Classrooms full of fond memories
LAURIE SCOTT took up teaching after the war and taught generations of the Bay’s youngsters.
Following World War 2 in 1945, I reported to the secretary of the Hawke’s Bay Education Board and was informed that I was entitled to three months retraining at Wellington Teachers’ Training College but that three months in a Hawke’s Bay classroom would be more valuable.
As a result, I went to Hastings West School (now Raureka), where the headmaster, Raymond Short, also taught a Standard 4 class.
It was a wise decision. Before the three months was over, a young lady teacher left to get married and the position was advertised in the Education Gazette. I was lucky and was soon teaching a Standard 2 class.
That year we went to Napier by train for the school picnic. It was great to see the whole school walking along Emerson Street to the railway station.
From 1946 to 1948 Phil Osborne was head and he said at the end of 1946, “I don’t know what I am going to do next year. Another man is coming out of the army and all I have available is an infant class.”
“Can I have the infant class next year?” I asked.
It was a wonderful year. One little fellow, Peter, used to arrive periodically without his reading book. As he lived almost next door to the school, I used to send him home to get it.
During the springtime he always arrived back with a bunch of daffodils as well. I never asked him where he found them.
The inspectors told me, “If you can teach infants, you can teach any class.”
I was somewhat amazed to notice that I was paid £26 a month, which was less than I had been paid as a sergeant in the air force, with flying pay.
In 1947 George Lowe became our probationary assistant. He practised high kicks in the tiny staff room at morning tea-time in preparation for his mountain climbing.
Jimmy Connor became headmaster in 1948 and school picnics were held at the Hawke’s Bay Showgrounds.
While I was teaching Standard 4, after four years at Raureka, I applied for and was granted the position of first assistant at Marewa School, in Napier.
The headmaster, Mr Blennerhasett [Blennerhassett], was great. We had our school picnics at Eskdale Park and I used to drive there the afternoon before to mark the lines for the races. The school always travelled by train but I drove there by car in case of emergencies.
Luckily I did, for one year a lady broke a bottle while opening it and cut her leg rather badly. We had a first aid kit but I was able to drive her to the Napier Hospital.
Each year the nature study and science man, Mr Hurdsfield (or Hurdie) used to visit our school. He looked at our weather chart one year and said, “Which direction is north?”
The children all pointed at the ceiling.
He asked the same question next year, but they all pointed in the right direction.
“Well done,” he remarked.
By 1952 the school roll had increased and new rooms had been added to the building. My job was advertised and I was transferred with the same pay, as second assistant, to Havelock North School.
My first year was spent in a prefab room but when the new school was completed, it was taken over by the infant mistress, and I had a large room in the old school, the nearest one to the village.
The community centre is there now, but what a shame! That building was pure history, even with curves in the doorsteps.
Jim Meffan was the headmaster and his wife was the infant mistress. I always loved that room, which I had for the next 11 years. There was a stove on the floor and a long cupboard with glass panels in the doors.
When Jim Meffan retired, Mr Robertson (Robbie) took over. One day he came down to the lower staffroom with a large carton containing old school log books and registers.
“I’ve just cleaned out my cupboards and this lot is to be burnt.”
“But that is history,” I told him after a glance.
“Keep it, if you want it,” he replied.
After reading an early log book I learned that education in Havelock North had been started by the Chambers family in 1863.
When Bert Curnow started as head in 1961, I told him that the school had never had a jubilee and that a centennial would be due in two years time. He immediately called a meeting of parents and a committee was elected to get things under way.
“Will you write a centennial booklet?” Bert asked me.
With the log books and using a school tape recorder I was able to interview ex-pupils to gain information about their experiences in the school. The book was ready in time for the centennial.
Max Liley had a prefab room next door to the staff room. One lunchtime a boy dashed up saying, “Mr Liley, there is a fire in the ceiling of your room.”
We dashed over and noticed that a metal chimney had fallen against the hole in the pinex ceiling, which was smouldering.
“Don’t worry,” I said, “I’ll get a ladder.”
