Waihi Borough Council Diamond Jubilee Booklet 1902-1962



From a delightful letter written 30 years ago by Mrs Sanderson (nee Gibbs), the first teacher of the Waihi School in 1890, we learn something of that school and pupils.

On the first day, June 12th, 1890, the children enrolled were George and Mabel Hollis, Frances and Agnes Colebrook, Colin Campbell, Leah and John Donnelly, Alma, John, Joe and Mary Harvey. And later Willie Carter, Alice and Ethel Dance, Willie and Jimmy McDermott, Alice, Harley, Norman, Eva and Ernie Clark, George and Willie Niccol, Roy Sanderson, George Donnelly, Harriet Harvey and Jimmy Hatton.

The school room was unlined and roughly put together, the cold winds whistling through the cracks in the walls. They had to cross a long plank bridge from the main street to get to it, and often crawled across when the wind was strong. There were no proper roads and they got very wet along the tea-tree tracks. The teacher and children sometimes took long walks and had picnics in Hollis' Bush, up Martha and Black Hills and in Round Bush, where they gathered wild strawberries.

In 1892, Miss K. Truscott was appointed Head Teacher, with Mr R. J. Corbett as assistant. There were then60children. Tenders were called for a new school, which was opened in 1896, with Mr Benge as Headmaster until 1914 and Miss Laura Roberts as Infant Mistress, a position she held with great honour for 26 years. By 1900 the roll had risen to 538, and in 1901, the Waihi School became a District High School with a staff of 11, its Secondary Roll in 1902 being38. With the development of the "boom town," frequent additions were necessary and by 1907 over 1000 pupils were attending.


In 1907, to relieve overcrowding, the five classroomed East School was opened, the builders being Messrs Fiske (Belle Fiske's father) and Adams. The first Headmaster was Mr Mackie and the first Infant Mistress was Miss Rogerson, followed by Mrs Hawkins. Other assistants were Mr Day, Mr Turbott, Miss Pirritt, Miss Walker and Mr Bishop. Pupil teachers, 1913 to 1916 were Misses M. White, N. Scott, O. Scott and L. Vallance. During this period Mr Dean became Headmaster and Mrs Murphy infant mistress.

As the school was destroyed by fire in 1939, with a total loss of records, it is not possible to mention the names of all teachers, but the following were later Headmasters:— Messrs Masefield, Andrew, Stainton, Downay, Edwards and Hardie.

The Golden Jubilee of the East School was held in 1957 and proved a very happy occasion with a week-end of celebrations. First day pupils residing in Waihi at present include Ivy Darlington, Anna Gracie (Hamilton), Addy Kinn (Brown), Cecile Longuet (Leopald), Inex Longuet (Finlayson), Don Samson, Mabel Samson (Middleton), Ted Speak, Harry Thomas.

Due to the splendid co-operation of parents and friends, the new school is well equipped with modern aids to teaching. About seven years ago School Baths were acquired, funds being raised in a matter of months. With the opening up and development of the Golden Valley, a bus was run to convey children to the East and senior schools and at present 33 children travel to the East School by bus.

A fall in numbers in 1960 reduced the staffing to four teachers, the present staff being Mr R. Munro (Head Teacher), Mrs T. Grant, Miss H. Landy and Miss J. Gardiner.


In 1909 the South School was opened with 137 pupils. The first permanent headmaster was Mr H. T. Gibson, who was noted for his literary ability. Miss G. George was Infant Mistress and Miss Stevens, the Pupil Teacher. Miss Skyes (P.T.) and Miss Murray were appointed a little later as the roll continued to rise.

At the end of the first year 188 pupils had been admitted quite a number being transferred from the Central School. There were also a number of Australian children whose fathers had apparently come to work in the mines. By the end of 1910 the roll was well over 200 and there were four teachers. Mr G. K. Hamilton may be remembered as outstanding. Much later he became headmaster of the Auckland Normal School and then chairman of the Education Board.

In 1932 all the Form I and II pupils were transferred to the Intermediate Department of the District High School and 150 pupils from Primers to Standard 4 were transferred to the South School. This caused the roll to rise to 340 and three new rooms were added. In 1949 two more rooms were added and another in 1951 when there were 390 pupils. The roll decreased after the closing of the mine and now stands at 335. The school has its own dental clinic and learner's pool, and about 50 children are conveyed by bus.


