Diamond Jubilee of the Ohinemuri County 1885 - 1945

Schools in Ohinemuri District



The growth of a district is indicated by the educational facilities provided, and in the growth of the Paeroa School there is a clear record of the progress of the County seat.

In 1875, ten years before the formation of Ohinemuri County, there were evidently sufficient children in Paeroa to warrant a school, but insufficient to move the Government to establish one, for an English school teacher, Mr. John Ritchie (father of Mrs. W. J. Ellis, formerly of Paeroa) started a private school. In the following year the Education Board took over the school which was a one-roomed building, and retained Mr. Ritchie as teacher. By 1882 the attendance had grown, for it was necessary to appoint an assistant, and Miss A Horgan (later Mrs A. J. Thorp) was chosen. The school was enlarged to two rooms in 1884, and in the year that the County was formed Mr. Ritchie was transferred to Hokianga, and Mr. Walter Sullivan succeeded him. In the same year the first pupil teacher, Miss Bartle, was appointed. She later married the headmaster. In July, 1901, Mr. F. Murphy was appointed headmaster, and in 1903 the District High School was established, and in 1910 the building and all the old records were destroyed by fire. The present brick building was opened in 1911, the south-west, and the north-east wings being added in 1921. Mr. Murphy was succeeded in August, 1912, by Mr. D. W. Dunlop, now secretary of the Auckland Education Board, who remained till December, 1916. On school opening in 1917, Mr. R. J. Hamilton, formerly headmaster at Karangahake School took charge, and in September, 1920, Mr. H. G. Taylor, a former first assistant, returned as headmaster. He retired in September, 1931, and Mr. A. E. Day was appointed. Mr. Day continued as headmaster until the end of 1944, when he retired. Mr. G. Ruscoe, the present headmaster, took charge from February 1, 1945.

The long-felt want of a separate secondary school building was realised in September, 1940, when a new brick building for that purpose was erected on a new site on the Te Aroha Road. An extension was made to this building in 1944 to accommodate Forms 1 and 2 of the Primary School owing to the crowded conditions of that school. The Technical School which had been originally erected on a section in Miller Avenue, Paeroa, was moved to the Secondary School site at the end of 1944.

At the present time the Primary School has a staff of eleven including the headmaster, and a roll number of 460 pupils. At the Secondary School the staff comprises four full-time and three part-time, with 100 pupils.


Paeroa is fortunate in also having a Convent School, and its good work over a long period of years is well known to all. It has a roll of 95 at present, and is supervised by Father W. O'Meara and five sisters.


Public Schools

Public school education in Waihi commenced with the arrival from Thames on June 8, 1890, of Miss L. Gibb (later Mrs. C. J. Sanderson, stepmother of Mr. L. Sanderson, Awaiti, and sister of Mr. L. Gibb, Paeroa), she having been appointed as first sole teacher by the Education Department. Four days later Miss Gibb opened school with 12 children in a small building used as a hall. Earliest names on the roll included the still well-known names of Hollis (2), Colebrook (2), Campbell, Donnelly (3), Harvey (4), Carter, Dance (2), McDermott (2), Hurley, Clark (3), Niccol (2), Sanderson and Hatton.

Subsequently a small building was erected on the present site of the Waihi District High School, and this was enlarged on several occasions, having for a period, during the mining boom, a roll number of nearly 1200 scholars under Mr. H. Benge as headmaster. The erection of the Waihi East and later the Waihi South Schools provided accommodation for children in the eastern and southern parts of the town, and thus relieved the overcrowded condition of the main school. Practically all school records were lost in a fire which destroyed the District High School in March, 1931, shortly after it had been remodelled. A new school was erected and opened on June 9, 1932, as a District High School, with Intermediate Department attached thereto. The record of the school stands high among District High Schools of the Dominion. At present the roll number at the High School is 125 in the Secondary Department and 143 in the Intermediate, with a staff comprising the headmaster and nine teachers. The South School has a roll of 333, the staff being the headmaster and eight teachers. At the East School the roll numbers 183, with a staff of five, including the headmaster. A Technical School is also provided and is supervised by one man and one lady.


There is also a Convent School at Waihi, and its record of service to the community is very outstanding. The school was established in 1901 and was built by Bishop Brody, the first Parish Priest. The number of children attending the school is 140, and Rev. Father C. C. von Rotter is in charge; with five sisters.


Rolls and Staffs

Children in the County are well provided with facilities for education, and although quite a number attend the schools in Paeroa, Waihi, Te Aroha and Hikutaia, many being conveyed there by school buses, there are schools in the County for the convenience of children living considerable distances from those towns.


The attendance at Karangahake School has consistently dwindled over later years, caused by the decline in gold mining. When the township was at its height the number of children attending that school and the Mackaytown School approached 600. The Mackaytown School was closed and removed some time ago. The roll number of the Karangahake School is now only 24 and Mr. R. Rutherford, the only teacher, is in charge.


Waikino School at the present time is in charge of Mr. N. F. Shaw as headmaster, with two other teachers. Its roll number is 89.


The Tirohia School has an attendance at present of 43, with a staff of two teachers, including the headmaster, Mr A. J. Carroll.


The roll number at this school is 32, and Mr. J. P. Caisley, the only teacher, is in charge.


The Waitawheta School is in charge of Miss J. M. Barron as sole teacher, and the number of children on the roll is 29.


Although this school is fairly close to Waihi, its importance to the number of farmers in the district is acknowledged and it remains in use. It has an attendance of 29 children, and Miss A. E. King is in charge as sole teacher.