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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

From One-roomed Shacks to Many-sided, Modern Institutions

From One-roomed Shacks to Many-sided, Modern Institutions

The first public school in Poverty Bay—the Gisborne Central School—stood on the north-west corner of Childers Road and Lowe Street. It was opened by the Auckland Board of Education in February, 1872. W. Dean page 360 Lysnar, the first master, received a salary of £150 per annum, and, to supplement his income, he also conducted a night school. Mrs. Lysnar received £10 per annum for teaching sewing. Instruction was required to be non-sectarian, and attendance could be made compulsory. As the householders objected to pay an education tax of £1 per annum, fees were charged; children under 8 years, 13/- per quarter; above 8 years, 26/-. In addition, 6d. per quarter was charged for slate pencils and 1/- per quarter for pens and ink.

In 1872 the pupils were: William and Maggie Mill, Joshua Adams, Charles, David and Ellen Dunlop, Fred. Goldsmith, Annie and Eustace Langford, Mary and Edward Kennedy, Gavin and Alexander Wyllie, Robert and Ellen Robb, James Stevenson, Florence, Ernest, Edith, Arthur and Bertie Reed, Elizabeth, Thomas and Mary King, Theodore and Arthur Greene, Oliver Goldsmith, Louisa and Rachel Forbes, Mary Ann Donoghue, Martha Dolman, Alice Steele and members of the Lysnar family.

Only after much hesitancy Captain Porter, T. Adams, H. E. Webb, H. Steele and R. M. Skeet agreed to act as a committee in 1873. During the previous year a balance due to W. King for building the school, the cost of lining it, and a home for the teacher—£300 in all—had had to be raised mainly by donations. Only £10 had been received from the board to meet maintenance expenses. A ladies' committee had held a “treat” to obtain funds to replace some broken windows and meet the cost of cleaning the school. To obtain a stove, the chimney had been taken down and the bricks sold. A committee could not be obtained in 1874, and Captain Porter, Dr. Nesbitt and the Rev. W. H. Root were appointed commissioners. On 8 June, 1875, Mr. Lysnar became the teacher at the native school at Omahu (H.B.). He was succeeded by J. Hay, of Port Awanui.

In 1876, Mr. Root complained that it was impossible for the teacher to do justice to 85 pupils huddled in a small room. A school to accommodate 125 pupils was then built in Derby Street at a cost of £468. Mr. Hay resigned in August, 1876, and was succeeded by G. Maberley, of Thames. The schools in Poverty Bay and on the East Coast now came under the Hawke's Bay Board of Education. During Mr. Maberley's term the Gisborne school was enlarged and the site was doubled in size, the residents bearing the cost of most of the additional land. In 1882, Thomas Morgan became headmaster. His staff comprised: J. H. Bull (first assistant), Miss Davison (headmistress), Miss McIntosh (infant teacher) and Misses R. Forbes, E. Oatridge and M. F. Hall and Masters J. Haughey and F. Faram (pupil teachers). By 1884 the roll number had grown to 450. A secondary department was established in 1888, and the school then became known, for some years, as the Gisborne District High School.

When Mr. Morgan retired in 1892 his place was filled by J. H. Bull, whose first assistant was A. Cuthbert. Some of the children were taken to Christchurch in 1901 to join in the welcome to the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George V and Queen Mary). Mr. Bull found the strain of his work too heavy and resigned in December, 1901, to take over the position of chief assistant. Successors in the headmastership: F. J. Rowley (1902–23), J. McLeod (1923–33), J. Shimmin (1934–41), B. Anderson (1941–43), O. R. Olsen (1943–46), W. E. Donnelly (1947—).

The movement to provide the school with a bath (which was opened on 24/10/1908) had its origin in a suggestion made by Mr. J. S. Wauchop, then a member of the teaching staff. Funds were raised by entertainments, appeals to the public, and a State grant. Whilst Dora Alice Griffin, a daughter of the Rev. C. C. Griffin, was in the bath on 26/1/09, page 361 she had a seizure and sank. Her mother, a sister and a friend were unable to effect a rescue. Attracted by their cries, three young men rushed to the scene and recovered the body. Unavailingly, three doctors tried for two hours to restore life.

