The first reference to the early days of schooling in Pleasant Point is contained in a report in the Timaru Herald on Saturday, 24th October, 1868, which published the following:
On Monday last, a daily school was opened at the Point by Miss Jagger, daughter of Mr Jagger of the Timaru School. There were l3 children in attendance the first morning and it is anticipated that the number will soon be doubled.
The school is held in the building recently erected by subscription for divine worship. Mr Acton Mr Orton and other residents have shown considerable interest in the matter and have assisted the opening of the school in a most substantial manner.
Among the pupils attending school on that day were: Willie Greig, Mary Ann Smith, Edith Smith, Sarah Smith, Wm. Halstead, Emma Smith, Jane Black, Frances Black, Laurison Gerken, Emma Gerken, Mary Ann Kee. Their ages ranged from 7 to 13.
The appointment of Miss Jagger at the age of 17 would seem rather young by today's standards but she was the only applicant with experience in Government methods of teaching, having assisted her father at the Timaru School.
The school was erected by the Canterbury Provincial Government at a cost of one hundred and ten pounds, on land given by the New Zealand and Australian Land Company.
The original site was on the corner of Nikau Street and fronted the Te Ngawai Road at what is now number 60. This area was then known as Morton Township.
The school was an aided one; the householders within a radius of three miles paid a yearly tax of one pound; the children attending school paid one shilling and sixpence weekly while the Provincial Government contributed the balance.
As the original building soon proved too small, another meeting was called on 2nd February, 1870, to consider the manner and conditions on which an assisted school could be established. In a report in the Timaru Herald on 5th February, 1870, it stated that:
One acre of land had to be ‘conveyed’ with the school and twenty pounds had to be given to the Board as a book fund and a quarter of the price of the school would be accepted for this. The Board would pay three quarters of the salary of the teacher, not exceeding seventy-five pounds for a master and forty-five pounds for a mistress per annum.
The Board of Education was desirous that the management of the school should rest principally with the school committee. It reserved its rights to sanction the appointment and dismissal of teachers.
A committee was then elected with Mr Acton as chairman. It was agreed that they could get up to one pound per householder to supplement school funds and to supply ‘Aid’ as required by the Board and to form the Pleasant Point Educational District and to provide the annual expenses of such a district.
The original school was then sold in 1871 to Mr Inman Jackson for removal Parts of it are still standing at The Gables, Te Ngawai Road.
The new school, consisting of two rooms, together with a headmaster’s residence, was erected in Harris Street on the site where our local swimming baths and neighbouring residence are situated. Mr Chas. Opie was appointed Headmaster. As attendance increased, an infant room was added two years later. Miss Opie, assistant to her brother, was appointed to the infant room.
Under the Education Act of 1876, the South Canterbury Board of Education assumed control on 1st January, 1887 and decided to enlarge the master’s room. This room was lengthened again in 1900 in order to accommodate the steadily increasing number of pupils.
In 1905 the status of the school was raised to that of District High School. Two local children attending the Timaru Girls' High School at that time, left to attend Pleasant Point District High School to entitle the school to reach the required roll number of twenty.
In July of the following year, technical classes were begun at the school at a cost of one shilling and sixpence a night.
Overcrowding soon made it necessary to consider purchasing a larger property on which to build a bigger school. In August 1907 it was decided to buy five acres of Mr McKibbin’s land in Halstead Road.
The Board agreed to pay forty-five pounds an acre for this property, plus one acre bought by the Committee.
In 1908 a substantial, up-to-date brick building was erected containing five school rooms, two seven-foot corridors with two front entrances, a headmaster’s office (11ft x 8ft) and a store room.
This building was described by the architect to the Board as being ‘of good appearance without any waste of money and adventitious ornament, with all modern methods of lighting and ventilation’.
The contract for the school was let at one thousand nine hundred and twelve pounds, the cost being met out of ordinary maintenance grant. The Department gave two hundred and fifty pounds for the cost of removing the old Harris Street School to the site of the lawn skirting the silver birches facing Halstead Road.
