William CLELAND - TAITA SCHOOL New Zealand - 1864
taken from PAPERS PAST
(anything in italics are my additions as are any capitals)
EVENING POST - 30 April 1909
FORTY YEARS AGO
The genesis of a country school
A FAITHFUL SECRETARY
... Month in and month out, for nearly two generations, the Taita school committee has met with regularity, and, what is more interesting, on each occasion the same familiar figure - that of Mr Wm. CLELAND - has occupied the secretary's chair. With the exception of one break on the occasion of his taking up his residence at Petone for about three years, Mr Cleland has filled the post of secretary, being absent from one meeting only
It was in the days of the old Provincial Government, in 1864, that the then settlers of the Taita and surrounding districts began to bestir themselves in the matter of securing a public school.
Previously, a private school had been conducted by a Mr ROBINSON, but its benefits were not quite so far-reaching as could have been wished.
A meeting to discuss the project of a permanent school was held at th general rendeavous of that time - the bush hotel - then known by the sign of the Albion, and situated on a site now occupied by GADSBY Bros., butchers.
On the motion of a Mr W. WHITEWOOD, it was resolved to set up a committee to canvas the district for subscriptions. The settlers, though comparatively small in numbers, responded fairly liberally, with the result that £150 was collected (about $15,300 in 2011). Even so long ago deputations were the order of the day, and the Provincial Government was waited upon by the settlers who had the project in hand.
The Government, according to the minute-book of the secretary Mr Cleland, which is still preserved intact, extended a very courteous reception, offering every encouragement, and agreeing to grant a subsidy of pound for pound on all the sucscriptions received, including a schoolsite of a half-acre, donated by the late Mr George BRICK. This seems to have given considerable impetus to the movement.
The next step of importnce was the acceptance of the tender of a Mr H. MEAGER (Henry 1830-1916)for the erection of a two-roomed school-house, with dwelling attached. The fact that they had to pay for the tuiton of their children does not appear to have produced any pronounced hesitation on the part of the settlers - many of whom were struggling hard for their existence - in decding to send them to school.
The district served by the school included Stoke's Valley and the Nainai (sic), and to the credit of the original founders of the school, no less than between one hundred and two hundred children attended for instruction soon after its opening.
At the Taita at the time mentioned, each child - through its parents, of course - had to pay £2 per annum ($204 in 2011) for the privilege of receiving instruction; for two children in one family the charge was £3 10s; amd 30s for every other child.
Despite the fees, however, very few children, if any, were debarred from receiving tuition; settlers often paying for somebodys else's children in cases where the parents could not find the money.
The first teacher engaged was Mr Walter MANTEL, who continued in his positiion for some four or five years. The salary he received - £200 and house provided free - while by means large, ($393 a week) compares very favourably with some of the remunerations at present being paid to back-block teachers.
Towards the payment of the teacher's salary, a subsidy was each year received from the Provincial Government.
Some of the scholars were rough and ready specimens to keep under control, but, notwithstanding this, their attendance was more regular than that of the children of to-day.
Now and again the school would be plunged into perturbation by rumours of Maori risings, but nothing untoward happened until some years later, when the building was destroyed by fire. After that, for an interval of a few months, the classes were housed in the old Wesleyan chapel.
Meanwhile there was being built a new structure, which is in use at the present time (1909). Gradually, however, the general condition of things had been undergoing a metamorphosis; colleges had sprung up; new educational laws had come into operation, and the system governing the school was greatly changed. The new building was erected by the Government, the settlers not being asked to assist financially.
All that remains, officially, to remind one of te early schooling days is the minute-book, in which the business of the first and subsequent meetings of the original committee were recorded.
Incidentally, it may be said that it is noteworthy that the only members of the first committee who are alive today are Messrs W. CLELAND, S. MILNE and D.HUGHEY. The former has kept a store at Taita for many yars, while Mr Milne is one of the oldest settlers, if not actually the oldest. The other gentleman has been away from the district for a number of years.
ROLL CALL for TAITA SCHOOL 1875 - 1951