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Article from "The Clutha Leader" of Monday August 26 1929 describing the Diamond Jubliee of Te Houka School

This article reports on the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations for the Te Houka School celebrating 60 years from 1869 to 1929. Includes mention of a number of Moffats and Houlistons in various capacities at the school or on the school committee during the 60 years.


THE CLUTHA LEADER, MONDAY, AUGUST 26, 1929

THE SCHOOL AT TE HOUKA.
DIAMOND JUBILEE CELEBRATIONS.
1869-1929

Sixty years ago this year the movement of the settlers of Te Houka to secure the establishment of a school in the district took definite shape, and on Monday, June 14, 1869, a school was opened, under the late Mr Jas. McNeur as teacher. On Saturday afternoon, August 24, the series of functions arranged by the pupil and ex-pupils of the school in commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee of the opening was commenced. A review of the steps leading up to the opening makes interesting reading.

THE FIRST STEPS.

On the third of December, 1868, following correspondence between the settlers and the Otago Education Board, a meeting was held in Mr Sim’s residence at Te Houka to consider a grant from the Otago Education Board of £75 per annum for a schoolmaster and £150 towards the erection of a school building. Those present at the meeting were Messrs Sim, Hope, Dallas, Robinson, Renton, Wilson, Jefferies, Aitken, Lochhead, Walker, W. and A. Moffat, and W. Dallas, senr. A committee was formed to take the necessary steps to get the school buildings erected on the site selected by Mr Hislop. The first meeting of the school committee was held in Mr Wilson’s residence on Friday evening, 15th January, 1869. Present—Messrs W. Dallas (chairman), Bruce, Aitken, Jefferies and Wilson. A committee meeting was held on 29th January, 1869, when tenders for the school buildings were received as follows:--Bain and Sanderson, £227; Jas. Smith, £211; Nicol and Inglis, £207; and Robert McKinlay, £179 10s. Robert McKinlay’s tender was accepted. A committee meeting was held on the 15th April, 1869, to consider applications for a teacher, and the committee decided in favour of Chas. J. Hardy. A committee meeting was held on the 15th May, 1869. As no reply had been received from Mr Chas. J. Hardy, it was resolved to appoint Mr Jas. McNeur. It was decided to open the school, which was then finished, on Monday, 14th June, 1869, school fees to be 2s 8d, 3s 4d and 4s respectively. A Government grant of £16 was received for fencing. The committee decided to call for tenders for fencing, and Mr Thos. Lochhead’s tender for £12 19s was accepted. Mr J. B. Jeffries was appointed auditor of accounts.

The first annual meeting of householders was held on January 10th, 1870. The past committee was re-elected. The resignation of Mr McNeur was received, but it was decided that the committee could not see its way clear to release him, and that he be asked to reconsider his decision. Mr McNeur then withdrew his resignation.

THE ROLL OF TEACHERS.

Permanent teachers of the Te Houka School were appointed as follows (errors or omissions excepted):--1869, Mr McNeur, 1872, Mr Winning; 1874, Mr Wilson; 875, Mr Davies; 1877, Mr T. McKay; 1879, Mr T. D. Thompson; 1879, Mr. Menzies; 1879, Mr Win. Renton; 1885, Miss Bayley; 1889, Miss Torrence, 1891; Miss Riddell; 1898, Miss Gow; 1902, Miss McDonald; 1903, Miss Walker; 1907, Miss Clapperton; 1912, Miss Ford; 1915, Mr Davidson; 1915, Miss Currie; 1919, Mr Davidson (re-appointed); 1919, Mr Bell; 1922, Miss Bell; 1924, Miss Mitchell; 1927, Miss Hill; 1929, Miss Logan.

CHAIRMEN OF COMMITTEE.

The following is a list of gentlemen who have held the office of chairman of the school committee during the years 1869-1929:--1869-1870, Mr W. Dallas; 1871, Mr Jas. Sim; 1872-1876, Mr Wm. Dallas; 1877, Mr Chas. Dallas; 1878-1884, Mr. Wm. Dallas; 1885 Mr J. B. Jeffries; 1886 Mr Chas Shand; 1887, Mr Robert Houliston; 1888, Mr Thos. Lochhead; 1889-1891, Mr Robert Houliston; 1892, Mr W. Walker; 1893-1894, Mr Jas. Wilson; 1895-1896, Mr Jas. Lane; 1897, Mr Robert Moffat; 1898, Mr Chas. Dallas; 1899, Mr Geo. Moffat; 1990, Mr Jas. Wilson; 1901, Mr Geo. Moffat; 1902-1903, Mr Chas. Dallas; 1904-1905, Mr Geo. Moffat; 1906-1908, Mr Robert Moffat; 1909-1911, Mr Chas. Dallas; 1912-1914, Mr Wm. Dallas; 1915-1919, Mr Robert Moffat; 1919 (latter part of this year filled by Mr R. Renton when Mr Robt. Moffat left the district); 1920-1923, Mr Richard Potting; 1924-1925, Mr O. R. Throp; 1926-1929, Mr W. E. Moffat.