Most of this building became the Technical School and the contract for its establishment was two hundred and twenty pounds plus an additional twenty pounds met by the school committee. The rest of it was made into a shelter shed on the eastern side of the brick building.
In a ‘Herald‘ report of the opening of this school on 5th October, 1908, it was stated to be ‘the model school of the district - a brick and concrete building in natural colours, ninety-four feet long with a central gable to a width of fifty-six feet.‘
It was formally opened by Mr John Jackson, Chairman of the Board of Education, who stated that Pleasant Point had nearly exhausted the Board’s treasury.
Dr H.C. Barclay addressed the gathering in place of his father and former Chairman, the Rev. Geo. Barclay who had been invited to perform the opening ceremony but had recently died. Mr Crozier, Chairman of the Committee, said that ‘the School Committee, as well as the people of the district generally, were delighted to see the successful consummation of their long and arduous efforts to secure for the Point, a school commensurate with its requirements.’
To celebrate the opening, a bazaar was held, lasting for three days. Stalls of all descriptions were available and one hundred and fifty pounds and seven pence was raised. The newspaper report of this function read:
While the first rush of the bazaar was at its height, the School Committee adjourned to the shelter shed at the back of the school where, over a bottle of wine and some light refreshments, they entertained the speakers of the afternoon and a few other visitors.
In the July following, it was decided to buy an extra acre of land at fifty pounds and the headmaster‘s residence was not completed till March, 1914.
In 1911, woodwork, cooking and dressmaking classes were established in the Technical Block and an agricultural course was set up under the Board’s instructor, Mr J. Brown. By 1914, the instructor was urging extension of the school grounds for agricultural purposes and so another acre was purchased from Mr McKibbin for seventy pounds. In that same year, outside schools were granted the use of the technical instruction.
In August 1915, a grant of twenty-five pounds was made by the Board for a science room in the school and this was set up in the technical building.
Growth of roll numbers, bringing increased staffing also brought with it more varied courses available in the Secondary Department. Commercial classes were commenced in 1929, the headmaster’s office being used for a typing room. A commercial display of work was set up at the school flower show of that year to draw parents’ attention to the work being done in this field.
Woolclassing courses under Mr Ellis Halstead were commenced in 1931. These were held in the wool store opposite the main school gates. At this stage the shelter shed was fitted out as an extra classroom for the secondary department.
In 1938 Mr B.L. Elphick commenced duties as an agricultural instructor on a full time basis on the staff. During this time, itinerant teachers of woodwork and cooking were responsible for instruction in Fairlie, Temuka, Geraldine and Pleasant Point, one and a half days a week being spent here for instruction. Dressmaking and cooking instruction had both been undertaken by the homecraft teacher but, owing to pressure of work in cooking instruction, Miss MacAteer was appointed dressmaking instructress to the secondary department in 1936.
Fire destroyed the old Technical School on 10th September, 1932 and application was made for a new building. Plans were drawn up by the Board for an open air block of three classrooms at an estimated cost of one thousand nine hundred and fifty pounds.
This building was opened by Mr TD. Burnett (the local M.P.) on 6th July, 1933. It accommodated infants and standards one to four.
During the interim period of conversion of the brick building, woodwork classes were conducted in the blue garage until a woodwork room was set up on a temporary basis in the old shelter shed which overlooked the creek on the eastern side. Cooking classes were conducted in the supper room of the Town Hall and a dental clinic was set up in what was once the local Maternity Hospital.
The infant room of the main building was converted into a cookery room and the Secondary Department, having risen to the status of a two teacher Seconday School, occupied two classrooms. Standards 5 and 6 occupied the southwest room and Standard 2 room was converted to a science room.
These were the depression years and staffing problems arose throughout the country. Dunedin Training College had been closed and only limited numbers of students were being trained for the teaching profession. As a result, five- year-olds were debarred from attending school from 1933 to 1936. This, however, had little effect on the school roll.
