Time for the Church to clean up their mess.

  8. April-Marie Neho

    Fab photos. I’m an old student too, and it’s incredible seeing the “wardrobe” and dressing rooms when we used to put on huge shows that toured around the country. OH the happy and fun memories I have of that school. Thanx for posting. It’s a shame that no-one guided you through the facility to explain everything. When I was a student there (a music virtuoso I fancied myself), there were exactly 31 pianos on campus, and one concert grand piano, a weights room (I never used it), and the dormatories were fully air-conditioned, and heated. The cafeteria was pretty awesome too, and so totally was the in-door heated olympic sized swimming pool. We knew we were lucky to go there.

    1. tarnz007

      Great photos. My husband will spend sometime staring at these while recalling his fond memories. We have some drapes from here. They had a give away and people were allowed to collect whatever they could take away. It was all over facebook. We told friends and family not of the church and of the church to take advantage. It was before the buildings began getting pulled down. I love the gospel. It’s your page and you can write untruths if you like I supose. But it’s hurtful to have something you love so much being spoken about in that way. But I guess you feel strongly about your opinion as I feel about the love I have for the gospel and what it means to me. Each to their own?

  9. Flora

    Seeing these pictures brought feelings of nostalgia. It was and always will be a special place for me and I regret that my grandchildren bar one will never know the bond of forever friends made there. Thank you for the walk down memory lane.

  10. tarnz007

    Ive got dvds of the history of this school. Well correction my husband does. Tells you what it was all about. I didnt go myself but I hear often the passion people had for this school in particular. My husband will do a bit of reminiscing with these pics. We have drapes from the David O McKay bldg. Fab too. Thermal and historic. They had a big give away. It was all over facebook and emails were circulating. We told family and friends regardless of membership to take advantage. It was open to anyone you just had to be able to take it away. Shame there was still so much left. Love the gospel. Grateful to it for all hardships its got me through.

  11. Jedi

    Great break in guys! Many thanks for the pictures. Some of the comments posted here are too funny. Lots of people repeating rumours and parts of the truth – but really, they don’t know what they’re talking about. Very amusing. At least one of the people commenting did a secret deal with Church employees to get themselves a house built – ahead of others in the Temple View Community…no wonder they’re supporting demolition. They are feathering their own nest. And as for people saying it’s too expensive to renovate parts of CCNZ and earthquake problems, they don’t know what they’re talking about. Please quote documents so that you’re seen to be credible. Where on earth are you getting your rubbish information????

  12. dmn

    Thanks for sharing. Pretty eerie seeing those pictures as I was born in the community and lived there for 1/2 of my life and still go ‘home’ to visit. A bit sad that there have been some abrupt comments towards you, which seem unnecessary. Education is all that is needed here. So just a correction, whilst we all pretty much knew each other through the school, church, community and numerous activities held in that community, it was just that, a community of people living in the same place, that had beliefs in common. It was not a ‘commune’ where property, possessions, resources, and, in some communes, work and income were shared. There were resources as part of the School that were available to use eg. the swimming pool and facilities, but that didn’t make it a commune. Of course, the community were full of families that would share or give what they had willingly and I loved being a part of the community and the school. Even now you can walk around that community and feel safe. It is sad to know the school I went to will no longer serve the purpose for which it was built. My Dad was one of those labour missionaries and he sacrificed a lot for our family to be able to enjoy growing up in that community and enjoy a safe environment/lifestyle of which I will always have the best and fondest of memories. But for those now still living in the community, a decision has been made to demolish. No one wanted that outcome, but for the people of that community now, they are wanting to move on and bring the community into the 21st Century. The place looks the same as it did back in the 70s pretty much, hahahahaha. Unfortunately there are some people that no longer live in the community, who have, for reasons of their own, caused the plans to now uplift the community with new infrastructure, to be delayed and I think these photos are the result. As some have said, there have been undertakings to remove all remaining items and of course, this is still continuing. Of course, there has been mistakes made in this space and probably still are with the remaining items, but this process is still on going. I hope the next time I visit, I start to see less and less of these sad photos and more of the new and promised things to come.

