Waiwhare School – small and remote
Waiwhare School is classified as “remote” by Hawke’s Bay Education Board – but with the isolation goes friendliness and a peaceful atmosphere characteristic to a country school.
Waiwhare School gets its name from Waiwhare sheep station, owned by Mr Bernie Ward, who lets the school use his land.
It is a few miles past Otamauri on the Taihape Rd and its remoteness is evident by the fact that the tar seal ends just past the school.
It is a two-classroom school, one room having been there since the school opened 28 years ago and the other added more recently.
There is a football field and a swimming pool.
The school is surrounded by trees which add to the country atmosphere and the only noise likely to break the country silence is the next door farmer moving sheep.
Waiwhare School has two teachers despite being under the requirement that a school must have 26 pupils before it is allowed a second teacher.
There are only 18 children attending Waiwhare, but it isn’t suffering from the national trend of dropping rolls. Seven children are expected to start this year and none of the existing pupils is due to leave for secondary school.
For this reason, Waiwhare has been allowed to keep its two-teacher status.
There are 30 children expected to start between now and 1984. Only 12 are expected to leave in that time.
The school roll at the beginning of last year was 22.
The children at the school mostly come from farms in the area. Their parents own the farms or are farm managers or workers.
One family attending the school is from the nearby Kaweka Forest headquarters.
The head teacher is Mr Dave Wallis, who is in his third year at the school. He lives with his wife, Gail, and their two children, Toni, 5, and Aaron, 3, in the schoolhouse beside the school.
Mrs Wallis is a former teacher and often helps out at the school. She is also co-supervisor of the Otamauri playcentre, which is run by mothers from the Waiwhare, Otamauri and Sherenden.
The playcentre operates every Monday.
The assistant teacher is Mrs Sue Munroe [Munro], who is in her second year at the school.
Mrs Munroe travels daily from Havelock North to teach at Waiwhare – a 50-minute journey each way.
Mrs Munroe teaches new entrants and children up to standard one.
Mr Wallis teaches from standard two to form two, but this year he has no form two children.
The division of classes, which is usual in a two-teacher school, means that at this time of the year Mrs Munroe has only six children to teach and Mr Wallis has 12.
Mrs Munroe takes four year ones, one year two and one standard one.
In the senior class there are four in standard two, four in standard three, one in standard four and three in form one.
The school has most of the equipment available to city schools. It has a well stocked library which is boosted by books borrowed from the National Exchange Library every six months.
Mr Wallis said the school was fortunate in having most of the audio-visual equipment that large schools have.
“We only have to share the equipment between two classes. At larger schools a roster system is needed to give all the classes a chance to use it.”
The equipment includes slide, film and overhead projectors, tape and cassette recorders and earphones for the cassette recorder.
Mr Wallis said that in a multi-class situation, the earphones were ideal because they can be used to keep one child busy without disturbing the others.
“It was a novelty at first but they accept it quite well now and knuckle down to work,” he said.
Mr Wallis said the school has a wide variety of reading texts and the maths equipment was quite satisfactory.
The school also has plenty of art equipment. In fact, Mr Wallis is “almost embarrassed” by the large amount of art paper he has got.
The art equipment includes linocut equipment and clay for modelling.
The only area in which Mr Wallis would like to see more equipment is in sport but for the present school roll, the amount of gear is satisfactory, he said.
With some money from the Waiwhare school committee he has recently bought a “swingball” game for the school.
He said that in a bigger school, games like this would not be practical. In a school the size of Waiwhare there would not be so much demand put on it.
A golf putting green is also being funded and made by the school committee.
Sport is the main area in which small schools suffer because of the shortage of numbers to make up teams, and because there is less competition from other schools.
Waiwhare pupils play sport as a school, and Mr Wallis has to find games that aren’t too easy for the older children but are easy enough for the younger ones.
Favourite games are pegball, skittles, cricket and the pupils’ own version of rounders.
The children also make up their own games. One of the most popular is bowling a small ball into a hoop about 20 metres away. Points are scored for how near the ball is to the hoop. It is played in teams.
The children are given instruction in games such as netball, soccer and rugby.
Mrs Wallis and other mothers help to coach the girls in netball.
Again the differences in size and the shortage of numbers makes it difficult for the school to field a team.
When the children play sport with other schools the schools integrate so children can get an idea of what the game is about.
The country schools in the area occasionally get together for sports competitions. Waiwhare holds swimming sports with Sherenden, Otamauri, Crownthorpe and Pukehou schools.
Pupils annually go to an athletics day held at the Matapiro domain.
The school belongs to the Hastings and District Primary School Sports Association and competes in the summer, winter and athletic sports competitions in Hastings.
Mr Wallis said he usually only sends the more skilled children to these competitions because the less-skilled may be eliminated early and it is a long day for those waiting on others to finish.
“We have a fair measure of success at these,” Mr Wallis said.
Waiwhare school also makes occasional day trips into Hastings and Napier. Last year the children visited the fire and police stations, a tannery and a science fair.
Quite often on these trips the children buy their lunch in town – a novelty for them.
Mr Wallis said there were four ways to teach at a school the size of Waiwhare: to an individual, a separate class, all the classes in the room or the whole school.
The school often has theme weeks which involve all the children.
One project the children did a lot of work on last year was on health. This included a fitness and swimming programme.
On Tuesday mornings the children are taught “leisurecraft.” This involves learning cultural hobbies such as cooking, macrame and art.
Mr Wallis said both boys and girls learn whatever is on the programme. There is no sex segregation.
Parents are greatly involved in this programme [and] are often brought in to teach a skill.
One leisurecraft period was
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