PERSEVERANCE paid in many ways for the settlement's pioneers. One of their many success stories is Eureka School.
Back in 1903 they began to push for a school at Eureka. On behalf of the settlers, Mr John Gordon wrote to the Auckland Education Board on January 12 that year. He pointed out there were 23 school age children at Eureka and 14 under school age; he also offered a free site for the school. The letter was signed by J. McClennan, M. Mulcahy, W. G. Jackways, T. Hinton, J. Roche, D. Tribe, M. Murphy, H. Lock and J. Gordon.
But the Board felt the Eureka community would not last long and suggested the children attend Tauwhare or Marshmeadow schools. By June 1903 the settlers again attempted to cajole the board by stating they would erect the building on the donated site or make a donation towards one. They were again turned down.
By October there were 30 children over seven and 23 under. The school age children were trekking seven kilometres to school and back every day. The parents had had enough. They wrote to the Board and this time the inspector Mr E. K. Mulgan met them and it was decided that the Tauwhare school would be shifted to Eureka. An access road was to be formed and it was to be sited on Hooper Road. This created a furore in Timwhare and the proposal was dropped.
Refusing to be thwarted, early in 1904 Eureka residents offered the Board 50 pounds towards the cost of the school. A school room, seven metres by three metres went up on the donated site. The school today is still located on its original site-at the crossroads of the main highway, Eureka and Hunter Roads.1
The original tiny one-roomed building had two windows and a porch and cost 325 pounds 16 shillings and 11 pence. It was situated on the corner of the present school grounds near the road. The only access to the school and the farms situated on Station Road was a wee wooden bridge just wide enough to take horses and waggons.
It opened on May 2, 1904 with 23 pupils and one teacher, Miss Lucy Bell.
The first day was chaotic as the school was equipped with little more than a blackboard, a few desks and a table. Fortunately, the business of making out the school roll and arranging the class occupied most of the day. An older pupil was despatched to Hamilton to buy the necessary supplies and then school began. 2
Children in those times worked hard-both at home and at school. Those who were old enough had to be up at 4 am to milk the cows. When they returned home from school the cows had to be milked again. Many attended school just for a "bit of a sleep" according to an ex-Eureka resident, Mr Tom Muir.
Many rode to school and the school grounds doubled as a horse paddock and a playground. There were fat Shetland ponies, cantankerous old nags and gentle mares. One family, the Leasks, sent four of their children to school astride Bumbly-a tall, dark bay mare with a long neck and a Roman nose. She died in 1937 from a mishap.3 Some of the kids hitched rides to school on farmers' milk carts or in later years on the local store's delivery van. The boys often turned up to school in bare feet.
"We used to be the first to break the ice on the puddles on the road with our toes on the way to school, that is if we were quick enough and beat one of the other kids," recalled Mr Harry Clarkin who attended in 1918. "We played King of Sinai, Red Rover, hares and hounds, marbles, hide and seek and the girls played hopscotch and basketball and we all fished for penny doctors and played sardines."4
The teachers seldom spared the rod then and the children in turn got their own back. Canes were often hidden. The teacher's desk was once filled with creepy crawlies. Once the teacher walked in to find all the desks suspended from the ceiling!5 By the close of 1905, 39 children were crowded into the little room. A new half-hectare site was purchased for 15 pounds and a new school for 45 children was erected for 254 pounds and 10 shillings. The new premises were occupied on February 26, 1907. By 1909 an assistant teacher was also appointed-Miss E. M. Walker.
The new schoolroom was divided by a curtain so two classes could be held. Many of the children were roasted alive if they sat too close to the coal stove. Still others froze on chilly winter mornings as they did their sums on cold slates.
By 1915 the original schoolroom had become Eureka's Post Office.
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The annual school picnic became a feature of Eureka School. Every year the children walked up to the Eureka homestead's plantation and frolicked under the shade of the trees. On Arbour Day they planted trees at the school. The row of trees stretched all along what is today the boundary of the school.
Former pupils still fondly remember their days at Eureka. One ex-pupil, Mrs Sophie Cameron (nee Leask), penned her memories in the Eureka School Diamond Jubilee booklet:
"... I remember Eureka School. Inside intense boredom but outside there was so much beauty. The lovely lane running beside the row of poplar, almost divided by two hawthorn hedges, which is now a busy main road, was the road we called the blind road.6 There were some beautiful shrubs in the school garden. Rhododendrons, flowering cherries, conifers, wisteria and roses; and an eleagnus hedge where we got very good horse sticks. We shared the playground with the horses. It seemed an admirable arrangement. While we were in the school they grazed the whole of the paddocks and mowed the grass and when we wanted to play they moved off into the northern corner ... ".
