Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 18, June 1974

By M. and H. LANDY

The history of the East School is closely associated with early mining and farming in Waihi. When the "Great Boom" took place the roll at the Waihi School reached 1,000 in 1907. To relieve over-crowding the five class-roomed East School was opened that year in Gladstone Road, the builders being Cuthbert Adams (Freda Clark's uncle) and Mr. Fisk (Bell' s father). The first headmaster was Mr. S.H. Macky, (1907 – 1913). The School was a dignified building of which both Teachers and Pupils were proud. It was the focal point of many activities with very few distractions. For that reason children applied themselves and became remarkably good pupils. When one recalls how little equipment there was apart from Slates and Pencils, Ball-frame, Blackboards, Charts, Maps and a few books, one realises just how remarkable this was. The modern development period in Infant Rooms is a far cry from those quiet serious days.

The School "Bell" was important and woe betide the unfortunate pupil who came through the gate after it had rung for Assembly where all learned to fall in smartly and stand still. There followed the orderly march into School accompanied by the Kettledrum or other instrument. Attendance fluctuated during the "Strike Year" (1912) as some families moved away but some returned.

The flooring of each classroom was built in tiers so that children in their dual desks could be conveniently seen by the Teacher who spent much time at the Blackboard with a pointer in hand or occasionally perched on a high stool always maintaining strict discipline and sometimes resorting to the dreaded "cane".

In 1957, when the School celebrated its Golden Jubilee, Mr. Tom Turbott 1st Assistant (1909-13) revived many pleasant memories to the delight of his old pupils. The 1st Infant Mistresses: Miss Rogerson, Mrs. Hawkins, (1912-14.) and Mrs. Murphy. Mr. J. Dean was Headmaster from 1914 and Mr. S.J. Bishop 1st Assistant (1913-15). Other early Teachers:- Misses Pirrit, Walker Wilson, Mitchell, McCartney, Mooney, De Renzy, and Messrs Day, Tatton and Purdie (later Secretary Education Board). Those were the days of "Pupil Teachers" and there existed a wonderful fellowship of community interest between them and the older pupils who were only slightly younger than the "mid-teens" who set out to teach them - at first with considerable trepidation, especially when they were required to take "special lessons" under the eye of a Senior Teacher or Inspector. Some of those early P.T.'s were: Frank Slevin, Gladstones, Margaret White, Nellie Scott (1913, '14, '15) Olive Scott and Leslie Vallance.

The large "play-ground", typical of Waihi spaciousness enabled sport to be very well catered for and soon there were football and basketball teams. Indeed the East School provided many future athletes. "Drill" of course was taken regularly; Games played in and around the belts of macrocarpa trees lining the front and sides of the ground were a source of great joy to early pupils. Later they were trimmed from the base and later still cut down for safety. Mr. Masefield was a H.M. remembered for his excellent teaching. (All his pupils passed the Proficiency Exam). At that time only 4 children each year went on to higher education which was free for the first 2 years when it was possible to gain another "free place". In 1920 Doreen Gilmour gained the only Junior Primary Scholarship granted in Waihi.

Our "Teacher Research" for the 20's and 30's has resulted in the following names:- Mr. Prendergrast, Miss Webb, Mr. J.C. Downey, Mrs. Foley, Mr. Harris, Trixie, Walter, Maisie and Hazel Landy, Eunice Morgan, Zoe Worth, Edna Tierney, Marge Patterson, Miss Rohan Bell, Miss Lloyd, Kath Duffy, Doug Cole, Maurice McGrath, Andy Robinson, Vera Radford, Celia Thornton, Dorothy Goodwin, Kitty Lemon, Miss King-Daly, Mr. Phillips, Mr. Elliot, Miss Nutsford, Lily and Birnie Robinson, Alan Wotherspoon, Miss Atkinson, Athol Dobson, Dick Andrews, Reg Bell, Miss Billings, Miss Sylvia.

In 1939 when a disastrous fire destroyed the school (with a total loss of records) a temporary building was hastily erected and remained for 33 years! Mr. Stainton was the Head for 13 years and was followed by Messrs Downey, Edwards, Hardie, Munro and the present Principal Mr. John Leonard.

It is recorded that the following have taught at the East School for more than a year since 1939:- Jim Stainton (13 yrs.) K. King, (8 yrs.) Hazel Landy (35 yrs), Jean Mitchell (3 yrs.), Margaret Broad (2), Ada Gale (4), Megan Lloyd (2), Tui Grant (25), J.C. Downey (2), Les Edwards (5), Ethel French (3), Cora Walsh Edwards (2), Colin Hardy (5), Mrs. Davis (2), Peter Bryant (2), Ron Munro (4), Pam Hayward (3), John Leonard (7), Peter Strong (2), Bruce Baker (2), M .J. Donnelly (2).

Gradually, School Committees who had worked tirelessly in the past became more conscious of the advantages of an enriched education and by involving the willing parents in fund-raising efforts built up over the years a remarkable community spirit which manifests itself each year in an annual record breaking Gala Day, involving young and old, and even those not connected with the school generously giving of their time and money. The record time in which the school baths were built and paid for is evidence of this enthusiasm.

Of course, when the mines closed, the school roll dropped for a while but the position improved with the growth of Akrad (now Pye Radio) and other industries, the present roll being the greatest for many years. Recently the public supported the East School in its successful attempt to retain its identity when there was the threat of amalgamation with the South. It is well equipped and will carry on the old tradition. (For some years Forms I and II have attended the Intermediate School).

The year 1973 heralded another step forward as a new School is being built next to the existing School-house. It will be a modern wooden structure comprising an administration block and six class rooms - with all the latest additions including carpet and vinyl in the classrooms. To present and past School Committees a hearty vote of thanks should be placed on record - no less than gratitude for the efforts of a vast number of teachers.

EDITOR'S NOTE: (At Labour Week-end 1973 another Reunion marked the School's 66th Jubilee, arranged primarily to give visitors a final opportunity to see the old building before it is replaced. About 500 ex-pupils and staff joyfully gathered to renew old associations and also to remember absent friends who once gladdened the early years.

Pupils who responded to the First Day Roll Call were:- John Boswell, Jim Birse, Tom and Wm. Crean, Jim College, Ivy Darlington, Charlie Gracey, Vendy Hooker, Wm. Johns, Elizabeth Kennedy, Addie and Norman Kinn, Inez Longuet, Laurie Leach, Doris and Edna McEnteer, Lillian Manning, Ted O'Shea, Stella and Allan Ridings, Thelma Robinson, Mabel Samson, Ted and Fred Speak, Harold Sibley and Ethel Trembath.

The Programme for the Celebrations included an Assembly at the School with Roll Call, Addresses, Photographs, and a Presentation to Miss Hazel Landy who was due to retire at the end of the year. Her family had always lived beside the School where four of them were both Pupils and Teachers, Hazel's wonderful record being 35 years of service there. It was most fitting that appreciation of this should be a feature of the Jubilee at a time when so many of her past pupils were assembled. We also tender her our congratulations and good wishes with our thanks for timely article.

Note on the 1st Headmaster the late Mr. S.H. Macky

His daughter (Miss Marjorie Macky of Auckland) sent us a sheaf of duplicates of old official letters written by her father when he was Superintendant [Superintendent – E] of Waihi's Technical School which began to function in 1908 in temporary premises in Rosemont Road and later when it was incorporated with the High School. Various Committees had worked towards the establishment of a full time Technical School and before Mr. Macky left Waihi in 1913 he had the pleasure of seeing the new building opened in Kenny Street, little realising that it would become the Waihi Museum and Art Centre in 1962.