Waianakarua School (Former)

2480 Herbert-Hampden Road, State Highway 1, Waianakarua

  • Waianakarua School (Former). Original image submitted at time of registration.
    Copyright: NZHPT Field Record Form.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 3253 Date Entered 7th April 1983


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Lot 1 DP 8711 (CT OT18C/1024), Otago Land District, and the building known as Waianakarua School (Former) thereon. Refer to the extent map tabled at the Rārangi Kōrero Committee meeting on 6 September 2017.

City/District Council

Waitaki District


Otago Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 8711 (CT OT18C/1024), Otago Land District


Waianakarua School (Former) is a timber school building dating from around 1895 designed by the Otago Education Board architect John Somerville. The building has historical, social and architectural significance.

Waianakarua is a rural district in North Otago and the name of a settlement that grew up around this farming and forestry area. With settlement came the need for services such as schools. Initially children walked several kilometres to the towns of Hampden or Herbert. Education was a priority for central government and local communities reflected in the passing of The Education Act 1877 that provided for free, secular and compulsory education for all children aged between seven and thirteen. This Act established state schools for New Zealand children and the administrative structure for education. The Department of Education was responsible for distributing grant funding to education boards. Twelve education boards (made up of nine members elected by school committees) defined school districts within their areas, and established and maintained schools within their districts. School committees were elected by a ballot of local householders, and had management of educational matters in their area.

As the population in Otago became more settled so the Otago Education Board had a building programme for schools. The building programme was based around standard designs with variations according to local circumstances where necessary designed by John Somerville, the Otago Education Board architect from 1878-1901. The form of the buildings reflected the teaching methods, where children were ‘often taught in relays in order to accommodate as many as possible in the small space available.’ Local support for establishing a school came from James Findlay and other prominent men in the community. In February 1883, P.G. Pryde, the secretary of the Otago Education Board, advertised for tenders for the erection of school buildings in the new school districts of Totara and Waianakarua. The school was built by J.E. Jago of Mosgiel for £950. The building had tiered seating on long forms arranged the length of the classroom.

In 1895 the Otago Education Board advertised for additions to the school. The addition was built by J. Menzies of Maheno. The Cyclopedia of Otago and Southland entry for the school records that it was conducted in a wooden building of two rooms with room for 110 students. The school was set on a glebe of ten acres which included a playground and the headmaster’s residence.

The history of the building reflects the changes around Waianakarua. The school roll dropped in the early years of the twentieth century and as a result one of the school rooms was removed to Five Forks School. According to historian C.W.S. Moore, this was probably the 1883 building. Toilets were added around 1958.

In the 1970s, an addition was made to the back of the school and it was further extended in 1994. In 1998 falling rolls led to the closure of the school. In 2016, the school is a private residence.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Somerville, John

Scottish born Somerville arrived in Dunedin in 1858, and began business as a carpenter and joiner, doing his own design work. He was appointed architect to the Otago Education Board by the Provincial Council, a position he held until around 1900. Somerville designed and supervised the construction of most of the school buildings in Otago Province.

John Menzies

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

J.E. Jago

Builder of the original 1883 block of the Waianakarua School

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

1918 -
1883 Block removed to Five Forks

1958 -
Toilet addition

Addition to rear of school

1998 -
School closed

1883 -
Construction of original school block

Original Construction
1895 -

Completion Date

7th August 2017

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Information Sources

Moore, 1983

C.W.S. Moore, Waianakarua: land of promise 1883-1983, Waianakarua School and District Centennial Committee, Waianakarua, 1983

Other Information

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Otago/Soutland Area Office of Heritage New Zealand.