The first government supported school in Tuahiwi was named St Stephen’s after the local church. Rev James Stack, a missionary from the Waikato was engaged to lead the church and establish a school in Tuahiwi. When he arrived he found a chapel that could hold up to 150 people, but no school building.
On 10 September 1859, Bishop Harper of Christchurch and colleagues visited Tauhiwi to select a site for the Tuahiwi Mission School and to welcome James Stack. Stack. Pita Te Hori was the principal Māori speaker for the occasion, followed by Paora Tau of Kaiapoi, Wiremu Te Uki of Port Levy, Hakopa Te Ata o Tū and Ihaia Tainui.
Te Aika and Hakopa Te Ata o Tū each gifted half an acre of land for the school buildings. Hapurona made a gift of 30 trees (valued at 30 pounds) and Peta Mutu loaned the services of two bullocks.
Stack hoped to make Tuahiwi the centre of Māori education in the area, promising a model boarding school to train pupils in arts, crafts and industrial pursuits. The first teacher was a man named Ruinui from Auckland who travelled south with his wife to open the school.
The school was finished in November 1863 but it wasn’t until August 1865 that the first pupil was enrolled. Within a year there were 15 pupils attending. Families had to pay one shilling per child per week, which covered schooling, board and clothing.Read more
In 1870 a fire destroyed the school and some church buildings. When the school reopened in 1872, it was designated a Native School, subject to government inspection, controlled by the Native Affairs Department and placed under the jurisdiction of the Education Department. As with the Mission Schools, English was the only language allowed.
When another fire destroyed the school in 1909, the Canterbury Education Board provided a replacement building. Part of the 1909 building was retained to become the porch and cloak-bay area of the new school, which opened in the late 1940s. This school stood for nearly 50 years until the Ministry of Education decided it should be replaced.
In 1996 we celebrated the opening of the first of many new school facilities beginning with two classrooms and a small office block. Later, four more classrooms, a hall (Tūranga) and an administration block were added. Currently there are seven classrooms. The Ministry of Education agreed that Ngāi Tūāhuriri could take ownership of the old school that was relocated on the recreation ground. The building was later removed when planned development did not proceed but a sports ground and recreation reserve has since been established.
Today, there are 120 students enrolled at Tuahiwi School and approximately 75% are Māori. Only a small number reside in Tuahiwi but the majority whakapapa to Ngāi Tūāhuriri.
This information has been sourced from the Ngāi Tūāhuriri: Tuahiwi and Takiwā booklet produced by the Ngāi Tūāhuriri Education Committee, 2014 and the Christchurch City Libraries website.