Messrs H. T. Gibson (1909-20), A. L. Shepherd (1921- ), A. Bell, M. O'Connor, J. T. Teesdale (1927- ), W. Davidson (1931- ), J. A. Kelly (1935- ), R. Hayter (1943-44), C. Abel (1945-46), W. J. M. Henderson (1948-59), A. E. Dewes (1960-62), A. J. Teesdale (1962- ).


Headmaster, Mr A. J. Teesdale (whose uncle was headmaster here in 1927); First Assistant, Mr M. McSweeny; Infant Mistress, Miss M. Young; and Mrs J. Machey, Mr W. Burton, Mr K. Steel, Mr C. Sutherland, Mrs J. Jensen, Miss B. Swinton, Miss B. Forsyth and Mrs C. Lyons.


The year 1913 saw the opening of the new Technical School in Kenny Street and senior scholars from the whole district attended for manual instruction. The following year, Mr Benge retired from the District High School and Mr Wilson was appointed Headmaster. He was succeeded by Mr Carnahan in 1919 and Mr H. T. Gibson was in charge from 1920-1925, a period during which interschool Basketball and Rugby developed rapidly.

Frequent changes followed, headmasters being Mr Smith, Mr Morris and Mr Lightbourne (1928-1932), who had the pleasure of seeing a Dental Clinic opened and the old dilapidated buildings remodelled, the erection of a concrete fence, and great improvements made in the grounds. He also had the disappointment of seeing all the good work destroyed by fire in 1931. (Up to that date 9133 primary and 671 secondary pupils had been admitted through the original building). Work was immediately resumed in six separate buildings and by the efforts of local citizens the property of pupils was replaced.

On May 23, 1932, a new school was unofficially opened and occupied as a Junior High School, catering for children from Form 1 onwards, the younger children being required to remove to South and East Schools. Later the Beach and Waitawheta also became contributing schools. Thus the new school became an Intermediate, with attached Secondary Department, the last of this type in New Zealand, and a Waihi old boy, Mr F. R. Slevin, B.A., was appointed its first Headmaster (1932-1937). The grounds were gradually improved and boys taking trades courses erected two extra buildings. The next Headmasters were Mr W. G. S. Smith, M.A. (1937-1939), Mr E. Evans, M.A. (1939-1945), Mr H. W. R. Black, B.A. (1945-1947).

Mr D. E. Swinton, M.A., Dip.Ed., B.Ed., was appointed in 1947 and has piloted the school through another great change. A graduate of Otago University, Mr Swinton had charge of the Native Teachers' Training College in Fiji from 1937-1941, when he attended Melbourne University and took a B.Ed. Course. Subsequently he was Headmaster of Riverton District High School and later the Pahiatua D.H. School.

In 1950 the Waihi High School celebrated its Diamond Jubilee, its roll at the time being 360 with staff of 18. Miss Laura Roberts, a first decade teacher was the guest of honour and there were present two first day pupils, Mrs O'Neill (Agnes Colebrook) and Mrs McMillan (Alice Dance). The celebrations were a triumph from every pointof view.

The year 1954 witnessed the establishment of Waihi College and it was hoped that new buildings would soon be erected on the property that the Education Department had purchased from Mr Edgar Hollis. A series of frustrating delays resulted in the construction not being started until 1958. However the official opening, by the Rt. Hon. Walter Nash, P.M., took place on May 11, 1960, and marked a new era in Education for Waihi.


The Intermediate School became a separate entity in 1959 when the Secondary Department moved to the new College and now Forms I and II pupils are the only ones catered for on the site of Waihi's first school. Mr E. H. Roberts was headmaster for the last two years when many readjustments had to be made. In 30 years the buildings had become outmoded and school baths were a pressing need. This year a considerable sum has been spent on renovations and ground improvement and the school is emerging with a character of its own. There are 220 pupils, many being brought by bus from all parts of the district. A new manual training block, staffed by specialists (part-time) from the College will be opened by the time we go to press.


Headmaster, Mr S. J. M. Thornton, and Mr R. M. Cowern, Mrs M. Haszard, Mr D. Adams, Mrs K. Adams, Mr K. S. J. Matthews and Miss P. A. Lawrence. Clerical assistant, Mrs Thornton. Art (part-time), Mr Dye.


