When Featherston was founded in 1857, the Provincial Government was responsible for education and it was under an act passed in 1855 that the frrst public school in Featherston was founded in 1863, with Mr. J. G. Cox as teacher.
A schoolroom was built on the Education Reserve, adjoining Clifford Square, at a cost of £77. In the next year the "Return of Schools in the Province of Wellington to which aid has been afforded from the Grant for Education" contains the following entry:
Teacher: J. G. Cox.
Size of classroom: 24’ x 14’.
No. of children on books; 31.
No. of children in attendance: 16.
In 1871 an act was passed which set up a Wellington Education Board and gave considerably more assistance to schools. Both the Kaiwaiwai and Featherston schools were gazetted on January 16, 1873 a
s established under that act and they were to be "
open without fee or payment to all children not under the age of five years nor above the age of fifteen years." This marks the beginning of free education in the Featherston district.
The early history of both these schools cannot be accurately determined owing to the loss by fire in each case, of the early records. The earliest record held by the Education Board in each case gives the date 1872 when the schools were taken over by the Education Board as set up in 1871. At that date the chairman of the Featherston School Committee was Mr. C. Pharazyn, at that time resident at Longwood, and the teacher was Mr. E. de Montalk.
At Kaiwaiwai, Mr. W. D. Williams was the chairman, and Mr. T. Wakelin the teacher. The roll numbers at that date are unknown.
In 1874 Mr. Gulliver was the teacher in Featherston and the average attendance was 24.
The Tauherenikau School was not far behind in point of time. Mr. Jonas Tocker applied for the establishment of the school there in 1872 and it would appear that there was a school already in existence at that date. Mrs. Hansen was one of the early teachers there (1878), followed by Mrs. Fugle in 1879.
Featherston School in 1898. The staff members are from left, the Rev. Thomas Porritt (headmaster);
Mr Williamson, assistant master; Miss M. Fellingham and Miss A. Sage.
The board acted promptly and on August 25, the tender of Messrs. Riddick & Cadenhead, £772 10s was accepted and in January, 1881, the new school was opened--a well-built three-roomed building, still standing today ,  except for the wooden piles and some of the flooring, as sound as ever.
The plan of the school reflects something of the state of education at the time—a central corridor with a room on each side for the infant and junior classes and a large room across the back of the building for the senior classes under the headmaster. The pupils’ desks were arranged in long lines, rising in tiers to the back of the rooms. Each room could be watched from the headmaster’s room through a small sliding glass window. As most of the staff were pupil teachers, many of whom had just left school themselves, this supervision was no doubt necessary.
The opening roll in 1881 was 146 and included names from many families still remembered in Featherston and still resident there. The first name in the register opened in 1881 is that of William Murphy who was admitted earlier (January, 1873). There follow Janet and Quentin Donald. Later, we find the names
The addresses of most parents were given as "Featherston," but there were some from South Featherston, Lower Valley and Cross Creek.
It is interesting to note that only six of the original 146 names are recorded as having gone on for further education, all being boys and all having gone to Wellington College. One, George Toogood, is proudly recorded as having attained a scholarship to Wellington College in 1889 after passing the seventh Standard.
The headmaster from 1880 till. December, 1883 was the Rev. H. E. Tuckey, B.A. (Cambridge). He had helped to found in Wellington the school which afterwards was Wellington College, from the staff of which he was promoted to Featherston. He would appear to have been a sound classical scholar who did not suffer fools gladly.
Teachers in those days were very much at the mercy of the School Committees who did not hesitate to examine the work of the classes and record their opinions. On one occasion the local committee passed a motion forbidding the setting of homework. The headmaster complied under protest.
The chairman, at that time a member of the Education Board, took the matter up with the board with the result that the board refused to concede to committees the power to regulate homework. Mr. Tuckey immediately reinstituted homework with the result that he was reported by the committee to the board. He ended his report of this with the words ‘Incedis per ignes suppositos’ which was as neat a way as any of consigning both chairman and secretary to Hades.
Shortly after this incident, perhaps even because of it, in December, 1883. Mr. Tuckey left the school, taking with him "a set of gold studs and solitaires" as a token of his pupils’ "affectionate remembrance of his kind care and attention’ and became headmaster of the Rangiora High School in Canterbury. In 1896 he was living in semi-retirement in Wellington.