SECRETARIES.

The following is a list of secretaries from 1869 to 1929:--1869-1888, Mr Jas. Wilson; 1889-1895, Mr Chas. Dallas; 1896-1898, Mr James Laing; 1899-1900, Mr Robert Moffat; 1901-1911, Mr Jas. Wilson; 1912-1920, Mr John Barclay; 1921-1923, Mr S. W. Moffat; 1924-1928, Mr J. D. Knarston; 1929, Mr Fred Soper.

ROLL CALL.

The celebrations commenced with a roll call gathering at the school in the afternoon. About 150 people attended the majority being ex-pupils and present pupils. The gathering was of a free and easy nature, providing an opportunity for reunion and reminiscent chat by old school fellows, many of whom had not met since school days. A register of ex-pupils prepared for the occasion was placed in the school and was signed by a steady stream of ex-pupils throughout the afternoon. An important part of the gathering was the planting in the school grounds of three shrubs—a cedar deodora, an escallonia, and a laurestina, and one tree, a Rowen. The latter was planted by Miss A. B. Dallas, who attended the school on the opening day, and the three shrubs by Messrs John and James Sim, also first day pupils, and by Mr Wm. Renton, the oldest ex-teacher present.

During the afternoon photographs were also taken of representatives of the various decades, and over a cup of afternoon tea experiences and episodes of school days were recounted with interest.

JUBILEE BANQUET.

The next function was a jubilee banquet in the Oddfellows’ Hall in the evening, approximately 150 guests sitting down to the repast, which was presided over by Mr Chas. Dallas (chairman of the Jubilee Celebrations Committee).

In front of the chairman was placed a huge birthday cake decked with 60 candles. It had been made and presented by Mrs Sim, wife of Mr J. D. Sim, one of the first-day pupils. At a later stage it was cut by Miss A. B. Dallas, another of the pupils who attended on the opening day. Prior to the cutting, ten candles each were lighted by Mrs A. Rooney, Mrs D. Marshall, Miss H. Moffat, Miss A. Soper, Miss A. Dallas and Miss J. Throp, representing the six decades. Portions of the cake were then handed round.

After the feast the chairman extended a welcome to all present. The committee, he said, were particularly pleased to see so many ex-pupils present, and to have with them three who attended the school on the opening day—14th June, 1869—Miss Dallas, Mr John Sim and Mr James Sim. He noticed on perusing the booklet issued by the Warepa Jubilee Committee that the chairman eulogised the original site chosen for the school, and said that being on the edge of the beautiful native bush, it must have been a veritable paradise on earth. He was sorry he could not say the same thing about the Te Houka School site. He could not answer for the feelings of the older generation in the matter, but so far as the younger people were concerned thought they would agree than the site chosen for Te Houka school was anything but a paradise, but that day they had been planting some trees which the hoped would make Te Houka the rival of Warepa. The early committeemen were representatives of the pioneer settlers of the district; men who by their hard work, noble faith and courage, left a great tradition, which he felt satisfied the present generation was still carrying on. Until the beginning of the week it was thought that the early records of the school had been lost, but fortunately these had now been found. He desired to mention one family—the Moffats—who except for a break of three years had had representatives at the school continuously since 1870. Three generations of the Moffats had attended the school, two children of the third generation being present-day pupils. He noticed that at the last meeting of the Otago Education Board the architect informed the board that the school was in such a state of disrepair that before long a new school would be required, unless the children were conveyed to Balclutha School. If the school were to be closed he thought he was voicing the opinion of the residents of Te Houka when he said that such a step would be very strongly opposed. Such a gathering helped to shed happiness; it linked the past with the present, and revived old memories. Many long-life friendships were made at the school.

Make new friends, but keep the old; These are the silver, those the gold.

In conclusion he hoped all would have an enjoyable time for the remainder of the jubilee celebrations.

The loyal toast, proposed by the chairman [line in paper folded] the Rev. Roy Alley, M. A., rose to propose the toast of “Education.” His idea of jubilees was that it was a time when people came together and tried to delude themselves into the opinion that they had had a happy time at school but if the schools in the south were like those in the North Island, then he suggested that they had had a particularly rotten time. (Laughter.) The word education was derived from e-out, and duco-to lead; but many old teachers held that you could not draw anything out of a child unless something had been well shacked in. (Laughter.) The present Minister of Education had a scheme to give education an agricultural bias, but if they knew anything about bowls they would know that the bias was given to bowls to make them go crooked. He hoped it would not have the same effect on the Minister’s education policy. It was not always at the beginning of life, but generally at the end that one got a vision of the benefits accrued. They all looked back with appreciation and gratitude to all they had gained in their schooldays, and particularly to their teachers, to whom they owed a great deal for the positions they now held. (Applause.)

