Pakowhai School Centenary 1895-1995


100 Years

100 Years ago, in a small rural settlement between Napier and Hastings, a school was born.
It was named “PAKOWHAI” SCHOOL
And this year, Easter “1995” is it’s centennial

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Friday 14 April 1995
7.30pm  Wine and Cheese at Pakowhai School
Welcome Mrs S Averill
Speakers Mr A MacDonald, Mr B Hawkins

Saturday 15 April 1995
Chairman B.O.T. Mr T Southward
9.00am  Welcome M.C. Mr A Blake
Principal Mrs S Locke and children
9.30 -11.30am  Photos in decades
Morning tea
11.30am  Speakers Mr W Blakie (Principal at 50th Jubilee)
Cutting of the cake (oldest pupil Mrs M Howard attended 1914) (Youngest Charlotte Braithwaite).

Lunch – Sausage sizzle
Thank you by Kate Hawkins
1.00pm  Present pupils entertain
Mix and Mingle follows
Afternoon-tea Lolly Scramble
Extra entertainment Helicopter rides.
Vintage cars and tractors on display.

Saturday 15 April 1995
7.30pm  Angus Inn, Railway Road, Hastings
Speakers M.C Mrs S. Locke   Mr D Whitfield
Mr J Clothier   Melody and Coralie (nee Whitfield)
Mr D. Alexander   Mr Blake

8.00 Dinner

Sunday 16 April 1995   Centennial Service
10.30am  Tree-planting and Plaque unveiling
10.45am  Cross Country Walk and Talk (or run for the more energetic)
Suitable footwear required !!!
Hot Cross Buns for Morning-tea
Midday Farewell

Raffle-tickets on sale Friday and Saturday ($1.00) – Drawn Saturday-night
Centennial mementos will be available all weekend
There will also be a book-display, should you wish to donate a book to the School Library.

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“There is no light comparable to the kindly light of truth, knowledge and wisdom”

One hundred years of effort is now the record of our school and in the celebration of its centenary it can proudly look back on an achievement that can rightly be termed as worthwhile. It has been well said, “Education begins from the cradle and ends only in the grave.” The years spent in school are but the apprenticeship; the time when the scholar learns to handle the tools which he must use in the life-long search for knowledge.

While they may bring back pleasant memories, “the Good Old Days,” as they are frequently called, were often strenuous and hardship-laden, but persistent effort had it’s reward. It is well to remember that in 1895, when the school was opened, there were no such wonders as wireless, radio or cinema, while aeroplanes and submarines were confined to Jules Verne’ s wonder-stories.

The first entry in the original logbook states that the school equipment consisted of one blackboard, maps, two globes, inkwells and reading lesson cards.

What a difference now in the light of rapid technological change when we see computers, tape recorders, calculators, a fax machine, photocopier, television set and video as being part of our school’s basic equipment.

Over a hundred years we have seen improved teaching methods, more innovative teaching strategies, attention to individual learning needs and now the gradual introduction of a new national curriculum. These factors have contributed to an improved learning environment for the children of our district. Today as it starts on the threshold of a second century of life, Pakowhai school looks back with pride but turns to face the future with strength and confidence.

Sandra Locke
Pakowhai School 1995


When Grandad said his tables through
Pakowhai school was small and new
Instead of three rooms – just one – 100 years ago.

Grandmother did the same course
she rode to school on an old grey horse
Or else came barefoot through the gorse –  walking very slow.

They wrote their sums upon a slate
They got the strap when they were late
In class they sat up very straight – and answered yes or no.

Girls weren’t supposed to make a noise
They didn’t have so many toys
They never played with boys unless the teacher said so.

They rode in carts, we ride in trains
But watch the sky for new jet planes
and Grandad had to use his brains – just the same you know.

Though Grandma never saw a bus
She dressed her dolls and made a fuss
And went to parties just like us – with candles in a row.

Though we are not very tall
We’ve come along to meet you all
And help to celebrate with you – so now we’ll curtsey low.

We like our homes, we like our school
We like our teachers as a rule
And after all – we are the school –
We’re the reason for the show.

Adapted from a poem by James K Baxter (Recited by present pupil Olivia Park)

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PAKOWHAI: The Kowhai Pa

Paraia built a pa here at a very early date when he came over the bay and up the Ngaruroro. It had a whare runanga called Heretaunga which was believed to have come from the important Heretaunga pa.

In 1850 it was the home of the chief Puhara and the site of the first Catholic mission in Hawke’s Bay. The chief took the French missionaries under his protection when they arrived in 1850 and he gave them the use of a piece of land on the Farndon side of what is now Chesterhope Bridge. The last trace of the mission is still to be seen at the time of writing – two old walnut trees inside the stopbank and surrounded by rubble and stones from the bridge work.

The mission flourished at Pakowhai and the Brothers laid out vineyards and cultivations, taught and nursed the people of the pa and taught them the ways of profitable farming. They also provided a way-station for travellers across the plains. All this came to an end in 1857 (9 Dec) when Puhara was killed in the inter-tribal battle near Whakatu. His people were forced to take up their dead and move away, leaving the pa to Karaitiana’s people. The missionaries also had to leave and they moved across the river to Meeanee where they re-established their mission.

In the 1860’s and 1870’s Pakowhai pa had many fine houses “equal to any in Queen Street, Auckland”, a church, an accommodation house and a newspaper office. The pa was abandoned after a series of serious floods culminating in those of 1893 and 1897. Its people made a new home at Waipatu on the Karamu Reserve. Karaitiana and his brother were buried at Pakowhai and there they remained while their half-brothers were buried at the new pa at Waipatu.

From records it appears opportunities for education have been in our area for nearly one hundred and fifty years.

In 1850 the Catholic Mission, down the present day Farndon Road established a school which closed later around 1857 with the death of Puhara.

In the 1870’s a school possibly on the same site “200 yards from the Ngaruroro river, and one mile from the junction of the Ngaruroro and Tutaekuri river” was established.

This position was taken from the diary of W F Browne Schoolmaster and supplied by his great grand daughter Janice Edwards.

This could be what was known as the Pakowhai Native School.

1875 records show E Bissell was the teacher of the Pakowhai Native School with a roll of 21 boys and 9 girls in the September quarter.

The above diary mentions the re-opening of the school Thursday 27th October 1881 with 6 Maori children. March 1882 showed a nominal roll of 20 and after recruitment problems and flooding, the school was finally closed August 1883.

Excerpts included.

I am not sure how long the school had been closed prior to 1881 as his diary mentions the school and residence “in a most filthy condition, also the grounds. The School had been used at different seasons as a granary, and as a barn – grass seed in bulk having been stored in it, and last but not least as a calf pen. The whole of the ground in front of the school was a wet swamp and cow dung etc was fully two foot thick.”

June 1882: during floods Mr Browne writes “This school is so situated that it is very liable to be damaged by any floods. It is only 80 yards distant from the Ngaruroro which is always dangerous in time of flood. The whole of the back of the school building faces the Ngaruroro on the southern side and the side of the house presents a face to the Tutaekuri river on the western side being about 250 yards distant. (Tutaekuri/ Waimate Stream)

The next link with education in our district began an unimpeded century as recorded in the log book, Pakowhai Public School dated February 4th 1895. This was in the dining room at Oakleigh, owned by Mr George Bee, with a roll of 27 pupils, and headmistress Miss Balfour. April 5th was the opening of the new school, celebrated by a half-day holiday, a concert and a dance.

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Prior to this a number of children were taking a five mile walk to and from Taradale School.