But the caretaker’s shed was locked. I decided to get the fire extinguisher from the main building and was strolling over to get it when an acting headmaster, Mr Wilton, called out something. I stopped to hear what he was shouting.
“Run, Mr Scott, run,” he urged.
I came back with the extinguisher but it had not been checked for years and would not work.
Max put a chair on a table and finally pushed the chimney away from the pinex.
One sports afternoon I took my senior rugby team to play at Hereworth. After tackling one of our players, a Hereworth boy would help him up and say, “Sorry old chap.” My boys adopted this idea from then onward.
Each year I used to go to the Hawke’s Bay showgrounds to help organise seating arrangements on the grandstand.
Paddy Burke from Mayfair, used to say, “We’ll place Mayfair and Havelock North in the centre so that they can see the finish line.”
Two other schools were placed at opposite ends because they were always fighting each other.
In the summer time, most of my lunchtime was spent at the Havelock North swimming baths.
Then, in 1964, Bert Curnow suggested that I should apply for a promotion and that I was certain to get the position of deputy principal at Mayfair School. I sent in my application and was lucky.
When I arrived I found that the principal was an “old” acquaintance from my training college days, Frank Bacon.
Being very interested in social studies, several of my Standard 4 classes went on visits to the Hawke’s Bay Museum or went on visits to the old pa site at Otatara, near Taradale. Here we found hollows where huts had been, the chiefs’ huts being on the side of the hill sheltered from the weather. We were given detailed information by Bill, a friend from Whakatu, who was known by all the pas in Hawke’s Bay.
There are paths around the hillside and in the banks are the ashes and bones from ancient cooking hangi.
When I saw that the principal’s job at Havelock North was being advertised, I told Frank.
“I like Mayfair,” he said.
“Well, I’ve just left Havelock North,” I said, “and the youngsters are also wonderful there. It is also a grade 4 school.
Frank sent in his application and next year Ian Talbot became principal at Mayfair. The school hall had just been completed and proved to be a valuable asset for the school.
Each year my Standard 4 class had a pet parade for the whole school to observe and what a variety of lovely pets were brought along. One boy brought his pigeons, which he could let fly home by themselves.
In 1976 Ian Talbot spent a year as relieving principal at Havelock North School and I was acting principal for the year. That was the year of the school’s 25th jubilee and I wrote the jubilee booklet.
Oscar Benson was principal during 1975-76, followed by Allan Kingston in 1977 and 1979. As part of Allan’s time was spent in hospital, I was once again acting principal, for over a year. Doug Crofskey took over the school in 1980.
Ian Talbot had shown me how to play bowls at Kia Toa – but I did not join the club. I saw him when he was dying and he murmured, “you didn’t come back to play bowls”.
I joined that weekend.
One day the Kia Toa secretary, Ted Godber, said, “I want to finish as secretary, but I will keep going for one more year if you can take it on.”I rang the Education Board and asked if I could resign in May, 1981. “You have 300 unused sick leave days – so you certainly may,” was the reply.
One day just before then a friend rang and said “How about playing for me today at Wairere?”
“I can’t,” I said, “I have a class to teach.”
“Tell the school you have the flu,” he answered.
I rang and told the school secretary. Two weeks later my friend rang again. I contacted the school and Doug Crofskey answered.
“The flu has come back!” I croaked.
“Enjoy the bowls,” he laughed.
Photo captions –
YOUNG PILOT: Laurie in his air force uniform, beside a Tiger Moth, at Harewood Flying School, Christchurch, in 1943.
ARMY MAN: Laurie Scott in 1941, wearing his army uniform at Woodville.
MIGHTY MIDGETS: The Midget Rugby Team 1955, with coach Laurie Scott, in Havelock North.
SCHOOL PHOTO: Laurie Scott, acting principal, in centre with school staff at Mayfair School in 1980.
FAMILY HOME: Laurie Scott with his mother Annie in 1973, outside their Queen St East home where she lived for 70 years.
MEMORIES: Laurie Scott lives at Eversley Elder Care today.
HBTODAY PICTURE: DUNCAN BROWN