Henry Bunting followed as headmaster and remained until 1888. He records on March 7, 1884, that "the first week has passed somewhat pleasantly" though he had earlier complained of "continual conversation" and later states that "talking and copying are noticeable on all hands."
A perusal of the old records, by the way, soon disposes of the contention that the grandparents and great-grandparents of the present generation were better and nobler in every way than their descendants today. At the end of Mr. Bunting’s reign, in December, 1888 the newspaper report of the prizegiving ends with these words . . . "we came away most favourably impressed with the discipline and general efficiency of the school which is certainly second to none in the education district." Apparently the "continual conversation" and the "copying" had been successfully combatted, and Mr. Bunting’s reward was promotion to Greytown. The year closed with a roll of 205 and the accommodation was fully occupied. The large room was divided by a curtain at this time to form an additional classroom.
The Rev. Mr. Thomas Porritt took over the school in January, 1889 and remained till 1903. He will be remembered by many who will celebrate Featherston’s centennial, During his long tenure of the position, the roll remained static at about the 200 mark, many of the children no doubt second generation Featherstonians.
A prize list taken at random (1896) contains the following names;
Vile and Wellshed.
Assistant teachers during the period (1880-1900) include
Mr. Henry McFarlane (1880-1885);
Mr. Harper (1886-1888);
Miss Payne (1888-1892);
Mr. Pope (1891-1892);
Mr. Williamson (1892-1899);
Mr. Malcolm (1889-1902);
Miss Medley (1883-1886)
and a number of pupil teachers among whom should be recorded the names of
Edwin and Norman Gurr,
E. A. Bunting,
Rebecca & Marjory Fellingham,
Agnes Sage, (1896-1901).
The Featherston Private Day School was opened, in 1892, by Miss Clava Shane. In 1896 it had twenty pupils. Of interest to many older residents will be the fact that Mr. & Mrs. Houghton were "appointed to clean the school etc." on July 17, 1899. On July 25. "the school did not appear to have been well-swept last night" and Mrs. Houghton explained that the brooms were worn out. One wonders how many brooms were subsequently worn out by this couple who cleaned the school until 1941 and were given a "do" by the school committee at that time.
During this period cooking classes were instituted and carried
on in the supper room of the Town Hall under a Miss Millington.
Drill, mostly of the military type, was taken by the staff
assisted by Sgt. Major Bezar. In 1899 Mr. Porritt reports that
"Captain McDonald, the recently appointed Drill Instructor arrived
at the school at 11 a.m. and drilled the cadets until 12." Was
this the Colonel T. W. McDonald, a member of Parliament for the
Wairarapa and also a member of the Education Board? (History does
not record). How many former pupils of that time and later will
remember the cadets with their navy jerseys, glengarry caps, and
Throughout the whole of this period the school was inspected regularly by Mr. Lee, later assisted by Mr. Fleming. With what excitement and with what fear and trembling the examination day must have been anticipated by pupils and teachers alike. An inspection in those days was an inspection and no "social visit" nonsense about it. Every child from S.1 to S.7 was given a written test and on the result depended his or her promotion. With what pride did the head teacher report to the committee "96% passes," with what consternation did the committee read "the intelligence of some of the children is below average." On the whole, over the years, Mr. Lee appeared to have been well satisfied with the Eeatherston School and the committee likewise.
What a procession of worthy citizens formed the committees elected each year then, and not biennially as now! As stated earlier, the chairman of the committee which first applied for registration was Mr. C. Pharazyn, an early landowner, whose home was at Longwood. In 1880 Mr. J. G. Cox was chairman of the committee and at the election in 1881 the following were chosen:
Mr. Cox was appointed chairman,
Mr. Cundy, treasurer, and
Mr. Cobham, secretary.
Mr. Cox remained as chairman till the election of 1895, when the new committee was made up of the following:
W. Benton, chairman;
W. Fry, treasurer;
F. W. Good, secretary;
Between these two dates Mr. H. H. Bunny had been a member of the committee and also the Education Board.
The first mention of a school library to be found is during the headmastership of Mr. Porritt who donated some books and had a small grant made to him by the committee. By 1896 there was a library of 300 books.