Mr Grant gave the present site of 3 acres, the highest bit of land in the district, which has never had the floods over it. Some past pupils have memories of staying in the school when all around it has been flooded. Until the stopbanks were improved, and the overflow operational, the state of the river and the weather seemed very much a community concern throughout the logbooks.

School Children dressed for Centenary 1995

Back Row
Principal Mrs S Locke, Trampus Annan, Hannah Southward, Adam Holst, Angela Mahoney, Evan Sykes, Rachel June, Geoffrey Heays, Brian McPhail, Olivia Park, Callum Mullins, Monique Gore, Karl Andersen, Mrs Paul

Mark Reid, Michael Sixtus, Vernon June, Robbie Sixtus, Sam Blackmore, Shaun Holst, Cole Sixtus, Hayden Mullins, Derek Irwin, Kurt Reid, Nick Clarke, Cameron Smith, Nikita Woodford.

Sophie Gregory, Sarah Averill, Jennifer Crawley, Harriet Gregory, Samantha Abbott. Larissa Irwin, Louise Smith, Teri-Lee Neilson, Anna Blackmore, Jessica Baldock, Misty Karaitiana

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1895 saw the opening of the school in the dining room at Oakleigh. Later (April 5th 1895) the new school was opened.

The School 1945 as it was for the 50th Jubilee.

This was demolished 1969 when the “new school” was built, in time for the 75th Jubilee

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1973   A new classroom was added to the school as, although it became a contributing school in 1970, the roll continued to grow, necessitating a 3rd teacher in Term 2 of 1973. Term 3 1974 opened with 81 pupils.

In March 1982 the Pakowhai School library was opened, and it was to this library that all those kindly donated books were added in 1995 our centennial year.

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School Teaching Staff

Head Teachers

Miss M A Balfour ……………..1895-1900
Miss E Moore ………………….1900-1906
Mr H L Wilson …………………1906-1912
Mr G M Piper ………………….1912-1919
Mr J E Patrick ………………….1920-1927
Mr E Webster ………………….1927-1931
Mr A A Brown …………………1931-1938
Mr J Cowan …………………….1938-1942
Miss M Stephens ……………..1942-1944
Miss D D de Montalk ……………….1944
Miss R Benson ……………………….1944
Mr W Blakie ………………………….1945
Mr Manning ……………………1946-1951
Mr K Riggs ……………………………1951
Mrs E M Rose …………………1951-1956
Mr Herbert ……………………1957-1961
Mr A Welsh …………………………..1961
Mr M F Bradley ………………1961-1964
Mr D Alexander ……………..1964-1967
Mr N J Bartle …………………………1967
Mr H Frost …………………….1968-1970
Mr A Collins ………………………….1970
Mr A Blake ……………………1970-1987
Mr J Clothier ………………….1987-1989
Mr A MacDonald …………….1989-1993
Mr T Brown ………………………….1993
Mrs S Locke ………………………….1993-

Miss N O’Rourke …………….1901-1902
Miss Avison …………………..1902-1904
Miss Soundy ………………….1904-1905
Miss E Webb ………………………..1905
Miss G Westmoreland ……..1906-1913
Miss E Janett …………………1913-1917
Miss E Ingleton ……………..1917-1920
Miss Brittain …………………1920-1923
Miss M Moore ……………….1924-1926
Miss Lankovski …………………….1927
Miss S Fraser ……………….1927-1930
Miss D Ridgeway …………..1930-1931
Miss L T Hiskins …………….1931-1933
Miss I Greenfield …………………..1933
Miss C T Organ ……………..1933-1936
Miss E M Ridgeway ………..1936-1937
Miss N Strandbeck …………1938-1940
Miss K Tate ………………….1940-1941
Miss E M Purnell ……………1941-1943
Miss M Evernden ………………….1943-
Miss Newing ………………………..1946
Miss D A Birks ……………………..1946
Miss Douglas ……………………….1947
Miss R Campbell …………………..1949
Mrs S L Paul ………………………..1949
Miss J E Clayton ……………………1949
Miss B Upchurch …………………..1950
Miss V Watkins …………………….1951
Miss Wilkins ………………………..1952
Miss Cody ……………………1953-1955
Miss I Olsson ……………………….1956
Miss J Day …………………………..1957
Miss Erricsen ……………………….1958
Miss Webb ………………………….1959
Miss M Jack …………………………1960
Miss J M Colby ……………………..1961
Miss E Gilligan ………………1962-1964
Miss E J McKenzie …………..1964-1967
Miss Lovell ………………………….1968
Miss B Henderson ………….1969-1970
Mrs Crooks ………………………….1970
Miss J Findlay ………………..1971-1972
Mrs H Watson ……………….1973-1975
Mrs C Parkes ……………………….1973
Mr Leach ……………………..1974-1975
Mrs J Finny ……………………1976-1980
*Mrs V Paul ………………1976- present
Mrs P Shepherd ……………..1980-1981
Miss G Mercer ……………….1981-1985
Mrs J Williams ……………….1985-1986

Teachers Aides (Begin. Oct 1969)
Mrs J Frost …………………………….1970
Miss R Lisette ………………………..1970
Mrs R Arrell ……………………1971-1972
Mrs Blake ………………………1972-1977
Mrs Liddell …………………………….1978
Mrs R Stocker …………………1979-1984
Mrs H Cheyne (Secretary).1985-present

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Mr J Clothier, Mr A MaDonald [McDonald], Mr D Alexander, Mr T Blake, Mrs S Locke, Mr W Blakie
Principals (Headteachers)


Margaret (Crawford) King, Mrs Heather Watson, Tony Blake, Ray Mettrick, Alan MacDonald, Don Alexander, Beryl (Upchurch) Paulin
Mrs May White (Miss Moore), Jonathan Leach, John Clothier. Walter Blakie, Sandra Locke. Heather Cheyne, Val Paul.

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Memories of the Pakowhai School

By Harry Bourke (abridged)

(listed as attended ‘later’ than 1895)

My first memory of the school is when it was held in the Pakowhai Homestead, then owned by Mr George Bee, and taught by Miss Balfour. I was not then of school age. Later the school was built at its present site. In those days we had quite a comprehensive education. I remember cadet corps, Sunday school classes, singing and dancing as well as the ordinary subjects.

I remember cadet company complete with wooden rifles and Mr Mossman conducting the Sunday School classes.

One incident which springs to mind concerned a pupil, Henry Fourneau, being ordered out by Miss Balfour to get the strap. He climbed out of the window instead. She tried to pull him back, but didn’t succeed. She then asked a couple of us bigger boys to chase him and bring him back. There was nothing doing – I think there was a little of the rebel in most of us, even at that early age. The last we saw of Henry he was streaking along the road, bound for home.

Miss Moore was the next mistress. One of her singing lessons sticks in mind. She lined us all up around the piano, and played while we sang the song ‘The Minstrel Boy.’ Halfway through she stopped. “Who is that singing flat? All the others looked at me. I was highly indignant. I thought I was doing the Minstrel Boy credit, but she asked me to go and weed the garden till the singing lesson was finished.

The Boer War was on at the time, and everyone was singing “Goodbye Dolly Gray”.

My sister Dora and I had a long walk to school. One cold morning we were on our way, all upset because we knew we were late and knew we would get a good growling. However just before we reached the school, we met the kids coming out, on their way home. They told us Mafeking had been relieved. A holiday for everyone!

At one social and dance in Miss Balfour‘s time, Uncle George told 2 or 3 of us boys to catch her horse and harness it to her gig. This we did. We lit the lamps, and saw her safely on her way.

