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

Gisborne High School

page 363

Gisborne High School

The first Board of Governors (appointed in 1886) comprised: Archdeacon W. L. Williams (chairman) and Rev. J. McAra (Government representatives), A. Graham and C. A. de Lautour (Gisborne Borough), J. W. Johnson and D. Johnston, junior (Cook County). Since 1914 the Hawke's Bay Education Board has also had a representative, and the parents of pupils two representatives. In 1886 the Hawke's Bay Education Board decided that the rents from the school endowments would not be sufficient for some years to maintain a high school in Gisborne. [These endowments were valued at £6,858 in 1886 and at £64,293 in 1937. The net income from all high school endowments is now pooled, so that schools with endowments are, to-day, no better off than unendowed schools.] On 28 February, 1888, secondary classes were inaugurated as a department of the Central School. There were, at the start, 17 secondary pupils: Frank Henderson, Percy Matthews, James Poynter, Edward O'Meara, James Young, Claude Stubbs, Jessie Hall (Mrs. McKenzie), Mabel de Lautour (Mrs. Hughes), Edith Faram, Emma Dixon (Mrs. Captain Chrisp), Fanny Baker, Robert Scott, Blanche Bouillon, Reg. Skipworth, Nellie Steele, John Graham, Harold Lysnar, and, later in the year, Claude Morgan. Among the second-year pupils were H. H. de Costa, D. Watt, Colin Dunlop, Wellwood Reeves, Louis Sherriff, Hilton Lysnar and Lily Witty.

The first master to control the higher classes was E. H. Mann, B.A., LL.B. In September, 1906, he resigned to enter the legal profession. John Kinder was appointed to the vacancy, but, two years later, he also deserted the teaching profession to practise law. In his outline of the history of the school up to 1936, C. H. Bull says:

“Mr. Mann's name is inseparable from the activities of the District High School. He was a graduate of London University and a thoroughly efficient master who possessed a wealth of sarcasm which amounted to a gift and enabled perfect discipline to be maintained without resorting to corporal punishment.”

During 1895 the High School Board treated the secondary classes as a separate high school. A room was rented from the parishioners of Holy Trinity Church. There were then 22 pupils. A fee of eight guineas per annum was charged. Financially, the experiment was a failure. The board was then permitted to erect a building to accommodate from 30 to 40 pupils in the Central School grounds, and was assisted by a capitation grant of £2 10/- per pupil by the Hawke's Bay Education Board. Miss Mills, the first lady assistant, was appointed in 1899.

The present high school was opened in 1910 with a roll number of 136. In 1917 the assembly hall was added, and further extensions were made in 1920, 1925 and 1927. The workshops and home science block were erected in 1934. Four additional classrooms, a new science laboratory, and an agricultural science laboratory were completed in 1940. There were 800 pupils in June, 1949. Arthur Raglan Gatland, B.A., was the first principal (1909–12). He was succeeded by Frank Foote, B.A., B.Sc., whose term ranged from 1913 till 1931. C. H. Bull says:

“During the 19 years Mr. Foote controlled the destinies of the school the roll grew from 93 to 484, and we are indebted to him for the solid foundations of school life laid down during his long period of good and faithful service. His interest in his pupils his powers of discipline and his attractive personality combined to make him an ideal headmaster, and hundreds of old students remember him to-day with affection and respect.”

The next rector was James Hutton, M.A., LL.B. (1932–43). He sponsored the extension of the functions of the school to embody those of a Technical High School.

“At the time of Mr. Hutton's appointment,” Mr. Bull remarks, “the school had reached the point where the development of its functions could be safely launched. page 364 The present pupils and those of the future will owe much to the ability and the enthusiasm which characterised Mr. Hutton's work in extending the usefulness of the school and providing for the district an institution catering for all forms of post-primary education.”

During the Second World War Mr. Hutton served as a Lieutenant (Special) in the Royal New Zealand Navy, at first as education officer and, later, as rehabilitation officer, at Devonport Naval Base. He received the M.B.E. award in 1949.

James Leggat, M.A. (formerly of Hastings High School and New Plymouth High School) succeeded Mr. Hutton in October, 1943, upon his return from war service overseas, where he held the rank of lieutenant-colonel and gained the E.D. award.

Miss J. R. Barr, M.A., was the first senior mistress. Her successors have been: Miss J. Knapp, B.A., Miss J. Stewart, M.A., Miss D. Stewart, M.A., Miss M. Prestwich, Miss E. E. Stephens, M.A., Miss E. M. McCarthy, M.Sc., Miss R. Mason, M.A., and Miss C. Gunther, M.A., Dip.Ed.


A separate high school for girls was included in the Fraser Government's “Ten-year Regional Plan” (1946).

The Rectory, a hostel for boys, was opened in 1911, and Ayton House, the girls' hostel, in 1916.

The swimming bath (opened on 3 March, 1927) was sponsored by the Old Students' Association and built, at a cost of £3,000, as a memorial to the 36 old boys who made the supreme sacrifice during the First Great War. As a memorial to the 93 ex-students who gave their lives in the Empire's cause in World War No. 2, £3,000 is to be raised to provide a grandstand, dressing rooms, etc.

