The colourful story behind an almost century old photograph

This photo was taken in 1935/36 when the children of Tokaanu Native School travelled to Christchurch at the invitation of Sir James Hay and performed several concerts on the top of Hay’s Department Store.

The photo was sent to the Taupō Times by Jill Davis, nee Durward, of Christchurch.

“Most of the children had never travelled out of the Taupō district before and my father Peter Durward (the pakeha boy pictured front right) said it was such a great experience for them all – cities, trains, the ferry to Lyttleton and the trams,” Davis said.

Her grandfather, John Durward, was the headmaster and is pictured back left, along with one of his teachers, Miss Mannell, on his right.

John Durward was the headmaster at the school from 1930 to 1955 and according to his granddaughter, he and his wife Williamena Durward, nee Hay, loved their life in the small community at Tokaanu.

John Durward was buried in the urupa next to Hirangi Marae in Tūrangi.

On the far right of the picture is Wi Poinga​, a legendary haka teacher who led the welcome for the returning members of the Maori Battalion in Wellington at the end of World War II.

“Dad died a few years ago, and I expect that everyone in that photo has now passed on,” Davis said.

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