History of the School
The following extract is taken from the 'Centennial Mosaic' commissioned in 1993 to celebrate the first hundred years of Te Horo School and to commemorate the dedication of those who have toiled to leave the heritage we enjoy today.
TE HORO PRE and POST SCHOOL
Although our school came into being over one hundred years ago it would be interesting to try and picture the district before that time.
In 1880 the coaches of Cobb & Co had been drawn by teams of four to six horses along the coastal route for twenty two years. The journey between the Waikanae and Otaki stops took about an hour and passengers had ample time to digest the intervening landscape.
On the left, as Kapiti dropped behind, it was all seascape, so they would tend to gaze more inland. The varying shapes and colours of the bush-clad Tararuas would have provided an interesting background to the ever widening terrace below. Even from that distance, huge Totaras could be seen dominating the other species of that almost unbroken forest.
Nearer to hand, but beyond the bare and scrub-covered sandhills, the low areas varied in vegetation and shapes. Flax was predominant in this swampy region after Waikanae, here and there patches of Raupo signified a lagoon or lake. Elsewhere, the sandhills reached inland to give more firmer access to the terrace beyond.
The flax gave way to dense areas of Manuka interspersed in parts with the plumage of Toi Tois. After the fording of the Purua stream the steep, narrow and stony beach forced the coaches to travel inland a hundred metres or so. Upon approaching the Otaki river, they went upstream to the Ferry Inn and ford which led them on to [what is now called] Old Coach Road and then Rangiuru Road into Otaki.
Those passengers wishing to alight before Otaki, and there wouldn't be many, did so at the Puma stream [later called Mangaone].Rather uninviting to the tender hearted, they were sure to be carrying a tent and an axe.
There were by this time, however, quite a number of Europeans working in the district. Missionaries had earlier followed the Maori paths and visited the few native settlements.
Surveyors had been over most of the area and were probably then plotting the route of the proposed railway of six years thence. Prospective land owners would be looking over plots to suit their requirements and others erecting makeshift shelters in small clearings.
In the succeeding ten years much was to be accomplished. The greatest of which would be the completion of the railway in 1886, followed soon after by the main road, started as a servicing track for the railway construction. With ease of access for people and supplies, the district would now be assuming the identity of Te Horo.
The location of the railway station and hence the [much later] community centre was probably dictated by the most northern extremity of that part of the Gear property that had been surveyed into twenty-five acre [10.1 ha] sections. Ninety eight in number, they stretched from the foot of the hills to the coast and south of Beach and Te Horo Hautere Crossroads. Did James Gear envisage what is happening today, subdivision into small units? We wonder!
The advent of the railway and road gave greater impetus to the influx of settlers. Rail facilities needed staffing, the line maintained as did the main road and other roads now coming into being. Rata and Matai fuel for the trains had to obtained and delivered to the flag stations at Hautere and Peka Peka.
Now that transport had improved, families would be arriving and better accommodation was required, hence the need for sawmill operators and builders.
Gear and Company
It is thought that the first farming activity in the district was started by Mr James Gear.He acquired his first section in 1881, a block of 134.5 ha between the later Beach and Te Waka roads. The area made into 10.1 ha sections came into his possession in 1883. In 1884 it is recorded that 200 ha of forest was being cleared south of Te Horo. We can only assume that this is the start of our district's 110 years dependence on agriculture.
Another early farmer in the district was Mr Harry Windley, later chairman of the school committee for seventeen years. He owned 121.4 hectares north of Te Horo Hautere Crossroads from opposite St Margarets to the corner by Blackburne Road. He donated the section for the church later.
The land was all in standing bush and he with his brother used to travel by coach from Porirua until they had erected a shack, before starting the mammoth task of clearing.
Today we would tackle that job with a bulldozer and chainsaws, imagine the prospects in 1885 with axes and hand crosscut saws and later a horse to assist. Could these people visualize the lush pastures we see now?
There were probably others carving clearings out of the bush at this time further up the road. From the future church corner on both sides of that road and up the valley a distance, there were farm-size blocks, and it is reasonable to assume they had young visionaries swinging axes there too. About six or seven farms would be involved in this area. But it wasn't until the auction by the Wellington & Manawatu Railway Co in 1889 and the 16 dairy and three or four sheep farms which followed, that the need for a school in the neighbourhood was recognized.
A School is Needed
Messrs D Mickell and J Waugh were two who bought farms opposite each other. The latter's farm was later owned by Mr J Best. Mr Waugh had previously been the manager on the Gear farm, [the "Te Horo station"] and had lived on the rise behind the still-to-come village. Mr Mickell, at the time of buying the farm, lived in Otaki. He and a friend used to travel weekly across country to the farm to clear and prepare accommodation for his family, returning at weekends. They moved out there one or two years before the school was built. Those who were of school age, used to ride their horses down a rough track to the rail and travel to Paraparaumu, to the school there. [Never let us complain about getting our children ready to catch the bus, again!] It is probable that other children were having to do this as well.