A little later, one of the patrons couldn’t find his horse.

An inquiry proved that we had harnessed it to Miss Balfours gig, and he said it had never been in harness before. Anyway she must have arrived home safely, and the horses were swapped the next day.

One big day in the school year was the visit by the inspector of schools, Mr Henry Hill. On the day he was due, one boy was posted at the crossroads to give the signal that his gig was approaching. He was very popular and would tell us stories, and read out the examination results. We were all trained to stand up and answer “Good Morning Mr Hill”

Excerpt from: Inspectors Report 1897
Examined August 18 1897
School Papakura
Mistress Miss Balfour
Roll 42, Present 40, Passed 31

REMARKS: This is a well taught and successful school. Out of a roll of 42 pupils, 31 have succeeded in passing the requirements and most with credit. Two of the pupils are somewhat weak. . . but their answering in oral tests was intelligent and the style of their exercise work good, and as they are somewhat old, I have passed them on as incentive to improve their position. . . The general style of work is good and a capital tone pervades the entire management. H. Hill (Inspector of Schools)

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Back: Doris (White) Palmer, Charlotte (Piper) Furlong, John Parker

Front: Ronald Sutton, John Gilbertson, Molly Howard (McCutcheon)

Lorna (White) Cawston, Dulcie Clark (McLeod)

“I Remember When I was Four”

I remember when I was four years old I used to go across to the school when my father had gone into class. I would go to the other teacher’s room and jump up to look through the glass in the door. One of the children would let me in. The teacher would sit me at a desk at the back of the room to draw and to write. It was through these means I learned to read and write at an early age. When my father came in I would hide under the desk and the class would laugh. He would take me home, kicking and crying. The next day I would do it all over again.

At lunch time I would go and play “Hide and Seek” under the willow trees. Unbeknown to me the magpies were nesting in the trees. One day when I was hiding there a magpie flew down and pecked my head and made it bleed. Again I left school crying. I remember that my father got his pupils to grow peanuts at school and in the winter time it would flood below the school.

My Father was George Piper, the Headmaster.
1912 – 1919
Charlotte Furlong (nee Piper)

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Jim Crawford, Don Brunton, Bill Lowe, Ron Lissette, Lewis McCann, John McCormick, Roy Stanford

Dick Lissette, Ella Bayes (Powell), Rena Julian (Powell, Ian Perkins, Tim Fourneau, Mavis Sim (Hunt), Elaine Brooking (Gabrielson)

Mrs May White (Miss Moore), Winnie Sutton (Thompson), Margaret Wrenn (McCormick), Margaret (Crawford) King, Jean Gibson (McDonald), Maureen Coker (McCann), Ruth Brown (Lissette), Pearl Davey


One anecdote I can remember humiliated me no end. I would have been around 11 or 12 years old. I was usually found playing rough games with the boys. One called “King King Pene” (I think) now-a-day’s called Bullrush.

This particular day the boys had me down on the ground. I was kicking and struggling to get away, with my dress over my head and showing my black sateen bloomers in all their glory. Who cared? Then the Headmaster Mr Brown came out from his house and shouted at me, “Get up girl. You’re abominable showing your bloomers!”

Horribly chastened I did a disappearing act very quickly.

Eline Gabrielsen
Mrs E Brooking (1928)

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1930 -39

Percy Collinge, Noel Allen, Derek Whyte, Bob Lowe, Max Lisette

Row 2  Charlie McCormack, Norman Pearce, Audry (Semmens) Brian, Audrey Robinson, Marjorie (Lowe) McKeown, Hazel (Lowe) Tong.

Front Row.  Claire (Knowles) Brooker, Daphne Lowe, Greta Godfrey, Lorna Billington, Gwen Collinge, Molly McCormack, Anne (Wilson) Godfrey, Lois (Bartle) Moffitt.

Memories of Pakowhai School 1937 -1944

The Fancy Dress School Ball was the highlight of the year. For weeks beforehand we would practise dances such as “Sir Roger DeCoverley” & “The Grand Old Duke of York”. The fruit salad was mixed in a baby’s bath.

My favourite teachers were: Mr John Cowan & Miss Norah Strandbeck. Others I remember were Mr Brown, Miss Purnell, Miss Dorothea De Montalk, Miss K Tate (or Tait) & Miss M Stephens. The latter 3 were all relieving teachers.

One of our favourite games was “Bull Rush.” Nearly the whole school would take part.

Sometimes the Billington children (they lived near the Brookfields Bridge) would ride a horse to school. The horse was put in the paddock behind the school house. Some of us tried to ride it.

Once a week Canon Hodge (from Taradale) would come to give us Scripture lessons. Most of us envied the Roman Catholics, who went outside to play. A priest used to come to take them only occasionally.

In the winter months, we used to have a cup of hot cocoa at morning interval.

Once we went on a picnic to Windsor Park – before we had our own swimming pool. For many years Mr Walter Sykes (John & Margarets father) was Chairman of the school committee.

We used to go by bus to the Dental Clinic in Karamu Road, Hastings. I would try to be one of the first to see the Dental Nurse. Then I would have the rest of the day to play.

Claire Knowles (now Brooker)

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I have a few scattered memories which may be of value to you. Our recollection of very early days are rather dim but I can recall being taken to school by gig driven by my mother. Later, walking with my brother Bernie, we were overtaken by brother Gordon racing fast on his pony.

I can recall being scared stiff as a pillion-rider, while being given a well-meaning lift by a friend of the family – driving a Harley Davidson Motorcycle.

I remember the rugby-games when Lofty Maftka kicked goals with bare feet – of playing tennis against Twyford School and being beaten easily by a girl – much to my chagrin.

Life in the School playground was a little disconcerting especially as Tom Ramsay seemed to enjoy aggravating me by pinching my hat. However, we must have become reconciled when joining together in debating over the sensibility of sites for Napier and Hastings Hospitals. I can remember that the Kendals who owned the next door property were the target of torment – when the boy Whelan was heavily punished for using the F- word during lunchtime.

I remember Bill Thompson’s defiance of the headmaster by stating he had a handle to his name! Schoolwork was reasonably enjoyable especially when Mr Brown introduced a more relaxed type of teaching. I resented Headmaster Webster pulling my hair when failing to grasp the impact of his teaching. I remember Leslie Lisette being always top of the class and myself vying with Ruth, his sister for second place.

I recall sporting a black eye at the School Ball as a result of running full tilt into a form shifted by an adult for the occasion. The worst was the fancy dress. I wore a costume borrowed from a cousin ½ – ½ Bride and Groom. I can’t remember which one suffered the indignity.

The most indelible impression was the 1931 Earthquake with its horrifying noise and upheaval and damage – of the teacher calming our fears and warning us not to venture down the back paddock where fissures had opened on the slopes.

Roy Stanford 1930-1939

Reading in a book “History of the County of Hawkes Bay” about Mr George Bee, I found he was a member for the Meeanee Riding 1896-1899. He owned property at Pakowhai, in the area of the block before the store, at the Taradale end.

It stated that the school for the Pakowhai children was in the Grain Shed on the Oakleigh Property. This was before the Pakowhai School was opened.

In 1882 W. Franklin Browne taught the native School in Pakowhai and witnessed the flood.

My grandfather, James Patrick, was Headmaster starting in 1925 (approx.) When retired he lived in Pakowhai until his death in 1949.

I remember the hole being dug for the Baths in 1940. It was a very exciting time for the district.

A Carnival was held to raise money. Several local girls were Queens of different things. Mary Ramsay – School Queen, Molly  McCormack – Sports Queen. However I can not remember all of them. It was a great experience.

