The First Edgecumbe Primary School

The first Edgecumbe Primary School was a barn building in the middle of a field on farm land. One of our visitors thought the farm land had belonged to the Matchitt family but he was a little unsure. He was a student in 1938!

The school was first opened in Clotsworthy's barn but Mr Clotworthy worked as a manager for Messrs Carr and Walker.

That was on the 13th July, really, our birthday is actually a few months late!

On the Edgecumbe Primary School's official facebook page, is featured a description of what it was like inside the barn - "Apparently children and the teacher worked down one end and the rats and hay were down the other end of the barn".

Mrs Ethel McCracken was the first teacher at EPS and she enrolled the very first student on Monday the 13th July, 1914. Here is her official roll of the 'First Day Pupils':

  • James Colebrook
  • Nera Colebrook
  • Elsie Clotworthy
  • Olive Reid
  • Mary Ratahi
  • Elizabeth Thomas
  • James Aberhart
  • Leslie Aberhart
  • Lina Hohapata

The Very First School Built Was Called Riverslea School!

The first officially built school was built in 1916 and was on the corner of Riverslea Road and the Edgecumbe / Te Teko Road but it wasn't called Edgecumbe Primary School, it was known as Riverslea School because Edgecumbe town was once known as Riversleigh (the spelling changed later too!).

Mr Seccombe had 4 acres available for the new school site but this wasn't for long. Otakiri School opened in 1920 so many of the children who had come to Edgecumbe Primary School, started to go to the Otakiri School. This school is only a 5 minute car ride down the road and it is still open today!

Sadly, the Riverslea School closed because they didn't have many pupils coming to school but then only a few short years later it was opened again! In 1925, Riverslea School changed its name to Edgecumbe Primary School and most probably because the town decided to have a name change too! It was renamed Edgecumbe town.

But 'changes' don't stop there! A few years later in 1926, the school site moved to where it is today so it could be 'more in the middle' of Edgecumbe. A lady called Mrs Wharfe had some land and gave 2 and a half acres along with an old building, to be used as the new school site. Two more extra buildings were built for classrooms, a teacher's room and a shelter shed BUT in 1930, the roll had grown again so the school had to get a big marquee tent from the Defence Department to use for a while.

Here is our school in 1932.

Here is a school plan / picture of all the classes and buildings that were part of Edgecumbe Primary School in 1989. On the plan are the names of teachers and staff members who were teaching at EPS at that time.


...the first building of that 'new' school is now part of our school's Multipurpose room (our hall) and was built about 1932. When some of our visitors came to visit on Friday the 7th November 2014, they talked about how Room 1 and 2 were where our hall is now and it didn't look as nice as our hall does.

The Multipurpose room looks like this

Outside the Multipurpose room is a great big shelter. When it is raining, our children can still come and play here. Our big celebration was held under the shelter on Saturday the 8th November 2014. Lucky it was a nice, sunny day because it got a little cold under the shelter at times!

Changes, changes, changes!

There have been many changes over the years since 1914 to EPS but Edgecumbe township has seen many, many changes over the years but none as so big as the changes that occurred after the 1987 Edgecumbe Earthquake.

Edgecumbe town suffered a lot of damage. Unfortunately, people began to move away to look for other jobs and so children went away too. Even though in 1989, EPS was still a very big school with a school roll just over 500 students, families began to move away elsewhere so buildings began to slowly disappear as well.

Once upon a time, Edgecumbe township had grown to become a busy township with many businesses - a wonderful and bustling community. Even though many families had moved away over the years, the town has seen families slowly begin to return again. We still have a wonderful community with plenty of 'bustling' but that's another story...'Discovering Edgecumbe' to be more exact! :)

You never know, EPS and Edgecumbe town just might grow again!