Original digital file
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Inscription from book presented to Helen Sheild (later Arthur) at the first Waiwhare School. This school was situated where David & Linda Ward’s house at Wrekin now stands. It was open from 1922 to 1925.
Summary of an interview with Helen in 2002 –
Waiwhare School 1922
Helen Arthur attended the first Waiwhare School, which was held in a room off the verandah at the cookhouse on Waiwhare Station, now part of Wrekin, along with her brother Peter, sister Gwen and Dick and Pat Ensor, sons of Waiwhare’s owners. They were taught by Miss Blake, the Ensor governess, who was very strict. There were no other children in the district at the time and it was quicker to go to Waiwhare than to Otamauri School, which was open then. The school room was heated by a very old-fashioned kerosene heater designed like a big lamp on legs with a handle on top. Transport was by horse, particularly challenging during high winds. Most of the reading was from school journals and the best part of the day was lunchtime, when the children would watch whatever farm activity was going on. There were about 15 single men working on the farm at that time.
Helen remembers well watching horses being broken in or shod in the blacksmith’s shop near the main road, chaff-cutting, shearing and traction engines. Other forms of lunchtime amusement were catching rats at the killing shed, looking for birds’ nests, lying on the verandah shooting at flies on the wall, swimming in the Willowford Stream on hot days (driven down there by Mrs Ensor in her car with a canvas hood), smoking tobacco under the woolshed, throwing water out the bathroom window and sliding in the mud that resulted, catching field mice in the bags of oats, and best of all, eating the delicious food that came from the farm kitchen.
No-one minded the fact that the buns which the cook generously gave to the children at smoko time contained currants which had been left out in the sun in order to get rid of the weevils that had multiplied over time. And the bread! Fresh out of the real baker’s oven in the shearer’s quarters.
Helen left this school in 1924. It probably closed when the Ensors went off to boarding school.