From the mid to late 1850s, Mangawhai has known many schools. They have popped up wherever and whenever the population demanded. The first known school was formed to educate children of the 58th Regiment and their families, and other early arrivals, living at Mangawai (now Mangawhai), Hakaru or Te Arai.
That first school was named Manga Te Wai School and was situated near the river at Moir’s Point. Another school was held east of where the present police station is on Moir Street today. Both were private schools where children paid one shilling a week for their lessons. Soon after, another school was formed by the Tutin sisters at Hakaru. Sarah and Elizabeth Tutin were daughters of an Anglican preacher. They opened their private school for children of the wider locality in 1861. School was held in St. Michaels Church. Both boys and girls attended this school and were taught the three ‘R’s – reading, writing and arithmetic. Knitting was also on the curriculum and included the boys. But in the 1870s, the Tutin sisters advertised their school as a “Boarding School for Girls”. The reason being that the first Education Department school in the area had been built on Lawrence Road nearby.
The Education Department school opened in 1872 and was known by various names – Mangawai School, Hakaru School and Bush School. The greatest attendance seems to have been 25 children from eight families in 1884. It was a problem for families that lived too far away to attend, so folk got together to ask the Education Department to have the building moved to a more central site. The school, much changed in shape, is now sited at the Village Complex next to the Mangawhai Museum and is called Tara Road School. In 1886, the Mangawai Beach School opened. This building also now stands in the Village Complex but is designated a church.
In 1916, another Education Department school was dragged by bullock team from Hoteo Valley, Wellsford, to private land on Valley Road, Hakaru. And in 1942, the little school from Pukekaroro was brought over to where the Hakaru RSA buildings are now situated.
Children from the northern edge of Mangawai had to attend Breamtail School, situated over the hill, but south of Langs Beach. From 1902 until 1920, it operated from there until Mr Alf Wharfe built a school on his property at Breamtail Farm.
This was known as Molesworth School until 1930, after which it was dismantled and moved to Kings Road, where it stood until recent years.
Bev Ross, Mangawhai Museum