At the school on Guy Fawkes Night a huge bonfire was held. All the people came from around the district and they brought their own supplies of fireworks. Darkness seemed a long time in coming on those nights. On one particular night a certain pupil lit the bonfire before anyone arrived. All we had left were embers. The pupil wasn’t that popular as you can guess. Mr John Cowan was head master at that time. A very nice man he was, who helped and understood all the children’s needs.

Miss Nora Strandbeck was a teacher in my early days. She travelled from Napier which was quite a feat in her little Austin Big 7, as the roads were not tar-sealed then. Till this day I remember her for her kindness. She was our Basketball Trainer. Children ranging from 9 years to 14 years were in the team, as there were only 38 children in the whole school. We

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seemed to be a happy lot of kids then.

I remember having singing lessons as we stood by the dividing doors that separated the rooms. This day we were singing quite merrily when we heard this squeak. A Chinese boy had seen a mouse sneak by so he trod on it. There was great laughter.

Milk was given to schools then. The pupils took turns in making cocoa on winter days.

These are just a few of my good memories.

Anne Bicknell (nee Wilson)

Mr John Cowan was the Headmaster at the School for most of the time I was there which was from 1936 until mid 1941. My parents Mr and Mrs H C Russell were on the School Committee when the Pakowhai School baths were built. They worked hard with other parents to raise money for the baths. I remember learning to swim under the tuition of Mr Cowan soon after the baths were built. He was a great teacher in all ways. I have many happy memories of my time at this school. Everyone knew everyone and in the main we all got on very well. About the time I started at Pakowhai School, I had to walk from Hodgsons Road where we lived then to the school which was fair way for a youngster, especially on cold and wet days. The Pakowhai Road was being tarsealed. When I turned eight my Father bought me a bike and once I had mastered the art of riding I rode to school, which made a big difference. Many times after school however, I used to ride backwards and forwards giving some of my friends a double home. I don’t think my parents appreciated that very much. I also attended Sunday School at the Pakowhai Hall which was situated on the opposite side of the road then, towards the Hastings side. A Mr Robinson taught us our Sunday School lessons. (All denominations.) He and his wife and two daughters lived next to the hall at that time. In fact they were great friends of my parents as were many others. I always looked forward to Sunday School. He made it all so interesting.

Dental clinic days were a highlight for Pakowhai School children those days. We were brought in by private car to the Central School Clinic in groups of half a dozen or so at a time and spent most of the day at the clinic, taking it in turns to have our teeth seen to. A big sigh of relief when our turn was over. We could settle down to play then. We had a lot of (snail) races as I recall. We thought it great fun. It didn’t take much to keep small children occupied in those days.

At times the school choir sang at the Municipal Theatre in Hastings along with a lot of pupils from other schools. I was fortunate to take part in this a number of times. Our school choir also sang for the Pakowhai C.W.I. at times and that also was a lot of fun.

Nola Howard (nee Russell)

Milk in School

By the time we got the milk it was not very palatable. In the winter Mrs Cowan the headmaster’s wife heated the milk on her coal range and we had cocoa at lunch time. Physical education was drill – every morning. We had drill, lasting about half an hour. It started with marching, physical jerks, bunny hops, jumping jacks, leap frog, running on the spot and team ball games.

We had a Queen carnival. This was a means of raising money for the baths.

Mary Ramsey the school candidate was crowned Queen of Pakowhai with all the pomp and ceremony of any Coronation School Ball. The school ball was the big event of the year. The mothers prepared the supper. The fruit salad was always made in a baby‘s bath.

Marjorie Mckeown (Lowe)

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I am enclosing a photo taken in 1938 when I was a pupil at Pakowhai School. l am the 6th one from the left sitting in the second row up. I really treasure this photo needless to say. I’m afraid I don’t look much like that eight year old child now, more’s the pity. I recall the majority of the names of the other children in the photo. Many of them were close friends at the time.

Nola Howard (nee Russell)

Pakowhai School 1938

Back Row
Charlie Pearce, Bob Lowe, Douglas Haftka, Max Lissette, Alistair Mair, Ray Harris, Ralph Pedersen, Bob Eagle, Evan Kendall

3rd row
Lois Bartle, Anne Wilson, Violet Pearce, Gwen Whittington, Annie Mair, Rona Gabrielsen, Shirley Noonan, Ruth Dinnan, Margaret Ramsay.

2nd Row
Margaret Dinnan, Charlette King, Heather Pedersen, Daphne Lowe, Marjorie Lowe, Nola Russell, Marie Haftka, Greta Wilson, Thelma Pearce.

Front Row
Harry Pearce, Noel Haftka, Isobel Haftka, Ruth Thompson, Nolleen Thompson, Hazel Lowe, John Sykes, Larry Mitchell

[Photos of school activities]

[Photos of school activities]

[Photos of school activities]

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School Day Memories

Of actual school lessons I can recall very little out of the ordinary so I presume I must have coped fairly well.

As a very new pupil I can remember Miss Organs scream when she put her hand in the pocket of the green overall she always wore. She found a dead mouse put there by one of the senior boys on April Fools day.

Miss Ridgeway was my other primer teacher.

I remember on first learning to write being sent to Mr Brown with a whole page of xx. His pink, indelible marking pencil was scribbled through the lot. Not just one page but on several pages, I was sent back to rewrite. To this day I don’t know what I was doing wrong. The sense of injustice I felt when I’m sure he didn’t even look after awhile. He just scribbled pink pencil over the lot.

I reall Mr Herdsfield the Nature Study inspector roaring “You girlie answer the question” when I was caught not paying attention, being busy digging putty from the screw holes on my desk. Compasses were good for that. Mr Herdsfield had fat fingers and very thick glasses and was inclined to spray anybody when talking, if standing too close.

At the end of year on parents days and prize giving – every child received a book. The library shelves went right across the back of the room, with wonderful stories to read.

I remember all day trips on the early bus to the dental clinic. While waiting for our turn in the chair we played snail races on the earthquake damaged foundations of Central School. Our wise and wonderful mum never gave us gooseberry or quince jam sandwiches on clinic days – only marmite so there were no complaints when our lunches were inspected by the dental nurse, Miss Johnston.

Standard 5 and 6 pupils travelled on the bus to the manual training centre, at Central School for cooking, sewing and woodwork.

I reall [recall] the school gardens and nature study walks to Chesterhope to see and learn about nature trees. The big boys mowed the lawns and grass tennis court and the girls kept the flower gardens. On Arbor day a tree was always planted.

Mr Freddie Kendall scythed the paddock next to the school and told us stories about the old days.

On Monday mornings the flag was always raised and we sang the National Anthem before marching into school. We lined up every morning and marched into our room. On frosty mornings we had drill first thing to warm us up.

The kerosene tin of milk was heating up all morning on the stove in the primer room ready for cocoa at lunchtime during the winter months.

The school balls were held sometimes in the school and other times in the hall. We made streamers and decorations and were pulled around the floor on sacks to polish it ready for dancing. Candle wax was used. Some mothers used to come and help teach us dancing for several weeks beforehand. The pupils danced till 9 o’clock then the adults had the floor till midnight. Supper was served in a big tent, with fruit salad, jellies and all the goodies.

There were copper trails, a queen carnival and other fund raising events for the school baths. I remember the opening of the baths and swimming 44 lengths for a certificate.

We went on school visits to Fernhill and Meeanee to play basketball, as it was known then and football. Practically all the pupils from Std 2 up were needed to make up teams.

