Author(s): Kevin Lyall
THE 100th anniversary of Rotorua Boys’ High School – and secondary education in Rotorua – is being marked by local author and historian Kevin Lyall.
Lyall has spent five years working on a book charting the first 13 years of the school, from 1914-26, and in the process has uncovered some remarkable military connections and shone a light on the changing nature of education in New Zealand.
Lyall said the school began its life as a single room in a building on Arawa St called the Victoria Institute, now the site of the Family Court, and that a veteran of the New Zealand Land Wars – Captain Gilbert Mair – was present when the building’s foundation stone was laid.
In a remarkable coincidence, Lyall also discovered the school’s first deputy principal, who fought in Gallipoli, was killed at the Somme while the World War II claimed the life of another deputy principal.
‘‘They were the only staff members killed in either war,’’ Lyall said.
He said the school began with one teacher and would comfortably fit in the current principal’s office.
‘‘The whole Victoria Institute would have fitted in the school hall,’’ he said.
Unsurprisingly, the curriculum has also changed somewhat in the past century too.
‘‘ It was a bit more academically focused and rather more stringent,’’ Lyall said.
‘‘ Arithmetic and lessons in civics, being responsible citizens.’’ Lyall’s book, titled The Empress’s Plume, will be launched on February 27 at Rotorua Boys’ High School after the inductions to the School’s Hall of Fame