Onga Onga School and District Centennial Celebrations

Booklet on History of Onga Onga School and District covering 100 years from 1875 -1975.

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Booklet on history of Onga Onga  School and District 1875-1975.Front outer cover showing picture of present school [1975] .Photo inside of school 1875 [sketch]  Photo and names of all members of the School and District Committee 1975.

Written info., from the then Chairman W.J.Buchanan.Special thank you to Molly Thomsen for the sketches.

Program for the celebrations covered 3 days,Friday,Saturday,and Sunday.A weekend of many variances ,from sheep shearing to glass blowing,tree planting and vintage cars.A ball on Saturday night held at the Memorial Hall Waipukurau.

List of Head Teachers covering years 1875-1975 also some info.on number of students attending 1975.

Postal history of area until 8th December 1970.New Post Office and Postmasters residence opened to coincide with the granting of permanent status on 11th April 1910.

Brief history of events on OngaOnga.

1842 -Bishop Selwyn and Justice Martin came to Onga Onga and were possibly the first white people to visit the town.

1845 -Colenso,while a missionary made an unsuccessful attempt to cross the Ruahine Ranges in search of Maoris.

1851 -Donald McLean purchased Waipukurau block or Hapuka block.By this time land was in great demand.

Occupation of the Grass Land by four Stations.

1851 -George Rich applied for and was granted 70,00 acres of RuataniwhaPlains He noted 2000 ewes owned by Tiffen brothers,25th Feb.1851

1852 -Revised land regulations from London arrived reduing his 14 year lease to a licence terminating at any time,so he gave up.

1852 -Mt Vernon John Harding granted 524 acres and was extended to 5000 in 1853.

1857 Mt.Vernon he bought 9300 acres from Cooper.1858 he bought 6000 acres from G Worgan.

1865 -Harding owned the first Romney sheep in New Zealand.Mt.Vernon remained in the Harding name until it was divided up for closer settlement in 1905 as the Lindsay settlement.


\Photo of Fairfield Homestead-Centennial Celebrations Booklet.

1855 -W. Fanning and son William  took up 7500 acres at a cost of 1 pound an acer.thereby owning Mati Creek the TukiTuki River up to the Onga creek.and right up to what is now Gunson"s Ngaruru property.

1865 -H.H.Bridge bought Fairfield ,growing crops and raising sheep..

1899-Bridge sold 2566 acres to H.N.Watson of homestead block and the rest of the countryside to other Ruataniwha farmers.

1910 -Watson sold Fairfield to G.Bee and others.

1914 -Bee sold 740 acres to Standidge.

1956-The Standidge Family sold to Wilson brothers who are the present owners.


1854 -Occupied by J.R.Duncan until he purchased it in 1856.

1868 -Colonel Herrick joined Duncanin partnership and later bought the land.

1901- Seddon Governmentbought 9000 acres @ 7 pound an acre..844 acres of homestead block was drawn by ballot by A.Mackie.

1933 -Forest Gate was bought by D.Holden.which is now farmed by the Holden Family.The present homestead was built in 1875.Until 1905 a brick kiln operated ,This was situated over the road from the present cemetery.


1856- First owner G.Worgan.Sold 8000 acres to S.Clair Ingles/G.Gully,who sold to J.Rhodes who built the present homestead.J.Rhodes was a member of the Hawke's Bay Provicial Council.

1862-Samuel Fletcher bought 40 sections 1862-1866.Mcleod of Mcleods Road Movement of land owners happened  before the 1868 official survey of the area was done. 

1865 -A stockade was built  and was manned by Imperial Troops at W.Mitchell's home on Stockade Road, due to trouble with Maori from the outlying districts.

1868-The end of the Maori war scare.Sections of land was offered to Army men and others who wished to settle West of the existing stations.

1870 -J Newman Built a trading post west of the existing hotel,By 1873 it was also the Post Office.

1872 - H. H. Bridge offered for sale 79 sections in the village.Buyers ,of nearby settlements and genuine settlers bought some.J.Newman built a two storey hotel which seemed to dissappeared by 1899,possibly fire.

1875 -H. H. Bridge built a private school in Bridge Street,a flour mill in Mill Street .A reference was made by  Miriam MacGregor,quoting froma diary of Sidney Johnson,Oruawharo"Wheat is now being grown on the property,taken to the mill at Onga Onga and flour bought back."1884 the mill was operating full time.

The Provincial Government was keen to sell more land,being the chief source of income.Settlers were getting an income from selling posrs and rails.Sawmills were starting and advertising 1871.[Waipawa Mail] With the coming of the railway from Napier the demand for timber was enormous which was largely sourced locally.

1876 -The railway opened to Waipawa and Waipukurau.

            The Provincial Government folded after 18 years.Local was done by the Ruataniwha West Road Board This board existed until 1908 ,with their offices being in the old school.The rates being 1/2d inthe pound.

1877 - The first Waipawa County Council was formed.

1878 -The first Waipawa County elec tions -Herrick defeated Ross.A rousing turnout of people[200] were at Onga to enjoy the day

1879 -[Conveyance] from Onga.Tuesday and Friday.8a.m.Returns- 2 30 p.m.Fare .5/- 

1880 -Settlers moved into Blackburn,Hinerau and  Wakarara and the village of Onga Onga began to gropw as the centre of the area.Life was still hard Be as self sufficient as possible and trade with your nieghbours where possible.Sawmilling was still very important in the area.Ngaruru Road,McLeods Road and the Bibby property was where they were situated.1914 the last remaining was burnt down.Education was a remaining problem until children were old enough to walk or ride to school. Agriculture was a growing business.Oats for chaff for horses that were required.Sam Carrwas one of the first contractors to buy a traction engine,chaff cutter and threshing mill.