Once a month they trudged off to ureka Station to catch the 8.50 am train to Hamilton Technical College. The boys were taught woodwork and the girls attended cooking classes. A complete waste of time but good fun.7 Once the children passed standard six they used to catch the train into Hamilton to attend college.
By 1917 the roll had grown to 52 and by 1921 a second classroom had been added at a cost of 464 pounds. Later a shelter shed costing 53 pounds, bike sheds, a pump house and tennis court were built.
During the war years school continued. Vina Gee (nee Inglis) recalled: "On the whole they were a tough, healthy lot as absenteeism was noted for its absence. During those wartime years we did not look for improvements-just strived to maintain the status quo. We were very patriotic. We sang patriotic songs ... Air raid shelters were dug under the hedges and we practised filing out in an orderly manner with our ear muffs at the ready ... "8
In September 1953 the school committee held a meeting to discuss building a swimming pool. Each member gave a generous donation and it was decided to canvass the district to raise enough money to start the project. With an Education Board subsidy of 350 pounds plus a grant of 65 pounds towards the cost of a water supply, a roster system for the labour was drawn up and in 1956 Eureka School had its swimming pool.
In 1962-at a cost of 6,640 pounds-the two small classrooms were remodelled into one and a new classroom and administration facilities were added.
The school was decapitated in 1970 with the Form One and Two pupils attending Intermediate school in Hamilton from then on.
Late in 1978 the possibility of acquiring a school library was considered.
The South Auckland Education Board told the school committee that the size of the school made it ineligible for a library but it would be willing to assist if the residents provided a building.
A meeting was held and the proposal was unanimously approved. Within days a building had been found on a demolition site. The Board approved it and the Eureka PTA bought it. With the Board's help the building was renovated, equipped and formally opened at the school's 75th Jubilee in 1979.
On July 10, 1962 a meeting was called to form a Parent Teacher Association for Eureka School at which there were 32 people present. Mr M. E. Duncan, school committee chairman, chaired the meeting. Mr P . Schollum was guest speaker on the Parent Teacher movement. Mr L. Freeth, headmaster, put the teachers' viewpoint. It was moved that a PTA be formed and an election of officers was held. The first committee members were : chairman, Noel Campbell; secretary, Mrs T. McClennan; committee, Mrs E. Johns, Mrs A. Pemberton, Mr D. Branch, Mr C. Purvis, Mr G. Gray.
A membership fee of 5 shillings per family was decided upon.
Later in the year Mr Gordon Edwards began organising card evenings under the auspices of the PTA. An enthusiastic and hardworking PTA has been operating ever since, raising money through stalls at sports days and group days, holding gala days, bobby calf drives, levying school fees and even holding a casino evening. Over the years since its inception the PTA has furnished the school with a record player, books, encyclopedias, tea wagon, typewriter, football jerseys, netball uniforms, listening post, tape recorder, musical instruments, tennis net and has contributed towards the building of the adventure playground, the sand pit, slide, library and video equipment.
Major PTA office holders since its formation have been:
Chairman Sec/ Treasurer
1963-1967 Noel Campbell Muriel McClennan
1968-1971 Graham Mayall Margaret Duncan
1972 Graham Mayall Bev Kimber
1973-1974 Graeme Kimber Bev Kimber
1975-1976 Graeme Kimber Pam Hinton
1977 Kevin Buckley Gail Mayall
1978-1979 Robyn Bargh Gail Mayall
1980-1981 Chris Irvine Delwyn Kimber
1982 Chris Irvine Diane Barker
1983-1984 Glynis Hinton Diane Hinton
Since 1904 the school has celebrated three jubilees. On May 29, 1954 the school's first teacher, by then Mrs Alex Ramsay, rang the old school bell again and opened the Golden Jubilee celebrations. Mrs Ramsay and the first enrolled pupil, Mrs R. Stokes (Rita Murphy), cut the specially prepared jubilee cakes.
The Diamond Jubilee, held on May 22, 1965 was again blessed with fine weather. Well attended by ex-pupils and former teachers, the day went with a swing. Its 75th Jubilee, held on a cold bleak morning in May 1979 still did not deter Eureka old-timers from returning to their alma mater. The speeches over, school was out and young and old enjoyed the lunch, banquet and ball held that day.
Today Eureka School has three classrooms, a library, swimming pool, tennis court, a large playing field and is equipped with many modern teaching aids.
Since its inception it has stood at the crossroads, a monument to the enthusiasm, generosity and dedicatipn of Eureka's settlers.
