There has always been controversy throughout New Zealand regarding intermediate school education. Records show that as early as 1920 the Hāwera district was surveyed with the idea of establishing an Intermediate School, but it was not until the early ‘30s that any real policy was formed. Though Hāwera Intermediate is considered young at sixty-one (2022), it is a part of a much longer tradition of over a century of education in Hāwera.
On the existing Intermediate site, in 1890, a two-room school was built for the children living around Te Hāwera fort. After considerable discussion in the little community the site on South Road was chosen. Fortunately for the school, the chairman of the Patea Education Board, Mr. T. Middlemas, saw that the school was well endowed with land, and space was left for future development of buildings and playing fields. The original two-roomed building, made of pit-sawn timber carted from Normanby, served as the nucleus of a school that grew to accommodate nearly seven hundred pupils. Before the High School was established in Camberwell Road, the school became a District High and many people in Hāwera can remember receiving their post primary education there.
In 1928, the Infant part of the school was moved to the other end of the grounds. This was the “Sunshine School” – now known as “Hāwera Primary.” Much later, in 1954, the remainder of the school moved to be consolidated on the Infant Block. By this time, the idea of an intermediate was in view. As early as 1949 a public meeting had heard and discussed plans for its establishment.
Following World War II, the Taranaki Education Board, initiated the moves that culminated in tenders being called. Construction of the new school began late in 1959. The building of the Intermediate School roused considerable interest at the time, 1960, because it was the first school of its kind in the province to be built outside New Plymouth.
Preliminary discussions in the district were not without pain, particularly in the rural areas where a school is a focal point for a community. What would happen to their school with the senior classes being removed? What would happen to their teachers with the schools being downgraded? Fears were allayed, however. Many of the former critics were happy to agree that no real disadvantages to their local schools were evident and that there were advantages for their children.
The building project preceded utilising modern building techniques such as pre-cut timber/modular framing.
P J O’Regan Contractors completed construction within eighteen months at a cost of £100,000. The total area of the building was 27,5000sq feet, and consisted of 12 standard classrooms, 4 special rooms, a Manual Block and Kitchen, the Assembly Hall at 3,024 sq. feet with parquet flooring and stage, a library and a Medical Bay. All furnishings were brand new. The various blocks were connected by covered walkways so pupils and staff could move anywhere within the complex without ever getting wet on rainy days.
On February 1, 1961, the Hāwera Intermediate School opened its doors to 466 pupils from 10 contributing schools: Hāwera Main, Meremere, Mokoia, Normanby, Ohangai, Okaiawa, Rāmanui, Tawhiti, Tokaora and Turuturu.
The spacious site allowed for playing fields and plantings added to the beautification of the site.
A group of trees, now gone, were planted at the gate by old pupils of Hāwera School before leaving for service overseas in the First World War.
In 2022, the year of our school closure, our school taonga, a majestic Kauri Tree, planted in 1919 by past Headmaster Hāwera Main School (1896-1924) Mr. C. R. Strack, stands tall, and represents the school’s values of Kaitiakitanga, Akonga, Unity, Respect and Independence.
The buildings remained the same up until October 2015 when a fire broke out in the school’s library. The Donovan Block, which housed 8 classrooms, was destroyed.
The effects of the fire gave the pupils and teachers a change of venue at the high school while prefabricated and demountable classrooms were assembled and set up in 2 lines parallel to the main entrance of the school.
The fire began to open doors of change for education in Hāwera with both the Intermediate and High School requiring extensive building repair and redesign.
After several years of community consultation and reviewing all possibilities of education in the Hāwera area, the decision was made in 2021 by Chris Hipkins – Minister of Education that both Hāwera Intermediate and Hāwera High School would close at the end of 2022 while a new school would be formed to replace them; opening in 2023.
The closing of the Hāwera Intermediate doors after 61 years will have seen a number of Principals, Teachers, Support and Ancillary Staff and Board of Trustees pass through its doors. Principals throughout the school’s history have all worked to achieve the best outcomes for students in their care.
Mr Gordon Tunnicliffe - 1961 to 1975
Mr Roger Win - 1976 to 1986
Mr Peter Donovan - 1987 to 2000
Mr Mel Soffe - 2002 to 2004
Mrs Fiona Parkinson - October 2004 to December 2007
Mr Alan White - May 2008 to October 2008
Mr Craig Simpson - October 2008 to December 2018
Mrs Wendy Sheridan-Smith - January 2019 to October 2019
Mrs Neryda Sullivan - October 2019 to December 2022
School staff, Students, Boards of Trustees, Parent Associations along with a supportive community, now farewell the Intermediate and begin a new chapter in the delivery of Education in the South Taranaki District.