Karangahake School and District 70th Jubilee 1889-1959


Mr Jack Rackham was a valued member of our community till last year when he died suddenly on November 1st, aged 56 years. Born in Australia he came to Karangahake with his parents as a very small child and remained here all his life. It will be remembered that Jack was a keen foot-baller and did yeomen service as secretary of the Old Boys' and Girls' Association, and as chairman of the School Committee, always being most public spirited and taking an interest in local affairs. He was a Past Grand of the Oddfellows Lodge and served on the County Council and Domain Board. During the last 14 years of his life he was employed by the Ministry of Works, first as a surfaceman, then for five years as a foreman and finally for five years as an overseer.

We extend our deepest sympathy to his wife, Madeliene, his daughter Melba (Mrs Russell) and his two sons, Cyril and Allan.


On the 11th March this year we lost Mrs Rackham, who had resided in Karangahake for 54 years. She was in her 80th year and had come from Australia with her husband and two children in 1905. After a few temporary homes the Rackhams settled above the tunnel. There were eight children; the late Jack and Edna; and Ivy (Mrs C. O'Brien), Jim, Bill, Melba (Mrs C. Bath), Alan and Norman. Mr Rackham, well known miner, died in 1935 and later when all the children were married, Mrs Rackham spent about 12 years with her daughter, Melba. Until her health failed she was a keen gardener and right up until her death her clever hands did wonderful fancy work, particularly crochet at which she was an adept.


Mr James Noble who was connected with various mining companies for over 60 years, as mine manager, battery hand and engineer, died recently at Waihi, aged 87 years. He retired on his 80th birthday, having served for 13 years as Manager of the Waikino Battery. When he was a boy his family came here to a large house known as "Tanglewood," above the Rahu Road, and he attended the original Mackaytown School, later travelling to Waitekauri and Owharoa when these schools were taught in conjunction with Mackaytown. He matriculated at the Thames High School and graduated at the School of Mines there. At the age of 21 he was Manager of the Talisman Battery and lived for a while in Irishtown after he married. His family of two sons and five daughters all survive him.


Mr Ritchie, our first Teacher both at Mackaytown and Karangahake, emigrated from Ireland with his wife and family in 1859. In 1875 they came to Paeroa, where they opened a private school, Mrs Ritchie also being a teacher.

An old Paeroa pupil writes: "We were extremely fortunate in having Mr Ritchie as our first teacher. He was learned, reserved and kind and he and Mrs Ritchie and family were highly esteemed in the district."

There were three daughters, Martha (Mrs Shaw), Minnie (Mrs Coleman) and Margaret (Mrs Ellis), and four sons, Jack, Tom, Walter and Fred — whom many of us knew well. He was the youngest, and at the age of 18 he and Jack went off to Australia prospecting and stayed for seven years. When Fred returned he brought his bride, our loved Mrs Ritchie of Mackaytown.

Although Mr Ritchie (Sen.) was transferred to the Rewene School in 1884, some of his family had settled in this district and he returned to be with them. Many old identities will remember Mrs Jim Shaw and Mrs Ellis of Paeroa.

Mr Ritchie was a keen walker and frequently walked to the Karangahake School from Paeroa. He died in retirement in 1901 at the age of 70 years.


Headmaster 1897-1912 — 15 years.

Mr Scott remained at the helm for a longer period than any other Karangahake Headmaster. He came here from Ohaupo with which place he had very close ties. Old pupils will remember his family, the late Amy, and Marie, Percy, Arthur, Len (now the Headmaster of Westmere School in Auckland) and Nancy. His wife died in Karangahake and later he married Miss Cluley, who had been a member of the staff.

We recollect his firm, decisive, yet scholarly manner and the fact that shortcomings and misdemeanours just did not get by. One pupil remembers particularly that Mr Scott wore on his watch-chain a medal earned at football and that meant a good deal to the boys. Those who came long distances often arrived very wet and were sent over to the house, where Mrs Scott kindly assisted in the drying-out process.

Mr Scott's next appointment was to the Grafton Road School in Auckland, from which he retired. Later, a good deal of his time was spent on the Remuera Bowling Green, but about 1931 he and his wife visited England. Then they moved to Ohaupo where Mr Scott died in 1945 in his 80th year.


We are proud to remember our first local girl who became a teacher at the Karangahake School. She was Gertie Palmer, who lived with her parents in Mackaytown. She was appointed an Assistant Mistress in 1899 and remained here for 10 years. And what strenuous years those must have been! With a rapidly increasing population her job as Infant Mistress was fraught with tremendous difficulty. Records show that the number of children in her room was usually round the 80 mark, yet somehow she managed to teach them the rudiments of the three R's and withal to be remembered with affection. One can still see her smiling brown eyes, her slim neat figure and hear her hurried steps as she busily moved among her motley crew of raw recruits.

She went from Karangahake to Taupo and then as Infant Mistress to Huntly, a position which she held till she married in 1918. At the beginning of 1925 she was in charge of Kimihia School (Huntly) and remained till 1932. She died last year, but we wish she could have lived to be with us now, for this scene was very dear to her. Her only child, Flying Officer J. McIntosh, was killed over Germany in the last week of the war.