  13. SJT

    When I attended it was well known by faculty that CCNZ was a huge drain on tithing funds and was the difference that put the NZ part of the church in the red.
    They could have tried to get part funding from govt as other private schools do but did not want to compromise some of its education policies.
    It had been looked at over the years with a view to close.
    Dalin H Oakes visited during my time to assess the place but obviously thought then that it was worth the money.
    I enjoyed my time there and the mates made are still my closest.
    However it was only a school. As you can see now just an empty shell. It was always the people that mattered and made the place.

  14. Parns

    As a past student of CCNZ, although you had to ‘sneak’ in.. I’m really grateful for these pics that you’ve taken.. they’re such a trip down memory lane and a part of our history.. so, THANKS – and agree with what people are saying about the church needing to re-allocate church funds… yadda, yadda… thanks for the pics mostly!!

  15. marcia

    This website is awesome.
    A friend of mine is helping re build the houses adjacent to this school and said the house are getting re build as they had asbestos in them. I didn’t realize the whole school had closed down. I just thought the boarding school was pulled down as that had asbestos too. So surprising to here.

  16. King Justice

    Really cool photo’s! I didnt attend the school but my wife did. We had planned for our children to attend but that will never be. I still think it is such a waste, the the David O’Mckay building is one of a kind and I wish it was just renovated and re-purposed for the community.
    Reading all the comments about the give away tho…DAMN I missed out. lol.

  17. Fejj

    These are awesome photos. There needs to be more clarity on the reasons for the closure. The school was mooted in the 1940’s by popular LDS apostle Matthew Cowley who had served many years in NZ and saw the success of the Maori Agricultural College built in the 1920’s in Napier but destroyed in the earthquake. Back then the bulk of LDS Maori lived in poorer rural communities with low quality education hence the idea of a mostly Maori LDS boarding school. Over time most LDS Maori moved to urban centres, the quality of high schools even in rural areas improved, the church instituted a nationwide seminary programme (morning scripture study for LDS youth) so the unique provision of this at CCNZ was better covered around NZ. The boarding portion of the school gradually shrunk until by the 90’s only 10% of the student body were boarders the bulk being day students from Tempe View and Hamilton. The school has constructed hastily with volunteer labour and so required progressively more costly maintenance as the school progressed to the end of the it’s economic life without major renonavtion. There was no substantive earthquake strengthening issue in terms of Hamilton City Council requirements for the college – only at the temple which was dealt with) – the cost isise was that CCNZ had not only become one of the church’s most costly schools per student capita to run but needed tens of millions of dollars to upgrade the school to the standard the church has. Given that the core purpose of the school had largely been superceded by the events detailed above the church. Add a decision to use the funds initially tentatively earmarked for a full grade of CCNZ on similar institutions in third world countries like Bolivia and Vanuatu where the educational needs are of a massively more needy leaves.. The church surmised that the 700 odd LDS families in NZ were going to be able to access education of a vastly higher quality than fellow church members in impoverished countries and so a decision was made to close the school. Controversy has arisen over not only the decision but the initial (and even subsequent) plans for the site but space does not permit going over all those issues

  18. MB

    Are you guys familiar with the DetroitUrbex site? They have a whole page dedicated to schools and for a second there i thought I was back on their website, this school looks like such an american waste. Wish I wasn’t such a pansy, would love to explore more places

  19. Ross Pokere

    I attended CCNZ in 78-80 and I have nothing but love for my old school. I met my wife there. My best friends are from College. I was in the meeting when President Hinkckley asked our opinion on the impact on the community….IF… he decided to discontinue the College. I was sad that the decision was made to close and even more pained to watch its slow but steady demolition over the years. However, life goes on. CCNZ is still alive and well in spirit. It lives through us. Grateful to those who sacrificed to help build this beautiful school. Thanks for the photos.


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