Situated away up on a hilltop beside the Ngau Pa, the little one-room Riponui Pah School was opened in February 1898, with Mr Donald McInnes as teacher. In all records pertaining to this school, "Pah" is spelt with an "h". As the spelling "Pah" means something to all those concerned with the little school, perhaps in this case, the "h" should be retained.


The school was built when the roads were little more than tracks, and floods were frequent hazards. Because of this, numerous little half-time schools at which one teacher taught three days at two schools each week, were built. For some years Riponui Pah School was half time with Paiaka School. Riponui Pah School was so called because of its proximity to Ngau Pa, a partly completed fighting pa, which Maori were going to use during the Maori Wars, but as hostilities ended with the Battle of Ruapekapeka in 1846, Ngau Pa was never completed.


Families dress in period clothing to experience the school house (April 2019)


As the roads and transport became better, many sole charge schools were consolidated with larger more central schools. In 1945, the Riponui Pah School was consolidated with Hukerenui School, which then became a district high school. In time for the first term 1946, the building itself was moved to that school where it was used to accommodate the first High School pupils at Hukerenui. In 1947, when the new high school block was built, the Pah School was used as a library. During 1976, when new buildings were erected at Hukerenui, the little old school became superfluous.


As their special project to mark the centennial of 1877 Education Act which made education "secular, compulsory and free" the Whangarei branch of the New Zealand Educational Institute moved the old Riponui Pah School to the Northland Regional Museum property in March 1979.


The Riponui Pah School roof arrives (June 1979)


Here on Heritage Park it has been restored to its original state and furnished with old-time desks, blackboards and books. The school house was officially opened on its new site on 16th of November 1980, by Whangarei's historian Mrs Florence Keene.

On the opening day, the children and teacher, Mrs Megan Pearson, all dressed in period clothes, demonstrated lessons as they were taken in the early 1900s. LEssons as described above are to be repeated on special event days.


History as recorded by Florence Keene (1908-1988)


The Riponui Pah School with Whangarei Heads in the background (2019)
Kiwi North's Georgia and little visitor in period clothing within the Riponui Pah School (2019)