We know Mr Gear gave the section to build the school on. Why did he decide the school was best situated there? At that time it was quite isolated from any future signs of habitation. There were no homes in that area at all. Did he envisage the modern abhorrence we have of being in the vicinity of the main road with children? Hardly not! Even so we are better off where we are, aren't we! But let us do a little conjecture on the above. Messrs Waugh and Mickell, others too, would be the prime movers to get a local school. We can surmise that the former's acquaintance with Mr Gear, resulted in him donating the section. It was the nearest flat area to these two farmers, that Mr Gear owned. That is most the likely reason our school is were it is today!
The School is Born
So James Gear generously gave the section, a little smaller than it is today and a contract to build the one roomed school in 1892 was let. The cost was the equivalent of $705.44. That is all we know of such an important event. Today it would have been well recorded, maybe it was then and the records were lost in the fire thirty years later. We do have the school committee books, as sketchy as they are. Their first meeting was on May 13th 1893. In September they received their first income, a cheque from the Education Board for five pounds [$10], being the capitation grant for the June quarter, for an average attendance of 28.
So that was it. Te Horo School was in business.
From then on it was to prove itself to be an efficient, popular and well loved amenity by children, staff and residents alike.
A Community Centre
The school was the first public amenity in Te Horo and as such it filled most of the communities' requirements for a long time. They used it for dancing, concerts and meetings. The different church congregations had services in its one room. Within seven months, Mr Bowker, the committee chairman, had to have another key, to lend to those wishing to use the school. The cricket club was another user. The existence of a cricket club in this tiny community gives us cause to wonder. They must have involved almost everyone to be able to field the two teams needed to play.
However we do not need to stretch our imaginations very far to understand the urge to wield a bat. These settlers would all be less than middle aged and have young families. They had to work hard with only the most primitive of tools and facilities.
Roading and their means of transport were crude and they had little spare time to travel far. "Would they have a daily newspaper or mail? Not very likely!" They certainly did not have radio or telephone! They had to make their own recreation and amusement. Cricket was just an excuse to get together with others and relax, to forget all the problems, solitude and hardships their way of life demanded.
The advent of the school must have made a big impact on these people, old and young alike. It was a common interest that would help to bind the community together. The room itself was a facility that in a sense belonged to them all and they made good use of it. As well as the cricket club, the committee minutes mention the Farmers club [later Union], Women2s Division, the Debating and Literary Society in 1897, Athletic Club 1906 and later in 1908 the Boxing Club. A more curious entry were the arrangements with Mrs Pattle on behalf of the Gobling Society. Dances, concerts, bring and buys were all part of the school's after hours curriculum. Typical of the spirit of the times is the resolution on Feb 10th, 1900, "that instead of the annual picnic, a concert be held on the 20th". [Ten days later]. Admission; adults 20 cents, children 5 cents. A subscription list was to be in the room on the night and in the meantime committee members were to canvas for goods to auction. All proceeds to go to the Nurses fund for the Transvaal [Boer] War. They raised $44.71. The cost of hiring a piano was $1.00 for the evening, so the sum raised was a considerable amount.
For 21 years the school was the hub of life in the district, but by 1914 three churches had been built and the Public Hall was under way. The school now reverted to being what it was built for, a facility for educating the children.
However there always has been and forever will be, some stage in every family when they become very involved with the school. For some, this association is their introduction to the community as a whole. It is through the school and their children's fellowship with others, that they make new friends and develop new interests. Even today, with our countless options, one seldom passes the school during the day without seeing quite a gathering of vehicles parked outside. Some belong to parents who have volunteered to assist in the classroom, others to people including well wishers, who have become involved in a wide range of activities in and outside the school.
The Te Horo School Centennial wall hanging which adorns the reception area in the new block is a wonderful example of this community spirit. Put together with the needle skills of 16 parents, ex-pupils, teachers and local residents, it is a creation worthy of 100 years of Te Horo School.
The wall hanging is made up of a central block with both the original school and the present day school. This is surrounded by 14 blocks depicting the history of the Te Horo area, events that are important to the school and features of the district today - all combining to show the unique learning environment of Te Horo School.
The wall hanging is the work of: Jenny Gordon, Joy Price, Maureen Starke, Susie Steele, Debbie Murphy, Chris Whittaker, Di Sidaway, Sheila Adin, Thora Simpson, Belinda Nixon, Libby McLachlan, Dayle Harpur, Vivienne McCarthy, Pat Apperley, Bobbie Duncan and Kari Spiekermann.