EUREKA SCHOOL 1938
Front row: Phillipa Harington, Graeme Sanders, Donald Cresswell, Colin Masters, Barbara Hinton, Shirley Duncan, Margaret Jones, Ralph Masters, Betty Powdrill, June Powdrill.
Second row: Jill Masters, Vincent Jones, Gladys Muir, Lois Sanders, Doras Dalziel, Alva Hinton, Edith Jamieson, Barbara Sanders, Hilda Powdrill, Margaret Harington.
Third row: Phyllis Harris, Bruce McClennon, Russell Bargh, Richard Harington, Tom Hinton, Wesley Muir, Laurence Hinton, Jean Inglis, Dulcie Harris.
Back row: Peter Duncan, Roy Larsen, David Jamieson, Peter Harris.
For the first ten years there was a committee ofseven but no names are available.
1904 to 1907 Mr J. L. Roche was Commissioner.
Chairman Sec/Treasurer Committee
1907 J.R. Hethrington T. Clarkin
1908 T. Hinton T. Clarkin
1911 T. Hinton F.F.Pemberton J .McClennan
1913 T. Hinton E.M.Masters T. Clarkin
1914 T. Hinton E.M.Masters J.H.Marston
1916 T. Hinton J .A. Falconer J.McClennan
1917 T. Hinton J .A. Falconer R.Casey
1918 J. O'Hara T.Clarkin McKelvie
1919 J. O'Hara T.Clarkin M.Townsend
1920 A. Johns T.lnglis W.Leask
1921 T. Luxton T.Inglis R.Townsend
1922 T. Luxton T.Inglis R.Townsend
1923 J. O'Hara T.Inglis R.Townsend
1924 J. O'Hara J.Inglis R.Townsend
1925 R. Townsend T. Inglis S.B.Larsen
1926 R. Townsend T. Inglis A. Johns
1929 G. Hinton T. Inglis R.Townsend
1930 P.Shine C. Harington G.Hinton
1932-1934 P. Shine was appointed Commissioner -No Elections
1934 M.E.Harington Mrs Cresswell Mrs Johns
1936 M.E.Harington Mrs Cresswell Mrs McClennan
1938 M.E.Harington Mrs Cresswell Mrs McClennan
1940 A.G. Powdrill Mrs Hinton K.Inglis
C. V. Masters
1942 A.G. Powdrill C.E.W. Edwards K.Inglis
C. V. Masters
1944 C.V.Masters J.R.Inglis K.lnglis
1946 J.L. Michell J.R. Inglis F.Pinfold
1948 A.G. Smith J.R. Inglis F.Pinfold
W .G. Williamson
1950 P.R. Inglis J.R. Inglis F.Pinfold
1951 P.R. Inglis J.R. Inglis F.Pinfold
1953 A.G. Smith F.J. Hinton W.Saunder
Mrs J. Larsen
1955 A.G. Smith Mrs J. Larsen F.J.Hinton
1957 A.G. Smith F.J. Hinton W.Saunders
1959 M.E. Duncan F.J. Hinton A.D.Flavell
1961 M.E. Duncan F.J.Hinton A.D.Flavell
1963 M.E. Duncan R.G. Townsend R.R.Masters
1965 M.E. Duncan R.G. Townsend R.R.Masters
1967 R. R. Masters G. Edwards J .A. Stockman
1969 P.J. Harris W. Pollock R.Duncan
1971 P.J. Harris W. Pollock R.Duncan
1973 G.V. Mayall R.D. Kimber R.Landon
1975 G.V. Mayall M. MacDonald R.Landon
1977 F.W. Appleton Mrs M. Phillips B.Mayall
1979 F.W. Appleton Mrs L. Buckley B.Mayall
Mrs D. Ammann
1981 B.F. Gordon Mrs L. Buckley B.Mayall
1983 B.F. Gordon Mrs L. Buckley G.Savage
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Eureka School Staff
(As far as can be ascertained)
Miss Bell 1904-1914 Head teacher
Miss Walker 1909-1912
Miss Carley 1912
Mr Arthur Benton 1914 Head teacher
Miss Cooke 1914-1915
Miss Ruth Munro 1918
Miss Given 1916
Miss Rose 1924
Mr Le Petite 1925-1927
Mr Bowater -1930 Head teacher
Miss H O'Donnell 1930 Head teacher
Miss M.E.G. Archibald 1938
Mrs T.V. Sealy 1940-1946
Miss M.A. Still 1946
Miss V.F. Buckland 1952
Mr John E.Hunt 1953 Head teacher
Miss B.A. Horsfall 1956
Mrs Valerie F. Pollock 1959
Mr W.L. Freeth 1960 Head teacher
Miss Doreen A.