Mention has been made of the Kaiwaiwai School and a further note must be made concerning this period. In 1893, Mr. James Costin Webb, B.A., became head-teacher and he will be remembered by old pupils of that school. He afterwards became headmaster of the Thorndon Normal School where the training of future teachers remained one of his duties till his retirement in the twenties of this century. The roll at Kaiwaiwai in 1896 was 56.
The South Featherston School just comes into this period having been founded in 1899.
The 1900-1920 period opens with a fall in the roll number, partly owing to the opening of the South Featherston School, partly due to the natural fall in the birth rate as the families of the 1880 settlers grew up and had as yet no families of their own. The roll in September was 166 and the staff reduced to three—Mr. Porritt, Mr. Malcolm, and Miss Sage.
In 1900 a succession of holidays marked victories in the Boer War.
In 1901 the great event was the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York to New Zealand. Cadets from the Featherston School took part in the Military Review at Christchurch.
In 1902 Mr. Porritt ended his long term of office. Mr. Inspector Fleming said: "Mr. Perritt has sent in his resignation after 47 years’ service as a teacher, 38 of which have been spent in the colony, and 23 of these in the service of the board. He has been an earnest, conscientious worker, faithful in the performance of his duties, and has taken great interest in the work of his pupils both in and out of school." Mr. Porritt took with him into retirement "an address by past and present pupils," and a sense of duty well done to a whole generation of Featherston pupils. Mr. F. C. Everton his successor took over in January, 1903 with Miss Grey, Miss Hall and Miss Turkington to assist him. Miss Armstrong replaces Miss Grey later in the same year. The roll was 144.
A new name appears among the inspectors, that of F. H. Bakewell, later comes J. S. Tennant, both well remembered by older people today.
For some years the roll remained about the same, Mr. Everton having difficulty in making his two assistants spread over so many classes. The country as a whole had decided that by providing "free, compulsory, and secular education" in 1877, it had placed itself in the van of education reform and it was content to leave the schools as they were with little attempt to improve conditions and provide sufficient teachers to cope with the growing population. In the years just prior to the First World War the roll number grew slowly and in 1914 had reached 170 with 4 teachers on the staff. In 1916, Featherston was booming and the roll touched the 200 mark with 5 teachers. By 1918 the roll was 273 and 6 teachers were coping with this number. The infant mistress, with the assistance of a pupil teacher had 107 pupils in her charge.
While the Camp was in Featherston, each new draft of soldiers meant an outbreak of infectious diseases—measles. diptheria etc. and this culminated in the disastrous epidemic of 1918. The school was commandeered by the Military Authorities on November 7, and the school was closed till February 4, 1919. When the school re-opened Mr. Everton was ill and Mr. C. S. Gordon took charge temporarily. Mr. Everton decided to retire and Mr. F. L. Combs took over in June, 1919. The roll number was now 264, there were four assistant teachers (all women) and two pupil teachers (also women).
Members of the staff during this period included;
Mr. Malcolm, 1902;
Miss Fellingham, 1902;
Miss Sage, 1902;
Miss Hall, 1902-04;
Miss Stanton, 1905-15;
Mrs. Hughan, 1910-12;
Miss Jackson, 1912-14;
Miss Kilmartin, 1914-24;
Miss Chatwin, 1915-16;
Mrs. Banks, 1916-19;
Miss Simons (or Symonds), 1917-18;
Miss Kennedy, 1918-19;
Miss D. Tully, 1918-20.
The pupil teachers include;
Miss L. Turkington, 1901-04;
Miss Gray, 1902-03;
Miss Armstrong, 1903-04;
Miss Renall, 1905 (who died during Christmas holidays);
Mr. Sadler, 1906;
Miss Aitcheson, 1906-09;
Miss Russell, 1909:
Miss Smylie, 1910-11;
Miss Smythe, 1912-13;
Mr. R. I. Baillie, 1914;
Miss E. L. Duley, 1914-16;
Miss E. Butcher, 1914-16;
Miss Welch, 1917;
Mr. Mair, 1917;
Miss E. Burt, 1918;
Miss Tait, 1919.
