Local historian, Ben Irons won with a suggestion of Makora. The choice was challenged as being inaccurate and it was argued that the historically true spelling should be Mākoura. The name Mākoura represented the stream of that name and the freshwater crayfish found there.
Mākoura's board and staff have a positive relationship and work well together to maintain a friendly family atmosphere in which all students are known, acknowledged, valued and cared for. The school values its diversity, celebrates its differences, and continually seeks out innovative ways of thinking and acting.
In the past several years, the school has undergone building re-development and modernisation. Mākoura offers its students and community a range of facilities which includes: excellent fields, a gymnasium, playing turf, netball courts, a hall and a large library space.
In 2014, Mākoura College was awarded the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards in the ‘Excellence in Leading – Atakura Award’ category.
In 2018, Mākoura College celebrated 50 years of teaching and learning with a reunion that was attended by former students and staff.
Mākoura recognises the importance of education being available for all, and responds to this by catering for different needs and learning styles. A Teen Parent Unit including a Child Care Centre is on site, as well as Wairarapa's only Military Services Academy. The school has academic programmes through to scholarship, transition and gateway courses, a Māori Performing Arts programme, and vibrant Music, Dance, Arts and Photography classes to complement the core curriculum and engage and stimulate students. Mākoura has its very own student radio station.
Mākoura students participate in a range of sporting and cultural opportunities outside the classroom.
Mākoura College has a clear direction that includes being inclusive of all who come through the gate; a focus on strengths as opposed to weaknesses, a focus on building relationships; and a focus on delivering a meaningful curriculum designed to meet the needs and interests of students.