In 2014 Matipo celebrates its 50th Jubilee. We’ve collected a written history of the school to help celebrate.
The first school on the Peninsula was called Henderson Point School, opened in 1907, as a side school to Henderson Primary. It had two rooms separated by a curtain and was used until 1942 when a new two room school, staff room and shelter shed were built.
This school was subsequently relocated to Roby Street Reserve. In the 1960’s orchards and dairy farms made way for housing subdivisions, many built by Neil Housing Ltd, plus state houses and Maori Affairs Department houses. Three primary schools and an intermediate school were built with the old Te Atatu School disappearing when Te Atatu Intermediate School was built on its site. The old swimming pool is buried under the present Intermediate school hall.
The children transferred to the brand new Matipo Road Primary School in February 1964. On the 14th November 1964, the school was officially opened by the local M.P., the Hon Martin Findlay. By the end of the year, 653 pupils had been enrolled. In 1965, the first Form 1 & 2 pupils enrolled at Te Atatu Intermediate.
The foundation principal was Mr Doug Strother who served from 1964 – 1976. He became a legend and his eight children all went through the school. They formed their own band, the Strother Family Band, who played at the 25th Jubilee celebrations. Lorna Lyons was the original school secretary, a position she held till 1976.
The foundation staff is included elsewhere but included long time teachers Malcolm Flack (1964 – 1973) and Peter Gundry (1964 – 1972). Miss Swindells started in 1967 till 1995 and Thelma Butterworth started in 1971 till 1988. Margery McMillian was another long stayer from 1977 till 1985. The present principal, Wayne Bainbridge has been here from 1989 to the present day – 25 years.
By 1989, Te Atatu had started to change. The big surge of children had worked its way through the primary years. Rutherford High School roll was up to 2,200 pupils. The children had all grown up but the original mums and dads remained in the family homes. In 1990, the school roll was just 150 and closure was in the wind. The school maintenance had been let slide, the school hadn’t been painted inside for 18 years and outside for 12 years. We were down to seven rooms.
A slow revival was started. A lot of tree planting was carried out, computers were introduced, and a school hall was built in 1991 and extended a few years later. The first of the ‘new’ transportable arrived, Room 14 from Pomaria School in 1989 followed by Rooms 15-17 in 1995-1996, Room 19 in 1997, and the Media Room in 2002. Room 20 & 21 followed. The beloved adventure playground, still talked about with pride by ex-pupils to this day, was sadly demolished to make way for the Arts Suite. The Junior transportables – Rooms 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 were built in the 2000’s. In 2013, two temporary classrooms (Room 26 & 27) arrived and a new 4 class permanent block was built in late 2013, opening in March 2014. (Note that all class numbers are the new “current” numbers as of March 2014)
Kayaks were purchased in 1992-1993 and are still in use today. We only ever had one sinking when a parent (Steve Schuster) who was a very willing parent helper, but quite a large man, turned his kayak into a submarine.
By February 2014, the school will have 25 classrooms, a library, media room, computer room, arts suite and art room. We have a large covered court and two ‘Tiger Turf’ netball courts.
During the August holidays of 1984, the school was devastated by an arson attack with three classrooms destroyed (where the hall now stands). In 1989, the 4th class in that block also burnt down but in this case it was due to an electrical fault. These rooms were not replaced.
Five years later, the fire was still talked about and become a convenient ‘catch all’ for anything that was missing (“it must have been burnt in the fire”). Undoubtedly though, many valuable resources were lost including extensive Maori costumes remembering that Matipo was where Pita Sharples’ famous Kapa Haka group first started. His first wife, Aroha, worked here and his children attended the school. He still talks fondly of this school and his memories of his association here.
Doug Strother 1964 – 1975
Jack Wharf 1976 – 1980
Bruce Barton 1981 – 1984
Heather Bell 1985 – 1987
Maurie Coates 1988 – 1989
Wayne Bainbridge 1989 – Present
Margery MacMillian 1984 – Mr Barton sick
Lorna Slade 1987 – Mrs Bell on secondment
The First 10 Foundation Pupils
Matipo Primary proved to be a stepping stone for teacher career advancement.
Jim Craig (1964 – 1968) went on to become a senior principal and ERO officer. Jim Going and Tom Green went on to become principals, Elaine le Sueur became a writer and advisor on gifted children, Warwick Pudrey an author and advocate for men’s issues and boys behaviour, and Geoff Woolford became a maths advisor and author. Jenny Murray, Brett Skeen, Cherie Taylor-Patel and Thelma Butterworth all went on to become principals and Jenny Howitt became the Director of the Kohia Teachers Centre.
Present day teachers Phillip Simpson and Jon Webster are both published children’s authors.
Ralph Lucas 64 – 70 Crewed on round-the-world racer ‘Lion New Zealand’
Dean Orr 73 – 75 Junior Rugby League Kiwi
Peter Brown 66 – 71 Rugby League Kiwi & player agent
George Stankovich 64 – 71 NZ Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Bronze medallist Commonwealth Games & Olympic representative
Andrew Stankovich 64 – 70 Boxer, Bronze medallist at World Cup Championship, NZ Title Holder & ‘Elvis Impersonator’
Boris Stankovich 85 – 90 England Rugby Under 19 Team, Professional rugby player for Leicester.
Debbie Hughes 68 – 73 One of the first NZ Woman Jockeys
Darren Lydell 76 – 82 Three Gold Medals at Commonwealth Games – Weightlifting
Oscar Kightley 74 – 80 Actor, Author, Advocate for the Arts
David Fane 71 – 77 Writer, Actor, Comedian
Andrew (91 – 93), Roland (92 – 97) & Shalom (93 – 99) Suniula, United States 15’s & 7’s Rugby Representatives
Dr Margie Hohepa 65 – 71 University of Waikato Associate Professor
Sean Munroe 85 – 91 Senior Scientist at Waikato Hospital
“The smell of the tip and seagulls dropping pickings on the roof”
“The river rooms along the top bank”
“Smoking down the bank”
“Miss Cumming and Miss Going on the staff at the same time”
“The Athletics days”
“Canoeing on the river”
“The famous Juke Box nights”
“The music festivals at Te Atatu Community Centre”
“The milk trolley and warm milk”
“The fire down the bank”
“The adventure playground and slide, it was awesome!”
“The food fight at the staff BBQ”
“The jelly pies from the tuck shop”
“Famous people speaking at assemblies”
“When a father punched out a teacher for strapping his son” (Wayne Te Huia)
“Bugsy Malone production”
“Ice skating on the Top Tower when it was a frosty morning”
“Jumping off the Top Tower into a fresh pile of bark”
“Pies delivered to the classroom”
“The big chain bridge in the adventure playground”
“Putting sand on the big yellow slide so we could go faster”
“Kayaking down in the estuary”
“Friday night discos”