Early history of the site:
Prior to European colonisation, the Awhitu Peninsula was occupied by Ngati Te Ata whose association with the area dates from circa 1350. Recorded archaeological sites indicate intense activity in parts of the Peninsula. A number of pa, pit and terrace sites have been recorded to the west of the Pollok area, towards the Tasman Sea.
Ngati Te Ata abandoned the Peninsula in the 1820s following incursions by Ngapuhi during the so-called Musket Wars. Fleeing to the upper Waikato and Waipa River regions to live with Tainui relatives, they returned under the protection of Waikato chief Te Wherowhero (?-1860) in 1835. Following the formal colonisation of New Zealand in 1840, government authorities purchased land on the Peninsula in 1848 and offered holdings to the public in 1851. The block on which Pollok was subsequently founded was purchased by the Crown from Aihepene Kaihau and three others in 1861.
Taking its name from the settlers' place of origin, Pollok was initially founded as a colonial township under the leadership of the Reverend James Milne Smith (?-1888) of the Pollokshaws United Original Secession Church (UOSC). The UOSC had evolved out of a breakaway Presbyterian body formed in 1740 following a dispute over the power of the Church of Scotland to override the wishes of congregations in the appointment of ministers. In 1839 a minority based in Pollokshaws, near Glasgow, broke away over a proposal for reunion with the Established Church, and a further split created the Pollokshaws UOSC, who appointed the Reverend Smith as their pastor in 1842. These events occurred during a time of broader upheaval for Scottish Presbyterianism, with a major schism also developing in Britain between the Church of Scotland and the Free Church in 1843.
Presbyterianism arrived in New Zealand during this volatile period, as a settler faith rather than a missionary movement. A considerable number of Scots came to Auckland as land grant immigrants in the late 1850s and early 1860s, including many Presbyterians. This coincided with the opening up of parts of south Auckland following government land purchases and later land confiscations from Maori after the third New Zealand - or Waikato - War (1863-4).
Migrants included the Reverend Smith and 34 others said to be from his congregation, who arrived at Auckland in October 1863 at the height of the war. Settlement on their assigned land at Pollok was delayed, but by August 1865 a number had taken up their holdings on the 1,011 hectares (2,500 acres) allocated. A year later there were nearly 20 families. Land was cleared for dairying which was to become the mainstay of the community's economy.
Under the rules providing for self government by members of an elected council, the place was to be known as Pollok Settlement and the settlers as Scotch Presbyterians. Those purchasing land in what was intended to be a self-contained, self-sufficient religious community were required to subscribe to, or act in accordance with, the religious principles of the Scotch Presbyterian Church as the UOSC was known after settlement in Pollok. Adherents of the separate Church of Scotland, who had almost contemporaneously taken up 1,416 hectares (3,500 acres) of land surrounding the Reverend Smith's community, made their own provision for worship.
Efforts to keep the Special Settlement separate failed as followers drifted towards the more liberal Church of Scotland. In 1869 the district's residents met to consider church and school affairs. A small timber school erected on land given by Pollok Roads Board member John Wilson (?-1890) was formally opened on 14 June 1870 and vested in the Presbyterian Church shortly after. Meanwhile, the Reverend Smith had opened a new building in May 1870 for his Scotch Presbyterian Church. Promoting ideals of literacy and education in addition to religious observance, Pollok had two Presbyterian churches both of which also served as schools.
The school conducted under the auspices of the Auckland Education Board in the Presbyterian Church ran intermittently over the next decade. In 1877, a colony-wide, secular, compulsory, primary school system of education was introduced under the Education Act. The Reverend Smith left Pollok in 1882 after his combined church-school premises were destroyed by fire. The Auckland Education Board subsequently agreed to provide a new school building for all members of the community.
Construction of the Pollok School (1883):
In December 1882, Wilson sold the Education Board 0.8 hectares of land located immediately to the east of the Presbyterian Church. Two thirds of the £18 price was met by residents' subscription. The site on the south side of the main road to Awhitu was a few hundred metres to the west of the junction with the road to the Pollok wharf, the settlement's main link with Auckland.
Builder, Alexander Hammond's tender of £240 for construction of the timber schoolroom, was accepted on 16 February 1883. Little is known of Hammond (1855?-1938) who appears to have lived in the Waiuku district all his life.