1893 & 1896 -Flooding caused much damage when the Onga Onga river burst its banks. These floods also altered the stream flow through Bridge Park.

1897 - Wakarara School was opened.

1899 -George Stanton built a two-storey hotel.H.H.Bridge donated Bridge Park to the district,sold the flour mill and 1902 he gifted the Undenominational Church. Industries, related to dairy farming prospered and competition grew.1914 the Onga Onga Company closed,as did the flour mill.

1900 - The Onga Onga hall and library was built.

1901 -Over a period of  some 16 years, much farming activity and relating industries occur.

1902 -Cricket Clubs of the area came and went but the Country Districts  were still going strong and won the 1960 competition. J.Wolstonholm started the cricket team.

1902 -Forest Gate ballot under L.I.P.terms (Lease in Perpetuity) J.Wolstonholm bought the Post Offic store.

1903 -The Onga Onga cemetery was opened.

1904 -5th July a severe earthquake hit.

1905 -11th April ,12,481 acres Lindsay Farm were offered under L.I.P., terms.


1907 -Ruataniwha School was opened.Post Office/store was opened for a time.

1908 -Waipawa County was reconstituted to its present size.Roads  Board ceased to be.Council borrows money to upgrade roading.Cars were begining to be seen at this stage.

1909 -The Catholic Church and Hinuera School was opened.

1910 -Post Office was built by Coles Bros.Telephones available,largely private. Onga Onga and Tukituki bridges were opened as was the Forest Gate waterrace.

1913 -Presbytarian Church was built.

1913-1914 -Worst drought to hit the region.The Government buy Springhill from the Rhodes family and subdivide it. The Onga -Tuki bridge was opened and has been troublesome ever since.

1914 -Onga at its Zenith. as remembered  by Roy McLeod.South side Bridge Street, West to East.

-Martin,Bootmaker 1914 gone -Sargent, Blacksmith -Telephone Depot 9road Board Office) -now Museum. -Tierneys,Hairdresser and Billiards Saloon. -Fruit Shop/Bank of New Zealand Agency. -Gibson Taylor later Pell.-Sam Graham's Livery Stables.Steven's Garage behind (later) -Sam Carr's contracting depot. -Fletcher's Boarding House By 1914 - Mrs Baker.-Butcher's Shop.- Mrs McBride's Tearoom'sand Fruit and Sweets. - R.Graham, Saddler.-J Baker Carryimg Contractor, -Blacksmiths,Drummond ,Grant ---1914. Campbell and Warring with Wheelwright upstairs.-G Lucas, Grocer. -Misses J.Vesty and R .Saddler, -Dressmakers. -H Whytes store. -Coles Bros Building included,--Gerant Tearooms,Coles Bros building supplies,Bradley Bootmaker. Wolstonholme, General store. -Post Office. -Willicombe Baker and tuckshop.

North Side;

Hotel,G Stanton. - Moss Symonds,butcher. - Coles Bros sash and door factory,[23 men]. -Daily delivery of ,Bread,meat,groceries.

1914 - The Great War.Almost all the young men of the district enlisted and it is said to mark the decline of Onga.

-Springhill Station ballot.

-Hawkes Bay Farmers Meat Co.,began operations at Hastings,with the famers owning the works thenselves.

-1915 S. Graham introduced the first motorized bus/coach.Beasley had been the last coach driver.

-1919. 'Flu epidemic.Bush fires,again with the loss of homes at both Blackburn and Hinerua areas.

 26th June -Greatesr snowfall, 12 inches, causing much devastation.Roads impassable for days.

First aircraft lande in Walkers Paddock next to the War Memorial.

 -1920 - 1930.Farming undergoes a period of boom and slump.Many farms bought and sold.Late 1920s J. Caldwell proved that clover grew on light soil.Those who could afford to, followed suit.

-1925 --28th September power was switched on from the Onga Onga power station.-1950 the areas West  of the power station were supplied.

 -1926.W Reed owned the firstPnuematic tyred truck.[a Leo]

-1931.3rd February The Hawkes Bay Earthquake.

-1932. Wool 3 1/2d a pound.

- 1933 Steel wheel tractors became numerous and were and most farmers were able to establish better grasslands. 

-1934. The Football Clubs in the area were well established and organised.Records of the time do not seem to have been kept ,but photos of 1890s show that there were teams before World War 1.After World War 2 the combined Tiko/Onga teams was very successful.

-1935. Onga Golf Club started on Forest Gate Park.

-1937. First Mile of sealed road through the village..

-1938. Onga creek overflows at the pub corner and shops were flooded at least three times that autumn.

-1939.Most of the production of the area had doubled.Fat lambs of 40lbs were considered average.World War 2 so many were serving overseas.Rationing seemed to be the only worry and the shortage of labour.

 -1945. Chairman of the first N.Z.Wool Board,N.R.Jameson.This Board negotiated for the N.Z. Government's share of the profit on the sale of stockpiled wool aquired under War Commandeer.This was to the benefit of the farming industry.

-1950. K.G.Twiss started a school bus run.

-1958. Waipawa County engaged in large scale road improvements.

-1965. Automated telephone exchange began,and the end of the "party ' line era as we know it.

-1973. U.E.B.Lucerne factory started.

-1075. E.S.Bibby erects a slab whare.


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Onga Onga School and District Centennial Celebrations by jochubb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License