Manakau School Old Block

17 Honi Taipua Street And 9 Mokena Kohere Street, Manakau

  • Manakau School Old Block.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Alison Dangerfield.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4064 Date Entered 5th September 1985


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Sec 32 Town of Manakau (CT WN148/117; NZ Gazette 1888 p. 677), Wellington Land District and the building known as Manakau School Old Block thereon.

City/District Council

Horowhenua District


Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region

Legal description

Sec 32 Town of Manakau (CT WN148/117; NZ Gazette 1888 p. 677), Wellington Land District


The building known as the ‘Old Block’ is the earliest remaining part of Manakau School. Thought to date from 1906 but continuing the school’s history on the site since 1888, the Manakau School Old Block is of historical and social significance for its role in providing education for the Manakau community from the town’s early settlement. It also has architectural value as an example of early twentieth century education facility design.

The settlement of Manakau dates from 1885 when the Wellington-Manawatu Railway Company workers arrived to clear the dense bushland for the construction of a rail bed. After the completion of the railway in 1886, the district quickly opened up, land was sold and the township began to establish. In 1887, there was concern over education facilities for the settlers’ children as the Education Board was unable to deal with the application for a school due to its present state of finance. By the following year the Board had secured the land for a school, and until facilities were built a school was temporarily opened at Mr. Whiley’s residence on North Manakau Road, in June 1888, with a roll of 28 pupils and Mr. Donnelly as the first teacher. A purpose-built school building was completed and opened on Manakau School’s current site on 22 October that same year, with new permanent teacher Mr. Findlay Bethune.

The first school building was designed by the Wellington Education Board Architect Thomas Turnbull and built by local builder Charles Nees. The original building was made from timber and comprised a rectangular classroom with a single gabled roof and chimney on the eastern elevation. The windows were double-hung sash with rounded tops.

A year after the school opened, a second cottage and lean-to classroom was added to the southern side of the original classroom by Charles Nees to accommodate for the growing number of pupils. Instead of closing the school, the pupils were schooled in the Māori meeting house at the pā while building took place between 21 October 1889 and 10 December 1889. By 1906, the roll had reached 114 pupils and a third room was added to the southern side of the 1889 classroom.

In 1920, the central classroom was rebuilt in place of the 1889 building, which was demolished. Architectural plans dating to 1940 show the construction of a new part of Manakau School, including demolition of the northern 1888 room from the Old Block. Photographic evidence suggests that the remaining two 1906 and 1920 rooms comprise the Old Block as it is today. The classrooms in the Old Block were handed over by the School Committee for use by the community after renovations to the new block took place in 1971. The 1920 classroom from the Old Block was returned to active duty after a growth in the roll in 1983. The 1906 classroom has also since resumed service and the interior was renovated in the summer of 1995-1996. Today the school operates out of four classrooms and has a swimming pool and dental clinic on the grounds.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Wellington Education Board

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

1888 -
Original construction of First classroom

1889 -
Original construction of Second classroom

Original Construction
1906 -
Original Construction of the ‘Old Block’ (Third classroom)

Demolished - Redevelopment
1920 -
1889 classroom demolished and new classroom built it its place

Demolished - Other
1840 -
1888 classroom demolished

1906 classroom renovated

Completion Date

21st September 2016

Report Written By

Nicola Bowden

Information Sources

Manakau School Centennial Committee, 1988

Manakau School Centenary 1888-1988, Manakau School Centennial Committee 1988, Manakau, 1988.

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 Central Region Office of Heritage New Zealand.