School's past to be saved in photo project

19:36, Nov 29 2012
Tom Bowie and Waterview Primary students
MEMORIES: Former teacher Tom Bowie in his old classroom reflecting on some of the photos he took during his time at Waterview Primary with current students Ocean Gatoloai left, Emily Seve and Miracle Tausaga

A primary school that is being demolished is attempting to preserve its history with a living heritage project.

Earlier this month the Auckland City Harbour News reported that Waterview Primary School will be rebuilt following construction of the nearby Waterview Connection.

The school was built between 1948 and 1950 and still holds most of its original structure.

Demolition of the school is due to be complete by January, while the rebuild is expected to get under way by June and be finished in 2014.

In the meantime classes will be held in temporary prefab rooms.

Parent and board of trustees member Carla Martelli is looking for people with stories, memories, photographs or collections they would like to share.


"The board thought it would be good to get a record of these things before the school disappeared, but it was all very late and fast because we didn't know the school was being demolished until quite recently," she says.

Ms Martelli says she was interested in heading the project because she directs theatre and a lot her work "revolves around the stories and memories of people".

Using the Old Friends website, Ms Martelli began connecting with people for the project.

Her research led her to Tom Bowie who took up a "probationary assistant" role at the school in 1959.

Probationary assistants were trainees from teachers' college who were registered after one year in the classroom.

At only 19 years old, it was Mr Bowie's first fulltime job as a teacher.

"I applied for the position because it was close to home. I was living in Grey Lynn with my parents," he says.

An avid amateur photographer, he took his Braun camera with him to class.

"I brought it to school, stuck a flash gun on it and fired stuff away in the classroom. I took photos of their puppet shows and everything."

Mr Bowie was keen on processing the photos himself and would make big prints to stick around the room, a practice he continued for his whole teaching career.

Ms Martelli says the collection of photos is perfect for the heritage project.

Mr Bowie is working on a series of replicated photos which involves reshooting some of his original images at various points around the school.

The resulting photos will be displayed at a school reunion next month.

The Waterview Primary School reunion takes place on December 8, from 1pm till 5pm. If you wish to attend please RSVP by December 3 to or phone 828 7227.

If you wish to contribute to the heritage project email waterview

Auckland City Harbour News