Teacher's faithful companion 'entombed' in the Timaru Boys' High School Memorial Library video

JOHN BISSET/FAIRFAX NZ

Bertie the Biff and the punishment books are sore reminders of misbehaving at secondary school.

​Bertie the Biff is a sore reminder of misbehaving moments at secondary school.

He hit dozens of backsides and hands over nearly three decades at Timaru Boys' High School.

The strap was a faithful companion of the physical education master at the time, George Hillind.

Archivist Jeff Elston has some quirky finds at the Timaru Boys' High School Memorial Library, including a coffin for a ...
JOHN BISSET/FAIRFAX NZ

Archivist Jeff Elston has some quirky finds at the Timaru Boys' High School Memorial Library, including a coffin for a "famous" strap.

Library custodian and archivist Jeff Elston remembered Bertie, not very fondly, from his five years at the school.

In particular, he remembered a slightly sluggish rope climb in physical education.

Hillind was waiting at the bottom of the rope, Bertie in hand, Elston said.

"Discipline was a big thing back then."

Punishment could be "a full strap or double sided", he said.

Bertie is one of many thousands of historical items housed in the school's memorial library archives.

Preserving items, such as Bertie, meant the history of the school would not be lost, he said.

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Bertie the Biff was retired in 1974, when physical punishment was being phased out.

He might not have been popular in his heyday, but some students decided to immortalise Bertie in the school's history by creating a coffin for him.

Any punishments handed out using Bertie, or other straps or canes, were all recorded, Elston said.

The punishment books, housed in the archives, recorded the date, the student's name, their school form, a reason for their punishment, the number of strikes, the name of the person who dealt out the punishment and the name of a witness.

The number of strikes, or "cuts", varied from one to six.

Misbehaving in singing earned one student "six of the best", while a persistently inattentive boy received three straps. Two strikes were given to a boy caught chewing in class.

 Head boys were able to administer some of the punishment as long as it was witnessed by a prefect, Elston said. 

"It always had to be witnessed by someone else."

 - Stuff

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