In Mr Cowan’s day we had big Guy Fawkes night bonfires in the horse paddock. I don’t remember anybody getting burnt or hurt.

I had a new pair of long black stockings each winter, then managed to fall over the first week and had to wear them for the rest of the term with big darns in the knees.

The senior boys and girls build a secret hut in the plantation. We never understood the fuss when it was discovered. Innocents that we were. The boys were made to pull it down and burn it in the football paddock. We girls had to remain indoors.

We notched our rulers every time we got the strap, and never had a straight edge.  Showing great daring after much ‘egging on’ we chopped the strap into pieces out in the woodshed and disposed of the evidence in Bartles big macrocarpa hedge. We went to school next morning in fear and trepidation only to have nothing said. A brand new strap was conspicuously placed on the teachers desk.

Daphne Tong (Lowe)

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These Memories Stand Out

As kids we used to walk to school from the dip end of Pakowhai Road. Some of us were lucky and got a ride in the milk van. The driver was so kind. He’d never leave anyone to walk. We used to cram into the back of the blue van around the crates of milk. When we arrived at school the kids from the other end of the road would hang over the school fence and gate and guess how many kids were in the van before the driver opened the door. One day they were guessing in the double figures and there was only me. I still don’t know why.

One break-up the twin Ramsey girls sang an argumentative song “I used to love you, but now I hate you” They were so good stamping their feet and yelling at each other that I was really upset because I thought they were for real. Are they actresses now?

Those were the good old quarantine days. We were a big family so every time someone got measles, mumps, chicken pox etc. we were all sent home till we got it. I don’t know how I ever learnt anything, or if the teachers were happy several children less in class.

I can remember a swag of kids coming after school to help pick gooseberries. We ate so many we all had a tummy ache. It must have been a small roll the next day.

I loved the way we assembled together for prayer and National Anthem. It was a real bonding.

Pat Tondi, (nee Fox)

1940 -1949

Back Row: Brian Whittington, Michael Curtin, Graeme McLean, Robin Ponga Thompson, Robin Wilson, Ken Sutton, Doug Whitfield, Donald Godfrey, Wink Sutton

Middle Row: Malcolm McDonald, Peter Dillon, Michael Dillon, Janice (Allen) Clark, Kay (Brunton) Williams, Patsy (Fox) Tondi, Jennifer Williams (Spence), Pat (Dillon), Mr Blakie

Front: Judith Knowles, Jan Clarke (Semmens), Barbara Strachan (Spence) June (Bracken) Herbert, Tricia (Lowe) Leabourn, Jennifer (Lowe) Wicken, June (Ransom) Brewer, Betty (Ransom) Adams, Val (Whitfield) Andrews, Allan Harris (standing)

Kneeling: Allan Whitfield – Raymond Palleson

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Std IV 1931

T Fourneau, N Whittington, C Olsen, T Ramsey, N Thompson, R Russell J Pedersen, R Lissette, L Lissette, R Stanford.

About 1944 everyone from the eastern end of Pakowhai walked to school except for two “big boys” on their bicycles whom we girls felt terrorised by.

We were so scared that when we reached the store we either walked in the big deep drain on the opposite side of the road, where we thought we couldn‘t be seen until reaching Chesterhope Road. Our other option was climbing the fence and walking along the creek, crawling past Mrs Gabriellson’ s cottage in case she saw and reported us, and entering school from the back paddock.

June (Bracken) Herbert.

In 1945 as an 8 year old I attended the 50th Jubilee of Pakowhai School with my father. He was born 27.11.07 so was probably a pupil from about 1912. His name was Douglas Gilbertson and he was one of the six sons of Martha and Henry Gilbertson after whom Gilbertson Rd was named.

Even now I remember my Fathers pride as he joined his school pals in singing the school song. (He died in 1953). In his memory, I would like to wish Pakowhai School well for the years ahead.

Margaret Walmsley.

Fri 27th – Sunday 29th April saw the Pakowhai School 50th Jubilee.

The Golden Jubilee Booklet contained a reminder that “Former pupils will please note that although this was walnut-time, they were not to resume their youthful depredations along the school lane”.

Visitors would also see “the splendid swimming baths and tennis courts in the school grounds. It was hoped to raise sufficient funds as a result of the jubilee celebrations to construct a paddling pool alongside the baths, so that the tiny tots may gain confidence in the water and become good swimmers in the big baths as soon as possible. The comment followed “That this will be a decided  improvement on the old style of learning to swim in the icy cold creek without togs!

One past pupil of this era (or earlier) confided that one teacher took a class down to the creek for a nature lesson and happened to catch the local youths swimming. They got more of a nature lesson than she had planned for!

The present school committee (1945) consisting of Mrs A Gabrielson, Messrs R J Sutton, G M Howard, J Bracken, and J Allen with the energetic young headmaster, Mr W Blakie and with his assistant, are a combination that will further promote the prosperity of the school as it enters its second half century  of service in the instructing and enlightening of those to become our future citizens.

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Memories of Fifty Years Ago

It was my privilege at the beginning of the Golden Jubilee Year 1945, to take up the Head Teachership of the school, which then, and probably still is, considered one of the most desirable country school appointments in H. B. Some of the boys of that era may remember the fires they lit in the plantation, the wood being desks that, in army terms, were surplus to requirements. That, and similar schoolboy “pranks” led to my invitation from the Education Board.

I well recall an evening just before school resumed in February receiving a visit from a concerned mother who informed me that she would “give me trial” in educating her three daughters. I must have satisfied her because in later years I was invited to be toastmaster at two of the daughters weddings.

Feeling the need to engender a school spirit I decided to enter Pakowhai School in the Hastings Primary Schools Athletic Sports being held at the Racecourse. Our pleasure was unbounded when John Sykes won the senior boys 100 yards and Isobel Haftka the girls’ high jump. An added thrill was the success of the girls ball handling relay team in winning the “over & under” event. Their success was even more praiseworthy when, to get a team with keenness and ability, my wife had to include girls from the lower standards. As an aside, the training for the sports included regular practice on the high jump, the standards being battens with nails to hold the crossbar. A vivid memory is of one boy, Jimmy Wong, assiduously practising on his own, long after the others had temporarily lost interest and gone off to other pursuits. He never achieved greatness as a jumper, but it is interesting that later he became a doctor of some renown and at one time practised in Harley Street.

In those days, before live stock transport, a common sight was cattle and sheep being driven down the narrow lane to the accompaniment of barking dogs and there was sometimes picturesque language from the drover who was a well-known lady resident. The school was fortunate in having swimming baths. It was probably one of the first country schools in H. B. to enjoy that amenity. As one end of the pool was 5ft deep supervision had to be constant, and it was thanks to willing parents that the baths were open after school hours and at weekends. The children were enthusiastic and many parents came along wishing to learn to

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swim. Among them were some ladies who appeared in what looked like pre World War 1 costumes which occasioned some hilarity but which didn‘t dim their keenness. Some pupils competed in the inter school sports at the Maddison Baths (Central School) and John Ward was placed in the diving event. Memories are especially vivid of the Wong family, notably the mother and the children who attended  the school. Mrs Wong, who had limited English capability and who couldn’t sew, came to depend a lot on my wife for many and varied services. I don’t think she ever had a driving licence but occasionally would come to the school in her husband’s Studebaker truck which she was unable to turn in the narrow lane. Being wartime, rice was a rationed commodity, and then just for the Chinese, but the Blakie family were kept supplied. She was an inveterate gambler and many were the tales circulated of her gambling exploits. One Labour weekend she even drove herself to Trentham for the races in the recently acquired Plymouth car and returned safely with just a dint in a front mudguard.