Two serious misadventures interfered with the school's activities. On Boxing Day, 1904, the main building was destroyed by fire. A new school in two storeys was built in brick. It was designed to accommodate 550 pupils and cost (including furniture) only about £5,000, whereas the Intermediate School, designed to accommodate only a slightly larger number of pupils, and built in 1940, cost more than £40,000. Damage was suffered by the new Central School during the severe earthquake in September, 1932, and it had to be strengthened.

In 1904 the junior cadet system was made applicable to the school. Several companies of senior boys were formed, and, with a staff of officers, placed under Major J. Kinder (assistant master in the secondary department), who became O.C. the whole of the cadets in Poverty Bay. The uniform portion of each cadet's attire consisted only of a jersey and a cap, and each was given only a wooden rifle. On 5 December, 1908, the cadets from the town and country schools held a mock battle—“The Battle of Graham's Hill”—at Ormond. Captain R. Cole led the attackers, and Captain J. McLeod was in charge of the defenders. The cadets were taken to the New Zealand International Exhibition at Christchurch in March, 1907, and encamped on Hagley Park for about a week.

Technical classes were established in Gisborne following upon the presentation of a report which Mr. W. Morgan (chairman of the High School Board) invited Mr. Rowley to supply in 1902. Two years later the board erected a two-storey wooden building and a woodwork room at the rear of the District High School, and some trade and commercial classes were established under the supervision of Mr. Morgan. In 1915 control of the technical classes was transferred to the Hawke's Bay Board of Education, and their scope was considerably widened. Until he retired in 1923, Mr. Rowley was director. His successor (Mr. McLeod) carried on the classes till the end of 1923. Mr. Lancaster then took charge, and, when he left the district in 1933, the classes were removed to the High School. In June, 1949, there were 505 evening class students. The first public school on the Flats was built at Ormond in 1874. Mrs. T. W. Bilham opened a school in an old store at Patutahi in 1879. As 12 children—the minimum number required to enable the school to qualify for official aid—were not available, she took Mr. S. Locke's advice and borrowed from adjacent localities sufficient children to make up the deficiency for the opening day. Edward Claude Bolton (“The Father of the Country Schools Movement in Poverty Bay”) opened schools at Matawhero, Waerenga-a-Hika and Maraetaha in the early 1880's. His next venture was at Te Arai (1885). He had a small school at Te Karaka in 1886, but, after only a brief stay, went on to Makauri.

In 1902 there were country schools as under: Matawhero (J. Marshall, head teacher), Patutahi (J. C. Woodward, 1889–1918), Makauri (R. Cole), Waerenga-a-Hika (W. McClure, 1887–1903), Ormond (H. E. Ingpen, who was followed by J. McLeod), Te Karaka (P. Sefton), Muriwai (F. C. Faram), Te Arai, later Manutuke (A. Crawford) and Whangara (E. C. Bolton). Shortly afterwards Mr. Bolton opened a school at Kaiteratahi.

Up till 1902 there was only one public school—the Gisborne Central—for the town and suburbs. It had a roll number of 760, including between 20 and 30 pupils in the secondary department. The Mangapapa School was opened in 1903 under the control of W. J. (later Mr. Justice) Hunter. In 1907 the Kaiti School was built, and J. H. Bull was placed in charge. page 362 The Te Hapara School (F. C. Faram, headmaster) followed in 1911. Awapuni School (with O. R. Olsen as headmaster) was opened in 1927.

Public schools in Poverty Bay and on the Coast, with respective roll numbers, in May, 1947, were:

Arero (14), Awapuni (140), Bartlett's (44), East Cape (11), Gisborne Central (648), Hangaioa (13), Homebrook (21), Ihungia (8), Kairoa (11), Kaiti (387), Koranga Valley (11), Makaraka (91), Makarika (32), Makauri (90), Mangapapa (342), Manutuke (161), Mata (18), Matawai (63), Mihiwhetu (9), Motu (20), Motuhora (25), Muriwai (85), Ngatapa (53), Ormond (127), Otoko (32), Paparatu (14), Patutahi (163), Pehiri (17), Pouawa (8), Puha (51), Rere (30), Tauwhareparae (11), Te Hapara (283), Te Karaka (primary 220, secondary 105), Te Puia (42), Tiniroto (11), Tokomaru (102), Tolaga Bay (primary 287, secondary 27), Tubua (18), Waerenga-a-Hika (47), Waerenga-o-Kuri (19), Waikereru (8), Waimata Valley (12), Waingake (11), Wharekopae (9), Whatatutu (105) and Wheturau (19).