Consolidation had been discussed as early as 1925 but it was not till 1930 that a meeting was held to consider its possibilities. However, it took until 1936, when the Opihi school was destroyed by fire, for consolidation to begin. In the following year, Cave joined and in February 1938, Sutherlands, Kakahu, Totara Valley, Rockwood and Hazelburn pupils were all transported to Pleasant Point by bus.
This sudden increase in roll numbers brought with it accommodation problems. The Secondary Department had risen to a three teacher status. As a result, three marquees had to be set up (one for secondary and two for primary) to accommodate pupils until the completion of the second open air block of two classrooms which was first occupied on 31st October, 1938. Another classroom together with staff room and store room were added to this building the following year.
Consolidation was not the only reason for increased roll numbers. At this time, a considerable settlement known as Mazetown had developed on Mr Maze’s property, this being the headquarters of the men engaged in the establishment of the Downlands Water Scheme in the district.
With the growth of school buildings and roll numbers, application was made for an additional playing area of two and a half acres from the School Farm Board.
In February 1939, consolidation extended to Rosewill School pupils and again in 1942 when Waitohi pupils transferred.
As the need for more buildings and greater playing areas had grown and, at the same time, the change in the means of transport to school, so the format of the school grounds had changed. No longer did fifteen to twenty gigs, etc. line the outside of the horse paddock and so, the horse paddock was ploughed up and turned into agricultural plots for pupils’ practical work. About this time, the Public Works Department was engaged to drain the football playing area.
For the interest of today's readers, the horse paddock skirted the creek on the north eastern side of the brick building. It flowed close to where the swimming baths are now situated. Horses grazed on either side of it and a bridge was fitted across it.
The war years brought staffing problems to the school. Male members of the staff joined the forces and local married women returned to teaching to relieve the shortage. Children were leaving school at a younger age, boys being required to help on the family farms whilst older brothers were overseas on active service. As a result, the secondary roll fell and in 1944, the secondary staff was reduced to two teachers.
After a struggle of forty years‘ duration for school swimming baths, the Committee's dream was at last realised in 1943 and the shelter shed was converted into dressing sheds.
Post war years again brought increased roll numbers. In 1948 the last sole charge school in the district, Taiko, was closed and its pupils transferred to Pleasant Point.
Accommodation became so acute that the Standard 2 class had to use a cloakroom for a classroom. Two years later the first prefabricated room was set up to relieve the congestion. Another two followed soon after.
At this stage the Committee was pressing the Board for further accommodation, namely the building of a new High School block, additional Primary class rooms and the conversion of the brick school into a Manual Training Centre. But still, in 1957, Committee minutes read: ‘that the Secretary write to the Board saying that they desire that their hopes of the last ten years will soon be realised.‘
At the same time, the Committee was seeking more land in view of the desirability of obtaining an Assembly Hall. They set the building of this hall as the 90th jubilee project. It was constructed by Farrell and Gould for a tender of five thousand, three hundred and fifty-one pounds and many hours of voluntary work were given by parents in assisting with painting, etc. As a tribute to the chairman of the School Committee, who had been so vital in pressing for this building, it was declared the Victor Wilson Hall and officially opened on 12th August, 1960.
In 1958 an administrative block was added to the second open air block. This included an adequate store room, Headmaster’s office, secretary’s office and staff room. The original staff room was converted into a sick bay.
In June, 1959, the new Secondary Block was opened by the Prime Minister, the late R. Hon. Walter Nash. This building consisted of a Secondary Library, science laboratory, three class rooms, a small typing bay and a small secondary staff room.
Within two years, the building proved inadequate and classes were being taught in two ‘prefabs’ and, later, in the horticultural room known to pupils as the ‘Potting Shed’.
Accommodation in the primary department was, likewise, an acute problem. Classes had to be taught in the woodwork room as well as the old Anglican Sunday School hall.
After so many years of requests for conversion of the Brick School into a manual block, the Department completely changed all previously mooted plans and, in August 1962, an attractive manual block for cooking, dressmaking, woodwork and metal work classes was constructed on the southern end of the grounds in close proximity to the secondary block.
