Established in 1875, the first public school in Hastings was built by a Mr. Chapman at a cost of 250 pounds. It measured 20′ x 40′ and opened to just seven pupils, three being the children of the first head-master, Mr. McLeod. By 1893, when Mr. McLeod resigned, the roll had risen to 83 pupils. During the mid 1880s, scarlet fever was a problem for both pupils and teachers. By 1893, the roll had risen to 412 pupils.
In February of that year, a new classroom was built. From 1894-97 fearful storms caused frequent school closures. In 1895 the roll rose to 501 and it is in this year that our building, now known as “The School House”, was built. It has had many uses since this time and it is the last surviving building from the original school. During the early years, pupils sat scholarships in this hall in order to obtain higher education at the likes of Hastings Girls and Napier Boys secondary schools. In 1908, a separate secondary school was built with 20 pupils, graduating to this facility. In 1918 the roll was 916, with 20 teachers and the largest class being 97 pupils! November 12th saw The Armistice signed, and ‘the grim reaper’ (influenza) struck with all schools in the Wellington Health District closed due to it’s heavy toll. In the 1920′s new schools opened with the resulting drop in pupil numbers at Hastings. The secondary school roll rose to 120. In 1925, Hastings Central was chosen as a presentation example for Governor General, Sir Charles Ferguson. His son, Sir Bernard went to Hereworth, as did his grandson, Jordie. At 13 minutes to 11am, 3rd February 1931, the earthquake struck. The School had just resumed class which emptied again pretty quickly! Many of the pupils kept on running until they got home. The school grounds and buildings became Hasting’s main relief centre for the quake. In 1939, the ‘new school’ was officially opened. The polio outbreaks of 1948 saw the school closed again. In 1956 the population of Hastings exceeds 20,000 and becomes a city. In 2005-6, the school board was faced with an old and deteriorating building with a Category II Historic Places Trust Classification, making for an expensive restoration task.
We approached the school and after satisfying the requirements of the District Council, Historic Places Trust and the Central School, we bought and relocated the building to it’s present site on a quiet river terrace overlooking the beautiful Tukituki valley, Havelock North. The main 2/3rds of the original building has been lovingly restored as The School House, with the other part placed behind our home as a workshop and garage. The School House has been tastefully renovated over 5 years and fitted out as an elegant country retreat – with all modern facilities.