The One Tree Hill College Art Collection was once described as an "experiment in art education". If it was an experiment, it was a great one.
The collection was started in 1969 by the then principal, Murray Print, with the help of art teacher Wally Crossman. When Mr Crossman joined the staff in 1961, there were token pieces only of art hanging on walls. Most were faded reproductions of European masters. Mr Crossman was told there was no money to buy art — until Mr Print became principal in 1969.
The collection, funded by the proceeds of the tuckshop and specific gifts and donations, started with the purchase of a small oil by Robert Ellis – one of his "motorway" series. Over the years it expanded to be one of New Zealand's most significant collections of NZ artists work, including works by Colin McCahon, Ralph Hotere, Patrick Hanly, Nigel Brown, Gretchen Albrecht, W.A. Sutton, Robin White, Toss Woollaston, Allen Maddox, and Don Peebles. In recent years, artists such as Dick Frizzell, John Reynolds, Max Gimblett and Hayley King (FLOX) have donated pieces to the art collection.
Mr Print's aim to use New Zealand art to humanise the college paid off. Many years later, the much-loved collection remains an important part of One Tree Hill College's culture.
It is today administered by an independent trust.