The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Otago & Southland Provincial Districts]
Otago established the first University in New Zealand; but it is right to say that in the early days of settlement efforts were made in each of the provinces to provide means of instruction for the rising generation, and the pioneers laid the foundations of a system unexcelled in the world. Many of the schools, however were of a denominational nature, but this anomaly was removed by the Education Act of 1877, which substituted the present system of free, secular, and compulsory education. Primary education is provided by the State, entirely free of direct charge to the parents. High Schools, colleges and grammar schools provide the means of secondary education, and the University of New Zealand is empowered to confer the same degrees as the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, except as regards Divinity. It is, however, only an examining body, and the undergraduates keep their terms at the affiliated colleges —the University of Otago, or the other provincial university colleges. In connection with the University of Otago there is a School of Medicine and a School of Mines. The facilities for education in New Zealand are numerous and encouraging, and by menas of scholarships a diligent youth may enjoy the advantages of a secondary and collegiate education, at practically no cost to his parents. The educational institutions in operation in Otago include, in addition to the University of Otago, high schools for boys and girls, a Normal School, a Technical School, a School of Art, and Roman Catholic, and other private schools.