The school opened with 204 third-formers at the beginning of February, 1968. The official opening ceremony was performed by Commander D G Bamfield, Commanding Officer of HMNZS 'Endeavour' in July, 1969, on the Saturday nearest to the 201st anniversary of James Cook's sailing from Plymouth.
The school took its motto 'Endeavour' from Captain Cook's ship in recognition of the way the Captain and his crew persevered through whatever obstacle in order to meet their outstanding goal.
Today and throughout its history, James Cook High School's students and staff safeguard this motto as their own lodestar of success.
Endeavouring to do one's best is the focus for all members of the school - both in the classroom and in the extensive sporting, cultural and leadership opportunities offered within the whole school programme.
Students must learn to have flexible minds, personal integrity and honesty, and a responsible, mature view of their duty to themselves, their families, their school and their country.
As members of the school's community, they are expected to respect the viewpoints of others, to be concerned for the welfare of others and be sensitive to their needs. The discipline of the school is designed to provide the orderly conditions for these attitudes to develop as fully as possible.
Thus, the school aims to provide an interesting, challenging programme in academic, sporting and cultural activities, which will motivate students to have a continuing desire to learn, give them a sense of achievement and ensure that they begin to acquire the qualities of good citizens.
Press & Media