From 1903, various school committees and business men worked towards the establishment of a Technical School in Waihi. Such was the enthusiasm for this type of education that public meetings were called, the town was canvassed for funds, and even the proceeds from a football match were donated. Finally a poll of ratepayers in 1908 directed the Borough Council to make a grant of £500 which, together with a Government subsidy, brought the total to the estimated cost of £1200. In 1913 the building was ready, and students were able to move over from the temporary premises in Rosemont Road, where classes had been held since 1908.

Many men and women today are grateful for the training the Tech. was able to give during the 45 years of its life, and when in 1959 it was no longer required for its fundamental purpose, the Borough Council came into the picture again and made an offer for the building. In view of the local money spent in establishing it, the Commissioner of Crown Lands let the Council have it at something less than half its market value.

It is fitting that the purpose for which the building is now to be used continues to have a cultural object. In April, 1962, the Borough Council approved a scheme to establish a District History Museum and a Gallery of New Zealand Art in the old Technical School.



Chairman, Dr. H. C. Tuck, M.D., Ch.B. Mrs D. M. Heath and Messrs G. R. B. Haszard, J. E. Baker, J. H. Thomas, P. B. Mulhern, C. C. Martin, F. A. Rutherford, A. A. Thomas.



Mr D. E. Swinton, M.A. Dip.Ed. (N.Z.), B.Ed. (Melb.)


Mr C. G. Bowden M.A. (1st Assist.) 14 years.

Mrs M. A. Cleary (Senior Mistress), 17 years.

Mr R. Ingram, B.Com., A.R.A.N.Z. (Commercial), 12 years.

Mr A. R. Cleary (Social Studies), 16 years.

Mr F. C. Saunders (Science and Maths), 14 years.

Mr J. E. Morgan, B.A. (Careers Adviser).

Mr R. G. Young (Supervisor, Evening Tech.).

Mr G. J. Dowdle, B.A., Mr J. K. Harvey, Mr J. D. A. Hercus, B.Sc., Mr T. R. Ngata, Dip. Ag., Mr P. Dye, Mr J. N. O'Brien, Miss L. R. Chester, Miss J. M. Howley, Mrs G. Swinton, Miss P. Swinton, Mrs H. Timanus (Mrs M. Haszard, Sec.).

The College is a revelation. In its perfect setting it seems a veritable Utopia and one feels that its potential is enormous. Surely it should prove an inspiration to all who cross its threshold — a challenge to human endeavour.



Back Row: P. Mulhern, R. Cochrane, J. Galvin, J. Bowden, R. Hollis, J. Coombes, M. Armstrong, K. Parker, D. Haszard, C. Bertelsen, L. Stringer, M. Martyn, D. Callaghan, G. Lambert, B. Jones, J. Nixon, P. Gifford.

Middle Row: Mr R. Ingham (form teacher), M. Sanders, B. D'Ath, A. Stevens, S. Reehal, M Roberts, J. Gunn, C Sale.

Front Row: M. Hoyle, V. Scothern, L. Orr, B Beeche, J. Stubbs, M. Baxter.

— Regal Studios Photo

Waihi Borough Council Diamond Jubilee Booklet 1902-1962
The natural beauty of the site was always there, the bush-clad hills in the distance and the noble stand of bush that still graces the fields made greener by man's striving. For one realises that a tremendous amount of work and planning have been expended here. The eye rejoices in the various level of the recreation area, their scope, and outlook. Noting the beautiful native trees that have been spared and others that have been planted, one feels that visitors could be brought here to see an epitome of New Zealand at its best.

In addition, there is the wonderfully planned group of buildings linked by "covered-ways," reminiscent of the cloistered schools of learning of ancient days. But this modern College has the advantage of the most up-to-date equipment and accommodation, including a fine Hall and Library, and Science, Art and Manual Training Departments.

The Board of Governors, the Headmaster and Staff, the Pupils, Parents and Caretakers, are to be congratulated on this peak achievement of educational facilities, which grew from something so primitive in 1890. It is truly a living monument to the Pioneers, situated as it is on the site of one of the first homes of the early settlers. Realising this, the youth of today can yet look forward to taking steps quite unforeseen by their forbears, but there will still be the need for application and skill and endurance in order to make the most of their own opportunities. They too will find that life is largely a matterof refining the gold from the dross.

