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History of schools at Piha

Posted by SC Comments Off on History of schools at Piha

Piha School, about 1912, probably at Ocean View House

Schools have come and gone at Piha, according to the population and enthusiasm of education authorities. For most of their history the schools have had to make do, in houses, bachs and halls. In 1910 a school opened at the Usshers’ Ocean View House, but this moved to a site at the Piha Mill in 1913. As the teacher was shared with Whatipu, school took place only half the week. By 1920 there were sixteen children on the roll, but the next year the school shut down as families moved out with the closure of the mill. 

Later, the Piha School reopened at the south end of Piha Beach in a bach owned by Ted Le Grice. In 1927 Mr Greinhow, the teacher, announced that he was leaving, and Lucy Le Grice, aged sixteen, took over as sole teacher.

Piha schoolhouse soon after the Mill was closed in 1921

After a closure of some years, in 1947 a number of parents began agitating for a new school. The next year a school was opened in the Piha Hall but this only lasted a year. In 1954 a school was once again opened in the hall. Some children came from far afield. The Hettig children were driven by their father to the beginning of a two-mile-long foot track leading from the Anawhata Road to North Piha. They were collected from there by Dot Mercier in her Austin A40 and driven the last leg to the school.

In 1959, with the roll at twenty-one, and after continual complaints about the lack of toilet facilities at the hall and the difficulty in heating it – one winter day a temperature of 46 degrees Fahrenheit was recorded – a piece of land was purchased from Les Crichton next to the Piha Hall.

The final Piha School came from Taurangaruru. On the left is the old Piha Hall

It was a great day when the old Taurangaruru School arrived at the site, but the celebration did not last long, for in 1961 the school once again closed. It has never been reopened despite the efforts of parents.

The old school building is soon to be used as an environmental education centre for children from schools in West Auckland who plan to restore the wetland on the land.

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