Whakapara schools

History Memories  Closure Other Schools Photos

Contact Us:

 e mail whakapara@xtra.co.nz
Hank and Dale van Engelen – 09 4337 026


See Whakapara School on oldfriends click here see old school photos

school whaka 1900s
 Whakapara Native School 1900


whaka native school 1936
        Whakapara Native School 1936    




History Whakapara Native School


The Whakapara Native School was established around 1899 after a lot of lobbying from the families at Whakapara. People spoke to Hone Heke MP for Northern Māori and in 1897 a letter signed by 20 families was sent to the Minister of Education. The letter identified that there was a need for adequate schooling for the children in the area and that an offer to donate the land required.

A reply stated that an area of 3 acres would be required. A site was chosen and Mr Pope Inspector for Schools visited the location. The Inspector ascertained that there would be at least 20 Māori students and a further 20 Pakeha students to populate the school. He had some concerns that if the settlement continued to grow that the Europeans would demand a school of their own.

A favourable recommendation was given to establish the school and by November 1898 estimates for the costs of building the school were in – a total of £500. The Board decided to give a grant of £250. There seems to be no official opening date of the school however it is surmised that it was in operation from March 1899. A full years pay for the teacher at the time Mr Sidney Gubb was £120. The school started with 27 pupils and gradually built up to 55.

The school provided education for many children in the area for many years. There were times when requests were made to relocate the school to cater for children who lived a distance away and on the other side of the river which was prone to flooding in winter. The school closed for a while in 1920 because of a whooping cough epidemic and for over a month in 1943 because of a lack of qualified teachers.

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Childhood Memories

There are many people with memories of attending as a pupil and of teaching at the Whakapara Native School.   Some of the events that took place that children remembered were the passing of the trucks to the Mercury mines during World War Two, not being allowed to speak the Mäori language at school, having to help keep the school clean, inside polishing the floors and cleaning the windows, outside having to pickup rubbish, clean the toilets. In the 1960s children were divided into teams and the rewards of ice creams and drinks were given to the team that did the best. The boys had great delight in chasing the girls into the toilets and throwing spiders and wetas at them.

 whaka school 1950
  Pupils at Whakapara Native School 1950


The school officially closed in 1964 because the number of children living in the area had declined. The children were then sent to the Hukerenui District School of the Hikurangi School.


Other Schools

 public school 1923     Whakapara Public School 1923 
There were two other schools built in the Whakapara area. Whakapara Public School The Whakapara Public School was built around 1923.  There was an increase in the numbers of children in the area and it was also difficult for some children to attend the Native School especially when there was flooding. School was conducted in the Public Hall until the new school was built.  This school was closed in 1954 and the classroom shifted to Hukerenui. Puhipuhi School The first school was the Manders Mill school in Waiariki and was referred to as the Whakapara Side School – started around 1906. This school closed when the mill was shut down in 1912. An official school was opened in 1919 after applications were made to the Education Board.  The school remained opened up until 1964 having gone through many changes including the destruction of the first school building by fire, the addition of buildings and a swimming pool.  The school closed in 1964 when it was consolidated with  the Hukerenui school.



Here are some photos of the pupils from different years. You may recognise some of them.


 whaka school pupils 1956
Whakapara Native School 1956

 whaka school pupils 1964
Whakapara Native School 1964







Page last updated 23 Aug 2009