Hāwera Intermediate School

There has always been controversy throughout New Zealand regarding intermediate school education. Records show that as early as 1920 the Hāwera district was surveyed with the idea of establishing an Intermediate School, but it was not until the early ‘30s that any real policy was formed. Though Hāwera Intermediate is considered young at sixty-one (2022), it is a part of a much longer tradition of over a century of education in Hāwera.


On the existing Intermediate site, in 1890, a two-room school was built for the children living around Te Hāwera fort. After considerable discussion in the little community the site on South Road was chosen. Fortunately for the school, the chairman of the Patea Education Board, Mr. T. Middlemas, saw that the school was well endowed with land, and space was left for future development of buildings and playing fields. The original two-roomed building, made of pit-sawn timber carted from Normanby, served as the nucleus of a school that grew to accommodate nearly seven hundred pupils.


Before the High School was established in Camberwell Road, the school became a District High and many people in Hāwera can remember receiving their post primary education there.

In 1919 the school opened at the Technical School building in Princes Street and two years later moved to a new site in Camberwell Road. The school opened with a roll of 180, an advance on the District High School Secondary Department of 34 just two years before.


The new school drew on a wide country district with many pupils arriving by trains from Eltham and Patea. An initial staff of eleven taught a range of subjects grouped into Courses: Literary, Commercial, Domestic Science, Engineering and Agriculture. The Literary and Commercial Courses led to the national examinations and were followed by 80% of the students.


Agriculture seems never to have been a popular course. It must be borne in mind that until the 1940s, large numbers of pupils left school  at standard 6 and went directly into farm or domestic work.

The need to prove academic success was no doubt in the mind of both the staff and students.


Scholarships and examination successes were soon taken and confirmed the community’s confidence in their school. In the 1930s, about 38% of the pupils had been over two years in the school: a much larger proportion than other secondary schools and three times that of most Technical Schools.


This reveals something of the esteem in which secondary schooling was held in Hāwera. A student from the time says, “All seven of us went to the Hāwera High School – how he (my father) managed it I shall never know.” Members of that family went on to gain considerable academic success.

On February 1, 1961, the Hāwera Intermediate School opened its doors to 466 pupils from 10 contributing schools: Hāwera Main, Meremere, Mokoia, Normanby, Ohangai, Okaiawa, Rāmanui, Tawhiti, Tokaora and Turuturu.


The spacious site allowed for playing fields and plantings added to the beautification of the site.

A group of trees, now gone, were planted at the gate by old pupils of Hāwera School before leaving for service overseas in the First World War.


In 2022, the year of our school closure, our school taonga, a majestic Kauri Tree, planted in 1919 by past Headmaster Hāwera Main School (1896-1924) Mr. C. R. Strack, stands tall, and represents the school’s values of Kaitiakitanga, Akonga, Unity, Respect and Independence.

The buildings remained the same up until October 2015 when a fire broke out in the school’s library. The Donovan Block, which housed 8 classrooms, was destroyed.


The effects of the fire gave the pupils and teachers a change of venue at the high school while prefabricated and demountable classrooms were assembled and set up in 2 lines parallel to the main entrance of the school.

The fire began to open doors of change for education in Hāwera with both the Intermediate and High School requiring extensive building repair and redesign.

After several years of community consultation and reviewing all possibilities of education in the Hāwera area, the decision was made in 2021 by Chris Hipkins – Minister of Education that both Hāwera Intermediate and Hāwera High School would close at the end of 2022 while a new school would be formed to replace them; opening in 2023.

The closing of the Hāwera Intermediate doors after 61 years will have seen a number of Principals, Teachers, Support and Ancillary Staff and Board of Trustees pass through its doors. Principals throughout the school’s history have all worked to achieve the best outcomes for students in their care.

Mr Gordon Tunnicliffe – 1961 to 1975

Mr Roger Win – 1976 to 1986

Mr Peter Donovan – 1987 to 2000

Mr Mel Soffe – 2002 to 2004

Mrs Fiona Parkinson – October 2004 to December 2007

Mr Alan White – May 2008 to October 2008

Mr Craig Simpson – October 2008 to December 2018

Mrs Wendy Sheridan-Smith – January 2019 to October 2019

Mrs Neryda Sullivan – October 2019 to December 2022

School staff, Students, Boards of Trustees, Parent Associations along with a supportive community, now farewell the Intermediate and begin a new chapter in the delivery of Education in the South Taranaki District.