At the same time, renovations were made to the old brick school and once again, the infant classes were transferred to it in February, 1963. The old corridors and entrances disappeared and were replaced by store rooms. Windows were fitted in the northern and southern rooms to give more light — something committees had been pressing for for fifty years. Cloakrooms replaced the former science lab, and a staff room, toilets and adjoining central heating unit were added.
In 1963, the pine trees at the bottom of the playground — so familiar to pupils of former years — were removed and in 1966 a further four acres were added to this eastern end of the playing field from previous farm school property. In 1967, a staff hostel was built on property adjoining the school.
At long last, ‘make-shift’ accommodation began to disappear when three classes moved into an up-to-date brick building overlooking the swimming pool in October, 1967. Extensions to the Secondary block consisting of two classrooms, more storage facilities, a staff room and conversion of an existing room into a corridor and excellent library, were completed for the beginning of the school year in 1968. An extra classroom was also added to the senior primary block for the use of the secondary department.
The 26th October, 1969 opened the celebration of one hundred years of education in the Pleasant Point district. To mark the centenary of the School, the Centennial Committee undertook to finance the building of a permanent library for the School. The contract was let to TS. Gillies Ltd. and this most attractive Reading Room was built adjoining the western side of the new three-roomed brick classroom.
It is interesting to read the special report made at the opening function by Mr W.J. Cartwright, an ex-pupil who was representing the Canterbury Education Board. In this report, he said:
Pleasant Point District High School is a delightful rural school from Primers to Form VI, serving enthusiastically the education needs of a widely scattered farming district. It is perhaps our largest consolidated school. Consolidation here has been most successful and the co-operation and enthusiasm of parents of this wide district have been the means of unifying the whole area, the nucleus being the school.
At the time of the Centennial, the school roll numbered five hundred primary pupils (up to Form II), and one hundred and forty secondary pupils (Forms III - VII).
The School Centennial also marked the end of an era in the history of education in the district. The following year brought the announcement of the translation of the District High School to two separate schools —— a Primary School of Primers to Standard IV and a Secondary School of pupils from Forms I to VII.
February 1971 brought about the commencement of this scheme. Both schools continued to function on the same premises. Children in Forms I and II from Cannington School and those from the local Convent who wished to continue their secondary education at Pleasant Point High School, transferred to the new school but the Convent still retained its Form I and 11 classes.
The High School commenced with approximately three hundred pupils with Mr D.F. Waugh as principal, assisted by fourteen permanent staff members. Four part-time staff attended to such subjects as typing, horticulture, music and remedial reading. Ancillary staff were appointed for office and library duties.
Translation to a separate High School brought many extensions to what was the secondary department of the sixties. Extensive alterations were made to existing buildings. The headmaster’s residence of District High School days — built in 1914 — was demolished to make way for a new administration block for the High School. A new library and art block were also built while classrooms and buildings were upgraded.
The ex-D.H.S. administration section was shifted to the primary school site and a new general purpose building plus other additions and alterations were provided.
About that time, the Department of Education purchased a further seven acres of land (at the eastern end of the ground) from the School Farm Trust, making a total of twenty-one acres occupied by the two schools.
Since its promotion to full High School status, the school has been in the forefront of innovation in education. There has been a wide range of equipment and education aids added to the facilities, including video equipment, computers and musical instruments. Additional facilities include a gymnasium, bulk chemical store, guidance counsellor’s suite, a reading room, audio visual store and a music room.
In 1982, through the enthusiasm of the Board of Governors and the co-operation of the Farm School Trust, an agreement was drawn up to get a horticultural scheme under way. (In former D.H.S. years, the school agricultural course had been very popular and successful.)
In 1985, sixty pupils embarked on this horticultural programme. Forestry and the economics of horticulture were included in the study as well as the practical aspects of land use, water supply, seeds and marketing. Senior pupils have the option of sitting external examinations in horticulture and third formers learn a wide range of garden skills working on their experimental plots.
As part of this programme, a tree-planting scheme was begun on the land purchased from the Farm Trust. In spite of the set-backs caused by the 1986 flood, the Horticultural Scheme continues to be a study that is met with enthusiasm by staff and pupils.
