On May 1, 1918 a letter was sent by Mr S. W. Mitchell to the Auckland Education Board with an application for a new school on Rangiuru Road, Te Puke. The letter stated that Mr Mitchell was willing to “surrender his interest in two acres of land on his block and have this vested in the board”. After a lengthy process approval was finally given on January 27, 1919 and Miss Vida C. Billing was instructed to commence teaching on February 17, 1919.
Meanwhile an enthusiastic group of settlers from the surrounding area had already constructed a building on the site – a one room school measuring 26 ft by 16 ft at the cost of £200.
The school opened with a roll of 16 students. Over the following years this number fluctuated but the school remained a sole charge school. In 1956 further land was purchased from Mr J. Waterman and Mr R. J. Hewison for a playing field and a teacher’s residence. The school house was completed in September 1957 along with the sinking of a bore to supply the school with adequate water. By this time the roll had almost doubled and a prefab classroom was added to the school grounds. Seven years later a new single classroom was built to replace it. Work finished on the classroom on March 1, 1965 and it was eagerly occupied by the school’s 29 students. By this stage the original school building was sub-standard and a request was made to the Education Board for a second classroom. The Board refused, saying ‘it could not be justified by any figures available that there would be any future roll increases’.
Despite the Board’s gloomy forecast, over the ensuing years Rangiuru saw much roll growth and change. By the school’s 75th Jubilee in 1994 the school had added a multi-purpose room, a toilet block, a hard-court play area, a playground and a swimming pool.
The late 90’s and early 2000’s saw a huge increase in students attending Rangiuru School. With the roll approaching 100, 3 new classrooms were added, the old classroom was moved from its original site and made into a technology suite/library and a new administration/staffroom block was constructed in its place.
Today Rangiuru is proud of its country heritage and traditions. While modern buildings and up-to-date technology aid in delivering a sound education, it still relies on strong community support and enthusiasm like that of those first settlers who brought it into being.
John Powdrell – A Former Student's account of the good old days at Rangiuru School
I was at Rangiuru School from October 1939 – almost 80 years ago – until the end of the second term in 1943. My two sisters were at Rangiuru School also. I was 8 years old and had come from a school at Nuhaka, 30kms east of Wairoa.
At Rangiuru we had one teacher and the roll varied, from memory, from about 10 to 20.
It was a happy time and life was not so complicated then except for wartime restrictions and shortages.
Food, clothing, petrol etc were rationed and when buying these items coupons were taken from ration books.
Inevitably some teachers joined the Army and so younger teachers were going out to sole charge schools perhaps sooner than usual.
I don’t think our classroom learning suffered but in some ways we bent the rules a bit.
We rode horses to school which was usual for most of the children.
There was not much traffic, mail delivery once a day and the cream lorry collecting cans of cream as milk was separated on the farms. Families went to town on Tuesday, Sale day.
The road beyond the griffin farm was impassable in wet weather.
Our first teacher Mr Des Sharkey who lived at the school in a caravan during the week and had a vegetable garden at the school.
Mr Sharkey, as I remember, always wore a jacket and tie (with a tie clip) or in the warmer weather a long sleeve shirt and tie. Our lady teachers wore dresses or skirts. That’s just the way it was then.
In the morning the school formed in lines while the flag was raised before going in to school.
Our next two teachers were Miss Brownlee and I think Miss Dalton. As I mentioned our classroom learning continued as before, but some students were bending the rules a bit.
Our next teacher was Miss McGhie who lived with Mr and Mrs Arthur Clark at the end of Clark Road, and so had further to go to school than any of the children. Miss McGhie rode a horse to school.
We were expected to be at school on time and observe the school rules.
A few of us did not take kindly to the new order and ran away from school – not a very smart move as we had to go back for our horses, and teacher was waiting.
Next morning we were given the strap in front of the rest of the school, and then told that our names would be recorded in the roll in red ink.
That worried me more than the strap as I imagined it to be something hanging over me for the rest of my life. (checked roll.)
We very quickly mended our ways and enjoyed school with Miss McGhie.
School grounds were maintained by the children, no health and safety problems using lawnmowers, hedge clippers and sharp garden tools. We climbed trees for pine cones for the wood burner in the classroom.
Games played were mainly rounders and bulrush.
As I mentioned before, it was Wartime and there were slit trenches in the school grounds for our protection – but not for playing in. Very correct – one trench for girls and one for boys.
I don’t remember there being a telephone at the school, but from the school onwards it was a party line with up to 12 on the line which was maintained by the people on the line, each being responsible for their own section.
Copper, brass, aluminium and lead were needed for wartime production and children were encouraged to bring their items to school for recycling. Children can be very enthusiastic and it was questionable as to where some material came from.
Cocksfoot was harvested from the edge of the road for the seed which had ergot that was used for the production of antibiotics.
The grass was heaped on a tarpaulin and beaten with a flail to separate the seed which was left on the tarpaulin when the grass was removed with a pitch fork.
A grant was available from the Education Board for shoeing our horses. This meant a trip to the blacksmith in Te Puke and the long ride home afterwards. We were not marked absent from school those days. The blacksmith Mr. Cyril Ken had his shop across Oxford Street from Mitre 10 and the present Mitre 10 site was the blacksmiths paddock for holding the horses waiting to be shod. I enjoyed working the forge used for heating the horseshoes.
Most of the men in the district were members of the local Home Guard unit and were required to attend regular parades of their unit. A petrol allowance was available to go to parades and exercises.
Of course there were incidents at times
One day Tom Slater and Maurice Vercoe were having a difference in the playground. Tom had a loud voice and was using very colourful language, that was until Mr. Sharkey put his head out the window and said “I can hear you Tom.” End of argument!
Maureen Slater had a horse called “Snowbell” that was usually among the slower horses coming home.
One day Snowbell came galloping from behind and passed us on the straight by Ron & Shirley Bailey’s. When we went around the corner Snowbell was dead on the edge of the road. Fortunately Maureen was not badly hurt but very shaken.
Maurice looked at Snowbell and said “Snowbell has never done that before”
Those are my recollections of my time at Rangiuru School
Schooling was Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, plus History & Geography & homework for tables and spelling. This gave us a good grounding when we moved on to other schools.
My Best Wishes to all associated with Rangiuru School now and in the future.