The purpose-built school was a 'T'-shaped weatherboard building with a brick chimney. It may have been erected to a design by Kent-born architect and engineer Henry Allright (1827-1906) who had settled in New Zealand in 1854. Attaining the post of Provincial Engineer for Auckland in 1874, Allright was commissioned to produce plans for new schools following the abolition of provincial government in 1876. He served as Architect to the Auckland Education Board from 1877 until 1891.
Schoolhouses constructed by the Board from 1877 were commonly of one room measuring either 9.1 x 6.1 metres or 7.9 x 5.3 metres, and had a porch. A steeply pitched roof gave these formal timber buildings an ecclesiastical appearance. Generally built of kauri, they usually stood on puriri timber piles and had split kauri shingled roofs supported by collar-tied rafters of scissor trusses. Their austere interiors had close-boarded floors, walls and ceilings. Exterior decoration consisted of finials, and there were label mouldings above door and window openings. Double hung sash windows had rectangular heads.
Square-headed windows with hood mouldings, a common feature of nineteenth-century Auckland Education Board schools, were a reflection of the Tudor Revival architectural style synonymous with elementary schools in England by the 1840s. In Britain the style was considered appropriate because of its frequent use in scholastic buildings constructed during the great educational expansion of Tudor and Stuart times.
The smaller of the one-room school designs promoted by the Auckland Education Board appears to have been adopted for Pollok School. The building was of identical style to the Kirikiriroa (Rototuna) School constructed in Waikato in 1880, a building destroyed by fire in 1948. In a corner of the porch was a wash basin. A fireplace occupied part of the interior side wall of the schoolroom. The room was lit by windows in the other three walls. Outside, a water tank stood in the space between the rear wall of the porch and the end of the building.
Two small earth closets (lavatories), one for each sex, were sited adjoining the east boundary towards the rear of the site.
Subsequent use and modifications (1883-1954):
On 11 July 1883, 23 pupils attended the first day in the new school building under the tutelage of Mr Horatio A. Hawke. Three families alone each contributed five pupils to the roll which was evenly split between the sexes. By the end of the month the number had increased to 31, but averaged 26 during the third quarter. Although the district was previously settled by a largely Presbyterian community, Pollok School was attended by pupils of all denominations. The first two teachers appointed stayed only a matter of months, otherwise problems experienced in recruiting and retaining staff were not repeated.
The children would have received instruction in a variety of topics including reading, writing, arithmetic, elementary science, drawing and, in the case of the girls, sewing. During the 1880s the Pollok School attracted pupils from the fringe of the Awhitu School catchment to the north. Throughout the 1890s there was particular emphasis on the value of handwriting. Singing was taught with an emphasis on rhythm and harmony. During the tenure of Miss Edith Maude Chapman (1892-1897) various types of entertainments, concerts and social evenings were held and featured singing, tableaux and dramatic performances by the pupils.
In 1894 a modest two-bedroom cottage was constructed at the west end of the school site at a cost of £97. Provision of housing at small rural schools had long been recognised by the Education Board as a pressing need.
The school building soon doubled as a meeting hall and venue for social gatherings for Pollok settlement as following construction of the school, the Kirk Session had advised secular bodies that the Presbyterian Church should only be used for religious purposes. From late 1885 meetings of the Pollok Roads Board (1868-1913) were conducted at the school. In addition to administration of the Pollok Wharf, the lynchpin of the district, the Board's responsibilities included roading and bridges, the local cemetery, the Noxious Weeds Act 1900, the dog tax, and the forwarding of an annual levy to the Charitable Aid Board.
A flagpole was erected in the school grounds in 1902, the year of the Coronation of King Edward VII and the end of the South African - or Boer - War (1899-1902) to which New Zealand had sent a contingent. An initiative of the Pollok School Committee, the introduction of a flagstaff suggests a desire to instil values including loyalty to Empire, an awareness of an emerging national identity and pride in the school. It is not known when a hard court behind the school building was formed. Its construction may have followed an increased emphasis on physical instruction known as military drill in the school curriculum from 1904.
At an unknown date two shelter sheds were provided between the hard court and a grassed playing area. These structures, designed to shelter pupils during extreme weather, provided a place where children could remain outdoors during play and lunch breaks and in some schools were used as overflow space for lessons.