High School roll numbers at February 1989 amounted to 348 pupils, a staff of 26 teachers, four part-time staff and five ancillary workers.
Following the translation of the D.H.S., Mr W.J. Keating was appointed Principal of the Primary School in Term 2 of 1971. It continued to function in the three blocks used by infants to Standard IV in the old D.H.S. days. As the Victor Wilson Hall was in constant use by the High School, a new, multi-purpose hall was built for the Primary School.
In 1982, age and earthquake risk led to the demolition of the original D.H.S. brick building which had stood since 1908. It has been replaced by wooden relocatable buildings occupied by the Infant Department. A similar building has been set up as a library and the Centennial Library has been converted into another classroom.
The Primary School Roll in February 1989 numbered two hundred and fifty pupils, ten teachers and three ancillary staff — a far cry from the roll of thirteen when the first school was established in 1868.
|1868—1870||Miss Catherine Jagger|
|1871—1877||Mr Charles Opie|
|1877—1879||Mr A. Henry|
|1879—1892||Mr James Thompson|
|1892—1896||Mr C.A. Stack|
|1896—1906||Mr G. Dalglish|
|1906—1909||Mr W. Thomas|
|1910—1913||Mr G.T. Palmer|
|1913—1915||Mr James Methven|
|1918—1920||Mr J.A. Wickes|
|1920—1924||Mr W.W. Garton|
|1924—1927||Mr T.J.C. Wilkins|
|1928—1933||Mr A.S. de Montalk|
|1933—1936||Mr J.J. McGuigan|
|1936—1943||Mr S.C. Gibb|
|1943||Mr J. McRae|
|1944—1950||Mr W.J. Bennette|
|1950—1955||Mr E.M. Todd|
|1955—1960||Mr J. Forbes|
|1960—1970||Mr J. Crossan|
|1970—1976||Mr D.F. Waugh|
|1976—1989||Mr E. Feasey|
|1989—||Mr W. Jones|
|1970—1976||Mr W.J. Keating|
|1977—1989||Mr A. Hawes|
On 23rd October, 1927 the foundation stone of St. Joseph’s Convent in Pleasant Point was laid by the Late Bishop M.J. Brodie and on 29th January, 1928 he returned to solemnly open and bless the fine new building.
Built of brick, the school comprised two classrooms with a spacious corridor and store room. The architect was H.G. Broadhead and the builder, W.A. Petrie of Timaru. The cost of the building was one thousand six hundred and sixty pounds.
It is interesting to record that on opening day, a debt of only four hundred pounds remained. Funds had increased through donations, sales and bazaars. Euchre evenings were held following the opening to further reduce the debt.
The two classrooms were divided by folding doors, the panels of which served as extra blackboards. The patent window system, operated by a single crank-handle admitted a maximum of light and was an innovation in its time.
The Catholic community certainly appreciated this new school as, previously, some children had travelled to the Kerrytown Convent in order to have a Catholic Education. Others had attended the Pleasant Point D.H.S.
Forty-two pupils attended when the school opened on 1st February, 1928. This was the commencement of a successful chapter of Catholic education in Pleasant Point.
Following the closure of out lying country schools more Catholic pupils were enrolled in the ensuing years. In March 1937, the Kerrytown Convent was burnt down and until such time as tht school could be replaced, these pupils had to attend St. Joseph’s. By 1946 the Kerrytown roll had dropped to five necessitating the closure of that school and its pupils were transported to St. Joseph’s by bus.
By 1961—62 the roll at St Joseph's had peaked to one hundred and fifty pupils which made it necessary to build an additional room including corridor teachers room and sick bay. This was built in 1963 by the local contractor T.S. Gillies Ltd. for a cost of three thousand three hundred pounds, including furnishings.
The money was raised by such methods as farmers donating stock, Tug o‘ Wars, raffles and the continued practice of altering at stock sales.
