Old Pohangina School History

With the numbers of mill workers' children needing education, the proprietor approached the Education Board with regard to setting up a school near the mill. After a long battle with the authorities, it was decided, in 1887, that the Education Board would provide the teacher if the mill owner would provide the building, the furniture and the books. The subsequent expenses would be paid by the Education Board.

There was no Raumai at this time, it was all called Pohangina on the west side, till a second post office was established at the Pohangina Village. So as to distinguish between the two areas the southern end was named Raumai in 1895. Raumai had Palmer's Store and Post Office and a hotel.

The first school was situated near the foot of Holley's Hill, with the timber mill being close by. It was named the Pohangina School, and was in the vicinity of where Dennis Leamy farms today. It was opened in 1887. The first master was a Mr T.F. Reeve, shown in the first school photo taken in 1888, with 28 pupils. He left in 1892 to enter the Methodist Ministry.

There have been many arguments over the first school site, this information was given to me by the late Mr Tom Sinclair, a first day pupil. It is interesting to note that there are several Sinclair children of this pioneer family in the photo.

The first cash book entry was June 1888. Of interest, the quarterly capitation grant was ₤1.6.3, school bell 7.6d, cutting cord of firewood 6 shillings, school prizes ₤4.3.10, stamps 4d. By

1890 the supply of timber was cut out and the mill shifted to what was to become the Pohangina Village. Again the settlers had problems persuading the Education Board to build another school. Eventually, by 1895, a new school was erected, by which time the village had a population of 163, with another 78 in the neighbourhood.

Eventually the village had three blacksmiths, two general stores (one with a post office and telephone), a large school with 105 pupils at its peak. The Whiteheads and Elaine Savell (nee Neilson) used to ride horses over the river to attend school, this was prior to the opening of the Awahou North School. There was a butcher's shop, a technical school (see photo) that is still in existence that replaced the big school when it burned down, a Methodist and a Brethren church (other denominations held services in the school and public hall).

There was a very busy creamery, and there were two midwives, Charles Wildbore (who took most of our historic photos), and the Public Domain where many sports events were held.

These are just a few notes taken from old records - Bob Passey, August 203.