Prior to construction of a district hall in 1922, social functions held at the school included dances, and evenings of farewell and welcome during the First World War (1914-1918) and its aftermath. Meetings of the Rabbit Board, a body formed in 1916, were held on the premises. A camellia tree was planted in front of the building in 1915 and native trees adjoining the east boundary were planted as part of later annual Arbour Day commemorations.
By 1938 Pollok's 36 pupils were being instructed by two teachers. A curtain divided the room into two 'classrooms', separating the primers instructed by the assistant from the Standard I to Form II class taught by the headmaster.
A calf club inaugurated at the school in 1943 reflected the continuing importance of dairying to the community. Pollok Federated Farmers (1944) took an ongoing interest, providing some of the trophies. Gardens were tended by the children and later extended onto the land of an adjoining owner.
Brief consideration was given in 1945 to relocation of the former Grahams Beach School building to Pollok as a second classroom. The adjoining Presbyterian Church was rented as a schoolroom for junior pupils from September 1947 until the end of 1951, a period when the Auckland Education Board faced particular difficulties. A proposal to incorporate Pollok into the new Awhitu District School which opened in September 1949 absorbing the rolls of Awhitu Central, Orua Bay and Matakawau Schools, was strongly resisted by the local community.
In circa 1948, the building's fireplace and chimney were removed. An unsuccessful bid had been made the previous year to enlarge the porch. The porch's wash basin may also have been replaced with a bench and cupboards at a similar time.
Enlargement of the school site and ongoing use (1954-2005):
A residential subdivision to the east of the school enabled 0.6 hectares of land to be added to the site in 1956. At this time the Board's original holding was occupied by the school building, two shelter sheds, two toilets, the teacher's cottage and an associated outbuilding. Replacement of the seven-decade-old school building was considered in 1953, but abandoned because of shortage of funds. A right of way that had technically divided the site since 1882 was extinguished in 1960 when the neighbouring owner donated land adjoining the south boundary.
A small prefabricated classroom was moved onto the site in 1963. Erected with the assistance of voluntary community labour, the building occupied part of the grassed area between the original school building and the teacher's house. The toilets behind the school were replaced by a single prefabricated block in 1964. Shortly after, a brick residence and garage were constructed to the east of a playing field that had been formed following enlargement of the school site. The original teacher's cottage and outbuilding was demolished. Fluctuations in the roll saw the school with two teachers at times, but at others a sole charge position. The old schoolroom stood unoccupied by 1967, but was being used as an activities and art room by 1969.
Pollok School as an institution celebrated its centenary in 1973. Local opposition that year led the Minister of Education decline a proposal to close the school. A transportable classroom with attached administration area replaced the prefabricated building in 1975 and became the nucleus of the modern school complex. In 1982, a new tank stand was constructed beside the old building. The following year the centennial of the Pollok School building was celebrated and a history, Others Before Self, published. By 1987, the original building had become a library and audio visual room. Particle board linings had been placed over the timber boarded interior. A suspended ceiling may also date from this period. Other alterations made at unknown dates were the taking out of a cast iron stove installed after the fireplace had been removed, re-piling of the building, and replacement of the exterior door of the porch.
New fences provided in 1987 left the front path blocked off from the street. During the 1990s the last of the two shelter sheds was removed from the grounds. The roll fluctuated between 29 and 42 pupils over the period 1996 to 2004. The exterior of the building was painted using financial donations made at a commemorative event in 2001 celebrating the arrival of the Pollokshaws people in Auckland 138 years earlier.
Improved road transport, a changing rural economy, falling family sizes and changing government policy in respect of small schools brought closure of Pollok's school in 2005. In preparation for disposal of the land, structures other than the original school building and the 1964 toilet block were removed from the site in 2006. The schoolroom built in 1883, believed to be the oldest surviving school building on its original site on the Awhitu Peninsula, had served Pollok School for over 120 years.
Ongoing use by the community (2006-present):
In 2006 the Pollok Ratepayers' Association approached Franklin District Council advocating purchase of the land to prevent the removal of the old building. Shelving in the schoolroom, and a kitchen sink bench and cupboards in the porch area were removed in 2008. The building is currently vacant.