At this time, a fourth teaching sister was added to the staff. At the end of the decade roll numbers were high and Bishop Ashby decided that no primer children could be accepted and the Sisters should teach Standards I — VI pupils only. Consequently, all primer children were educated at the Public School for the next two years.
Since fewer women have become teaching sisters, it has been necessary to employ lay teachers in Convent schools and Pleasant Point has been no exception, having employed lay teachers since the 1970s.
In 1982, St. Joseph’s became one of four Catholic primary schools in South Canterbury to integrate into the State system, thus relieving the financial burden of paying teacher‘s salaries. Had the school not integrated at that time, it would have been forced to close down as the Parish could not afford to pay its teachers. At the time of integration, the school had a staff of one Sister and two lay teachers.
Although the school is required to meet State requirements, religious instruction is still an important part of the curriculum.
Since then, the school has seen further structural changes. Earthquake regulations declared the original brick building unsafe. This part was, therefore, demolished and replaced by a wooden structure comprising classroom, library and toilet and adjoining the brick section built in 1963.
Today the roll numbers over fifty pupils with Sister Stephanie in charge and two lay teachers assisting.
The 1960s brought increasing emphasis on the merits of preschool education. In February, 1961 a few parents in the township met with leaders in this field to discuss the possibility of establishing a local play centre. Sufficient interest among parents was apparent and a committee was formed.
The old Scout Den (originally a small cottage on Harris Street) was considered a suitable venue for a Play Centre and, with the approval of the Scout Committee, the Play Centre Committee set about renovating it so that the Group could meet there once a week.
Parents donated 10 pound each to provide a fund for purchasing the necessary equipment and in June 1961, about twenty children began attendance under the supervision of Mrs Dorothy Esler. It was an arduous task, storing all the equipment, after each session, into a little back room.
As the popularity of the venture grew, membership increased. The Scout Den became too small and inconvenient until, six years later, with the approval of the Vestry of the Anglican Church, they were granted the use of St. Alban’s Hall. By this time, Play Centre was running two sessions a week.
With membership growing, the Play Centre then established two groups with a roll of twenty in each. Each group had a morning and afternoon session weekly.
As early as 1963, the Group was bequeathed a section in Te Ngawai Road but when, a few years later, the area was zoned ‘industrial’, it was decided to sell it.
After on-going fund raising efforts and assistance from the Department of Education, the Committee was able to purchase the section on the corner of Harris and Acton Streets A the site where the first St. Alban’s Church stood. On to this site, a thousand square foot building was transported from Timaru, it had originally been built for the South Canterbury Community College and used for training apprentice carpenters.
It is now artistically landscaped with interesting outdoor equipment such as sandpit, wooden forts, swing, etc, and has become a popular and happy centre for fifty preschoolers.
As a result of a visit to Pleasant Point by Mr George Manning, organising secretary for the Workers’ Educational Association, a meeting was held in P.J. Bowman’s tearooms on 7th April, 1927 for the purpose of ascertaining what support was likely to be forthcoming should a class be organised in Pleasant Point. All present at the meeting enrolled as members and a class was formed immediately. Dr. Benham was appointed leader and Mr W.T. Taylor the honorary secretary.
The class commenced on 27 April, 1927 and met every Wednesday night throughout the winter months. The roll at first numbered twenty but soon increased. Its studies comprised a course of music, art and literature of the eighteenth century.
With its roll reaching thirty-six, this class was recognised as one of the keenest and most active of its kind in South Canterbury.
Such classes continued intermittently throughout the next few decades with various topics being discussed.
In the fifties, evening classes started at the District High School, woodwork, dressmaking and handicrafts being very popular.
Since the establishment of the High School with its well equipped facilities, a wider choice of subjects has become available. They include cookery, dressmaking, pottery, woodwork, welding, typing, computer studies and keep fit classes.
In addition, the Aoraki Polytechnic runs one or two-day classes and weekend schools in a wide variety of subjects, particularly those of interest to women.
Over the past decade, it has not been unusual for the High School to have one or two adults in its senior classes — people wishing to study subjects of particular interest which were not available in their childhood education.
