Topic: Hangatiki School

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A brief history of Hangatiki School, which opened in 1906. (Source: Otorohanga Friends of the Library Commemorative Family Histories, 1998.)

Hangatiki Primary SchoolToday, the first impression a visitor gets on their approach to Hangatiki School is the sheer beauty and serenity of the school's environment. That environment is both matched and enhanced by the exemplary quality of the education that Hangatiki affords both its student group and the communities it serves.

In the year 1999, Hangatiki School is a far cry from that which opened some 93 years ago in 1906 when the school first opened in a small rented building suppplemented by a tent to house surplus pupils. The first school classrooms were built in 1907. In those early days gettting to school was not always easy. Flooding of the river valley was comonplace. The walkers mainly followed the Main Trunk Railway line; others rode horses or drove buggies. Today very little is left of the swamp that surrounded the school. These swamps were one of the reasons for the initial demand for a school. The kahikatea or white pines that thrived in these swamps brought about the establishment of sawmills. One of these being amongst the largest in the King Country. Add to this the advent of limeworks and the early roll of the school grew rapidly. Hangatiki also played a role in the early development of tourism in our district. Hangatiki was the stopping off point for tourists who came to visit Waitomo Caves. They were met at Hangatiki by horse drawn choaches and transported to the caves.

It is difficult to separate the history of the school from the history of the district. When the kahikatea mills closed and transport to Waitomo Caves ceased to depend on the railway, Hangatiki School changed its forcus to serve the largely rural farming communities of Hangatiki and Whawharua.

A further change has occured in the past ten years with a change in farming patterns. Hangatiki School has again changed its focus and continued to grow and prosper. This is due in large part to its excellent reputation in catering for each and every individual pupil. Parents and pupils have made the choice of attending a smaller, caring, rural type school where the individual and quality education are priorities. Hangatikik is such a school. Its strength today is a reflection of this.


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