Puketapu School

 Our School History

In pre-European times, Māori living in the Puketapu district centred on the Turirau swamp.  From the junction of Puketapu and Springfield Roads, the swamp radiated in all directions, but mainly northward. 

The Turirau swamp was a rich food source for Māori of Ngati Hinepare and Ngati 

Mahu descent. During the eeling (or tuna) season, the tangatawhenua would camp close to the swamp to harvest tuna. Tuna supplemented the tribe's other food sources harvested from the coastal fisheries in Ahuriri, and the bird-snaring grounds of Puketitiri. Native birds such as the pukeko were caught in the snares.  

The pukeko features on our school logo, along with flax (or harakeke) that grew in the neighbouring Moteo swamps. The harakeke represents whanau/family – the rito shoot is the child and it is surrounded by the awhi rito/parents and tupuna/grandparents and ancestors.

The name Puketapu (meaning sacred hill) applies to the isolated hill found at the first bend in Springfield Road. The hill was strategically located alongside the Tutaekuri River, and it guarded the exit to the Turirua Swamp. Ngati Hinepare built a pā there in the late 1700’s – the earthworks from this pā are still visible today. 

Moteo Pā was established in the period 1868-1870, when the principal chief Paora Kaiwhata moved his people from Omaranui to Moteo. 

The early meeting house was Whanaupani. The meeting house was built for the people who identified as Ngati Hinepare. Living with them at the pā were their relatives from Ngati Mahu. 

While Moteo marae services both of these sub-tribes today, it was previously known as Ngati Mahu Marae. The old meeting house at Moteo Marae was called Rangimārie, which means peaceful. 

Puketapu was included in a 265,000 acre Ahuriri land- purchase by the government in 1851.  Among the early-settlers of Puketapu were the traders Alexander Alexander and John Heslop. The new landowners set about draining the swamps at the base of the Puketapu hills.  The diggers unearthed many moa bones in the area. 

In 1860 Alexander Alexander opened the post office in Puketapu.  It was the third post office to open in Hawkes Bay.  He also set up a trading post and he began the farming industry in the area.

In 1863 Mr John Heslop promised the land Puketapu School currently stands on.   In 1864 the school was established.  Twenty-two pupils attended the first day. 

Although only seven minutes from Taradale and ten minutes from Napier, Puketapu School retains a ‘rural’ feel. 

The school has a roll of approximately 250 children, who live mainly in the surrounding countryside on farms, lifestyle blocks, orchards and vineyards. 

The traditions of yesteryear are still visible in the modern schooling environment of today.