Haere ra, haere ra, Waimahaka School

22:13, Dec 19 2012

It was a sad farewell to Waimahaka School on Saturday, as 200 people gathered to watch the doors close after 111 years.

The school board opted for voluntary closure in February because of declining enrolment.

Yesterday, board chairwoman Karen Stirling - whose husband and children attended the school - said the closure was sad, but the community had accepted it.

"People have had a wee while," she said.

On the weekend, there was a barbecue and plenty of storytelling from previous teachers and students - including her husband, Nigel, and her father-in-law, Jack Stirling.

Mrs Stirling's children were fourth-generation students at the school, which was built in 1901.

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Among the stories being told on the weekend were tales of "the strap", warm milk, and descriptions of life in the residence next to the schoolhouse.

"It was very successful - such a beautiful day."

The school bell, which came from the Tasmania Star and was donated to the school by the Blue Star Line in 1960, will become part of the community hall.

The wooden playground equipment will be dismantled, with some of it going to Tokanui School and other pieces going to the Fortrose foreshore.

The schoolhouse and land will be offered back to the original landowner for purchase under the Ministry of Education surplus land disposal process. If they opted not to buy, it would be offered to Ngai Tahu, and if there was no interest it would be up for sale, she said.

Meanwhile, the school gate has rattled for the last time at New Zealand's most remote mainland school.

Jacobs River School, one of the country's smallest, has been forced to close by Education Minister Hekia Parata.

The school will officially shut on January 27, a day before the start of next year's school term, and will be sold within two years. On Tuesday its four pupils packed their schoolbags as Jacobs River students for the last time, and headed home.

The Southland Times