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Life in Early Poverty Bay

The Pioneer School — Late Mr. W. Dean Lysnar First Master. — List of Early Scholars

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The Pioneer School
Late Mr. W. Dean Lysnar First Master.
List of Early Scholars.

It is interesting to record that the first school in Poverty Bay stood in Childers Road in front of what is now the Gisborne Hotel. The late Mr. William Dean Lysnar, father of Mr. W. D. Lysnar, M.P., was the first dominee. He was a trained master of St. Mark's College, London, and certificated D2 by the Department of Education in this country. Previously, he had had a private school in Auckland and a register, relating as far back as 1859, is still extant. Incidentally, the late Mr. Lysnar could claim to have taught the children of some of the most influential early residents of the Queen City of the North. His terms were—weekly in advance—as follows:—Lower Division: Reading, writing, spelling, geography and arithmetic, one shilling and sixpence. Upper Division, including the above, with English grammar and composition, advanced arithmetic, history and book-keeping, two shillings and sixpence. Mr. Lysnar also held evening classes, for which the fee was two shillings per week, with Latin, French and the Higher Mathematics extra. It would appear that Mr. Lysnar gave up his school at Auckland—it was at first known as “The Commercial School” and later, as “The Lyceum School”—early in 1864. Some twenty years later, however, he again had a private school in Auckland known as the Eden Hall School, and situated on Mt. Eden Road, Auckland.

The late Mr. Lysnar commenced school-teaching in Gisborne early in 1872. The school building was used also to hold church services in on occasions. His diary (kindly lent by Mr. W. D. Lysnar) contains the following interesting references to the school.

The Late W. Dean Lysnar (First Schoolmaster of Poverty Bay)

The Late W. Dean Lysnar
(First Schoolmaster of Poverty Bay)

June 10th, 1872: Attended a meeting of the school committee in school-house. Resolved to call a public meeting. Mr. Read signed the specification for addition to school house.

June 22: Public meeting to consider advisability of imposing a tax for educational purposes. Considerable discussion ensued, all those present being on one side—in favor of education. Mr. Horsfall proposed that the meeting do not agree to any taxation for educational purposes. Seconded by Mr. Dalziell and carried.

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June 25: At a meeting of the school committee it was resolved that the chairman be empowered to apply to the Central Board of Education at Auckland to impose a tax estimated at sixpence in the £ on the annual rental on this district for the purpose of raising £150 to be expended as follows: Lining school house £40; fencing £25, debts due £40; rent for teachers' house £25; additional furniture £10; expenses of collection £10; total £150.

June 29: A copy of the above resolution and statement was affixed to the Court-house this day.

August 7: A soiree took place in the Gisborne school-house at 5 p.m. There was a very large attendance of all ages and conditions. It continued until about 4 o'clock next morning. The gross proceeds were £23 2s; tickets 4/-each.

August 22: In the evening a meeting of the Church and school committees to consider the question of religious services in the school-house. Resolved that the school-house be common to all denominations.

February 27, 1873: Mr. O'Sullivan inspecting the school. Attended public meeting for the election of school committee. Committee elected: Capt. Porter (chairman) and Messrs. Steel, Skeet, Webb-and Adams.

March 31: Letter from the Board of Education—salary £150; mistress £15; rent £25; school requisites £10.

April 30: Meeting of the Gisborne school committee. Resolution passed to regulate the price of stationery—sixpence per quarter for slate pencils and 1/- for pens and ink.

The Old School-House se in Lowe Street.

The Old School-House se in Lowe Street.

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January 17, 1874: Public meeting in schoolroom to elect a new committee. The attendance was small and, although five prominent residents (Messrs. Buchanan. Teat, Morgan, Capt. Porter and Rev. Mr. Root) were willing to serve, it was resolved on a motion proposed by Mr. Webb and seconded by Mr. Skeet that no committee should be elected for the present year on account of the unsatisfactory working of The Education Act 1872.

March 30, 1874: Gave notice to the school committee of my intention to apply to the Board of Education for a gratuity to the monitorial teachers.

December 18, 1874: In the morning the Gisborne school examined by the Rev. Mr. Root at the request of the School Commissioners. Result—Reading, very good; writing, fair; arithmetic, very inferior; composition, good; spelling, middling; history, inferior; geography, fair.

April 15, 1875: Saw Mr. Gill, who told me I would shortly get a letter from Capt. Porter about the admission of Native children into the school at a fee of £4 per head per annum by the general government.

June 5, 1875: Dr. Nesbitt brought me an offer from Mr. Gill to take charge of the Native school at Omahu, near Napier. The terms are £150 a year for the master; £20 a year for the mistress; free house, and enclosed garden land of nearly two acres. Limited right to pasture land.

June 8: Resigned the mastership of the Gisborne school.

September 1: Started a school at Omahu, salary £200 per annum; wife's £20.