As a wartime effort ground at the back of the school was planted in potatoes and the senior boys, in what was known as gardening time, were required to regularly mould the rows. After the initial enthusiasm had waned, and numerous clod-throwing bouts started. The two Wong boys could be seen, heads down, conscientiously doing the job. Their school work was of a high standard, especially the girl Sue King. When the inspectors visited, one of their number was so impressed with her books not a single trace of rubout [rub out] or alteration – that he asked her to let him have the book at the end of the year. Her skill with figures was remarkable. Some of you may remember “Long Tots”. As soon as I put the last number on the blackboard she had the answer!

The school was temporarily closed when the youngest Wong boy – aged 5 – was stricken with meningitis and unfortunately died. His mother missed him so much that she offered to swap her Mary for our younger son Ken. The latter heard the conversation between my wife and Mrs Wong and took off into the plantation, to reappear several hours later.

The apples in schools scheme was devised to aid the fruit industry and improve the health of NZ schoolchildren. I recall the scornful look on many faces as they were handed small apples. It was an insult to a local child and I had occasion to reprimand a small group for using the fruit as ammunition for a variety of throwing activities.

The major event of the year was the Golden Jubilee culminating in the Ball which was held in the old Hall along the road from the store. The Grand March was led off by the chairman of the Education Board and his wife. Part of the celebrations included a display of physical activities by the pupils. To record it for prosperity I had borrowed a movie camera, but never having used one before, the result was not of national Film Unit standard. However, I understand that for years after it was in popular demand for screening when the weather made it impossible to have “drill” as it was then known. I wonder where it is now? The success of the Jubilee was due in no small measure to the work of Mr Ron Sutton.

Another big event was VE Day. When word came through early that afternoon, School was smartly closed and the whole community either set off in their own cars or cadged a ride to join the crowds celebrating in Heretaunga and adjoining streets.

Cards were played in the school on Winter evenings and were enjoyable outings in those pre TV days. A netball team selected from the country schools around Hastings spent a weekend in Taupo where they were royally  entertained. Two Pakowhai girls, Frances Tomoana and my daughter Thelma made the team.

1945 was a very satisfying year to me, thanks to the goodwill of the parents and the cooperation of the school committee. As a memento of Jubilee Year a dux medal was awarded. Perhaps the banner made specially for the occasion will bring back happy memories to those who were at the celebrations. The school was progressing and the Board sent a letter of commendation on the inspectors report.

Fifty years on I feel happy to join with young and old in this Centennial Year.

Mr W. Blakie

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Ian Robinson, Hilton Taylor, John Lissette, Robin Ponga-Brown, Ray Palleson, Garry Spence, Verne Brunton, Philip Chadwick, Keith Smith, Tim Godfrey, Peter Sutton, Ken Sutton.

Michael Dillon, Kay Brunton, Janice Allen, Robyn Lissette, Patsy Fox, Marie Newsom, Lyn Newsom, Jane Lissette, Neroli Knight, Lorraine Semmens, Beryl Upchurch (teacher)

David Evans, Kathy Evans, Beverley Allen, June Ransom, Kaye Whittington, Christine Evans, Denise Brodie, Christine Sykes, Margaret Sutton.

Paul Andersen, Kevin Thomsen, Richard Crooks, Garth Chadwick, Brian Whittington, Michael Curtin, David Guthrie, Wink Sutton.



By Robin Ponga-Thompson, February 1995

1  Pakowhai School – of 2 rooms and Victorian style. Solidly built in timber with a steep corrugated iron roof. Primers in one room, standards 1 to 6 in the other – the corridor and cloakroom alongside. (Is it still the same? Haven’t seen it for 40 years). The headmaster’s house in Victorian style sitting across the other side of the playing area.

2  Opening up of the folding doors between classrooms to watch movies in black and white. No one seemed to know how to focus the projector or adjust the sound but we got by and it was always a big event.

3  The toilet blocks on the bank. Freezing cold in the winter and so was the wash basin water. No one ever stayed too long.

4  The local dog which would raid the cloakrooms and take-off with kids lunches – or was it really a dog?

5  The Headmaster Mr Manning – a  nice man. During gardening lessons his son managed to spike my food to the ground with a garden fork. It didn’t really hurt but there was much excitement.

6  Learning to swim in the school pool and later on ‘bombing’ other kids from the diving board. Great fun once the artesian water had warmed. Seeing my father actually swimming for the first time – never saw him swim again – was it the cold water?

7  The visits by the public health nurse – ears eyes, throat and a jab. The rare visit by the dental nurse with her treadle machine she never bothered to come again – funny that!

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8   Riding the bike to school in the winter, especially across frozen puddles – and having hot soup at morning play was great.

9   Biking to school from the Hastings side of the Pakowhai River. If it wasn’t contending with stock being driven to and from the Stortford Lodge saleyards, it was the massive floods twice a year which stopped us going to school – and that was great too. The floods used to get close to the Black’s house.

10  Earning some pocket money at Fox’s gardens after school picking ‘prickly’ Chinese gooseberries – and calling at Syke’s orchard for a feed of fruit.

11  Stopping off on the way home at the Pakowhai river bridge for a swim. This must have been good training as I managed to take 1 st place in the Hastings district swimming sports – much to the pride of the Headmistress, Mrs Rose, and our school. (The favourite swimming hole is now full of weed and the river diverted).

12  Mrs Rose had a heart of gold – and a heavy wooden ruler. Great for discipline across the back of the hands or around the legs. She was also very good with the 3 R’s (something I later appreciated) but rolling the r’s was difficult for me. Mrs Rose came from the Dunedin area.

13   The Rose’s had a soft-top early 1930’s car. When I put a cricket ball through its roof, my comment of ‘extra ventilation’ wasn’t considered funny.

14  ‘Milk in schools’ programme was great – except in summer when the milk was warm and tasted revolting.

15  The heavy wooden desks with lids and seats that ‘banged’ and ink wells surrounded with stains. Blotting paper and blobs on books was a common factor.

16   Having to write with a ‘wooden quill’ accompanied by “Keep your hand and wrist straight – don’t move your fingers –  use your arm”. This became ingrained – just like the times tables “3 times 3 is 9, 3 times 4 is 12, 3 times 5 is 15” – and so on.

17   The feared teachers strap – brought out for the grand occasion. It did nothing to improve handwriting though – made it worse if anything. My elder brother took the strap and hid it one time – that was quite dramatic.

18   But then came the modern advancement in writing equipment – fountain pens which leaked in the shirt pocket – and Biro’s which left smudges.

19   Then there was the Pakowhai Women’s Institute annual fete –  a place to display and be rewarded for our artistic and writing achievements.

20  The annual school dance and prize giving in the Pakowhai hall was a wonderful event for the kids. A ‘fancy dress’ outfit was a must. The hall used to be near the corner ‘bowser shop’ and on the same side of the road.

21  The range of kids ages –  resulting from kids not qualifying to go on to High School, and being held back until they left standard 6 on turning 15. (They probably went on to become politicians).

22  Playing cricket of sorts with pick handles with the bigger boys and getting whacked in the shin. The hole is still in the bone. Thank goodness it didn’t connect with my head. The favourite lunch break past-time was ‘bull rush’ – girls and boys in there together and everyone in bare feet.

23  The favourite lunch break past-time was ‘bull rush’ – girls and boys in there together and everyone in bare feet.

24  The school had its share of bullies, probably because of the range of ages. However fights were usually dealt with quickly by the teachers.

