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Hikuai School celebrates 125 years

Imagine a one-room school built of heart Kauri with only 16 pupils from just four families. Imagine it in a lovely rural setting and you have the beginning of Hikuai School in August 1897.

Fast-forward 125 years and a small group of locals are busy organising Hikuai School’s Jubilee Celebrations that are sure to renew friendships and memories of school days gone-by and acknowledge the work of present-day pupils.

One of the organising group is former teacher at the school, Anne Fowler.

“We are feeling excited and enthusiastic about our jubilee,” she says. “We encourage past pupils to check out our website where they can register. It is going to be a very special occasion.”

Programme

The 125-year Jubilee is on November 11 and 12 and registrations are welcome.
There will be a warm welcome on the Friday Open Day, with school tours and an opportunity to reconnect with each other.

Photographs and stories from the school’s archives are part of an interesting history trail and organisers promise a fun atmosphere is the afternoon classrooms. Pupils’ learning and Kapa Haka will also be showcased during the Friday afternoon programme.

Saturday promises to create lots of fun memories, with egg and spoon races as well as three-legged races. The programme ends with dinner at Lakes Resort Golf Club, where students will showcase their wearable art.

 

History

The first school building at Hikuai cost 130 pounds and was originally named Tairua Block School. By the end of 1897 the roll had risen to 25, including17 pupils aged around nine who were attending a school for the first time.

From 1914 – 17, the headmaster was Herbert Insull. (Years later he would record his arrival in Hikuai from Auckland by boat after ‘chugging up the river’). During his time at the school, its name was changed to Hikuai School. Mr Insull was also responsible for the school at Puketui, sharing his time between each school. Puketui School closed in 1917.

In 1919, the roll was recorded as 29 pupils, but this slowly declined and in 1930 there were only 15. Numbers remained static over the next 15 years then dropped to just nine by 1963. However, Hikuai became a two-teacher school in 1966.

Buildings were added over the years and in 1972, the community celebrated a school swimming pool, built from locally raised funds. (After starting pool fundraising five years earlier, Barbara Karl was granted the first swim in it!) Prior to the swimming pool, pupils used the river for swimming lessons.

Families coming in to work at Pauanui during the winter months of 1973-74 boosted the school roll and the following year there was a third permanent teacher.

Four years later the roll justified a fourth teacher. That year the swamp at the rear of the school was drained and became the school playing field. Another asset to the school was the library, built in 1981.

In 1991 major renovations were done, including an administration block and covered walkways. As the roll continued to rise, a fifth teacher was appointed in 1995 and a fifth room added the following year.

By the centennial celebrations of 1997, there were five teachers, a secretary, teacher’s aide, school cleaner and roll of 115.

As well as many changes in school roll, teachers and buildings, there have been changes in transport to school. 125 years ago pupils arrived bare foot or by horse, leaving their mounts in the horse paddock, which is now identified as the top field,

Hikuai History

Hikuai was originally known as Pukiore and there is evidence of moa hunting and pa sites in the area. The opening of goldfields in 1867 brought a strong demand for timber and prompted William Jackson to open a sawmill. He also established a landing known as Jackson’s Landing. A decade later this river cargo and passenger depot had built up a population of 42. The discovery of gold at Puketui brought many hopeful diggers to the area.

Hikuai Post Office opened in 1897 and it received a telephone in 1908. George Morrison built the first Hikuai Hall, which became a popular venue for church, dancing, and social events. Bushmen built a new public hall in 1914.

After World War One, a number of farms were created on Hikuai land as part of the Government’s repatriation programme and ballot. Most were dairy farms. Cream was sent by launch down the river and then shipped to Auckland by steamer until a dairy factor opened in Tairua.

Electric power reached Hikuai district in 1962 and the Kopu-Hikuai highway opened in 1967, both heralding major changes for the area.

For more information and registration check out www.hikuaischool.co.nz

Hikuai School 125 jubilee promises nostalgia and fun. The school now has 54 pupils, three classrooms and four teachers, including the principal, Rachel Leitch. She says she is looking forward to the jubilee and hopes past pupils and community members will come and join teachers and pupils celebrating the special occasion.

