Karangahake School and District 70th Jubilee 1889-1959

Unfortunately the School Records are far from complete but we have done our best to trace the vague early history. It seems that Mr John Ritchie, who opened a Private School in Paeroa in 1875 also conducted a part-time school at Mackaytown. An old newspaper cutting reads: "15-8-76. School under Education Board opened at Mackaytown in a building lent by Adam Porter, 25 children in attendance."

Shortly afterwards, Mr Ritchie was occupied full time at Paeroa, but there is evidence that Mackaytown, Owharoa and Waitekauri were linked as part-time schools, the teacher spending a week at each in turn. Mr Sullivan filled this position until he was appointed headmaster of the Paeroa School in 1885.

The Mackaytown building was burned down in 1886 and the community petitioned for the new school to be built at Karangahake. However, no immediate action was taken and children once more attended in a borrowed building, stated as being "unfit for use in winter." For a period their teacher was Dr Haeusler, who was a geologist of Bohemian origin, and the author of a work entitled "The Microscopic Structure of Ohinemuri Gold."

In 1888 Mr Ritchie, now a widower, returned to Paeroa to live with his daughter, Mrs J. W. Shaw, and he took charge of the Mackaytown and Owharoa Schools. During 1889 a new school was built at Karangahake and although Owharoa was still under his charge, Mr Ritchie was the first teacher here. He continued in this part-time capacity until he retired in 1891. Our Jack Bunting was a foundation pupil at this new school of about 40 pupils.

In 1892 Miss Patterson (who later married Mr Guthrie), became the first full-time head teacher. She was assisted by Mr D. Dunlop, who was headmaster of the Paeroa District High School from 1812-1916 [1912-1916 - E], afterwards becoming an Inspector and then for many years Secretary of the Auckland Education Board. The school residence was built in 1892.

From 1894-1896 Mr A. Oldham was headmaster and the building was enlarged in 1895. He was followed in 1897 by Mr A. N. Scott, who remained for 15 years and put many of us through our paces. The school was again enlarged in 1898.

Looking at the old records of those days one realises the immensity of the job faced by the teachers, who had to be warriors to cope at all. They had a large assortment of children of various ages, many of whom had had very little consecutive schooling. The numbers in the lower classes ranged from 50 to over 80 in each room, but many did not remain to reach the sixth standard. To cap all, a fearsome Inspector arrived each year to decree "yea" or "nay" as to whether children should "pass" or sadly "fail." Bad enough for the pupils but how humiliating for the harassed teachers who were liable to have caustic remarks written into examination registers for prying eyes to see 50 years on; e.g. "This class knows nothing," or "Spelling disgraceful — Cane for mistakes."

Well, we still have our faults and weaknesses, but can be thankful that the atmosphere of the schoolroom is quite different today. In some ways it is even more difficult for the teacher — now that drill methods and mass production have gone — but it is certainly more natural for the child, especially for the timid and the slow learners.

The opening of the Mackaytown Side School in 1902 must have afforded considerable relief to the overcrowded conditions at Karangahake. The population at this period was increasing rapidly, and many a small Mackaytowner was spared an arduous walk until the Standard one or two stage. It was a lovely little school, taught by a succession of mostly kindly souls who, in spite of large numbers and inspectorial pressure, managed to maintain an intimate atmosphere. It was of course under the jurisdiction of the Karangahake Headmaster. When the population dwindled the little school was closed and stood alone and empty until it was sold in the early 1930's.

About 1923 two now spare rooms of the Karangahake School were taken to replace the Waikino School which had been burned following a tragedy there.

Our roll continued to decrease until in 1942 the assistant teacher, Miss M. Taylor, was transferred and the school became once more a "Sole charge" under Mr Briggs, who had been the headmaster since 1933. We shall leave the history there except to add that today's picture tells another story, full of great promise.


In 1903 the Paeroa School became a District High School and many Karangahake pupils have had their secondary education there, although some have travelled by train to either Thames or Waihi. It is interesting to note that in 1912, of the 45 pupils in the secondary department of the Paeroa District High School, there were 14 from Karangahake and six of these became teachers.

This year, 1959, opened with two primary schools at Paeroa, and a well equipped College with its own principal, Mr W. L. McLean, a staff of 14, and 300 scholars. Our complement, though small, acquits itself well and the head girl, Judith Clarke, comes from Karangahake.

Original Mackaytown Teachers

Mr J. Ritchie 1876-

Mr A. Sullivan 1877-1884

Dr Haeusler 1885-1886

Mr J. Ritchie 1887-1889

Karangahake Head Teachers

Mr J. Ritchie 1889-1891

Miss Patterson 1892-1893

Mr A. Oldham 1894-1896

Mr A. N. Scott 1897-1912

Mr Craddock Relieving

Mr R. J. Hamilton 1913-1916

Mr W. Lewins 1917-1918

Mr A. Beasley 1919-

Mr A. Bell 1920-1921

Mr J. W. Jones 1922-1925

Mr G. Sale 1926-1927

Mr E. C. Morgan 1928-1929

Mrs I. Wallace 1930- 1932

Mr H. Nagle Relieving

Mr C. R. Briggs 1933-1943

Mr R. A. Rutherford 1944-1946

Mr J. Richards 1947-1949

Mr T. Murray 1950-1952

Mr B. Renner 1953-1956

Mr E. Nash 1957-1959

Assistant Teachers

Mr D. Dunlop

Miss Dunstan

Mr W. Joll

Mr Ingram

Miss I. Dette

Miss Flatt

Mr Johns

Miss Green

Miss G. Palmer

Miss S. Forrest

Miss Kelly

Miss Keogh

Mr R. Corbett

Mr Burton

Miss Wilson

Miss Gain

Mr Gant

Miss R. Daldy

Mr McLean

Miss G. Clulee [or Cluley - E]

Miss H. Blomquist

Miss L. Hay

Miss L. Benge

Miss B. O'Neil

Miss E. Sykes

Miss A. Connolly

Mr H. I. Blow

Mr C. Gwilliam

Miss G. Gibb

Miss J. Marshall

Miss A. Kennedy

Miss Nish

Miss G. Rohan

Miss J. Coombe

Miss K. White

Miss N. Scott

Miss R. Curtis

Miss G. Butcher

Miss G. McGuire

Miss F. Dawson

Miss E. Close

Mr A. O'Neil

Miss J. Milroy

Miss G. Loving

Miss M. Leece

Miss A. Ivory

Miss E. Butcher

Mr E. Hammond

Miss F. Bell

Miss M. Taylor

Mrs J. Renner

Mrs G. Nash

Miss P. Short

Mackaytown Side School

Miss Barlow

Mrs York

Miss Whittacre

Miss Lavery

Mr C. Jenkins

Mrs Farmer

Miss Hardy

Miss Miller

Miss Gibb

Old Pupils Who Joined The Teaching Profession

Amy Connolly

Aldyth McGuire

Len Scott

Cyril Gwilliam

Nellie Scott

Ernie Searle

Jean Milroy

Margaret White

Mary Wall

Gertie McGuire

Mary Fitzgerald

Len Hilton

Fred Dare

Glen Feigler

Thelma Conway

Minnie Fallon

Mavis James

Jessie McLeod

Isobel Dare

Albert O'Neil

Mavis Vuglar