Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 35, September 1991

By Gordon Mathieson

This article aims to placeon record the achievements, other than in the field of education, of three former staff members of the Paeroa District High School. It is interesting to note that many people are unaware of their ever having been here.

Ronald MacMillan ALGIE

(High School Assistant 1906 - 1908)

Ronald Algie was born in Wyndham, Otago in 1888. He received his education at Arrowtown School and Thames High School. A brilliant student, he was Dux at Thames High School for two successive years (1904 and 1905). In 1904 he passed his Matriculation and Solicitor's General Knowledge Exam when he was just 16 years of age.

His father, Mr J A Algie was Paeroa Postmaster 1903 -1907 and in July 1906 Ronald commenced his teaching career at Paeroa District High School in the Secondary department, as an assistant teacher to Mr Charles Meredith. He remained at the school for two and a half years, transferring to Ponsonby School at the beginning of 1909, then to Seddon Memorial Technical College. Concurrent with this, he studied Law at Auckland University College, graduating LLB (1913) and LLM (1915).

Giving up teaching, he worked as a Law Clerk, then became a junior lecturer at Auckland University, and when the University Council established a Chair in Law in 1919, he was appointed Professor, holding this position until 1937.

Entering politics, he won the Remuera seat for National in 1943 and, with his excellent debating skills and sharp wit, won a Cabinet post when National were elected Government in 1949. With Mr S G Holland as Prime Minister, Mr Algie was appointed Minister of Education from 1949 to 1957.

During this period, Paeroa District High School held its 80th Jubilee Reunion (in April 1955) and Mr Algie was the Guest Speaker.

Below is his message, as published in the Jubilee Magazine:

A message from the Minister of Education

Paeroa School and a Jubilee! What a happy host of memories such a title awakens for me. Although I never attended the school as a pupil, my younger brother did and I began within its walls, my career as a teacher.

Its Head in those days was Mr Frank Murphy; his First Assistant was Mr Alex MacGregor. I recall with appreciation the splendid work done by such other members of the staff as Miss Shaw and Miss Schroff. My job was in the Secondary department where I worked under the leadership of Mr Charles Meredith. Such names as Corkill come instantly to mind and pass with Brenan, Crosby, Thorp, Chamberlain and many others across the screen of memory.

I look back to those earlier days with genuine pleasure and on the occasions when I have a chance of paying a quick visit, it is a thrill for me to grip hands with so many who shared those other years with me. I wish the school and those who work - and will work in it - every success; but I have no doubt that such success will come only by and through the means employed by the pioneers - solid and co-operative hard work.

- R M Algie

Following the defeat of the Second Labour Government in 1960, Mr Algie became Speaker of the House from 1961 to 1966 when he retired, at 78 years of age. He was created Knight Bachelor in 1964, and died in his 90th year, in 1978.

Arthur Ellis KINSELLA

(High School Master 1949 - 1954)

Mr Kinsella was born in Waikino in 1918, the eldest of James (1886 -1973) and Helen Kinsella (1893 - 1986). James' father, Matthew Kinsella was one of Waitekauri's earliest settlers.

Following his education at Waikino School and Waihi District High School, he attended the University of Auckland from 1937, gaining a Bachelor of Arts, then a Master of Arts. During World War II, he joined the 2nd NZEF, serving in Britain, North Africa and Greece.

In February 1949 he joined the staff of the Secondary Department of Paeroa District High School, remaining there until, in 1954, he won the local Hauraki seat for National in that year's Election, having already served as a South Auckland Divisional Committee member from 1952.

His Ministerial Posts were: Minister of Broadcasting 1960 - 61, Postmaster General 1961-63 and, more notably, Minister of Education 1963 to 1969.

As Minister of Education, Mr Kinsella made several visits to the Thames Valley in the course of his duties, opening the following in our area:

April 17, 1964 Paeroa College Assembly Hall.

March 24, 1966 Paeroa Central School's additions and alterations.

December 9, 1966 Netherton School's additional classroom.

Following a motor accident in 1969, Mr Kinsella, then 51 years of age, decided to retire from politics, but the electorate remained in National hands, with Mr Leo Schultz succeeding Mr Kinsella.

Just as Mr Algie was guest speaker at Paeroa School's 80th Jubilee in 1955, Mr Kinsella performed a similar function at the 25th Jubilee Reunion of Paeroa College in June 1984.

Mr Kinsella is now retired and living in Wellington.

Maurice Gough GEE

(High School Master 1955-1956)

Now one of New Zealand's more prolific writers, and one who has built up something of an international reputation, Maurice Gee was born at Whakatane in 1931, and received his secondary education at Avondale College. Going on to the University of Auckland, he graduated M.A.

His association with Paeroa District High School was a relatively short term one. Arriving in February 1955, he taught at the secondary department on the Te Aroha Road for some 18 months, but resigned in July 1956 to become a writer.

After working as a librarian in Wellington, Napier and Auckland, he moved to Nelson, where he has been a full time writer since 1975, specialising in short stories and television and cinema script writing. His 1978 publication "Plumb" won the New Zealand Fiction Award, the Wattie Book of The Year award, and in the U.K., won the James Tait Black Memorial prize for fiction.

Maurice Gee's other works include:

The Big Season (1962)

A Special Flower (1965)

In My Father's Den (1972)

Games of Choice (1976)

Meg (1981)

Sole Survivor (1983)

In writing for television, he wrote about half the scripts for "Mortimer's Patch", a local police show that screened in 1980 and which won a Feltex Television Award in 1981 as "Best Drama" series. In 1981, "Under the Mountain", TV NZ's first science-fiction attempt, written by Maurice Gee, screened and likewise won a "Best Drama" Feltex Award in 1982. Succeeding television serials for which Maurice Gee has written the scripts include "The Fire Raiser" (1986) and "Champion"(1989).

In 1987 he was awarded the honorary degree of "Doctorate of Literature" from Victoria University, Wellington. Now 60 years of age, it is safe to say that we can expect much more from Maurice Gee's able pen.

POSTSCRIPT - In the June 12,1991 issue of the N.Z. Herald comes the news that Mr Gee has won the fiction section of the 1991 N. Z. Book Awards for his work "The Burning Boy", announcedinWellington, by the Governor-General, Dame Catherine Tizard.