Caption: This kauri building was the beginning of Hikuai School 125 years ago

 |  The Informer  | 

Imagine a one-room school built of heart Kauri with only 16 pupils from just four families. Imagine it in a lovely rural setting and you have the beginning of Hikuai School in August 1897.

Fast-forward 125 years and a small group of locals are busy organising Hikuai School’s Jubilee Celebrations that are sure to renew friendships and memories of school days gone-by and acknowledge the work of present-day pupils.

One of the organising group is former teacher at the school, Anne Fowler.

“We are feeling excited and enthusiastic about our jubilee,” she says. “We encourage past pupils to check out our website where they can register. It is going to be a very special occasion.”

Programme

The 125-year Jubilee is on November 11 and 12 and registrations are welcome.
There will be a warm welcome on the Friday Open Day, with school tours and an opportunity to reconnect with each other.

Photographs and stories from the school’s archives are part of an interesting history trail and organisers promise a fun atmosphere is the afternoon classrooms. Pupils’ learning and Kapa Haka will also be showcased during the Friday afternoon programme.

Saturday promises to create lots of fun memories, with egg and spoon races as well as three-legged races. The programme ends with dinner at Lakes Resort Golf Club, where students will showcase their wearable art.

 

History

The first school building at Hikuai cost 130 pounds and was originally named Tairua Block School. By the end of 1897 the roll had risen to 25, including17 pupils aged around nine who were attending a school for the first time.

From 1914 – 17, the headmaster was Herbert Insull. (Years later he would record his arrival in Hikuai from Auckland by boat after ‘chugging up the river’). During his time at the school, its name was changed to Hikuai School. Mr Insull was also responsible for the school at Puketui, sharing his time between each school. Puketui School closed in 1917.

In 1919, the roll was recorded as 29 pupils, but this slowly declined and in 1930 there were only 15. Numbers remained static over the next 15 years then dropped to just nine by 1963. However, Hikuai became a two-teacher school in 1966.

Buildings were added over the years and in 1972, the community celebrated a school swimming pool, built from locally raised funds. (After starting pool fundraising five years earlier, Barbara Karl was granted the first swim in it!) Prior to the swimming pool, pupils used the river for swimming lessons.

Families coming in to work at Pauanui during the winter months of 1973-74 boosted the school roll and the following year there was a third permanent teacher.

Four years later the roll justified a fourth teacher. That year the swamp at the rear of the school was drained and became the school playing field. Another asset to the school was the library, built in 1981.

In 1991 major renovations were done, including an administration block and covered walkways. As the roll continued to rise, a fifth teacher was appointed in 1995 and a fifth room added the following year.

By the centennial celebrations of 1997, there were five teachers, a secretary, teacher’s aide, school cleaner and roll of 115.

As well as many changes in school roll, teachers and buildings, there have been changes in transport to school. 125 years ago pupils arrived bare foot or by horse, leaving their mounts in the horse paddock, which is now identified as the top field,

Hikuai History

Hikuai was originally known as Pukiore and there is evidence of moa hunting and pa sites in the area. The opening of goldfields in 1867 brought a strong demand for timber and prompted William Jackson to open a sawmill. He also established a landing known as Jackson’s Landing. A decade later this river cargo and passenger depot had built up a population of 42. The discovery of gold at Puketui brought many hopeful diggers to the area.

Hikuai Post Office opened in 1897 and it received a telephone in 1908. George Morrison built the first Hikuai Hall, which became a popular venue for church, dancing, and social events. Bushmen built a new public hall in 1914.

After World War One, a number of farms were created on Hikuai land as part of the Government’s repatriation programme and ballot. Most were dairy farms. Cream was sent by launch down the river and then shipped to Auckland by steamer until a dairy factor opened in Tairua.

Electric power reached Hikuai district in 1962 and the Kopu-Hikuai highway opened in 1967, both heralding major changes for the area.

For more information and registration check out www.hikuaischool.co.nz

Hikuai School 125 jubilee promises nostalgia and fun. The school now has 54 pupils, three classrooms and four teachers, including the principal, Rachel Leitch. She says she is looking forward to the jubilee and hopes past pupils and community members will come and join teachers and pupils celebrating the special occasion.

Caption: This kauri building was the beginning of Hikuai School 125 years ago