Karangahake School and District 70th Jubilee 1889-1959


Karangahake School has always been a particularly difficult one to keep in good order, owing to its situation, the ground and steps being an ever recurring expense. Education Board grants, especially in earlier years, were never sufficient for the necessary upkeep and through the years various School Committees, supported by parents and well-wishers, have given generously in this respect, many fine gifts being made to the school - pianos, furniture, books and playing equipment. A member of almost every family in Karangahake and Mackaytown has served on the committee at some time. A glance through old records reveals such names as McLeod, Crosbie, Robinson, Morris, Meagher, O'Neil, Bunting, Dare, Rackham, Clark, Cotter, Goldsworthy, Hannaford, Bradford, Bath, O'Reilly, Yeates, to mention just a few. Perhaps the longest record of service goes to the Bunting family with many years between them. Around 1910 the then School Committee with energetic Mr Fred Davis of Mackaytown as secretary, was successful in raising sufficient money for a septic tank, but the scrub cutting, blackberry clearing and step repairing, was an annual must and many a volunteer party worked at the school at week-ends. A later Committee tackled the problem of the small gully which ran near the school and having had much bank cutting and levelling done, received a grant from the Education Board to have the grounds and a path ashphalted [asphalted - E]. No contract was let for this work and when it was finished, it was found the grant had been overspent by some £60. A new Committee came on the scene and worked in various ways to raise this sum. The men did repairs, scrub cutting and tree felling, while the ladies gave euchre parties and the like. In two years the debt was paid off. The tar sealing was renewed during the depression years, with the Public Works overseeing the job which was carried out by workers on the relief scheme. During the last war the children decided to forgo their picnics and give the money to the Local Patriotic Fund. The ladies on the Committee used to give a quiet break-up tea party to reward the children.

Of later and more vivid memory is the episode of clearing out the nest of bees which had settled in the ceiling of one of the class rooms. History draws a veil over the proceedings but rumour has it that "the job had its moments."

So the School Committees have gone from strength to strength, till today we have the well equipped building, fine playing area and the grounds in which we are celebrating the 70th Jubilee of Karangahake School in October, 1959.


In assessing the status of the school today I can only draw on my knowledge acquired during the 2½ years I have been Head Teacher. Those 2½ years have seen many changes from the dramatic day, March 1, 1957, when I arrived with my wife and family to discover the smouldering remains of the school-house. Was ever a new teacher given such a warm welcome?

However, such is the wonderful resilience of this fine community that the following day we were all celebrating the school picnic at Waiomu. For a few months following the fire the fate of the school lay somewhat in the balance but, following letters, deputations, and resolutions from the local committees, the South Auckland Education Board decided to build a new school house at Mackaytown and this was first occupied on March 1, 1958.

As disastrous as the fire seemed at one stage, I now recognise it as really a blessing. It began a new and vigorous era for the school. The roll, when I commenced was 29 and this steadily rose until in July 1957, when it stood at 39 and my wife was appointed as relieving assistant. The increase continued up to 47 - the highest roll for many years and this year, following my wife's resignation, the Board appointed a permanent assistant, Miss P. Short.

Shortly after my arrival a record-breaking Calf Club and Gala Day was held with all the community whole-heartedly behind our aim to raise enough money for a 16mm projector for the school. Such was the carnival spirit that a big "free for all" dance in the school went very gaily and very late that night. The amount raised was £150. We got our projector, plus screen, plus blinds, and still had some money in hand. From that day the whole community have been behind their school in every way. A Parent-Teacher's Association was formed with over 60 members and the monthly meetings are well attended.

I am very proud of this school and every one of its pupils. We are now, probably, one of the best equipped schools for size, in the Board's area. We have no intention of standing still at that point however. During the past two years more than £400 has been spent on new equipment and improvements to the school and grounds. The biggest undertaking was the burying of the remains from the old school house and the extensions to the playing area.

The future of Karangahake School is very bright. With the facilities we now have, plus the wonderful backing of an excellent hard-working committee, we aim for big things.

- Eric Nash, Head Teacher.