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Gumboots and tree climbing

The joys of attending a small rural school will be at the heart of 125-year celebrations at Kahutara School this Labour Weekend.

Pupils, parents, staff and the Kahutara community have a bumper two days planned, with a pet day, gala, quiz night and a dinner-and-dance making the South Wairarapa school one of the hottest places to be.

While the 100 pupils at Kahutara enjoy all the freedoms of a relaxed rural school environment, including running about in gumboots or barefoot, climbing trees and building huts, the school is anything but old-fashioned.

A new hockey turf – which doubles as two tennis courts in summer – was recently laid thanks to a donation left in the will of a school ‘old boy’ Ewen Bidwell.

“Kahutara School is rich in family values, traditions and history,” teacher Brooke Sims said. “It is set on idyllic grounds with large oak trees and native bush surrounded by farmland.

“It is the hub of the Kahutara community, with many families returning to, or remaining in the area to provide their children with a similar schooling to their own – many families choose to send their kids to Kahutara, with children travelling from Featherston, Martinborough and the surrounding area.”

The school is well resourced, with a swimming pool, BMX track and community gym, Sims said.

“Just over the paddock from the school, we have our very own wetland, which through the hard work of Mary Mason and Hamish McCrae, has become a space our students love and appreciate.

“We also run a garden-to-table program, teaching children to grow their own food and create meals out of the produce.”

Outside the classroom door, it wasn’t a surprise “to see a line-up of gumboots during lesson times”, Sims said.

Kahutara School was established in 1898 after the Roydhouse family moved to the area and needed schooling for their three children. The original classroom still stands and is protected for its heritage value.

Electricity arrived at the school in the mid-1920s, with a high-speed fibre-optic cable connection to the internet installed in 2014.

Kahutara School Pet Day is Friday, October 20, 10.30am-2pm, with a Dinner and Dance that evening. On Saturday, October 21, the school Gala will include a ticketed Meet and Greet in the morning. That evening, teams will gather for a Quiz Night.

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