The History of Waioneke School

Waioneke School was originally established by Rita Sanson in 1928.

When Rita and her husband arrived at South Head there was no school in the district. Rita had been a primary teacher before her marriage so she applied to the government to teach at home – and she was appointed to teach her own children and any others who came to the district. More families arrived and in 1936, with a roll of 12 children, the school was moved to a small cottage on the Lupton property.

Rita resigned in 1937 due to health problems, so a new teacher was appointed – this was Mr Moody, who arrived in his Model A Ford with a caravan hitched on behind.

It was also at this time that the Sanson family donated the land to support an application by the school committee for a new school to be built. The pupils were taught in a large marquee during the building process, and in 1938 the pupils moved into their new school – a one-room structure and a shelter shed with two external toilets.

1938 also saw the school name changed from Mairetahi to Waioneke. To commemorate the opening of the school, Mr Elliot, the education board member for the area, donated the two pohutukawa trees now growing on the bank above the big road gate.

Before and during the war the main transport to and from school was by horse, with about 8 of them housed in the paddock next door till the end of the school day when the children, often doubling or trebling, took off for home.

Work on the school grounds was very much a community effort; the tennis court was constructed first with the help of horse teams, men on shovels and a large concrete roller made by a community member, and finished off with shell from Mairetahi Point. Older students assisted with the clearing of the cricket pitch as well as other jobs around the school. Development continued and the pool was also constructed with huge community support – and opened in 1972.

One comment in the 75th Jubilee booklet, which took place in April in 2005, mentions the great school community committee, and certainly, the amount of energy put into developing Waioneke School continues to this day.

Extracts for this summary are from the Waioneke School 75th Jubilee booklet, particular acknowledgement for their memoirs is given to Samuel Sanson (Chairman of the Jubilee Committee, and pupil from 1931 to 1939) and Cecil Lupton (who started at our school in 1935).

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