We are delighted to record that Mrs C. Duschka (nee George) who was a Pupil Teacher at the Central School 1901-1903, and Infant Mistress at the South when it was opened in 1909, still lives at Waihi Beach.


What of the scholars who have poured through these schools as a very life stream? An amazing number of the academic minded have themselves joined the teaching ranks, some reaching very high positions, especially in science. Most other professions have also been well represented. Mining officials, and miners, engineers, "M.P/s", musicians, defence officers, athletes, public servants, business executives, clerical workers, nurses, farmers and artisans of all kinds have proved the initiative of Waihi youth.




Back row: R. R. Lewis, W. Macdonald (A.R.S.M.) J. Daley, H. T. Fletcher, A. H. V. Morgan, M.A. (Assistant Director), J. L. Gilmour, T. Daley, J. Wotherspoon, D. Coutts, J. G. Cornes, J. Morgan, G. Arscott, P. Cooney, Stafford Clark, (Lab. Assist). G. Sherrock, D. Anderson.

Middle row: T. McKeown, H. Lewis, A. Inglis, H. Cramer-Roberts, D. Ouigg, T. Clarke, J. McKeown, C. McLean, G. Evans, W. Morgan, G. L. Corbett, T. H. Harrison, O. Bell, L. Murphy, H. Scott, T. Donelly, F. Rose, G. Clerk.

Front row: C. Moore, Boyd Bennett, C. J. A. Graham, R. H. Mitchell (Drawing Instructor), F. T. Seelye (Lecturer), P G. Morgan (Director), Thos. Gilmour (President), A. H. Benge, T. Johns, F. Stewart, W. Morrison, R. Morgan (Members of Council), T. Weir, A. E. Lewis, T. Gilmour.

Waihi Borough Council Diamond Jubilee Booklet 1902-1962
In recent years the main exports from Waihi have changed from gold and silver ingots to radio and television receivers. This change is not entirely out of character for some of the earliest experiments with radio signals in New Zealand took place in Waihi. These experiments were demonstrated at the School of Mines on the 14th May, 1909, during a Students' Conversazione, one of those many partly social functions, in which the public were shown the work of the school. By means of a spark-gap transmitter, the lecturer was able to produce wireless signals which rang a bell and turned on a light in another part of the building.

The Waihi School of Mines was opened in 1897, being the first provision for higher education in the district. It was supported by subsidies from the Government, local bodies, mining companies, and the public, as well as very moderate tuition fees from the students. The first principal, Mr P. G. Morgan, M.A., conducted the school until 1905 when he left to lead the N.Z. Geological Survey, in which field he extended greatly the knowledge of the minerals of New Zealand, notably in the Hauraki and Reefton districts. Every year between 1902 and 1928 he published Geological Bulletins which even today are standard works of reference.

The real history of the school, however, is the greater part of the life story of Mr A. H. V. Morgan, M.A., who was associated with it for 45 years, first as an assistant to his brother till 1905, and thereafter as director until 1946. During most of its life the school had a full time staff of three, aided by several part-time assistants, who conducted classes both in the day and the evening to accommodate students on shift work. Classes were taken in mining and the allied subjects necessary to obtain a mine or battery manager's certificate, surveying, ventilation, pumping and winding, geology, chemistry, assaying, drawing, electricity and magnetism, mathematics, mechanics and hydraulics.

It was a difficult task teaching these involved technical subjects to students at different stages of progress and often to those with sketchy preliminary education. Mr Morgan and his staff successfully overcame these difficulties, and today pupils from the Waihi School of Mines may be found in any part of the world where mining thrives and mineral wealth is wrested from the earth.

With the languishing of the mining industry, and the withdrawal of the Government subsidy, it was only natural that the usefulness of the school would come to an end. Its loss was felt deeply by those who were able to draw on its technical and analytical services. Its equipment was dispersed, and the exhibits in the newly established Waihi Museum and Arts Centre are the remnants of its extensive museum and mineral collection. Finally, the building itself was demolished and all that now remains of it on the site in School Lane, is a memorial plaque erected in 1961 by two former students, Mrs Myrtle Haszard and Mr Norman Morton.