To Mr T.D. Burnett, M.P., we owe the formation of the Farm School. In August, 1932, he secured a five year lease of the property adjoining the school, approximately 34 acres, which he offered to the Committee free of all cost for that period.
A committee of interested and practical farmers was formed to manage the farm in conjunction with the School Committee. A management committee comprising Messrs F. Agnew, H. Wooffindin, T. Kelliher, M. Maze and AH. Roberts was set up with Mr Roberts acting as chairman.
The school was brought into close contact with the farm and kept in touch with the experimental work. All research and calculation work was carried out by the boys under the supervision of the school staff in order to give them an introduction to scientific farming.
As extensions to the farm course, pupils were given lectures by experts at the Sale Yards, shown practical demonstrations at various farms, enjoyed Field Days at Rangiora and at Lincoln College and benefited from the practical experience of local farmers.
Prizes were donated annually by the Pleasant Point branch of the Farmers’ Union and boys were orally tested by members of the Committee on work carried out on the farm during the year. As a result, marks in the matriculation examinations improved greatly — evidence that a good foundation of practical knowledge was being laid by the work at the Farm School.
At first, it was the practice for boys to give lecturettes at the monthly meetings on their experimental work on the Farm. The Department of Agriculture End the Canterbury Schools‘ Agriculture Instructor gave freely of their advice to the boys.
The need for a farm supervisor was realised and a visit from the Minister of Education, Hon. P. Fraser and the Director of Education resulted in the appointment of Mr B.L. Elphick as agriculture instructor to the school in 1938.
In the same year, the establishment of ‘Stratheona‘, purchased by Mr T.D. Burnett, brought a new development to the Farm School. ‘Stratheona' was to be run in conjunction with the Farm School and, under the guidance of Mr Elphick. Agricultural Clubs in Calves, poultry, flowers and vegetables were formed for interested pupils.
In hopes of more extensive development, Mr Burnett offered to lease the farm land to the Education Department. As the offer was not acknowledged, he withdrew it and the farm then became a private enterprise for the benefit of Stratheona Hostel, a school for domestic trainees.
The last meeting of the Committee was held in September, 1942, when it was decided to transfer the balance of the Farm School Committee funds to the National Savings account. At the expiry of the period, it was to be given towards the school baths or any object in connection with the school of which the trustees approved.
When the Womens’ Division of Federated Farmers relinquished Stratheona as a home training hostel. Mr V. Wilson conceived the idea of a farm training school to be available for fourth year pupils of surrounding district high schools. Stratheona would be extended and used as a Monday to Friday hostel. He visualised the land being used for training, using Department of Agriculture personnel and visiting tutors from Lincoln College with other lessons linked with the school.
Mr Wilson gained approval from Lincoln College, Department of Agriculture. Forestry Service, Education Board and Department but the Government would not provide the money. Soon afterwards, Telford Farm School was opened — the obvious explanation for the rejection of Mr Wilson‘s scheme.
In 1965, the Stratheona land adjoining the school came on the market. A trust was formed by seven local farmers and 26 acres, on the north and east sides of the school was purchased for $7,400.
This land was cropped for several years in the hope that profits from the venture would pay off the debt incurred.
The seven acres on the east side of the school was sold to the Department of Education in April 1970 following the translation of the District High School to separate schools.
Prior to this, the Trust had purchased a section adjoining the property fronting Horton Street which gave access from that street to the seven acres below the school grounds. This area, including the access section was later sold to the Ministry of Works for approximately $3000 — a sufficient amount to pay off the mortgage owed by the Trustees.
The Trustees continued to farm nineteen acres with assistance from Ravensdown Fertiliser Company who supplied free fertiliser for research projects. Very dry seasons spoiled this venture.
In 1983 Dalgety Agricultural Research leased the property for five years to carry out research work. However, further dry seasons culminating in the flood of 13th March 1986, which washed away a large part of the soil and deposited quantities of shingle, spoiled this project also.
The forward thinking of several High School Board members in 1982 brought to fruition the establishment of a horticultural unit on the area of land facing Halstead Road where the Trust agreed to lease one and a half acres to the Pleasant Point High School.
