Maungawhau School turns 100

By Sophie Bond


Nine-year-old Sophie Dan-Tyrell is trying out one of the old school desks that her mother, Rachealle Tyrell, would have used in the 70s. Watching from a more modern table is Maungawhau School's library manager Barbara Currie. Mrs Currie remembers when desks had inkwells and attached wooden seats.

Former pupils Mrs Tyrell and Mrs Currie are working on last-minute preparations for next week's two days of celebrations and reunions. Both women now work for the school which they say is a wonderful place where they were thrilled to send their own children.

Mrs Currie - or Granny as she is known at Maungawhau - was part of a huge intake: the post-World War II babies who started school in 1951.

"I loved it. The classrooms were big, with 40 of us to a class, and I don't remember a single bad teacher. Mr O'Neill was the one who turned me on to great books.

"I had aunties and uncles who attended school here around 1917 and the family has pretty much stuck here ever since," she says.

Building huts under the trees was the thing to do, and the annual school fair was a highlight.

Life was a lot simpler.

"The big excitement was the year they got real iceblocks at the fair."

When she married she lived in Mt Albert but, after the death of her husband, moved back to Mt Eden for the sake of the school.

"I just couldn't imagine sending my children anywhere else."

In 1981 she returned as a parent helper, a position that gradually became a full-time job managing the library.

"It's the greatest job. I used to be referred to by a past principal as 'the living archive'.

"Of course in my day the closest thing we had to a library was a cupboard full of books."

Rachealle Tyrell attended the school from 1975, after her mother attended in the late 50s. She has another child who has been through the school and her daughter Sophie is now in Year 5.

Mrs Tyrell remembers when the original school building was pulled down in 1979 after being declared an earthquake risk. But she feels the biggest change has been the school fair.

"It was the highlight of our year. We would dress up and walk from home to here and then Santa would arrive and we would parade around. We don't have any of those elements anymore."

She now works in the school office where she's been sorting out registrations for the centenary.

"Most have come from those who attended in the 50s and 60s and we've even got three or four 90-year-olds attending."

Old honours boards, trophies and photographs have been retrieved from storage for the celebrations. Twelve photo panels depicting 100 years of school history will be on display.

For the past several decades, Mrs Currie has collected school-related items unearthed at the annual fair.

"If there's anyone in the community who has memorabilia of the school we would love to have it for our archive."

ROLL CALL

Celebrations begin on Friday, March 30 with school tours and a wine and cheese evening.

On Saturday, March 31 there will be speeches, performances, group photographs and time for catching up.

Register at maungawhau.school.nz

GROWING UP

1912 Maungawhau District School established with FJ Ohlson as principal.

1913 Maungawhau District School opened for instruction with 153 students. Numbers rose to 454 by the end of the year.

1944 PTA founded. School Fair begins.

1947 Polio epidemic. School Fair cancelled.

1995 New school library built.

2006 Roll 712.

Full history online at maungawhau.school.nz

 

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- THE AUCKLANDER

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