25.  The older boys were looked on with respect. They were the kids who wore boots to school, for some reason. If a kid was appointed ‘bell-ringer’ that was really big time. The bell hung on the wall outside and was rung by hand.

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26  As a country school Pakowhai had a run of ever changing teachers. I learnt that most female teachers were ‘crabby’ – male teachers more tolerant. (This view changed when I got to high school and noted that some male teachers have PMT).

27  Finally I had to leave Pakowhai, a great little school, at age 10 years in Standard 4 – to  attend a newly opened school nearer to home. It wasn’t far to walk when the bike tyre received a puncture.

Robin is one of 3 boys in the family who attended Pakowhai in the 1950’s. He is a Property Developer in Auckland. John the eldest, worked for a law firm but died in a hunting accident last year. Kevin, the younger is managing an oil construction company in Perth.

Highlights during the three years I was on the staff with Mrs Rose, were – swimming and how competent the children were.  The end of year concert in the Pakowhai Hall and the marvellous entertainment a small group of children could give for a full evening of pleasure, with all the school taking part in  many items each.

Lesliy Brownlee – Cody
(1950 ’s)


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Warren Palleson, Kerry 0Neill, Max Marshall, Stephen Palleson, Andrew Northe, Mark Collinge, Richard Whittington, John Whitfield.

Kevin Brown, Tony Blake, Don Alexander, Megan Sixtus, Charmaine Lamb, Karen Gray, Judith (Gregg) Ownes, Kerry Brunton, Kerry (Gregg) MacKenzie, Darryl Forrest,

Janita Blake, Suzanne Jackson (Dillon), Janette (Dillon) Arlidge, Megan (Evans) Sharplin, Susan Moffitt, Jennifer (Gray) Braithwaite, Kathleen (Moffitt) Nicholas, Suzanne Starnes.


The Birth of the New School

One Saturday morning I was mowing the schoolhouse front lawn when a car stopped and a gent approached me. I gathered after awhile that he assumed that I recognised him. As he made his way towards the school I followed out of curiosity.

I understood him to say that new toilets were to be constructed attached to the school building. My reaction was. “Between which borer holes will the nails be driven?” Little more was said and he departed.

To my surprise shortly after, the school committee and myself received a letter informing us that a replacement school was to be constructed.

Country Surprises

One evening we as a family began to cry as one would when peeling onions. As parents we became most concerned that some dreadful epidemic was about to overcome us. It was too late to ring a doctor and how would I explain the symptom?

After awhile the annoying irritation subsided, much to our relief and we were able to retire feeling reasonably assured that we would not be asphyxiated in our beds. We awoke relieved.

I learnt later that the cause of the problem was the gas used to fumigate the soil in the hot houses across the road.

Just two of the hundreds of amusing incidents I recall.

Harold Frost (Ex Principal)

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1st Row: Val Paul, Tony Blake, John Leach, David Moffitt, Bruce MacDonald

2nd Row: Mrs Watson, Cheryl Brownlie, Cherie Whitfield, Louise Dillon, Susan Hall, Christine Thompson, Kate Hawkins, Susan Hall

3rd Row: Erica Moffitt, Helen Moffitt, Natalie Forrest, Melody Whitfield, Corali Whitfield, Kelley Northe, Lynley Collinge.


Looking through a collection of childhood keepsakes I made a discovery that sent me back to a time shrouded in grief. A time when my world changed. The sun seemingly no longer rising in the east. My world knocked off its axis.

The discovery being that of an angel – made from thick paper, 12″ in length, coloured brightly, filled with crushed paper & named – Norman.

Tears flow from the eyes of an adult for the child who didn’t know, didn’t understand. The adult is able to see now the loving act of the teacher trying to help in a practical way – showing the child that her daddy is now with the angels.

The angel remains with the keepsakes. The grief is healed through time.

Karen Gray

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Val Paul, Tony Blake, Nick Marshall, Thomas Averill, Blair Collinge, John Clothier, Alan MacDonald, Rebecca Marshall, Dianna McCormack, James Park, Ben Hawkins, Jan Matthews, Ross MaDonald, Scott Young, Sandra Locke.

Janet McCormack, Elissa Cairns, Kate Southward, Dawn Young, Giselle MacDonald, Kate Richards, Daphne Gore, Monique Collinge, Kimberley Smyth, Pam Richards,

Kneeling: Katy Jaye Rose


Present Pakowhai School

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Past Committees/B O.T.

Bill Hawkins, Max Marshall, John Brownlie, John Reid, Pat McCormick, Tim Southward, Keith Gore, Tony Blake.

Gary Spence, John Clothier, Doug Whitfield, Earl Thomsen, Alan MacDonald, Don Alexander, Alistair Moffitt, Percy Collinge.

Ron Sutton, Michael Gee, Maureen Southward, Marilyn Collinge, Susan Averill, Sally Baldock, Robyn Andersen, Diane Park, Sandra Locke, Val Paul.

I Attended Three Jubilees

I started Pakowhai School 1945, before the 50th Jubilee so I have attended three Jubilee’s including 1945-1970-1995.

My School days were very interesting with good teachers and good school discipline. I remember mostly the school baths which were always there but are a bit different to today. Every Friday afternoon in the Summer the plug was pulled and the water let go down into the pine plantation which was behind the baths. On Saturday the principal and any one who they could call on would scrub the pool out and then on Sunday the well would be turned on to fill the pool. At Monday lunch time swim, the pool would be half full and very, very cold. We would jump in then walk across the pool as quick as possible then out the other side. By Tuesday morning the pool was full of cold, cold water.

If the weather was not too hot the water would be left in for a fortnight otherwise it would be changed every week.

During the 1970’s the committee shallowed the pool at the north end then put the gates across, installed a filtration plant and fixed the diving board, all at a cost of $8500 which was raised by the School and the district. Because of the change to the diving board another problem arose and that was people diving off the changing sheds into the pool.

At the time this problem was of great concern to Mr Blake who raised it at the committee meeting of which I was chairman at that time. I replied to Tony Blake by saying he should speak to the parents of the children concerned.

Tony was quick to inform me that my youngest son was chief offender.

All in all my involvement at Pakowhai School has been great and will continue in the future with my grand children now attending the school.

Doug Whitfield

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Notes on a Decade of School Committee and School Affairs 1965-1975

I was fortunate to serve ten years on the Pakowhai school committee. For the first four years I served as an ordinary member, then six years as secretary/treasurer (or as the late John Sykes was wont to describe the job, “Mr Scribe”)

John. You hit the nail on the head!

There was a lot of handwriting, cheque writing, letter writing of protests and committees efforts to demand the very best from everyone, Education Board hierarchy to trades people.

Yes! We demanded! We got the best deal we could for our school, but I’m sure, so did those many committees from 1875 to 1965, and onwards from 1975 to 1990 when the School committee era came to a close, and the modern day Tomorrows schools saw the much more demanding Board of Trustees commence their work and deliberations.

Theirs seems a much more daunting task. For one thing, they are elected to serve three years, to our two. It would be fair to say, we were often rail-roaded back to serve at least a further term “en-bloc” if the biennial Householders meeting thought we were willing and able, and could be able to fire the shots as it were.

Thinking back, ours was a more laid back style of committee. We enjoyed the meetings. It was like an Old Boy’s club to some extent. District gossip was exchanged and we listened to the gripes of the various headmasters, usually with sympathy, followed with prompt action!