Hon. D. T. Fleming, in reply, said that school jubilees were an indication of the lengthening history of the country. The early settlers were great on establishing schools and churches. The Moffats, Wilsons, McKays and others were notable families at Te Houka in the past sixty years, and it looked as if the Moffats would keep the school going yet for a few years to come. All the country schools in Otago had gone back in roll numbers for much the same reason as was affecting the agricultural population of the country. At one time Te Houka was a great oat-growing place, but the advent of the motor had done away with the demand for oats and the labour required to grow them. A decrease in the rural population was a natural consequence. He conveyed the congratulations of the Otago Education Board, the members of which looked with gratification on the interest shown in regard to such functions. The matter of the closing of the Te Houka School was one for the local people themselves. In no place had the board or the Minister closed a school without the prior cons[e]nt of the School Committee. Lack of attendance might, of course, be a factor in bringing it about. He apologised for the absence of other members of the board.

Rev. Dr Currie, in proposing the toast of “The Old School,” recalled his early association with the district. He remembered Mrs Robert Houliston as an old lady when he came to the district 44 years ago, but her descendants numbered 65, and when Mr S. W. Moffat married a member of another early settled family in the person of Miss Dallas the combination increased the descendants by 47 and produced a total of 112. It was said at one time that every other person on the Taieri was an Allan, but in Te Houka it was a Moffat. It was good education in the matter of keeping one’s mouth shut a little bit. Te Houka had made “a brave little show,” as they said in his native land. The pioneers of Te Houka deserved well of the residents of to-day. He referred to the men who got the school established, to the early teachers, and particularly to the sterling character of Mr James McNeur, the first teacher, who had a family of five sons in the Presbyterian ministry to-day, and a daughter also in church work at the Ross Home. The little school building at Te Houka had been a very handy place. It did for the school and for the minister and the politicians to speak in, and for the young to trip the light fantastic in. He concluded by referring to the lady teachers who had settled in the district and to those whom he had the privilege of driving up on his fortnightly Sunday visits.

Mr Robert Moffat in reply stated that he joined the school in 1870, having been at the Balclutha school when the Te Houka one was opened. He remembered Mr McNeur who never had a strap all the the time he was there, and in recalling the conditions and mode of travel in the early days said that Mr McNeur walked from Te Houka to Lovell’s Flat to get married, while another teacher who on setting out for Dunedin saw the train leaving the station as he approached it, ran after it and caught it at Stirling. The popular games in the early days were mud slides and lassooing and he recalled an instance where Mr McNeur was lassooed by a scholar in mistake. (Laughter.)

Mr J. D. Sim (one of the first day pupils), said they must either have been very good children or had a good master, because he started at the school from A and finished up to the fifth standard within th[re]e years. The children really worshiped Mr McNeur. (Applause.)

Mr A. H. Moffat proposed “Ex-teachers and Present Teachers.” His first teacher was Mr Davis, then Mr McKay, Mr Thomson, Mr Menzies and Mr W. Renton. The old teachers were a fine lot on me[mory]. (Applause.)

Mr W. Renton said he went to Balclutha school under Mr Todd. He then went to Te Houka, where in the first year there were three Sims, three Dallases, Jim Wilson, two Rentons, then Jessie Sutherland, then two Smiths making 12 in all at the end of the first year, under Mr McNeur, who drew scholars from all around. He was so good. He did not think that a worse site could have been got for the school. Mr McNeur was at the school for 3-1/2 years and left to go to Inchclutha. He (Mr Renton) returned to Balclutha school under Mr Grigor (one of nature’s gentlemen) and became a pupil teacher. The Te Houka school had many changes then and the committee getting tired of them asked him to take it, on which he did and stayed six years. He hoped he could claim some share of the success of those who had grown up in the district. Land aggregation had affected the attendance at the school, and there came the reign of the lady teachers, Miss Bailey being the first. Some of them liked the district so well that they married young farmers and stopped there. He referred to three of the first-year pupils Messrs Jas. Wilson, Willie Dallas and Tom Sim, who had crossed the bar, and asked all to stand for a few minutes in memory of them.

Mr D. R. Jack proposed the toast of “Parliament,” and in a humorous speech referred to the members of Parliament and the strenuous times ahead.