The Pollok School (Former) is situated within Franklin District, to the south of the Auckland conurbation. Located in the northern part of the Awhitu Peninsula on the southern side of the Manukau Harbour, Pollok is 25 km northwest of Waiuku by road. The settlement occupies a broad ridge around the junction of Awhitu Road and Pollok Wharf Road. It consists of modern community hall, a Presbyterian Church (1870), a craft gallery cafe and a handful of predominantly modern houses. Apart from a small number of residential and large lot residential properties on the main road, the area is occupied largely by pastoral farms. Cemetery Road, at the west end of Pollok Wharf Road, runs away steeply to the south. A tiny burial ground which contains the remains of some of Pollok's early families, is located some distance down Givens Road, a side road off Cemetery Road.
The former school is located on the south side of Awhitu Road, immediately to the east of the Presbyterian Church at the entrance to the settlement. Beyond the school are a small number of residential properties. On the north side of the road reserve, opposite and just beyond the old school building, is an impressive old macrocarpa tree.
The former Pollok Primary School site consists of six land parcels collectively covering 1.5 hectares. The largest parcel is a shallow rectangular 0.8 hectare section purchased for the school in 1882. Four residential-sized lots to the east were added in 1956. Three of these now comprise a grassed playing field. The fourth (easternmost) is occupied by a brick dwelling constructed circa 1966. The sixth parcel is an irregularly-shaped lot of about 0.1 of a hectare running along the south boundary of two of the residential-sized lots and part of the original site.
The land generally slopes down slightly from the west to the east. The irregularly shaped rear lot and the south western corner of the original section slope towards a steep gully to the south. There is a row of pine trees along part of the southern boundary. The site is screened from the historic Presbyterian Church on the adjoining section to the west by a bamboo grove at least 70 years old. A pipe and mesh fence extends along most of the front boundary, augmented in places by informal plantings.
The western part of the broader Primary School site contains the former locations of a teacher's dwelling (1894) and an associated outbuilding (1925). There are also two large circular concrete water tanks, a gravelled parking area and land formerly occupied by modern school buildings transported off the site following closure of the school in 2005. Towards the south boundary is an adventure playground.
The land occupied by the Pollok School (Former) and identified for registration includes the nineteenth century school building, a toilet block (1964), a hard court, a grassed area containing the sites of two former shelter sheds, and a variety of shrubs and trees. Within the general vicinity of the toilet block is the site of one of two earlier toilet structures.
The nineteenth-century school building is located close to the road. In the front lawn are a flagpole (1902), a camellia tree (1915) and other plantings. The path from the street is now obstructed by a pipe and steel mesh fence. Behind the school building is an asphalt court largely enclosed by a tall pipe and mesh fence. Off the east side of the court is a toilet block (1964). The court and toilet block are sheltered by a grove of maturing native trees including kauri and totara. There is a smaller grove of similar trees at the southwest corner of the site.
Main Building (1883):
The late-Victorian, Gothic influenced timber school building is located lengthwise and parallel to the front boundary. It is 'T-shaped' in plan, with a porch set in from both ends, extending out to the rear. Within the southeast recessed corner is a concrete pad with remnants of four timber supports from a former tank stand (1982).
The 60 m² school building stands on modern timber piles set within small concrete pads. Some of the original timber block piles remain in situ. The building is clad with timber weatherboards the exposed portion of which is about 200 mm deep. Its corners are boxed and scribed. The building has boxed eaves. The corrugated iron roof consists of two steep, right-angled gables. Neither have finials. The entrance is located on the west side of the porch. Above the door and window openings are square hood mouldings. The front elevation has two multi-pane sash windows and there is a single window in each side wall and the rear wall. A modern door opens into the porch.
The building contains two spaces: the porch; and the classroom.
The porch is lined with tongue and groove horizontal timber boards of 200 mm depth. There is a substantial area of particle board on the interconnecting (north) wall with the schoolroom where the chimney has been removed. The ceiling is tongue and groove timber. A double hung six-pane sash window in the rear (south) wall lights the room. The floorboards are concealed by vinyl floor coverings under carpet. An original four panel door opens into the schoolroom.
The schoolroom has a suspended ceiling of rectangular panels. Particle board conceals the horizontal timber lining of the walls, almost to the height of the ceiling. The three external walls have double, six-pane sash windows. The window pulls are chrome handles of circa mid-twentieth century date. The timber floor is concealed by carpet. Apart from a coat hook on the porch side of the connecting door, modern door handles, and brackets from which Holland blinds would have hung, the building is without fittings.