Mrs Muriel N. Shaw
Miss F. Anne J. Lovell 1964
Mr William R.N. Tier 1964-67 Head teacher
Miss J. Gardner 1964-1965
Mrs D. Rowell 1965-1966
Miss Joanne Burley 1967
Miss W. J. Meinung 1967
Mr Peter R. Clark 1968-1975 Head teacher
Mrs Nell L. Russell 1971-1984
Mr Roger I. Moltzen 1977 Head teacher
Mrs Eileen Baillie 1979
The Eureka postmark
During its seventy-year history the small country post office at Eureka became world famous. Its date stamp was the last squared circle in use long after this type of stamp was withdrawn.
However before it was built, mail first arrived in Eureka on mail coaches.
In the late 1800's the coaches were the only form of postal service. Often they were delayed or disrupted due to bad roads. If the coach became stuck in boggy patches the driver often unhitched a horse and rode out with the mail to the farming districts. Contracts were held by various coach services for the mail delivery.9
When the railway opened the mail came in by rail. The first officially recognised post office at Eureka opened on April1, 1904. Mr W.G. Jackways, the factory manager, is listed as the first postmaster in the New Zealand Post Office records. However it was Mrs Jackways who ran the post office at her home according to Mrs A. MacLaren, one of their daughters. The mail bags were picked up at the railway station and brought to the house. The settlers were able to pick up their mail there.
The Jackways also owned the first telephone in Eureka according to Mrs Maclaren. With a telephone installed they were able to receive and send telegrams. Post Office records indicate a telephone office opened on May 22, 1907 and it would have been on a party line. Gradually 10 party lines became available prior to a 4-party line service. The Eureka Automatic Exchange which opened in September 1962 was a great step forward for the residents. Eureka is now part of the Hamilton Exchange. The first school became the Eureka Post Office in 1915. It was still situated on the original site with the new school building further back from the road. The little room had a small counter and the average daily mail bag then contained around thirty letters.
By the twenties the mail was picked up from the station by Arthur Lock.
Just as school ended Mr Lock arrived on his horse and gig and all the children gathered round to pick up their mail.
Mrs Lily Ridgley (nee Townsend) was postmistress from December 1924 until the end of 1926, the last postmistress to work in the former school building.
During the depression of the thirties it fell into disuse and tenders were called for its removal. Eventually it was dragged down the road on two gumpoles to serve out its remaining years as a storeroom on Mr Jack Clarkin's farm. Some years later it was burnt in a peat fire.
"For thirty years it stood at the crossroads and served this district as a seat of learning and later as a calling place for residents to receive all the news-both good and bad-either by post or by gossip." (Extract from Eureka Sohool Diamond Jubilee.)10
By 1923 Eureka had acquired a general store and the post office became part of it on December 13, 1929.11 The store was owned by Mr Patrick Shine and his daughter Audrey ran the post office.
When they moved out of the district the post office continued to be part of the store. Most of the storekeepers devoted an hour each morning to sorting the mail. They also spent a great deal of time answering queries about the famous date stamp and franking envelopes for philatelists around the world, according to Mr Noel Campbell, Eureka's longest-serving storekeeper.
The post office finally closed on February 7, 1975. Its last postmistress, Mrs K. Langdon, spent the last two nights stamping well over 200 letters from postal history societies and stamp collectors who wanted the closing date stamped on.
By the last day all the letters were stamped and ready to be sent with the day's mail. When the post office closed its doors the wooden handled date stamp-the last of its kind in New Zealand-was sent to the Post Office museum in Wellington.
Eureka's Postmasters and Postmistresses have been:
1904 MrW.G. Jackways
1908 Miss Ethel Landman
1910 Miss Olive Hinton
1915 Miss Frances McClennan
1915 Miss Mary Murphy
1919 Miss Frances Falconer
1919 Miss Grace Inglis
1920 Miss Doris Rowe
1921 Miss Kathleen Porter
1924 Miss Alicia O'Hara
1924 Miss Margaret Rose
1924 Miss Lily Townsend
1927 Mr Patrick Shine
1937 Mr Charles Saward
1942 Mr Patrick Shine
1944 Mr Leslie Michell
1947 Mr Kenneth Davis
1951 MrNoel Campbell
1971 Mrs. Stuart Willets
1971 Mrs Noeline Stockman
1973 Mrs Kathleen Langdon
7/2/1975 Post Office closed.