Major Waite, M. P., in responding, congratulated the people of Te Houka on the magnificence of the function. It was the wrong time for him to pay any more compliments than necessary—(laughter)—but he was very pleased to be present. He had, as stated, paraded before the people Te Houka school once or twice. A country, it is said, gets the Parliament it deserves, but knowing this Parliament as he did, he would be sorry to think that the country was as bad as that. Most people agreed that there are too many laws already, and in delaying legislation members of Parliament were often doing something in the best interests of the country. He recalled that in March, 1869, the year that Te Houka School was opened, there was the first mention of the rabbit nuisance, and in August of the same year the first bicycle and first tricycle were exhibited in Dunedin. He referred to the advantages of life in the country, and congratulated Te Houka on its fine record. (Applause.)

“Agricultural and Pastoral Interest” was proposed by Mr O. R. Throp, who said that 98 per cent of our exports came from the farmers’ work. He agreed with Mr Waite that as far as the farmer is concerned there are too many laws in the country. He expressed his appreciation of the nature of the function, and referred to the fine record of the school. (Applause.)

Mr Andrew Murray (Waipahi), in reply said he had been farming since he left school. Farming had undergone great changes in the past forty years. There was less work nowadays, but he thought the old methods of agriculture would have to come back, as top-dressing was not going to last so well.

Mr D. Coghill proposed “Absent Pupils and Teachers,” and asked everyone to stand in memory of those who had died in the War.

The secretary (Mr Fred Soper) then read telegrams from Mrs A. E. Orr (Miss Bailey), Mrs C. Thomas (Miss Clapperton), Miss H. Bell and Mr Wm. Bain.

Mr W. E. Moffat then read from letters received from Rev. Arch. McNeur (Milton), Messrs D. Bell (Dunedin), Wm. Renton (Timaru), A. R. McNeil, Mrs Maslin, Lindsay Jeffries (Bay of Islands), Miss Lochhead and Mrs Green (Sydney), Mr John Dallas (original pupil), Mrs Agnes Balneaves (nee Smith), Mrs Hugh McKay (Otane), C. Boddington (Hokitika). An apology was received from A. S. Malcolm, M.L.C.

Mr Donald Marshall (Kaitangata) responded on behalf of “Absent teachers and pupils,” and felt sure that all wished they could have been present. He referred amid laughter to the manner in which agricultural bias in education had affected the lady teachers of the school, so many of whom had settled in the district.

Mr A. Davidson (Kurow), an ex-teacher, proposed “Present and Past Committeemen,” and spoke at some length oh the importance of morality in education. He referred to the great service rendered to the school and the district by Mr Charles Dallas, senr., and other leading committeemen.

Mr R. Moffat, in responding, said Mr Dallas’s record as a committeeman was 33 years, while the records of Messrs Wilson and Houliston were also lengthy.

Interspersed with the speeches was a pleasing programme of items contributed by Te Houka artists. Solos were rendered by Mr Gordon Moffat, Miss T. Barclay and Miss E. Dallas, the accompanists being Miss Jean Moffat and Miss Dallas. Mrs W. E. Moffat contributed an appropriate recitation and Miss J. Moffat a pianoforte solo, while Mr and Miss Botting gave a vocal duet. All the items were well received.

The toast of “The Ladies” was proposed by Mr Maurice Moffat and replied to by Miss E. Dallas, and after the toast of the Press had been proposed by Mr Ralph Renton, the function concluded shortly before midnight by the singing of “Auld Lang Syne.”

JUBILEE SERVICE.

A church service in connection with the Jubilee services was held yesterday afternoon in the Te Houka School. A large gathering of some 140 past and present teachers and pupils paraded for the purpose and marched in decades according to seniority, into the school. The accommodation, needless to say was severely taxed. The opening worship was conducted by Rev. Roy Alley and the address by Rev. Dr Currie, who for 40 years was minister in the district. He based his remarks on a motto, placed in a prominent position upon a school in Auckland, “Enter to learn, leave to serve,” and he was listened with very close attention. The hymns were appropriate to the occasion, Miss Matheson presiding at the organ.

This afternoon a picnic gathering was held in the school grounds and was larger attended by the younger generation.

The festivities will be concluded with a concert and dance in the Oddfellows’ Hall this evening.

The arrangements for the jubilee were in the hands of a strong committee, of which Mr Chas. Dallas was chairman, Mr A. H. Moffat vice-chairman, Mr J. F. Soper secretary, and Miss L. Moffat assistant secretary.



Linked toThe School at Te Houka; Cameron Wallace Boddington; Emily Sale Dallas; Janet “Nettie” Bethia Dewar; Robert Houliston; Adam Houliston Moffat; Alexander Moffat; Living; Ellen Isabella Moffat; George Moffat; Gordon Hunter Moffat; Helen Houliston Moffat; James Maurice Moffat; Robert Moffat; Robert Dewar Moffat; Samuel William Moffat; William Moffat; William Ernest Moffat; Alice Wright

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