Topic: The Katikati Schoolhouse, 1926
The following article 'House brings old memories' appeared in the Katikati Advertiser on 19 June 1984.
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A recent article in the Advertiser on a Beach Road house thought to be the oldest in Katikati has brought back memories for one reader. Mrs E. M. Cooper, now 91 and living in Waihi, remembers the house well.
As the wife of Mr H. J. Cooper, who became headmaster of the Katikati School in 1918, she lived in the house for nine or ten years and one of her daughters was born there.
It looked very different from today when they moved in, said Mrs Cooper. "The six acres surrounding it were smothered in poplars and my husband put in a lot of work clearing and cultivating the land. We grew maize and all our own vegetables round the house eventually."
The present creeper-covered verandah, thought to have been a later addition, was there when the Coopers moved in. There was no bathroom. The family had to walk down steps at the back of the house to use a tin bath, which was housed in the same room as the copper and tubs.
Eventually a bathroom was built at the end but they had to go through the washhouse to get to it. Later the back of the house was completely remodelled.
"Life was very differenent in those days," said Mrs Cooper. "We had to make our own fun, but I think we were happier then than a lot are now. My husband moved into a school that had one curtain with his assistant teaching on the other side. The children came to school on foot, on their ponies, or some, like the Jenkins family of Kauri Point, by horse and trap. There were three schools in Katikati at that time but because of the difficulty with transport, I don't remember them getting together much for sports or the like."
Often the road between Katikati and Tauranga was impassable and the Coopers used to go more often to Waihi. Mr Cooper was fond of music and school concerts used to be a social highlight. Visiting friends, tending her garden adn looking after he family kept Mr Cooper busy in the early days. There was little in Katikati when they arrived except the store by the river, the blacksmith shop and the old hotel.
"I remember well when it burned down," she said. " I spoke to the cook after the fire and she was more concerned about having lost her teeth in the blaze than about the loss of the building".
The Coopers bought 100 acres of land adjoining the six acre schoolhouse property and they farmed it for 30 years when Mr Cooper retired from teaching.
After that they sold the land to Alexanders and retired to a six acre block across the road from their old farmhouse, now lived in by Mr Morrie Somerville.
"I was more one for staying home but at one stage my husband was serving on five or six different organisations," said Mrs Cooper. "He was on the Tauranga Hospital Board, the school committee, and the domain board and had a lot to do with developing the Bowentown Domain. He also helped get the first ambulance for Katikati."
Mrs Cooper said she enjoyed her 50 or so years in Katikati and said the old Beach Road house was a typical schoolhouse of that era. "In fact it was almost identical to the one which my in-laws lived in at Drury in 1880," she said.
She moved to Waihi about 12 years ago to be nearer family and still has a lively mind. She is also proud of the fact that at 91 she walks every day.
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