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School History

Aerial of College around 1950's
Kaitaia College started its humble beginnings on the Kaitaia Primary School site.

After a few attempts at starting a Secondary Sector at that site, a successful foundation was set in the 1930's at the current Redan Road site.

The school has not looked back and in the early 90's had a roll of around 1200 students.  As at April 2010 Kaitaia College has a roll of 980 students.

Extract from Kaitaia School Jubilee 90 Years
1875-1965 (Editor RH Shutt) Pages 21-23

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1921-1930
"… On the 13th March, 1922, the first enrolments were recorded for the Secondary Department which was established in the present A and P Hall.  At the time the storeroom on the left was an open porch into which the pupils galloped their horses.  As the teacher boarded at the hotel and returned there for lunch some grand cowboy training was acquired during these breaks until the news reached Mr Lewis.  Poor teacher, a cut lunch from then on was ordered.  With such names as Arthur Bell, Chris Dunn, Peter Wilkinson, Syd Taaffe, Clyde Evans and Stan Doak appearing on the roll it is not altogether surprising that this secondary venture did not last long.

During this period, 1922-24, the A and P Hall was moved to its present site from a more central position in the paddock.  This was inconvenient for the Secondary Department which was accommodated in a small shed built at the rear of the present hall site.  It is understood that the Education Board even supplied saddles for those pupils who lived in remote areas.  These saddles were a great attraction but the pupils were known to leave very soon after receiving the saddles and great difficulty was experienced retrieving the same.  Owing to the building being in a most unsatisfactory condition when even the chalk was washed off the blackboards by the rain which leaked through the perforated roof and was driven through the entrance by the wind - there was no door - this department of the school was forced to close down.  Enrolments ended abruptly on the 7th July, 1924.

1931-1940
After the twenties the thirties appear to have been noted particularly for hard work and industrious pupils - or so the ex-pupils would have me believe.  It was during this period that the Teacher's Institute was particularly strong in the district.  As it was during the slump, salaries were very low and practically every local teacher crowded into the Kaitaia School staffroom each month.  The staffroom was the present secretary's office and as the late ones entered most already in the room had to shift to enable the door to be opened.

This also was the period when the Auckland Education Board passed its by-law prohibiting its teachers from smoking anywhere within the school grounds.  The Department teachers were not slow to take advantage and very soon the Board teachers gave up the struggle and the by-law lapsed.

It is not surprising to find that most of those pupils of this period when interviewed appeared to have fading memories though it must be admitted that many quiet smiles were noted when a request to "come across," met with the reply, "Oh, no, I couldn't tell you that." Take your pick from these:
John Dyer, Jim Thornton, Faye Turner, Allan Dyer, Alan Archibald, Doug Wilkinson, Brian Weber, Patricia Thornton, Doug Parker, Brian Thompson, John Knight, Graham Puckey, Helen Bellingham
and John, Peter and Barbara Foster who were all enrolled on the first of November, 1939.

Most vivid memories of this period were the football matches, the floods and booking in at Don's for a Saturday morning haircut.  Des Barry very ably coached the Kaitaia Primary School team and he and the writer were as on in their ambition to defeat the Ahipara team which was particularly strong in Mr Brake's day.  Percy Erceg, though an infant room pupil, was in the team the one time they scored a victory against Ahipara.  Floods were a part of the North.  If one managed to get through to the south one would most certainly be blocked on the return journey.  Where else in New Zealand could you wander into the barber's shop, write your name on the list, do your shopping and return just as the name ahead of yours was crossed out?

Two more rooms were added to the main school block in 1930, and this time a successful attempt was made to establish the Secondary Department in the room now redesigned for use as a special classroom.  This old building became the home of the secondary pupils until March, 1947, when a move was made to the first block of the present College.  In February, 1951, the
Kaitaia College became a separate institution with the late Mr Dick Miller as the First Principal.

Under such well-know assistants as Miss Burns, Miss Lawes, Mr Frear, Mr Stone, Miss Solomon and Mr Freeman, to mention just a few, the Secondary Department of the Kaitaia School can be just proud of its achievements.  A few of the pupils who have made their mark in the world are:
Margaret King, now Dr Messan of Nelson, who practised her profession for some years in London; John Torrie, a famous dress designer of London - he designs dressed for Princess Alexandra ; Nolan Richards, Doctor of Philosophy in physical chemistry and author of many scientific publications, the holder of an Auckland University Blue for prowess with a rifle and now a prominent member of American Yachting Associations; Fred Matich, now a director of one of the largest American engineering companies; Garfield Johnson, MA, Principal of Inglewood College;
Percy Erceg and, of course, Peter Jones, of All Black fame.
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