Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]

Education Department

Education Department.

Education at the public schools of the Colony is free, secular, and compulsory, and this liberality on the part of the State costs the Colony over £420,000 per annum. The system is most complete, the organisation admirable, and the results satisfactory. Every child in the Colony is enabled, at no cost whatever to its parents, to have sufficient education for all the ordinary requirements of life, except in very isolated districts where the population is too scattered for even an aided school; but every endeavour is made to give facilities for education to those in the most remote districts. The subjects of instruction in the primary schools are reading, writing, arithmetic, English grammar and composition, geography, history, elementary science and drawing, object lessons, vocal music, and (in the case of girls) sewing and needlework, and the principles of domestic economy. Provision is also made for the instruction in military drill of all boys in the schools. There were 137,000 children attending the primary schools in 1894: of these 56,963 were in the North Island, and 70,037 in the South. Periodical inspections are made of all schools, and every pupil examined and reported on, and a pupil passing through all the standards is equipped with knowledge sufficient for any ordinary walk in life. But State aid does not cease at the sixth standard, for provision is made by the Department to the extent of £7000 per annum for scholarships for State school pupils, and those who succeed in gaining them receive free tuition and other advantages at the secondary schools and colleges, and the children of the poorest may, by this system, pass through all stages up to a University examination, and instruction and graduation in the highest branches of technical education are brought within the reach of any colonist in New Zealand who desires to avail himself of them. So popular and largely appreciated are these advantages that no less than 976 candidates presented themselves in 1894 in the Faculties or Arts, Science, Medicine, Law, and Music, and for admission to the legal profession. Altogether, the number of graduates of the University admitted after examination is 462. Provision has recently been made for a curriculum in agriculture, and students who successfully complete a course in mechanical, civil, and mining engineering, or in agriculture, may now be admitted to the degree of Bachelor of Science in any of these professional branches. With a view of extending these advantages as widely as possible, the Senate of the University has endeavoured to meet the needs of those who are debarred from the privilege of regular attendance at a college, and with this view provision has been made whereby students may obtain University certificates of proficiency in any subject which they desire to take up for examination without attending college lectures.

The State also makes special provision for the education of Native children, and there are about seventy Native schools, at which 2800 children are taught. These schools have a special organising inspector, and by their aid the aboriginal population is brought to appreciate and recognise the benefits of civilisation. There are also industrial schools, in which neglected children are maintained and taught. There are three of these in the Colony—at Auckland, Burnham, near Christchurch, and Caversham, where the children all learn some trade, and when old enough are page 168 found situations; besides these public institutions there are also private ones founded by the Roman Catholic Church at St. Mary's, Ponsonby, St. Joseph's, Wellington, and St. Mary's, Nelson, which are subsidised by Government, and a number of children are also boarded out. There is also a school for deaf mutes in Christchurch, which has been very successful, and a school for the blind at Auckland.

Besides all these educational establishments supported by the State, there are many private schools in the Colony, chief among which are those supported by the Roman Catholics, who have erected and maintain in a state of high efficiency no less than 110 schools and colleges, among which St. Patrick's, in Wellington, holds a high place among the colleges of the Colony, and is largely patronized by Catholics and others from all parts of New Zealand. There are over 10,000 pupils attending the Roman Catholic schools, which are not in any way assisted by the State, but which have the option of being examined by the Government inspectors. Taken altogether, the educational system of the Colony is probably the freest and most liberal in the world, and one which the people may well feel proud of. The Department first became a State department in January, 1878, when the late Mr. John Ballance held his first portfolio as Minister of Education.

The Hon. W. P. Reeves, Minister of Education (administering also native schools, industrial schools, and the institution for deaf mutes), has charge of this large and important department. (See page 44).

The Rev. William James Habens, B.A., Secretary for Education and Inspector-General of Schools, has long been a prominent figure in the life of the Colony. Born in Brighton, England, he was educated at the Puget School, in his native town, and subsequently at Hackney College, London, taking his degree in London University in 1862. Mr. Habens studied for the Congregational ministry in London, and was ordained in 1863. Coming to New Zealand, per ship “Canterbury,” in January, 1864, the reverend gentleman was for nearly fifteen years minister of Trinity Church, Christchurch. During his ministry that handsome structure was erected. In 1878 Mr. Habens came to Wellington to fill the important office of Inspector-General of Schools, to which was added the position of Secretary for Education on the retirement of Dr. Hislop in 1886. On accepting the position in 1878, Mr. Habens took part in the organisation of the entire system, as the department was absolutely new. Up to this time no uniform plan of working was in existence, but each local authority made its own regulations. The Inspector-General had to devise the standards, which have proved very suitable. In respect of teachers, he found nine different systems of certificates, and it was necessary to make a general system of classification. Regulations were also issued permitting the various Education Boards to make rules in respect of pupil-teachers, subject to the approval of the Minister. Mr. Habens devised and prepared the registers, which are in daily use in the schools. Since accepting the appointment, now nearly twenty years ago, the reverend gentleman has devoted his life to the work of the department, though he still occasionally ministers of the spiritual needs of the church of his choice. Mr. Habens is a Fellow of the New Zealand University, and he was a member of the Royal Commission on higher and secondary education, and acted as secretary.
The Rev. William James Habens

Photo by Wrigglesworth and Binns.

