Exercise time at Waitaria Bay School using the dumbells about 1902 - Photo from Tales From Kenepuru by Helen Godsiff
Waitaria Bay School History
The following information about the school's history is taken from Tales From Kenepuru by Helen Godsiff. Sales of this book help boost school funds. (For more information see Fundraising).
By 1896, after school was taught in what was possibly the first house in the Bay, the Waitaria settlers decided it was time to build a permanent school building. A piece of reserve land was chosen and approved by a visiting Commissioner of Crown Lands. A school committee was elected and building materials promised by the Education Board. These took a while to arrive but once started, the school room was completed within a month. It was scrubbed out and made ready for use on May 27th, 1897.
From then the school roll had its ups and downs, reaching a peak in 1903 with 18 students. The final logbook entry on December 19th, 1924, read: "Waitaria Bay School closed. No more pupils to attend."
About 1944, the Education Board decided that, with five school-age children in the locality, the school would re-open.
By 1965 there were enough pupils on the roll for the school to merit a qualified teacher and in 1970, when the Nopera School closed, a continuing argument about where a school big enough to house everyone should be sited, intensified.
Kenepuru Heads won a vote but, refusing to back down, the Waitaria Bay supporters took their case to Wellington. A local meeting ensued at which Waitaria Bay won the day. The Education Board invited tenders, allowing $14,000 for the job. The lowest was $18,000 and for a time, it looked as though there would be no new school. But in true Sounds' tradition, the locals stepped in saying they would do the job themselves. The Board gave the go-ahead and volunteers got stuck-in. Their token wage of $1 an hour was boosted by hot scones and cream sponges provided by local housewives. The new schoolroom was finished in 28 days.
(The Board congratulated the community on saving taxpayers around $5,000).
Around 1990 the school roll peaked, for a short time, at 52, then hovered around the 45 to 50 mark for quite sometime.
The school celebrated its Centenary on April 27th, 1997.