The History of Omakere School


In the Early Days, William Burt (Max Birdsall's grandfather) gifted a piece of land to the Education Board for the establishment of the Omakere School.

On March 20th 1912, the school opened with a roll of 12 pupils and 1 teacher, Miss Moloney (recently deceased).

The equipment in the school then – 4 maps, 1 table, 1 chair, 6 desks, 1 Reading Chart, 1 Globe, 1 Abacus and models.

Children rode or walked to school, one pupil riding a distance of 10 miles on horseback.

It was noted in the Early Years, that children were frequently absent due to poor weather conditions and flooding.

By 1922, the School Roll had risen to 40 and as the classroom was only 20 feet

x 18 feet, it was considerably overcrowded. Teaching would have been very difficult. Some settlers were so dissatisfied with the conditions that they threatened to remove their children.

Over the next two decades, the roll gradually decreased until in 1940 the opening roll was 5.

By the end of the second term of the same year, the school closed. It re-opened again on the 3rd February 1941with a roll of 11.

During the next 10 years, the roll fluctuated and residents occasionally employed workers with children to keep the school from closing.

In 1954 the roll rose to 42 and the second room (a Prefab) arrived and the school became a two teacher.

On the 15th December 1960 saw the Official Opening of the School Baths by Board Member Mr Gilbertson.

The baths were built by district voluntary labour under the supervision of one tradesman.

The 50th Jubilee was held on the 24th – 25th March 1962 and was attended by 130 ex-pupils and local residents.

A Jubilee Gate was erected in memory of the occasion with surplus funds.

In 1963 the Original Classroom was extended and remodeled while the Junior children were moved to the Hall for the Winter Term.

In November of the same year, a Committee was formed led by Selwyn Rowlands to launch a fundraising campaign to build a Library – Cultural Room.

1966 August 6th saw the Opening of the new classroom and Library Block by the Honourable Mr Kinsella, Minister of Education.

The pre-fab was removed.

On the 15th October 1973, the roll stood at 61 and the school became a temporary 3 teacher.

In 1974 and part of 1975, the Library was used as a third classroom until the new classroom and staffroom block was ready at the end of second term 1975.

The school remained a 3 teacher until the end of 1977 when the roll had slipped away again to 48.

During 1979, the roll once again rose to over 60 and 1980 saw 3 teachers once more.

In 1978 the new school house was erected.

1985 the roll was back to 46 and became a 2 teacher again.

In 1987, the opening roll was 36.

In 1996, the opening roll was 60. The Principal Richard McMillan resigned after 6 years at the end of Term 2. Gillian Scarlett was Acting Principal for Term 3. Sandra Foster was appointed as Principal as of Term 4.

In 1997, the opening roll was 51. Term 2 03/06/97 school was closed due to flooding. Omakere are was declared a state of emergency by the local Civil Defence.

In 1998, the opening roll was 53.Sandra Foster resigned at the end of this year.

In 1999, the opening roll was 48. Gillian Scarlett was appointed as Principal starting Term 1. Enviro flow effluent system installed Term 2. One classroom painted this year. Front area of school concreted and shade sails installed.

In 2000, the opening roll was 48. Senior classroom painted and classroom furniture upgrades along with outdoor seating and tables facing back field.Administration upgrade commenced during holidays at the end of the year.

In 2001, the opening roll is 47. Term 3, 30th July - Administration block opened by Georgina Bayer MP for Wairarapa.

In 2002, the opening roll was 54. During the xmas holidays the school drive and parking areas had been redeveloped. Boundary fences at the Confidence Course replaced and the art store room project was completed. Trees felled and milled.

2003 started with 57 on the roll. ERO (Education Review Office) came for their triennial visit. A positive ERO review which endorsed school initiatives set and recognised very good levels of expectation and delivery in the classrooms.

2006 - a roll of 54. The old storage sheds were removed and a new totalspan PE/storage shed put up all in Term 3. Sandra Connor employed as Principal Admin and Denise Perry as Acting Principal whilst Gill Scarlett was away on sabbatical attending a conference in Ireland relating to rural schools. Gill returned for Term 4 but after 19 years - 7 as Principal, she resigned to take up a position as Principal of Meanee School at the start of 2007.

In 2007, Sandra Connor returned to Acting Principal for Terms 1 & 2 with a starting roll of 57 students.Term 3, Neil Simons from Linton School was appointed as Principal. The first male Principal in the school since 1996. November 2007 saw the Omakere Station woolshed (approx 100 years old) burn to the ground.

2008 - Term 3 - the school started evacuating students after 110mls plus recorded at 2.00pm - had 60mls in between 12.30pm and 1.00pm) MOE informed of school closure. Donna Miller from Genesis Reforestation programme (our planting co-ordinator) died at the age of 46 years old. December 2008 saw Neil Simons resigning as Principal to go to Longbeach School in Christchurch.

2009 - started with a roll of 33 students and Shane Foster from Heretaunga Intermediate starting as a first time Principal. Rebecca Thomas (Middle Room teacher) was married to Mark Humphries in March of this year. Omakere School featured in the wearable arts competition. The Pourerere Road book was launched by Pam and Jeremy Ballantyne and a cheque from the proceeds of the sale were presented to the school. September 2009 we farewelled Daphne Ferris (Junior Room teacher) who took up a teaching position in Hastings. Term 4 Lucinda Heays won 2nd place Junior Evening Wear New Zealand Young Fashion Design Awards.

2010 - Started with a roll of 38 students. New concrete steps at the front of the school in Term 4. Ngati Whai in Term 4 also.

2011 - started with a roll of 37 students. Staff training for new Student Management system put in place at the beginning of this year - called Assembly which replaced Integris. Hilary Morton employed as Junior Teacher in March. Rebecca Humphries going on maternity leave. Caitlyn Ann Humphries was born 21st April 2011. 28th April severe flooding and an earthquake - similar to Bola - massive slips and damage to a lot of Omakere farms. OSA put on 'Mid Winter Flood Relief BBQ" for all the district at the Hall. Lost 7 students at the end of Term one to Pukehou School due to the possible loss of one bus run at the end of Term 3. End of Term 4 we received a resignation from Shane Foster as Principal. He had accepted a position as Assistant Principal in Hastings.

2012 - Started with a roll of 21 students - the lowest for a long time. Kathryn Pick took up the position as Acting Principal for Term one. Rebecca Humphries took up the position as Principal Release/Senior Teacher. Omakere School held it's 100th Centenial Celebrations on the 17th & 18th March which was an absolute success. Term 2 Kathryn Pick was appointed the position of Principal. Due to fantastic community support by one parent in particular, "An Evening with Sir Brian Lochore" held at the Waipawa Rugby Clubrooms for 200 people was an extremely successful fundraiser for the school. Term 3 saw the roll increase to 28 students with another enrolment due in Term 4. This term saw the BOT heavily involved with Oueroa School (which closed its doors for good) and a lot of the resources and equipment came our way. This was by no means an easy feat and we were extremely thankful to the Principal Sharon Middleton for all her assistance. Tragically on the 12th August, Doc Harty our Chairperson of the BOT passed away. The funeral was held at the Omakere Hall with 800 - 1000 people in attendance. The school was informed that ERo (Education Review Office) were reviewing the school in October.