Chairmen: W. L. Williams, 1885–93; W. Morgan, 1893–1905; C. A. de Lautour, 1905–11; J. W. Nolan, 1911–13; E. H. Mann, 1913–25; A. Forde Matthews, 1925–26; L. T. Burnard, 1926—.

Secretaries: C. A. de Lautour (honorary), 1886–1905; W. Morgan, 1905–17; J. H. Bull, 1918–24; C. H. Bull, 1924–44; R. Ogilvie, 1944—.

Roll of Duxes

Boys: 1909, G. Redpath; 1910, W. H. Grant; 1911, A. M. Rhinesmith; 1912, A. M. Rhinesmith; 1913, J. P. Porter; 1914, A. F. Fyson; 1915, G. E. Lees; 1916, R. S. Aitken; 1917, A. Murray; 1918, K. A. Woodward; 1919, J. R. Lockie; 1920, D. F. Aitken; 1921, T. Phillips; 1922, L. H. Thompson; 1923, J. J. Jelinek; 1924, J. T. Campbell; 1925, L. E. Schwabe; 1926, G. E. McDowell; 1927, C. Lowndes; 1928, K. Sheen; 1929, J. H. Scott; 1930, K. H. Black; 1931, A. Webster; 1932, H. L. Baker; 1933, W. Pyatt; 1934, R. T. H. Adlam; 1935, D. A. Leslie; 1936, M. N. Ensor; 1937, B. Gibson; 1938, R. Upton; 1939, D. F. Nelson; 1940, R. J. Dow; 1941, G. E. Monk; 1942, C. E. Vance; 1943, D. E. Poswillo; 1944, T. C. M. Lonie; 1945, W. M. Bourke; 1946, H. G. Cole; 1947, M. F. Dunphy; 1948, A. Leggat; 1949, J. D. Thain.

Girls: 1909, L. Harper; 1910, M. E. Moore; 1911, M. E. Moore; 1912, A. M. B. Butterfield; 1913, A. M. B. Butterfield; 1914, M. Langlands; 1915, R. B. Schwabe; 1916, K. N. Hueston; 1917, G. Mitchell; 1918, E. G. Hueston; 1919, C. S. Burns; 1920, E. Black; 1921, K. Hei; 1922; S. M. Foote; 1923, S. M. Foote; 1924, Tai Ngata; 1925, L. Harding; 1926, H. Holmes; 1927, E. W. Johnstone; 1928, B. Dunbar; 1929, A. Burdett; 1930, V. Richardson; 1931, K. Edmundson; 1932, C. E. Burch; 1933, B. N. Thompson; 1934, B. N. Thompson; 1935, I. M. Baker; 1936, B. Bignell; 1937, H. Meredith; 1938, E. Cameron; 1939, E. Talbot; 1940, N. Parkinson; 1941, L. Ching; 1942, P. R. Dunphy; 1943, B. Darling; 1944, N. Broom; 1945, G. E. Poswillo; 1946, N. Tarr; 1947, M. W. Smith; 1948, S. McAneny; 1949, M. J. Crawford.

University Scholarship Winners

University scholarships have been gained as under:

1909: G. Redpath, J.U.S.; W. P. Dunphy, cred. 1911: May Moore, cred. 1912: A. M. Rhinesmith, J.U.S. 1913: J. P. Porter, cred.; B. Butterfield, cred. 1914: C. Butterfield, Military schol. 1916: R. S. Aitken, J.U.S.; A. Blackburn, Military schol. 1917: R. S. Aitken, S.U.S. 1919: J. R. Lockie, J.U.S. 1920: J. R. Lockie, J.U.S., and D. F. Aitken, J.U.S. 1922: A. B. Tiffen, cred.; L. H. Thompson, cred.; T. Phillips, cred.; Sadie Foote, cred. 1923: J. J. Jelinek, J.U.S.; Sadie Foote, cred. 1924: J. T. Campbell, J.U.S. 1928: D. Sinclair, cred.; B. Dunbar, cred. 1929: Patricia Lusher, cred. 1930: K. H. Black, cred. 1931: K. H. Black, U.E.S.; H. L. Baker, U.E.S.; I. J. Thompson, cred. 1932: H. L. Baker, U.E.S. 1933: Barbara N. Thompson, cred. 1934: B. N. Thompson, U.E.S. 1942: C. F. Vance, cred. 1944: T. C. Lonie, U.E.S.; Nanette Broom, cred.; H. Baker, cred.; A. B. Forsyth, cred.; page 365 W. M. Bourke, cred.; J. S. Walker, cred.; Rayma G. Phillpots, cred. 1945: Glenys Poswillo, cred.; W. M. Bourke, cred.; Olwyn Millichip, cred. 1946: R. P. Kelly, cred.; H. G. Cole, cred. 1947: J. F. D. Patterson, cred.; Margaret W. Smith, cred.; W. P. Riley and A. R. Vail, Military schol. 1949: J. D. Thain, U.E.S. cred.