School Committeemen who served. during thc period included
Mr. W. Benton (chairman till 1912),
Mr. W. Hodder,
Mr. J. W. Cobb,
Mr. L. Keys,
Mr. F. Burt,
Mr. M. B. Tait, and
Mr. Stafford Murphy (first elected 1906),
Mr. G. Ford (chairman in 1915),
Mr. H. Kendall,
Mr. A. Stubbs.
Mr. A. E. Merlet,
Mr. F. W. Smith, and
Mr. C. C. Kenward.
Mr. Stafford Murphy served for 40 years till 1946, Mr. C. C. Kenward, as secretary, treasurer, and chairman, had much to do with the administration of the school over the period of its greatest growth. He prepared the arguments and made the application for the "new" school in 1923, the Manual Training block, the Dental Clinic, the next "new" school in 1939--a grand record indeed.
When Mr. Combs took over the school in 1919 the old school building in Clifford Square was bursting its seams and classes were being held in the gymnasium hall (next the present school site). In 1920 there were 267 children on the roll, a male assistant, Mr. J. R. Kirby had been appointed, and a new Infant Mistress, Miss Burbush, had taken over this department which she was to control so successfully till 1937.
Mr. Combs, one of the best known teachers of his generation in the Dominion, brought new life to the school and he was one to take full advantage of all, the facilities which could be obtained. In 1917, the committee had made application for the remodelling of the old building but with no result. It was not till 1920 that this was agreed to. The board purchased two acres on the Lyons Street, Revans Street corner and prepared plans to shift and remodel the school. However, this plan was scrapped in favour of a new five roomed building on the new site, now five acres, and this was opened in October, 1921 by the Hon. C. J. Parr, then Minister of Education. A central library for the schools in the Featherston County was organised, something on the lines of the present National Library Service to schools.
Senior pupils were sent to Greytown for manual training, but this arrangement did not last long. In 1924 the Minister and Mr. A. D. McLeod (Member for Wairarapa) visited the school to consider a request from the committee for a manual training block but this was not then granted (It had to wait till 1929).
In 1923 the school became a District High School but this will be dealt with in a separate section. Mr. Combs left in April of 1927 to take charge of the Mt. Cook School in Wellington. After distinguished service to Education in New Zealand, as teacher, in the New Zealand Educational Institute, and in the Department as head of the School Publication Service, he is now living in retirement at Island Bay, Wellington. His daughter Jean, a pupil of this school, became director of School Broadcasting, and another daughter, Nancy, is the wife of the present Chief Inspector of Primary schools, Mr. A. E. Campbell.
Mr. Combs was followed by Mr. G. S. Stubbs, who remained only two years. It was in his time that the Manual Training Centre was established. He, too, had a distinguished career after leaving Featherston being headmaster of the Kowhai Junior High School in Auckland (the first of our intermediate schools) and finally Senior Inspector of Schools in the Wellington district. He was farewelled in 1949 from this position by the Wairarapa teachers in the Featherston School and has retired to Levin. Mr. E. E. C. Boyes followed him and remained for five years, when he too received promotion to the D.H. School in Waipukurau. After further service at Wairoa and in the Napier Intermediate School, he retired in Napier where the is still residing as a neighbour of an old Featherston friend, Dr. G. S. Sharp. Mr. Boyes was an energetic teacher and a keen swimmer. The present officers of the Swimming Club owe much to his training and enthusiasm.
In 1934 Mr. H. E. Pendergrast came to the school from Tuakau near Auckland and remained till 1938. During his time organised sport on a "house" basis was introduced with some success—the "houses"-—Kowhai, Konini, Rata, and Nikau. Mr. Pendergrast left to become headmaster of St. Heliers, Auckland, and he is now living in retirement there. He was followed by Mr. F. S. Hayes who came from Murchison D.H.S. in 1938 and remained till 1942. He had the difficult war years to cope with—man teachers coming and going every few months as the needs of the Armed Services dictated, and the local company of the Home Guard to cope with.
After Mr. Everton’s long term of office the swift succession of headmasters in the between-war period—five in twenty years—requires some comment. It was due to the salary and grading schemes of the time which required teachers to move to new jobs in order to get higher salaries and to the fact that the school was, during that period, at a difficult stage in its development. It had become a District High School with all the added responsibility that entailed but its primary department was not large enough to free the headmaster from classroom teaching. Consequently it was one of the most difficult though by no means one of the best paid positions in the service. One cannot wonder that a few years was all that headmasters were prepared to stay.
