Historic site: Pukerua Bay School Original School Room

"Old men can make war, but it is children who will make history."

- Ray Merritt, Full of Grace.

Image of Pukerua Bay School House.
Pukerua Bay School House.
Photo from Pataka Museum Collection, at Porirua Library ref G.1b.2.

History of the School site

The Pukerua Bay School site was originally part of the Waimapihi Block of 468 acres. After investigation by the Maori Land Court it was on 4 August 1875 granted by Her Majesty Queen Victoria under the Maori Lands Act to Tamihana Te Rauparaha, Matene Te Whiwhi, Rakapa Kahoki and Hoani Te Okoro as owners as from 7 November 1871. The land was then sold to Frederick Bright of Paekakariki, licensed victualler on 9 February 1875. At that time an Order of Court vested part of the land in the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Co. Ltd.

Image of Pukerua Bay, c1920.
Pukerua Bay, c1920.
Photo from Pataka Museum Collection, at Porirua Library ref G.3.3.

The land then passed through a number of owners prior to it being purchased in 1919 by Charles Gray who at that time was farming in Pauatahanui. When Gray purchased the block it was more or less intact save for the railway line and Muri Road. Gray then undertook a number of residential subdivisions which saw the land being broken up over the next ten years.

History of the School Room

Prior to the school opening at Pukerua Bay local children had to catch the train or walk to the nearest school which was at Plimmerton. A local resident first approached the Wellington Education Board in 1924 setting out the needs for a school in the Bay particularly because of the inconvenience placed on children who had to catch the train at 7.10 am and then wait from 7.25 am (when the train arrived at Plimmerton) until 9.00 am when the school opened. The letter was followed by a deputation of local residents, Mrs C. Gray, Mr J Scott and Mr Mahler, to the Education Board on 23 March 1925.

The school site was surveyed in 1925 and a plan was produced in 1927. Charles Gray offered to sell initially three and subsequently a further two acres for the school to the Board at a very modest price. The offer was accepted by the Board and on 13 September 1927 Gray gifted three acres of the school site school site to the Wellington Education Board and sold a further two acres for £80 to make up the requisite 5-acre (2.0234 hectare) school site. This was well below the market value of the land at the time and one of Gray’s several philanthropic gestures in the Pukerua Bay area.

The building contract was let to H. Storey and on 1 February 1927 the school opened with 25 pupils and one teacher, Miss Dorothy Henderson (note by the time the school officially opened in May the teacher was Miss Maloney). The school was officially opened on Saturday 21 May 1927 by the Minister of Education, Mr. R.A. Wright.

Burgeoning class numbers led to new classrooms being built

By 1940 there were nearly 50 pupils with two teachers and the original classroom was becoming somewhat crowded. The following year another classroom was added and since then further classrooms have been added as the school roll has expanded.

The original school room was remodelled in the early 1980s to include two separate teaching spaces, toilets and store rooms. The eastern end of the present school room is the original section and can be identified by original double hung windows and ornate ventilation grills in the foundations. The interior has been extensively modified.

Pukerua Bay School today

Image of Pukerua Bay School - original school room with extensions.
Pukerua Bay School - original school room with extensions.
Photo by Hannah Sutton, 2009

In 2005 the school had a roll of 160 pupils and 9 teachers, and a large collection of buildings; an official report records:

"Pukerua Bay School is the centre of a small coastal settlement in the Porirua region and provides primary education for students up to year 8. The school is capably governed and led by an enthusiastic and committed Board of Trustees and principal. It is given strong support by a hard-working parent council and other members of the local community. The atmosphere is welcoming, the student roll is stable and students know each other well.

"The grounds and buildings are kept in good order and presented with pride. Special features of the environment are the many mosaics and native garden areas designed and created by the students, as part of their enviro-school programme. Students are proud of these efforts, which have earned public recognition."

Links to more information

Continue to Taua-Tapu Track return to Pukerua Bay.