Recently, the Trust has made another small plot available for trial planting of various trees on the different types of soil deposited by the flood.
In 1979 when the Pleasant Point Saleyards closed, the School Farm Trust purchased Saleyards’ property on the creek side of Grieg Street. The old building was leased for several years to the Lands and Survey Department as an operations base for their reserves in South Canterbury. This was terminated after the 1986 flood devastation. The adjoining land was farmed in conjunction with the main block of land across the road near the school.
In 1985, a portion of this saleyards property skirting the creek was sold for the construction of squash courts for the district.
The remaining land continues to be farmed and the profits support the Pleasant Point School Memorial Bursary.
At the end of the 1939-45 World War the Headmaster, Mr W.J. Bennett, founded a bursary to be known as a Memorial Bursary in memory of pupils of the school who had made the supreme sacrifice. The bursary was to be a cash grant of twenty-five pounds to ex-pupils studying at Lincoln or Massey Agricultural Colleges.
To start the fund, he compiled and published an arithmetic text book, ‘Every Day Farming Problems’, for use in rural courses at post primary schools. Donations were also received from local farmers. This established the fund and, on his retirement, Mr Bennett handed over the running of the bursary to J.G. Munro, secretary of the School Committee.
A committee was then formed comprising Messrs V.W. Wilson, R. Blakemore, the headmaster and J.G. Munro. This committee functioned till 1959 when Messrs M.F. Maze and F.W. Agnew as trustees of the Farm School account, intimated that they were prepared to pay two hundred and forty-six pounds into the bursary fund. This, added to the bursary account balance, would enable the fund to pay bursaries out of income instead of depleting capital as in the past. Five hundred pounds invested at five per cent yielded the annual bursary.
More recently, the control of the bursary fund was transferred to the Board of Governors of the High School. Over the past twenty years, with a buildup in capital, many bursaries have been paid to students attending agricultural colleges or similar educational establishments.
A hundred men make an encampment, one woman makes a home.
This was the inscription on the gateway of the Stratheona Training School in Home Arts at Pleasant Point which, in its lifetime, had a unique place in women’s affairs.
Built in 1910 for local Storekeeper W. McKibbin, ownership later passed to W. Arnott and eventually to TD. Burnett, M.F., a man prominent in the district’s progress.
In 1938 Stratheona was gifted to the women of South Canterbury by Mr Burnett. In the hands of a committee, the training school began with the aim of equipping young women with the ability to manage a home and family in a farming situation.
In 1951 the Stratheona Board of managers decided that the whole of New Zealand should share the benefit of Mr Burnett‘s generosity and the Women’s Division of Federated Farmers was invited to shoulder the responsibility of the centre. The organisation agreed and with funds from the Burnett estate, renovations to the cottage and hostel were carried out. The next year, its doors opened to eight trainees with Mrs Mayo as principal. Trainees came from all over New Zealand and, after the year-long course, received a first or second class certificate. They were trained free of charge.
Training was comprehensive including home skills, child care, milking cows and cleaning poultry runs. Trainees also provided a service to the farmers’ wives that was invaluable in times of stress.
Running expenses were as much a fact of life then as now and girls worked towards this during training. Pleasant Point school children of that time well remember the dinners available to them at a small cost. Lunches were made for travelling groups and proceeds from produce from the fourteen acres were retained by the centre for livestock. Donations and gifts through WDFF and CWI groups were readily forthcoming and bequests from the Burnett Trust were also granted.
The decision to close Stratheona came in 1961, based mainly on financial grounds. This, however, was subject to some questioning as, for several years, the centre had been self-supporting.
The following year the doors were closed on the only training school of its kind in the country. It then became home to the Casey family for many years.
In 1980 Mr Dave Allnut became the new owner, his aim being to restore the once gracious home to its original charm. This hope was shattered by the March 1986 flood and it now stands a derelict reminder of that terrible day.
However, the home has since been sold and the new owners live in hope of being able to restore it to its former glory.