In 1875, it seems, the bulk of the Native children attending Te Aute school at Napier came from the East Coast. Here is an account of what Te Paki te Amaru, of Uawa, said after a visit to that institution:—

‘I am much pleased with what I have seen and heard here, viz., the personal cleanliness of the children, their clean clothes, the good beds and iron bedsteads, and the wholesome food. They eat from tables and follow the customs and the habits of the pakehas generally. They are taught arithmetic, the English language, and the Scriptures in English. This is good for ‘The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Another good thing is that European children attend the same school; and they all converse together as if they were children of one race. What I also admired was the untiring energy of the teacher, who seemed to take no rest, except when eating or sleeping. I thought if I were still a child I should like to attend this school. The children who attend are—from Tokomaru Bay, 1; from Uawa, 12; Turanga (Gisborne), 3; from Wairoa, 3; and from Napier 3; total 22.”

A List of Fees.

In the late Mr. Lysnar's diary appear the accounts of the Gisborne School for the various quarters during his headmastership. The first is for the quarter ended September 30, 1872, and the particulars include:—

Mr. Mill: To tuition for William and Maggie £2 12s.

Mr. Adams: Tuition for Joshua £1 6s and four months' pen and ink 2s.

Mr. Dunlop: Tuition for Charles and David £2 12s, pens 4/-, Nelson's No. 4 1/3, Superseder 1/6.

Mr. Uren: Tuition for F. W. Goldsmith £1 14s, pens and books 6/9.

Mr. Langford: Tuition for Annie and Eustace £1 6s, pens and ink 4-. Royal Geography 1/9, Copy Book 6d.

Capt. Kennedy: Tuition for Mary and Edward £1 6s.

Mr. Wylie: Tuition for Gavin and Alexander £1 14s, books etc. 3/9.

Mr. Robb: Tuition for Robert 17/-; for Ellen (3 weeks) 3/-, books 3/9.

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The Main Central School of to-Day.

The Main Central School of to-Day.

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Mr Stevenson: Tuition for James 19/-.

Mr. H. Bertie Reed: Tuition for Florence, Ernest, Edith, Arthur, and Bertie £2 5s. 6d.

Mr. William King: Tuition for Elizabeth and Thomas £1 6s, Mary (seven weeks) 7/-.

Mr. W. S. Greene: Tuition for Theodore and Arthur £1 8s; pens and ink 5/-, Anderson's Geography 2-, Royal ditto 1/9, Slate 9d.

Mr. Goldsmith: Tuition for Oliver (five weeks), 5/-.

Mr. Forbes: Tuition for Louisa and Rachel £1 19s.

Mr. O'Donoghue: Tuition for Mary Ann 13/-.

Mrs. Meldrum: Three medium slates 1/8; 3 small do. 1/2; 1 box slate pencils 5d; 3 Royal Geographies 4/6; 2 small Arithmetics 8d; 2 Readers No. 4 1/8; A Step by Steps 6d; 2 Sequels 8d; and 3 Copy Books 1/-.

Mr. Doleman: Tuition for Martha £1 6s.

Mr. Dunlop: Tuition for Ellen (6 weeks) 6/-.

Mr. Steele: Tuition for Alice (7 weeks) 7/-.

Mr. Gilman: Books 4/-.

Mr. W. King: Tuition for Elizabeth and Thomas £1 6s.

In the following quarter the following also were amongst the scholars: Findlay Drummond, Charles Young, Heber Pritchard, Lucy Morton, Jane and Elizabeth Hall, Walter and Clara Webb, Kate O'Donoghue, Laura Langford, Ada Stevens, Frank and Emily Skeet, Geo. Brown, P. Jones, Annie, Walter, Harry and Frederick Clayton, Flora Wylie, A. McDonald, A. Harris, Cameron, Kate, Arthur and Mary Buchanan, Wm. and Robt. Stuckey, Annie Adams, John Cook, Alfred Skipworth, David Bridger, Robt. Skeet, James and Frederick Martin, Louisa and Richard Byrne, Minnie Dawson.

Pianoforte lessons were now also given as an extra.

Further new names appear in the 1874 list of scholars as under: John Sampson, George Brocklebanck, Alice Habbourt, M. and H. Sloye, Esther Habbourt, M. and H. Sloye, Esther Brimskill, E. Nasmith, R. Caulton, A. Tibbals, E., M. and R. Tier, Ernest Evans, M. E., J., and S. Morgan, F. Steele, Alf. Adams, T. and E. North, A., B. and F. O'Meara, S., M. and E. Hunt, J., M. and M. Harris, H., Henry and J. Cameron, R. Bailey, H. Nasmith, Em. Blair, M. and A. Scrivener, E. Harris, E. Davis, S. Dawson, Haache.

The 1875 list has also: F. Burnard, E. and H. Warren, F. and T. Faram, J. F. Martin, S. Dawson, A. Sorry, J., G. and N. Carey. W. and J. Maher, J., M. and E. Reed, F. and L. Gibbons, T. Littlewood, M. Hepburn.

The Late Sir Jas. Carroll, When a Boy.

The Late Sir Jas. Carroll, When a Boy.

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New St. Mary's School in Childers Road.

New St. Mary's School in Childers Road.