School and district jubilee booklets in the museum reading room are a treasure trove, recording the trials and tribulations of starting schools when the ‘good old days’ were not so easy. The first local school was proposed in 1873 then again in 1876. It opened in June 1877 in Studholme Street on the land donated by Mr. T Morrin.
Formal education had arrived. But in rural areas the situation was very different.
Manawaru built a school in 1900 although the first school classes with a teacher were held in the ‘Old Hotel’ from the 1890s.
In 1900 Kiwitahi residents wrote asking the Board of Education for a school for their ten children. The settlement was established in 1831; they had struggled to educate their children despite the district contributing to the cost of building a schoolhouse in the Morrinsville School.
A further application was made in 1906 pointing out that young children couldn't travel the difficult seven or eight miles to Morrinsville School. The third application made in 1911 was successful. The land for the school was donated by Mr Tene Tuhakaraina and the school opened in 1913.
Tahuna began in 1905 but didn't get a school building until 1907. Motumaoho 1912 Springdale 1915. Mangateparu (Tauhei school No 1) and Tauhei school No 2) 1909 were to become part-time schools in 1912 sharing a teacher. The first school building was a small workman's hut on skids on the corner of the Tauhei - Morrinsville Road and Cross Road.
The second school at Mangateparu began in a wool shed. The Morrinsville Star had recorded in May 1912 that to have 30 school aged children in the district not attending school was a ‘public scandal’
Te Puninga 1918 - in the 1915 application for a school board for teachers was offered one mile from the school at the price of Male 16/- and Female/- a week. There was no housing for married teachers.
Tatuanui district was becoming established when World War One broke out. Applications for a school were made during the war years and approval was given in 1919. The school wasn't built for another four years.
Kereone opened in 1923 because it was too far for the children to travel to Kiwitahi school in winter. Hoe-O-Tainui applied for a school in 1924. In 1926 their building costs were 16 /- per square foot.
St Joseph’s school began with a room in the convent and the bare boards of a shed, as the school building was not completed in time for the 1930 opening.
Chalk and slates, freezing cold conditions, terrible transport options.
The ‘good old days’ indeed
Written by Kay de Lautour