Former toilet block (1964):
The former toilet block encompasses an area of about 20 m². Internally it is divided into two parts, a male section and a female section, with an access door at either end of the building. The structure has a corrugated iron pentice roof and is clad with timber weatherboards of 115 mm exposed depth. The south wall has a painted mural depicting the old school building and wider environs, and a child. Both halves of the toilet block are ventilated by a pair of high louvre windows on the east (rear) wall.
The interior of the building was not inspected. The walls and ceiling appear to be lined with hardboard. The female section has two cubicles accessed from a common area; the male section has one cubicle off the common area. The building is without toilet fittings, having been used for storage prior to the school's closure.
A schoolhouse constructed at Waerenga north of Te Kauwhata in 1882 is of similar design to the Pollok schoolhouse which was constructed a year later. However the Waerenga building has been relocated 400 metres away from its original site and is now used as a school library (NZHPT Record no. 4314, Category II historic place).
Pollok School (1883) is believed to be the oldest surviving school building on its original site on the Awhitu Peninsula and was in educational use for the longest period. The other school buildings are Awhitu Central (1889), closed in 1949 and now used as a meeting place for social gatherings; Awhitu Wharf School No. 2 (1895), closed circa 1938, sold and pulled down with timber re-used for construction of a dwelling on another site; Orua Bay (1896), closed in 1949 and demolished; Manukau Heads School (pre-1895), closed and sold for removal 1938; Grahams Beach School (1923), now a bowling club; and, Matakawau (1935), a corrugated iron clad building now occupying a Franklin District Council reserve and leased by a local scout group. Awhitu District School (1949), 5 km north of Pollok by road, currently serves the wider district.
Original construction (main building)
Construction: Hard court area. Construction: Shelter sheds.
Modification: Corner wash basin replaced by sink bench in porch (main building)
Removal of brick chimney (main building). Replacement of fireplace by cast iron stove (main building). Removal of finials (main building)
Demolished - additional building on site
Demolition: Two small toilet structures behind main building
Addition: Prefabricated toilet building behind main building
Tank stand replaced (main building)
Schoolroom and north wall of porch lined with particle board (main building)
Install suspended ceiling in schoolroom (main building). Replace piles (main building). Replace exterior door of porch (main building). Tank stand removed (main building)
Demolished - additional building on site
Demolition/Relocation: Shelter sheds removed
Removal of kitchen sink bench and cupboards from porch, shelving from former schoolroom (main building)
Timber piles, timber framing and cladding, corrugated iron roof
29th January 2009
Report Written By
Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives (AJHR)
Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives
J. Warwick Kellaway, Education 150: From Schoolhouse to Classpace in the Waikato-Bay of Plenty, Hamilton, 1981
New Zealand Herald
New Zealand Herald, 12 July 1932, p. 6; 28 September 1933, p. 6.
1 August 1938, p.1 (1)
2 November 1863, p. 4; 12 August 1865, p. 4; 18 August 1866, p. 5; 27 May 1870, p. 3; 6 July 1870, p. 7; 8 September 1870, p. 3; 6 October 1870, p. 7; 19 May 1871, p. 2
H. Turton (ed.), Maori Deeds of Land Purchases in the North Island of New Zealand, vol. 2, Provinces of Taranaki, Wellington, and Hawke's Bay, Wellington, 1878
Anon, The Commemorative Booklet of the Reunion of Descendants of the 1863 settlers from Pollokshaws, Scotland and the Dedication of a Memorial to the Reverend James Milne Smith Pollok, Awhitu Peninsula, New Zealand, 25 February, 2001, Auckland, 2002
P M Cochrane, Pollok School Centennial, 1873-1973: Souvenir Booklet on the History of the Pollok School and Settlement, [Waiuku, 1973]
B Cochrane. Others Before Self, 1883-1983: Pollok School Building Centennial, March 26th, 1983, [Waiuku, 1983]
Rachael Hawken and Lloyd Walker (eds), Heads, Harbours and Hills: An Awhitu History, Waiuku, 1999
M C Leet, Pollok School Jubilee 1873-1948: Souvenir Booklet on the History of the Pollok School and Settlement, [Waiuku, 1948]
W. Lloyd Walker, Far Away Land: the Story of Pollok Settlement, Pukekohe, 1970
A fully referenced Registration report is available from the NZHPT Northern region office.
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.