School celebrates centenary
Staff reporter, Hastings
February 4, 1895 dawned bright and sunny over Pakowhai.
For 27 children of the district it was a special day. They were going to their own school for the ﬁrst time and there were no swollen creeks or rivers to keep them at home.
Many of them had been walking or riding their horses ﬁve miles to school at Taradale. Now the Hawke’s Bay Education Board had agreed to establish a school on three acres given by Mr John Grant, owner of a greater part of the district.
But until a new school could be built, classes would be in the men’s dining room at Mr George Bee’s Oakleigh Station. That dining room still exists. It is now in the centre of Kevin Caney’s house, having been built around by various later owners.
The school’s equipment on that ﬁrst day was listed as being “A blackboard, maps, two globes and inkwells.”
But there was obvious frustration in this entry on February 6
“Pupils not having the proper books, the school is not yet in good working order.”
It was common for attendances to be low during wet weather and the many ﬂoods which occured, according to the school’s ﬁrst record book, as Sue Averill found during her work as organiser of the school’s centenary at the weekend.
“Before the two bridges were built at Pakowhai in 1897 the district was without direct access to Hastings and getting to school was obviously a problem as a common entry was, “Wet weather, attendance down,” she said.
According to a booklet published to mark the school’s golden jubilee in 1945, the opening of the school was a rare festive occasion for the district. A concert and a dance were held and the dance lasted until daybreak.
“Mr Charles Price, the veteran newspaper man of the Hawke’s Bay Herald walked out from Napier to report the function, afterward walking back to Napier.”
Just two months later a school had been built and pupils moved in on April 8.
An addition of two more rooms and a scullery went on two years later and a residence built for the mistress in charge, Miss M. A. Balfour.
“The remains of that original building still stand on Whitfield’s orchard property on Pakowhai Rd and during the centenary we have organised a cross-country walk and talk over the route of the school’s cross country run of the past,” said Sue.
The present school was built in 1970.
Six past pupils of the school will be among the 200 who have registered for the centenary.
They are: Don Alexander, 1965-67; Tony Blake, 1970-1986; John Clothier, 1987-1989; Alan Maconald [MacDonald], 1989-1993; Sandra Locke, 1993-.
The oldest pupil attending is Mollie Howard, nee McCutcheon who was at Pakowhai school between 1914 and 1917.
The youngest is Charlotte Braithwaite whose mother Jenny, was also a pupil. Mrs Howard and Charlotte will cut the cake together.
Today the school has a roll of 38. The highest number on the roll at the school was around 200 during the 70s when it went from primer 1 to form 2. Pupils now leave after standard 4 when they attend intermediate schools.
Sue says it is interesting that a school which had a woman as its ﬁrst principal has, 100 years later, another woman in charge.
The centenary celebration programme begins with a wine and cheese evening at the school.
On Saturday after the welcome, decade photos will be taken and past principals will speak before the cutting of a cake and the release of hundreds of balloons in the school’s colours of red and green.
During the afternoon entertainment will be provided by present pupils and at night there is a dinner at the Angus Inn, Hastings.
A centennial church service will be held on Sunday, followed by tree-planting and the unveiling of a plaque. A cross-country walk and talk will be held along the course of the school’s traditional cross-country run before the midday farewell.
Photo caption – The school on March 19, 1913, when Mr G.M. Piper was headmaster. The two-room addition of 1897 can be seen on the left.