School grew out of a chance meeting

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Proud history . . . The school at Greta Valley, pictured in 1899. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

By ROBYN BRISTOW

A chance meeting between a road worker and a new property owner in the Greta Valley district sowed the seeds for a school to open in the area in June 1893.

The Irishman mending roads initially dismissed Mr T.S. Mannering’s idea of building a school in the region because “you have only just come here”.

However, when they chanced to meet again, the Irishman said the people of the district would be “much obliged if you could get them a school; the young men say they would like to have a dance sometimes”.

Mr Mannering pointed out the Government would probably not build a school for a dance and then set about getting 19 children of school age signed up to a petition.

When he was able to get the ear of the Minister of Education and present the petition, the school began to become a reality.

Built on a piece of land donated by Mr W. Acton-Adams, of Tipapa, the doors opened on June 26, 1893 with Miss Claudia Watson as school mistress.

The opening was celebrated with a high tea and a dance at Tipapa.

Children travelled quite long distances to attend, some riding horses, while others walked.

In 1897, a stable was built at the back of the school for the horses.

The school has remained on the same site, though the original school was sited a little further back than the existing building.

The clock will be turned back on September 15, as the school celebrates its 125th anniversary.

All past pupils, teachers, bus drivers, teacher aides and support staff are welcome to attend the celebration, which includes a function at the Tipapa Estate Historic Woolshed.

An organiser, Jo Loe, says Gold tickets will cost $75 for registration, afternoon tea, nibbles at Tipapa, dinner and a dance.

Silver registration includes registration, afternoon tea and nibbles, plus, for an extra $5, all those attending can take a nostalgic bus ride.

There will be memorabilia for sale, a celebratory cake cut, a tree planted, a time capsule sealed, and photos and speeches.

For more information, visit eventfinda.co.nz/2018/greta-valley-school-125th-celebration/greta-valley, or go to the Greta Valley School 125th Celebration Facebook page, or contact Jo Loe at jloe@gretavalley.school.nz or Claire Inkson on claireinkson@gmail.com.