There are four School Houses, each named after a former Rector and led by a House Captain.
The Purpose of the House System is to:
House Points will be assigned to boys and Houses for participation as well as placings.
All new students are allocated to Houses in February of each year. Students with a direct family history in one of the Houses are expected to follow the family tradition, otherwise they are allocated to Houses in rotation (according to numbers).
A L HALKETT DAWSON, Rector 1880-1887 opened the original Timaru High School on the present site of TGHS on Cain St. He introduced science into the curriculum (an unconventional innovation) and started taking boarders into his own residence (the old Rectory in Craigie Ave, now demolished).
GEORGE HOGBEN, Rector 1888-1898 erected a wood workshop (the first time this subject was taught at any school in New Zealand), gained outstanding University Scholarship results, and established a gymnasium for physical education. He resigned when the Board resolved to separate the School into Girls' and Boys' High Schools. As Director of Education for New Zealand he drafted the Education Act under which the whole Education system of New Zealand is still run.
GEORGE A SIMMERS, Rector 1899-1912 secured the purchase of the present North St site and opened the Rectory in 1908 for 24 boarders. He sketched plans for the Old Main Block and Hall (now demolished, but shown in the water colour sketch of the buildings in the Student Centre area of Gillies Block). The lectern in the Hall was presented by his family to commemorate his service to the school.
ALAN G TAIT, Rector 1935-1947 was assistant master under Mr Thomas (1913-1925); he left the School in 1925 to become Headmaster of Dannevirke High School, but returned as Rector in 1935 and guided the school through the difficult war years. He was responsible for the introduction of the School Certificate system. The bronze plaque at the entrance to the hall was presented by his family at the centennial celebrations in 1980.
The main inter-house competition each year is for the Cleland Cup. This is the cumulative result of competition in swimming, athletics, debating, rugby, cross-country, basketball, quiz competitions and the Lovelock relays. All students are encouraged to participate in these activities as the allocation of points recognises participation as well as success.