Puke­taha School turns 100

Waikato News - - Front Page - Ged Cann

Puke­taha Pri­mary School will be cel­e­brat­ing its cen­te­nary in Septem­ber, but as the event ap­proaches staff can­not find ei­ther of the two time cap­sules that were hid­den away for the oc­ca­sion.

The cap­sules proved elu­sive, even af­ter the school or­gan­ised a dig­ger to ex­ca­vate ground around the plaque it was be­lieved to be buried be­neath and paid for ground pen­e­trat­ing radar to help lo­cate it.

The first time cap­sule was be­lieved to be buried around 1982 by the year eight class be­fore they left for high school. It is be­lieved to con­tained the chil­dren’s ideas of what their fu­ture would look like.

The sec­ond cap­sule is be­lieved to have been hid­den in the at­tic of the orig­i­nal school build­ing, but prin­ci­pal Ge­off Booth said de­tails were sketchy.

“Some­body was talk­ing to a par­ent and their child was part of the team that put it in. That child is in their 40s now and said it was be­neath this tree— so we dug a five me­tre ra­dius around it and couldn’t find any­thing.

“He said it’s def­i­nitely in there some­where but we just can’t find it.”

Mr Booth said one of the last re­sorts may be dig­ging up paving stones around the plaque.

“That’s high risk. We would love to talk to any­one who might know more,” he said.

The buried cap­sule is be­lieved to con­tain no metal, which has made the process far harder.

Mr Booth said the cen­te­nary was not just for the school, but for the Puke­taha district as a whole. It re­flects how the com­mu­nity has grown.

When the school be­gan in 1916 there were 20 pupils from seven fam­i­lies. By the 60s it had grown to around, climb­ing to around 150 un­til the 90s.

Today the school houses al­most 300 pupils.

Some fam­i­lies have had four gen­er­a­tions at­tend the school.

Two years of plan­ning have gone in to the event which will take place over two days.

Start­ing on Fri­day there will be a reg­is­tra­tion and tour with a pre­sen­ta­tion from the cur­rent pupils.

“The class­rooms have been di­vided into the dif­fer­ent eras. Part of that will be what would it have looked at in dif­fer­ent 20-year pe­ri­ods,” Mr Booth said.

Dis­plays will in­clude stylised class­rooms and out­fits from the dif­fer­ent eras.

“Learn­ing looked very sim­i­lar from the 60s through to the 90s. The desks changed slightly but you were in rows with the teacher at the front of the class­room who de­liv­ered in­for­ma­tion,” Mr Booth said.

“Learn­ing looks and feels very dif­fer­ent to how it would have in the past. It’s less au­to­cratic and hi­er­ar­chi­cal.”

He said the only thing that had not changed was the school’s principles of aim high, cel­e­brate dif­fer­ences, show fair­ness, have in­tegrity and show care and re­spect.

The school cen­te­nary cel­e­bra­tions will run from Septem­ber 23-24 with the main event start­ing on the Saturday from 10am.

A cake to cel­e­brate the 100 years will be cut by one of the first and the old­est sur­viv­ing stu­dent at the school, 92-year-old Inewa Ward who joined the school in 1930 at age five.

“There were only about six of us there at the time. It grew quite a bit,” she said.

Inewa re­mem­bers a time when half the chil­dren would ride horses to school and the whole school con­sisted of a sin­gle room where all age groups were taught at once.

“Those teach­ers, I don’t know how they did it,” she said.

Today there are four learn­ing en­vi­ron­ments, each roughly the size of three class­rooms.

“I re­mem­ber hot milk at the gate. It got hot in the sun and all creamy. It was hor­ri­ble,” she said.

Inewa re­calls the sin­gle fire sat in the back wall of the class­room — the only heat­ing for the chil­dren in winter.

Ex-stu­dent Bryan May­all, who was at the school a decade af­ter Inewa and has been part of the com­mit­tee or­gan­is­ing the cen­te­nary, re­mem­bers the school dances, when all the ta­bles would be passed out of the win­dows to make room.

Visit www.kmweb­sit­edesign.co.nz/ cen­te­nary for more in­for­ma­tion on the cen­te­nary. At­ten­dees need to reg­is­ter.

Puke­taha School prin­ci­pal Ge­off Booth and cen­te­nary or­gan­iser Bryan May­all at the plaque where one of the time cap­sules was be­lieved to be hid­den.

Puke­taha School when it was built in 1916.

Puke­taha School today.

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