Assistant teachers in the Primary Department during that period included:
Mr. J. R. Kirby, 1920-25;
Mr. C. J. Bishop, 1925-27;
Mr. Churchill, 1927-29;
Mr. Walden, 1930-32;
Mr. V. Welch, 1932-36,
Mr. S. Hill, 1937-38; and
Mr. Wellitt. 1939-45.
The infant mistresses were:
Miss Burbush 1920-37,
Miss Lindsay 1938,
Miss Wharton 1938-41.
Miss Burbush’s stay of seventeen years, one of the longest in the history of the school will be remembered by many of her grateful pupils. She saw the move to the "new" school in 1921. Her first class in 1920 consisted of 81 P.1 & 2 children and the inspectors report that the infant department is "well-managed." It continued to be well managed for all the seventeen years of her stay.
Other primary assistants of the period include:
Miss I. Collier,
Miss M. Collier and
Chairmen of the School Committee during this period were:
Mr. F. W. Smith,
Mr. F. Dohnt,
Mr. J. W. Holland, and
Mr. G. Farrier.
The primary classrooms, Featherston District HIgh School, 1956.
This period saw the establishment of the school as a District High School in 1923. As early as 1878 an attempt had been made by the committee of that time to have a District High School established but the Education Department would not agree. For many years a seventh standard provided education for one year past the proficiency certificate standard. In 1911 for instance Mr. Everton had nine pupils in this class. Later a number of Featherston pupils travelled to the District High School in Carterton for their secondary education.
In 1923 the old school was vacant, there were 30 children prepared to attend and the secondary department opened with a roll of 36 and with Miss A. M. Brown and Miss Erickson as teachers. Thirteen of the pupils had formerly been travelling to Carterton. In April, Mrs. Denham replaced Miss Erickson and stayed till December 1924. In 1925, the roll being under 30. Miss Brown took a position in Carterton D.H. School and Mr. R. F. Fortune relieved for a few months. As Dr. Fortune he later became a distinguished anthropologist on the staff of Columbia University, USA. Miss Patterson was appointed in June 1926 to the senior and Miss Ailsa McDonald in July 1926, to the junior position which was made necessary by a considerable increase in the roll. Miss Patterson was soon followed by Miss Goodwin and in 1928 by Mr. H. H. Sutton who left in 1930 to become headmaster of Martinborough. Mr. A. J. Graham followed him and remained till 1932.
Through these later changes Miss McDonald had remained and preserved the continuity of the school and built up a tradition of solid work and sound learning. Her interest in drama and especially in Shakespeare will be remembered by her old pupils. J. Saba’s ‘Shylock’ in a production of the ‘Merchant of Venice’ in 1931 was a memorable performance.
In September 1932, Mr. A. S. Kilsby was appointed to the senior position which he held till 1947. In November 1932, Miss McDonald was appointed to the senior position at Martinborough. Her very promising career as a teacher was cut short by a car accident which caused her death in 1933. Her successor was Miss A. M. Foss, B.Sc. who joined the staff in February 1933 and whose 23 years of continuous service in the school make a record not likely to be beaten. When Mr. Kilsby left the school in 1947, she became senior assistant mistress and remains in that position today.
An increasing roll in 1935 led to the appointment of Miss D. S. Patterson M.A. as third assistant. She was followed by Mr. E. D. Dean in 1937 who in turn was followed by Mr. S. Slocombe in 1939.
The war caused considerable confusion in staffing. Mr. Slocombe went to a war appointment in Palmerston North and thence to the armed forces. In 1941 Mr. Kilsby took an appointment in the Air Department’s air training scheme for a year and was replaced by Mr. R. Goodwin. Mr. Kilsby returned in 1942 and Mr. D. Nesbit joined the staff for a short period. Mr. L. D. Keedwell transferred from the primary department to the secondary department in 1945 and he remained till 1948 when he transferred to Carterton.
