Early educational needs for the area were catered for by cottage schools, but these were quickly superseded by church schools. The Rangiora District School was opened on August 13, 1874, and the Rangiora High School on January 28, 1884.

While Mr. J. E. Strachan, O.B.E., M.A., B.Sc. was Principal, a very fine Agricultural Course was started in the school which acquired a farm of some 130 acres. Many other educational innovations, for example the multi-course curriculum, were introduced that lead the way in educational thinking and gave the school a worldwide reputation. In 1910 the school produced the first Rhodes Scholar for Canterbury – Henry Stoke Richards.