This is a digitized version of CENTENARY 100 Years of Education in the Taotaoroa Whitehall Karapiro Districts. 1885 — 1985 researched and complied by Phyllis Jeans, typed by Lesley Sewell and published in October 1985.
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100 Years of Education
1885 – 1985
Just as there are unexpected gaps in the records of each school no doubt unexpected gaps will be found in this record. With the number of schools involved an the amount of material available there has had to be a selection process. Perhaps you will wonder why something is recorded — and something else is not? I have tried to record as accurately as possible the history of each school and also to include items which show the many facets of school life for pupils, teachers, parents, committee members and the districts.
My sincere and grateful thanks to Lesley Sewell for typing the manuscript and to Kees Sprengers (Waikato Museum of Art and History) and Michael Jeans for help with photographs. My thanks also to the many people who have helped me in any way during my research, especially those who have shared memories with me. Also those who have provided photographs.
[signed Phyllis Jeans] — Researcher and Compiler
TWO of the three districts concerned in our centenary Taotaoroa and Karapiro still retain original Maori Names. Whitehall, an out-station on the Fencourt Estate became the name for the third district. However when the first European settlers came, practically the whole area was known as Taotaoroa. Early settlers whose descendants have had a continuing association with the area were the Bruce family who arrived in 1871 and the Brunskill family who came in 1875. The 1884 Electoral Roll contained 21 names of men who either lived in or had property interests in the Taotaoroa area.
In 1898 the Karapiro Settlement was opened up. A booklet was published containing general information about the district and particular information regarding the sections offered. Karapiro was
a prosperous agricultural and pastoral district. There are about eighteen miles of good post and wire fencing and about three miles of hawthorn fences all in good order.
With the exception of 750 acres of hill land the whole of the 2141 acres were under cultivation and stated to be eminently suited to dairying purposes.
Two years later in 1900 the Whitehall Settlement which had been recently acquired by the Government under the Land for Settlements Act was also offered for lease in perpetuity. These farms were much larger than the Karapiro ones, the whole settlement being nearly 9000 acres. The following description is taken from the booklet published at the time
Whitehall Settlement consists of hilly rolling downs and flat land, splendidly watered by permanent streams, springs being found on the highest hills. A few hundred acres of natural mixed bush are scattered here and there in clumlps all over the estate giving it a parklike appearance. This affords excellent shelter and some feed for stock.
Later Gorton Estate was also subdivided. Each of these subdivisions brought more settlers to the districts and more children to the schools.
A centenary is a time when we look back to reflect on the years that have gone. It is a time to remember our own school, friends of our childhood and happy school days. But it is also a time to look forward to the future and trust we will build worthily upon the foundations laid through the last hundred years. My wishes are or an enjoyable rewarding centennial which will provide happy memories for years to come.
Chairman Centennial Committee.
In our district today one hundred years of education between the combined schools of Taotaoroa, Karapiro, Whitehall and Hydro has been accomplished.
We remember with pride and gratitude those many teachers, school committee members, parents and Education Board members who have contributed so much in their many and various ways in providing suitable environments, equipment and support for their schools so that meaningful, enjoyable experiences and learning could be undertaken.
When pupils leave our schools and yet give back this amount of support that we have seen in the past, I think it augers very well for the next one hundred years.
Bruce D. Milne.
On behalf of the present pupils, staff and Committee, I would like to extend a very warm welcome to you, on this important occasion in the history of our school and district.
For some of you, it will be the first time back in Whitehall for many years and you will no doubt have much reminiscing to do and many memories to rekindle as you renew acquaintances and friendships from the past.
You will also observe the many changes that have taken place in the school buildings and grounds. There is no doubt that today, we enjoy a learning enviroment that is a testimony to the time and effort you have all contributed.
I hope that you enjoy your weekend with us and are able to take full advantage of the activities provided.
P.A. (Paul) Shennen.
HALF TIME SCHOOLS
The Education Act of 1877 made schooling “free secular and compulsory” throughout New Zealand. This also brought into being the three tier system of management of educational matters – the School Committee on a local level; the regional Board of Education and the overall national Education Department. The passing of this act brought many requests from all over New Zealand as settlers everywhere sought a school or their children.
In July, 1878, the Waikato Times gave an account of the annual meeting of the Taotaoroa Road Board held at the old National Hotel in Cambridge. After Road Board business had been dealt with the householders of Taotaoroa concerned themselves with the need for a school. It was proposed by Mr H. Ferguson and seconded by Mr. Norris
That this is a meeting to bring the Education Act into force in the Taotaoroa district and that Messrs R. Ferguson, H. Ferguson, J. Hunt, W. Brunskill, Norris, G. Wattam, Bruce Jnr, and Bruce Snr. be appointed to a committee for that purpose
Mr. MacGuire offered to find a freehold acre for the erection of a schoolhouse.
It should be noted in the early days the schoolhouse always referred to the schoolroom not the residence of the teacher.
The Waikato Times added their thoughts on the subject.
A school in the Taotaoroa district is much needed. There is a sufficient number of children to warrant the establishment of one. The nearest school at present is at Cambridge and the road between the district of Taotaoroa and the township of Cambridge is almost impossible for foot passengers at any rate, quite so for children. The Taotaoroa householders have now taken the matter in hand and we trust will carry it to a successful issue as speedily as possible. We cannot indeed, see how the Education Board can refuse so just and reasonable a request.
But six years were to elapse before schooling in the district became a reality.
At the 1880 annual meeting of the Taotaoroa Road Board the need for a schoolhouse was again raised. But still the district waited. By 1882, however, it appeared progress was at last being made. In December of that year this notice was in the Waikato Times.
Taotaoroa School meeting to be held 11 December, following a service by Bishop Cowie, when steps will be taken to form a school. To be held at home of Mr. Ellis.
However it seems to have been July 1883 before an approach was made to the Auckland Board of Education officially requesting a school. The Board agreed to constitute a school district and to erect a school building if a site and a monetary contribution were provided. A committee was duly elected and a promise given to collect the required subscriptions. With very generous help from the business and professional people of Cambridge the settlers achieved their target by February 1884. On 29th February, Mr G. Ellis attended a board meeting and personally represented the need for two half time schools. This the Board agreed to and wrote stating the architect (Mr Allright) had been instructed to prepare plans for two buildings, one of them to have a dwelling attached. It was stipulated the sites were to be approved by the Inspector of Schools, and to be conveyed to the Board free of charge.
41 pages to come :)