This Commission sat on 144 days, between January, 1879, and April, 1880, and its report fills a volume of some 700 pages. In 1883–4 Mr. Habens was granted leave of absence for a trip to England. At present (1895), he is president of the Public Service Association. Mr. Habens was married in 1863 to Miss Annie Mellish, daughter of the late Mr. Thomas Mellish, of Brighton, England.

Sir Edward Osborne Gibbes, Bart., Chief Clerk in the Education Department, was born in Colchester, England, in November, 1850. He is the first son of the late Sir Samuel Osborne-Gibbes, Bart., being the third baronet since the creation in 1774. Coming to New Zealand in 1860, he was educated mostly in Auckland at St. John's College. Sir Edward joined the Government service at Wellington in 1871 as a clerk in the newly formed Public Works Department. Soon after he was transferred to the Immigration Department, and from that, in 1877, to the Education Department on the passing of the Act. He has held the office of chief clerk since that time. He is a Mason, being attached to Lodge Aorangi, No. 2300, E.C., and has held office as a Deputy District Grand Master. He takes a general interest in cricket, football, rowing, etc., and was one of the first members of the Star Boating Club in the early days. Sir Edward was married in 1879 to Sara, daughter of Mr. John Mitchell, captain of New Zealand Militia, and has one son and two daughters.

page 169
Other Officers.

Clerks—F. K. de Castro, H. B. Kirk, M.A., R. H. Pope, F. L. Severne, E. C. Banks, F. D. Thomson.

Mr. James Henry Pope, Inspector of Native Schools, hails from Jersey, where he was born in 1837. He was educated chiefly in his native island, but left for Australia at the age of fifteen, per ship “Castle Eden.” Landing in Port Philip, Mr. Pope pursued his studies, working without assistance, and at length gained a first-class honours certificate from the Victorian Board of Education. He commenced to teach in Ballarat in 1858, and had five years experience there. In 1863 he came over to New Zealand, arriving at Port Chalmers, and entered the Dunedin High School as junior-master. During the interregnum which occurred on the retirement of the Rev. Frank C. Simmonds, Mr. Pope was acting headmaster for nine months. He afterwards became teacher of English, French, Science, etc., and continued on the staff till 1872. In the year 1873 he accepted the position of principal master at the Girls' High School, Dunedin, retaining it till 1876. Mr. Pope then accepted an appointment to the headmastership of the Ballarat College, filling the position for a short time, when he was incapacitated through illness. His appointment as Inspector of Native Schools dates from 1880. Mr. Pope has been well known as a careful student of astronomy for many years. Literary in his tastes, Mr. Pope was closely connected with the press of the Colony, as a leader and occasional writer, from 1870 to 1878; he is also the author of the “The State,” an elementary treatise on Political Economy, and several native school books, the Mr. James Henry Pope most important of which is “Health for the Maori.” The subject of this notice was married in 1862 to Miss H. G. Rattray, daughter of the late Mr. Robert Rattray, of Ballarat. His family consists of two daughters and eight sons, of whom three are working in the public service.

Mr. Harry Borrer Kirk, M.A., Assistant Inspector of Native Schools, is the second surviving son of Professor Kirk, and was born at Coventry, England. Educated at Auckland College and Grammar School and the Wellington College, Mr. Kirk Mr. Harry Borrer Kirk gained his B.A. degree in 1882, and in the succeeding year took his M.A. with first class honours in zoology and botany. Before joining the Civil Service he acted for some time as tutor, and assisted candidates for various examinations. Mr. Kirk entered the service of the State in 1879 as special clerk in the office of the Inspector-General of Schools. In 1885 he was appointed Assistant Inspector, in addition to the office already held. Mr. Kirk is a member of the Wellington Philosophical Society, to which he has contributed several papers, chiefly relating to the anatomy of sponges and of other invertebrate animals. He is a great student, and has added to the known facts on these subjects. Mr. Kirk was married at Dunedin, in 1885, to Miss La Monte of that city. His family consists of two daughters.