RUATOKI CELEBRATES 70th JUBILEE
Hundreds of ex-pupils and visitors from all parts of New Zealand joined Ruatoki residents to celebrate the 70th jubilee of the Ruatoki Maori District High School last March.
Special guests were four pupils from the first classes held at the school when it was opened in 1896. They were Mrs P. Rangiaho 85, Mrs N. Black 77, and Mrs U. Timeha and Mrs P. Trainor, who were both 80. All four have spent most of their lives in Ruatoki.
When ceremonies began, the official party of four past head teachers and the Member of Parliament for Eastern Maori, Mr S. Watene, were challenged at the gate. Hakas, action songs and waiatas followed.
Mr R. W. Kerr, the present headmaster, officially welcomed the visitors, who then made speeches in Maori and English, giving thanks for the welcome and wishing the school and its pupils well for the future.
After a hangi lunch a roll call was held and photographs were taken. Several sporting events also took place, including a ‘past versus present’ basketball match.
An open-air dance was held in the evening, and the next morning the jubilee celebrations concluded with a church service.
When Ruatoki school opened in 1896, it had a roll of 47 pupils. By 1900 it had a roll of nearly 100 and after a decline in the early 1900s the number reached 200 in 1939.
In 1947 a secondary section was established, and two extra classrooms were built.
Mr Kerr, the present headmaster, is the first Maori to hold this position. He joined the school in 1962.