Perhaps its significant that over this decade, the committee members were always males, as were the head teachers who attended each meeting. Very rarely did a female teacher ask to attend. I don’t know the reason for this all-male committee – but maybe householders meetings at biennial elections felt that men were best suited to mow school grass, paint baths, tidy grounds, and run bottle and paper drives. The district had a strong C.W.I. and predominantly it was mothers who transported children to and from school. Those regular school visits provided exchange of news and views of school affairs with the teaching staff.

Looking back through the minutes and correspondence, several things stand out.

Firstly, the very high calibre of teaching staff. They were without exception enthusiastically committed to the progress and welfare of pupils and school.

Secondly we always counted on wonderful support from the district in school needs and events. The school was a rallying point for the whole district as it always had been back to when it was first established.

School rolls varied a lot – and it was a bold step to deliberately “be-head” the school and encourage families to send lst and 2nd form pupils to the Intermediates. This was thought to be better preparation for attendance at High School

From the committee’s point of view the event of the decade was the new school building and the tremendous struggle to have it properly and completely finished by the time of the 75th Jubilee.

It seemed to be a never ending battle to get the buildings finished and useable. And of course, while the new “Pre fab” school units were under construction, school was conducted in the old building which had been moved several feet to the north, and was sitting on blocks out on the basketball court. No wonder principal Harold Frost was frustrated and took his woes to us. Either Harold, or John Sykes related part of a conversation with contractor Ernie Dudding who boasted with pride. “Yes and we never used a plumb-bob on the lot!”. The new school sure looked like it too!

Nothing seemed vertical. Floors creaked. Roof expansion noises were very persistent, and corrections for poor workmanship were for ever being made.

A jerry building job was what Pakowhai got. Just listen to a quote from our letter of complaint to Mr P L Page the General manager of the HB Education Board 8/7/1969-

1  Completion date promised (in writing)

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was 31/3/69. In fact occupancy of a woefully unfinished building was 4/6/69

2  The new toilets are still not connected. Handwashing facilities are most inadequate. The top of the old septic tank left exposed and open for several weeks. A pupil from infant room is absent with infectious hepatitis.

3  Children are constantly exposed to the dangers of a network of open drains and heaps of mullock, also building debris around the new school.

4  Failure to remove the old building… has deprived pupils and staff of the only hard-paved dry area.

5  Most important, the demoralising effect  that these conditions must have on the children themselves.

The upshot of this was a meeting on 16/7/ 69 between Mr Page and the committee. After this, things did seem to move a little faster. What a battle to cut through the web of red tape and bureaucracy to get into the new school and get rid of the old!

I remember some funny things in connection with the succession of principals, all good teachers, from very different backgrounds. They stamped their individual styles upon the school.

A sour note was when Merv Bradley and family left at short notice to return to Gisborne after the school-house was entered and vandalised while they were on holiday.

Don Alexander was most enthusiastic about the grounds, and did wonders for sport with his pupils. At the time committee members were encouraged to donate and plant trees in the grounds. Poor Don came to me one day with a sad tale. Blanche his goat, had eaten the Redwood I had not long planted. “What did you say its name was?”

“Metasequoia glyptostroboides”

“Yeah well I’ll get you another one and replant it for you”.

That tree is a fine 30 foot specimen today, growing beyond the bluegum near the eastern boundary.

Who remembers the impact of temporary head Peter Collins, much travelled, full of wonderful enthusiastic projects and ideas? The excitement when he took the pupils on flights from Napier Airport!

Then Harold Frost, English-born, had a very rough time as a P.O.W in the far East. His tales of near starvation working on the Burma railway were most vivid, and gave an insight into what they went through. Happier times came when he emigrated to NZ and his first appointment as teacher at Laura Gorge in Southland. Tales of Hokonui whiskey and illegal trout poaching! Harold had a pet lamb, fat as a pig called Curly. Curly fell in the school baths one day,swam round and round,couldn’t climb out and almost drowned. Harold was most happy to pass him onto me to add to our small flock. Harold also produced a wonderfully clean, bright sample of walnuts from the schoolmasters perk tree.

“Oh yes” he said “I just dipped them in HTH from the baths!” Lord knows what they tasted like!

Finally our long-serving head Tony Blake. His dry jokes and unforgettable stentorian voice. He could not seem to turn the volume down all that much – even at committee meetings.

Remember him doing the calling at the school swimming meetings, especially when up against a visiting school? The excitement was tremendous. The carnival atmosphere really got to pupils, parents and spectators alike.

Yes 1965-1975 was an eventful decade in the long history of Pakowhai School.

Contributed by A I Moffitt.

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Rather than write a foreword, as centennial co-ordinator, and after compiling the booklet, I find myself with a space at the end for a postscript.

We had a wonderful weekend. The weather held for us, everything went to plan (and time) and the atmosphere was tremendous. It was a true blending of the old with new as we tried to represent as much of the century as we could. Present parents and pupils became part of the Pakowhai history, along with past pupils who provided a wealth of information, and it was this positive feeling that will carry us through and towards our next century. The strong feeling of community came through and the school as such an important pivotal point. This booklet is a record of your memories, and to those people who contributed – thank you.

Our committee of Dineke Gore, Robyn Anderson, Melody Clark, Doug Whitfield, Sandra Locke, Wayne and Shona Richards, Ian Robinson and Bill Hawkins, worked well together along with special thanks to John Reid, Gary Spence, Ruth Brown, Verne Brunton, Peter and Marilyn Collinge, Bob Wilson for their time and assistance.

The local parents and community for the raffle items baking, time and effort to involve your children. Thank you.

Further support in the form of Pattullos Nursery – Kerry Sixtus selecting and donating our centennial Norfolk Pine, donated sweets from McDonalds Supermarket, the electrician T Sowman, Peter Dunkerley for the laser  printing service, Frank Tickner – for  the hire  service, and Ian Robinson for his expertise in the printing of the serviettes, and the photo album, a true gift to be carried through into the next century.

This begins to feel like the running of the credits after a movie or production but in this there are no fictitious characters or events, and the credit goes to all who took part and played their role ( and I must say there were some real characters)


Susan Averill
Chairperson, Pakowhai School Committee, 1995

The cutting of the centennial cake by Mrs Molly Howard (92) Charlotte Braithwaite (5).

[Photos of the 1995 centenary celebrations]

Page 36

Assorted photos of Centenial celebrations

Page 37


The eagle gently coaxed her offspring toward the edge of the nest. Her heart quivered with conflicting emotions as she felt thin resistance to her persistent nudging. “Why does the thrill of soaring have to begin with the fear of falling?” she thought.

As with the tradition of the species, her nest was located on the shelf of a sheer rock face.  Below there was nothing but air to support the wings of each child.

“It is possible that this time it will not work” she thought. Despite her fear the eagle knew it was time. Her parental mission was all but complete. She summoned one final task – the push.

The eagle drew courage from an innate wisdom. Until her children discovered their wings, there was no purpose for their lives.

Until they learned how to soar, they would fail to understand the privilege it was to have been born an eagle. The push was the greatest she had to offer. It was her supreme act of love so one by one she pushed them and they flew.

By David McNally
Contributed by Troy Duncan 1976-1981

Footnote: Troy’s parents Ross & Ngaire Duncan have been very involved with the school throughout the education of their 3 children.

Troy (1976- 1981) Arron (1978- 1983) and Fiona (1982- 1987). Ross enclosed this poem sent by Troy as he felt it really summed up the transition from school and the country life that most Pakowhai pupils have had, to the great world of growing up and becoming independent.

Troy volunteered to drive the yellow bus on The Serious Road Trip bringing relief to children in war torn Bosnia 1994.

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