Schooling at Mulberry Grove

Doubtless, Maori children were taught the multiplicity of subjects and skills required to live their daily lives in the centuries before Europeans arrived. The first recorded schooling in the area was by the Malcolms of their own children in the 1860s. (see Emilie Malcolm’s journal called ‘My Story’). The Barstows must also have been schooling their children since the late 1840s through to 1858 when they left the island. Between then until Mulberry Grove school opened in 1962 on the old landing reserve by the Todd property, home-schooling predominated until the one-roomed Tryphena School (currently next to the Tryphena Hall), opened in 1884 and Alfred Osborne became its first teacher with 20 pupils. This arrangement, with a variety of teachers, usually part-time but less so as time went by, continued up until December 1939 when it closed. So it was back to home-schooling and correspondence or boarding-school offshore until 1962.

In 1964 the Mulberry Grove schoolmaster’s house arrived by barge from Takapuna.

By 1966, the school had 32 pupils and to widen their horizons an RNZAF Sunderland Flying boat landed and took 16 of them for a trip to Auckland!

By 1974 there were two teachers and one part-timer, with the roll rapidly expanding.

In 1983, the school log records two search and rescues that year - Bert Smith went missing at sea and a local resident was swept off a fishing vessel and was found after a long search. And on 19th June 1986 the centenary of the Taylor murder that occurred in Taylors Bay, was re-enacted by school students with Bruce Adams jn the TV camera for TV3.

The rolls for some of the years afterward are:

1983 62-76 pupils, (opening roll 62 - by 12 Sept roll was 76)

1985 88-103, (opening- 12th Dec)

1986 107-108 (opening roll- 19th Dec) and by

1987 107 pupils and five teachers.

(Kaitoke area school opened in 1988 in time to relieve the pressure).

By March 1992 Mulberry Grove School had 3 full-time teachers and one part-time teacher with a roll of 54.

On 2nd October the school library was opened.

Mulberry Grove School 1986

The Prime Minister visited in mid-December, 1986 during a three-day break he spent in the area, [as Mr Reid- and stayed at the Pidgeons Lodge] followed by a school raft race.

1984 - Personnel from HMAS Tobruk arrived at the school to construct a jungle gym

The school log (from which most of this information is taken), records the large stranding of longfin pilot whales in March 1984 which required many local volunteers and indirectly led to the development of marine mammal medic training courses worldwide. At around the same time, there were defence forces on the island and naval vessels in the area on exercise Northern Safari. Personnel from HMAS Tobruk arrived at the school to construct a jungle gym.

In 2007, the roll was 25 pupils with two and a half teachers….

The School's re-enactment of the Taylor Murder of 1886.

On 19th June 1886, a regular visitor to Tryphena in the firewood trade, the 17m cutter ‘Sovereign of the Seas’) came to Taylors Bay, just south of the present Tryphena light, with John Caffrey, Henry Penn and Penn’s associate Grace Cleary. No doubt the cutter had often loaded firewood from the landing reserve upon which the Mulberry School presently exists.

The object of the visit was to abduct Elizabeth Taylor, with whom Caffrey had had a growing relationship with. Her father, the settler Robert Taylor, known as ‘Old Tusky’ for his stern nature), had some time earlier put a stop to it. Caffrey was not to be stopped. He and Penn landed, there were shots fired and ‘Old Tusky’ died. Elizabeth escaped while her young brother raised the alarm. The cutter sailed for Australia where they were wrecked and later caught at Kempsey in New South Wales. Returned to NZ, they were tried and the two men hung, Grace Cleary being released after turning states evidence.

It was the major story throughout NZ for months.

One hundred years to the day after Old Tusky fell dead, children at the Mulberry Grove school put on a play reconstructing the main events of the story. It was even reported on TV ‘Top Half’ programme, filmed by Bruce Adams, an ex-resident.