In 1947 Mr. Kilsby left the staff after nearly 15 years’ service
to go to the Secondary Department at Te Puke and Mr. Keedwell
shortly afterwards to Carterton. The roll subsequently fell below
that required for three teachers. Mr. Keith Reid joined the staH
in 1950 and left in 1952. Miss Weir, lately from Scotland,
relieved for the remainder of 1952 and Mr. J. Dunmore joined the
staff in 1953, leaving to undertake research work at Victoria
College in 1956.
In 1955 the roll increased again and Miss M. Twiss was appointed to the extra post but disappeared again the following year. This record of the staffing of the Secondary Department has been brought up to date to avoid dividing the story into two parts.
Featherston can well be proud of the record of the old pupils of the secondary department. One of the first pupils to matriculate (in 1925) was Jean Combs mentioned earlier. Arthur Fieldhouse, Ph.D. was at school 1924-25. Ian Garlyon, Frederick Gray and Nancy Garlyon were among the earlier pupils to pass the matriculation examination. Most of the professions have old pupils among their ranks, Norma Kent (nee Shepherd) M.B., Ch.B. (N.Z.), Ph.D. (Cambridge), now of Adelaide in the Medical profession, Joan McKenzie, M.A. senior assistant mistress at the new Mana College, Lewis Robinson B.A. among the teachers; James Pendergrast, Ph.D. lecturer at Auckland University College, Muriel Saunders M.Sc., Betty Robbins B.Sc., and Clement Hawke Ph.D. among the scientists, Elliot Lang, B.D.S. a dentist, Alex Lawson L.L.B., a lawyer, Alex Blain, an accountant, Murray Hunter BE., and Robert Bargh, engineers are among the pupils whose academic careers have been a credit to the Featherston District High School. The number of science and allied degrees held by ex- pupils is a tribute to the careful training and inspiring teaching given by Miss Alison Foss over so many years.
During the Second World War ex-pupils played their part. The decorations gained by Victor Bargh, D.F.C. and John Bloxam D.F.C., O.B.E. are remembered with pride by their old school, and the roll of honour bearing the names of thirteen old boys who lost their lives during the war, show that the school had its full share of the grief of the whole country in the lives lost in that conflict. The Roll of Honour on a fine board constructed by boys in the Woodwork Department reads:
William A. C. Ball,
Thomas C. Browne.
Allan Robert Chisholm,
Ian Wilfred Feast,
Colin Thomas Hayes,
John David Houston,
John Henry Lawson,
William James Parton,
Allan Stanley Raper,
James Arthur Reed,
Thomas Brian McKenna.
The roll number in the Department reached a peak of 79 in 1941. Since then the development of Wairarapa College and better services to Masterton have led to a reduction in the roll though a useful function is still performed by the local school.
To resume the story of the primary school, Mr. Hayes remained as stated earlier, during the difficult war period till June 1943, when he left to take charge of Clyde Quay School in Wellington. After a period at Lyall Bay he retired and is still living in Wellington. His place was taken by Mr. J. W. T. Jones who retired to live in Wanganui in February 1950, the present head-master, Mr. A. S. Kilsby, succeeding him in May of that year.
Among assistant teachers of the period should be mentioned Mr. L. D. Keedwell, Mr. Finlayson, Mr. H. H. Whiting and Mr. R. B. Grant as first assistants. Mr. Grant had earlier been a probationary assistant under Mr. Jones. Infant Mistresses include: Miss Wharton, Miss I. Collier, Mrs. A. D. Dring, Miss M. Bowie, Miss G. Vllhite and Mrs. L. Pram. Mr. P. Henderson an old pupil of the school was on the staff for a period till 1950 before going to the Cook Islands where he now holds a responsible position in the adult education service. Among assistant mistresses, Miss N. D. A. Mutter holds an honoured place. Joining the staff in 1931 she remained till 1950 and no teacher ever gave more loyal service. She retired in Featherston but ill-health later forced her to sell her home and go to a married sister in Wellington. How many old pupils will remember the lunch time cocoa prepared by Miss Mutter on the open fireplace in the older school building and in an electric urn in the new school? The library which grew to 2,000 volumes was another responsibility which Miss Mutter undertook with loving care. Other assistants of this period include
Miss Margaret Lawson,
Miss Margaret Rowles,
Miss Bernice Algie,
Mrs. C. M. Cross (nee Bargh), and
Mr. Kevin Hocquard,
all old pupils of the school,
Miss G. Hancox,
Miss V. Stewart,
Mr. A. Gurnsey,
Mr. R. Smith,
Mr. C. Gibbs,
Mr. & Mrs. A. Avison,
Mr. F. Conroy and
Mrs. N. Lipinski.
