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Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 1, Issue 5, December 1961

Moore's School on Town Acre 203*

Moore's School on Town Acre 203*

(*This should be 208. Broad, p. 155. J.A.J.)

When the Nelson Settlement was formed the adult population consisted of the landbuyers, a well-educated section, and the landless, most of whom were assisted immigrants. Amongst the latter were some very keen minds. There were many children, and some sort of education 'was definitely needed. Captain Wakefield realised this, and we find it stated in the diary of T. S. Thompson against the date March 9, 1842, that Capt. Wakefield said: "Now, you chaps, roll up, we're going to have a meeting to start a school. These children will be taught to read and write." The gentry got behind him and a subscription list was opened at a public meeting and Wakefield offered a subsidy of 50/50, also a site on Town Acre 203 (208). T. S. Thompson says that "at the meetings feeling ran so high in religion that we thought that there would be no school. Things cooled down a bit and it was agreed to read the Bible every day without comment." He ends up thus: "Never shall it be said that a New Zealand child cannot read or write." We learn from the Examiner that a suggestion from the Quaker, Fredk. Tuckett, was accepted that the system of the British and Foreign School Association should be followed. Things going favourably, a school was opened on September 12, 1842, with William Moore page Ten(Moore arrived in Fifeshire 1/2/42) as headmaster, a man who had earlier received a requisition signed by 50 people to open a school. Trustees were men of standing: Capt. Wakefield, Capt. England, McDonald and the Chief Surveyor, Tuckett. They were backed by an influential committee and had the full support of the Examiner newspaper. Indeed, Charles Elliott became secretary of the committee. Unfortunately, in June, 1843, occurred the horror of the Wairau episode. The loss of leading members of the community seems to have crippled the school so that by the end of the year 1843 the headmaster Moore resigned and no one seems to have been appointed in his place. At this time Mr Campbell and his Management Committee were moving in the matter of a new Sunday School cum day school adventure and this may have affected the situation.

In April, 1844, the school building was leased by a Roman Catholic, Ferrers, who moved his scholars into it.

In 1845 the remaining trustees, Tuckett and McDonald, handed over the empty building to the Nelson School Society with the proviso that a similar religious system should be followed by N.S.S. The building was moved to Spring Grove and became one of the N.S.S. Sunday and day school places. The site on Town Acre 203 (208) was a leasehold only and reverted to the Company.

It seems remarkable that a school starting auspiciously should so suddenly fade out, while in the same period of bewilderment and calamity a new one should spring up. Perhaps William Moore lacked the capacity to foster and maintain a young school while strong religious fervour coupled with initiative and drive enabled Matthew Campbell to do so. He was aided by his adoption of the plan of leaning on the Sunday School.

Resolution at public meeting of subscribers to Moore's School—

"That the immediate design of the subscribers is the establishment of an elementary school which shall be open to the chidren of all without regard to the religious opinions of their parents in which no sectarian views whatever shall be taught and that the Bible when read shall be read without note or comment."