Brilliant Pupils

Humphrey F. Parker, a pupil of Gisborne Central School, topped the primary schools scholarship list for New Zealand in 1906, and was granted a Queen's Scholarship. He went on to Nelson College. Whilst he was taking a course in engineering at Canterbury College the Great War of 1914–18 broke out, and he left for England to study aeronautical engineering, qualifying for the letters A.F.R.A.E. Soc. He became chief engineer to the McKinnon Chain and Hoist Manufacturing Company at Buffalo (U.S.A.) and a research worker in the U.S. Bureau of Standards.

Born in New York, Albert Martin Rhinesmith came to New Zealand with his parents in 1901. His father became a naturalized British subject. The son attended Gisborne D.H. School, was awarded the Hawke's Bay Caledonian Society's medal for best primary school pupil in the district, was dux of Gisborne High School twice, and, in 1912, gained a junior university scholarship. At Otago University he obtained his M.Sc. degree. He was nominated for a Rhodes Scholarship, but the fact that he was of foreign birth disqualified him. Enlisting at the end of 1916, he gained the rank of second lieutenant. He was killed in action in France on 24 July, 1918.

James R. Lockie, who received his primary education at Gisborne Central School, won junior university scholarships in 1919 and 1920, and culminated his university career by gaining the degree LL.M. He became clerk to the County of Ayr, and, in 1943. was awarded the O.B.E. for outstanding work in organising A.R.P. defences. In 1945 he was appointed principal officer of the establishment and organising division of U.N.N.R.A.

James T. Campbell was dux of Te Hapara School and of Gisborne High School. In 1924 he won a junior university scholarship. Entering Otago University, he won a travelling scholarship and the Ross Fellowship. At Edinburgh University he gained his Ph.D. degree. He then accepted the position of Professor of Mathematics and Statistics at Victoria University College (Wellington).

An ex-student of Gisborne High School, Robert Stevenson Aitken (born at Wyndham) gained a Rhodes Scholarship in 1923. He headed the list for New Zealand when he won a junior university scholarship in 1916, and was again at the top when he won a senior university scholarship in 1917. He qualified M.B. and Ch.M. in 1922 at Otago University. At Balliol College (Oxford) he won the Owen Williams Research Scholarship and took the degree Ph.D. He gained his M.D. in London and was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. Dr. Aitken then became Reader in Medicine and assistant-director of the British Post-graduate Medical School of the University of London. He was appointed Regius Professor of Medicine at Aberdeen University in 1937. Otago University honoured him, in February, 1948, by selecting him as its Vice-Chancellor. Dr. Aitken and D. F. Aitken (who won a junior university scholarship whilst he was a pupil of Gisborne High School) are sons of the Rev. James Aitken, M.A., who, for 19 years, occupied the pulpit of St. Andrew's Church, Gisborne, and who, upon his retirement, went to reside at Home.

James Paterson Porter, B.Sc., M.I.C.E. (a son of Dr. W. P. Porter, who formerly practised in Gisborne), studied at Otago University upon leaving Gisborne High School. He was trained in engineering at University College, London, and gained the Chadwick Gold Medal in municipal engineering and hygiene. In 1927 be joined the staff of London County Council, and, in 1948, was appointed chief engineer to the Auckland Metropolitan Drainage Board.

Harold L. Baker, a student of Gisborne High School, twice won a junior university scholarship. Entering Victoria University College, he gained his M.A. degree, the Sir Robert Stout Scholarship and an overseas scholarship in modern languages. He was nominated by Victoria College for a Rhodes Scholarship. His studies for the degree Litt.D. at the Sorbonne in Paris were interrupted by the Second World War. He then became superintendent of education in the Falkland Islands.

Keith Sheen (a student at Gisborne High School from 1924 till 1928) holds the degree Ph.D. He was nominated for a Rhodes Scholarship. At present (1949) he is on the teaching staff of the Boys' High School at Dunedin.


A Native school was opened at Whakato in July, 1872 (F. J. Carrington, master). Kaiti Native school (T. Bryant) followed in September, 1872, and, then, Tolaga Bay (S. A. Parker), December, 1872; Tokomaru Bay (R. Warner), December, 1872; Waiapu (Captain Gleadow), 1873; Akuaku and Te Araroa, 1874. Other early Native schools on the East Coast were: Port Awanui (1875), Hicks Bay and Wai-o-matatini (1876), and Rangitukia (1880). In 1876, 19 of the 22 students at To Aute College belonged to the East Coast districts—one hailed from Tokomaru Bay, 12 from Tolaga Bay, 3 from Poverty Bay and 3 from Wairoa.

By 28 February, 1949, 70 boys had been assisted either with a scholarship or a bursary, at an aggregate outlay of £3,300, by the Barrington Miller Educational Trust, which was created by William Barrington Miller to assist boys born in New Zealand and resident in Gisborne or any one or more of the counties of Cook, page 366 Waikohu, Uawa, Waiapu or Matakaoa for not less than 10 years (or such less period that the Trust might decide upon) who wish to have the benefit of some higher form of education, but not necessarily restricted to scholastic training. It is anticipated that the fund will, eventually, aggregate £45,000, and provide an annual income of £1,500.