The present 1956 primary staff is:
First Assistant: Mr. R. B. Grant,
Infant Mistress: Mrs. L. Pram,
Senior Assistant Mistress: Mrs. J. I. Benton,
Mrs. H. M. Avison,
Mrs. N. Lipinski,
Mr. R. Smith,
Mr. C. Gibbs,
Mr. A. Avison and
Miss A. Harman (probationary assistant).
Mr. G. Farrier, Mr. R. Wallace and Mr. B. Thompson were chairmen of the School Committee.
After Mr. Kenward’s retirement
Mr. J. Perfect,
Mr. F. Staples and
Rev. R. Keith have been secretaries.
The school is housed in buildings arranged round the five acre site in Revans Street. The main primary block of five class-rooms was opened in 1941, together with the old Kaiwaiwai school building transferred to this site in the same year. The secondary department and Form. 2 (Std. 6) occupy the block built in 1921 and there is one prefabricated class-room.
The story of the country schools, some of which was mentioned earlier, must be sketched briefly. The Kaiwaiwai School, almost co-equal with Featherston had its ups and downs. In 1911 the original school was burnt down and replaced with a two-roomed structure, the roll at that time being over 50 and the teachers
Mr. King (Head) and Miss Healy.
Mr. Williams followed Mr. King,
followed Miss Hall and in 1926, the school roll having fallen to 32, Mr. G. C. Smith became Sole Teacher, being followed by
Mr. F. Ford,
Mr. R. B. Welch,
Mr. K. B. McClelland.
Miss E. N. Tully.
In 1939, the roll having fallen to 11, the school was consolidated on to Featherston D.H.S.
Tauherenikau after a useful life from 1873 was consolidated on Featherston in 1936.
Cross Creek School, at the railway settlement, was founded in 1883 and remained until the closing of the settlement after the opening of the Rimutaka Tunnel.
Kahutara was founded in 1897 on a site presented by Mr. W. E. Bidwill on which it still stands. Teachers at this school include in recent years
Mr. W. Pottinger,
Mr. G. Napier,
Mr. Maguinness, and
the present head teacher, Mr. Batchelor.
South Featherston was founded in 1899 and has not long ago celebrated its 50th anniversary. Though consolidation on Featherston was considered in the thirties, this close-knit community has always preferred to keep its own school, which has acted as a centre for the life of the community for more than half a century. Recent teachers include
Miss Vilharmby, and
the present head, Mr. Williams.
The Waiorongomai school, opened as the Papatahi school in 1913 as an aided school. In 1914 it changed its name and was housed in the public hall, Children attended from as far south as the Wharepapa homestead and as far north as Bocketts. At first they walked or rode on horseback but later Mr. Bradney Bockett ran a small bus. In 1938, difficulty having been experienced in staffing the school for some time, the board, with the approval of the parents closed the school and the department provided a bus to transport the 22 children to Featherston.
Buses today transport children from Western Lake, Kaiwaiwai, and Tauherenikau to the primary department and extend to the Kahutara and South Featherston districts for secondary pupils. All the buses are now run on a contract basis.
So ends the story of education in the Featherston district. Old Featherstonians reading it will be conscious of many omissions but perhaps enough has been said to stimulate memories and give a basis for reminiscences of future reunions, but the real history of schools cannot be put down on paper. No mention has been made here of sport and games. Records of such things are lost and memories grow dim. What sort of game of football did Jim Donald (All Black 1922-25) play in 1913 when he was in standard 6, or Don McIntosh (1956 All Black) thirty years later? Did Martinborough or Featherston win the Ailsa McDonald Cups in 1936? Who was the marble king in 1898 or the swimming champion in 1940? Who won the fight between —— and —— in 1932 behind the shelter shed near the Bowling Green? All these, bright memories of those who were there and saw, are not the material of official histories. Games live on only in the memory of the participants and in the characters they helped to form; yet it is by the character of their former pupils that the schools of the Featherston District are judged and will be judged.