Our Stories



Sacred Footprints of the Pioneers – Nga Tapuwau Manene


Glenbrook School 125th Jubilee, November 2002

Several entries in the minute books of Auckland Education Department about the Brookside School dated 1875, lead us to believe that Brookside may be older than we thought. The 1875 entries concern building grants and money allocated in December of that year for furniture, books, tables, could mean that the school was ready for occupation. Further, on the 13 January 1876 Mrs. Dromgool was appointed teacher at Brookside School. The above evidence would support schooling in Glenbrook in 1876 and it is possible that the children were taught in a shed or some other building during that year. This was not an uncommon way to start schools in those days. The fact that the land on which the school was built on was not donated to the Education Department by Mr E. Hamlin until 18 July 1876 tends to favour that the school did not open until 1877. The school was under the jurisdiction of the Waiuku School Committee prior to 1918 and it is obvious that this committee had everything very well organised for the start of Brookside School. Unfortunately a fire in the Auckland education department many years ago destroyed most of the early records and we will probably never know the exact date. After discussion with other people more experienced in these matters it is generally felt that 1877 was the year Brookside opened. In those days Glenbrook was known by four names, Pakington, Waiuku East, Ruakohua and Brookside. Mr E. Hamlin, donor of the school site, owned a farm of 300 acres on the eastern side of the main road. His farm extended to Neil Morley Road in the south and was known as “Brookside Farm” and it was from this farm that the First School derived its name. The original school was situated on the opposite side of the road from the present buildings. (A school house was eventually built on this site in 1946 and was burnt to the ground three weeks after the arrival of new principal Mr Ian Woodfield in January 1992). The first teacher at Brookside was Mrs Jane Dromgool, wife of Michel Dromgool, who was a son of John Dromgool, an early settler. She was appointed in January 1876 at a salary of £ 80 ($160.00) per annum. There are no records of the school pupils until 11 July 1881, but it is understood that the following were first day pupils – Sarah, Alethea, Evaline and Florence Hamlin, Kathleen Leorna, Charles and Arthur Mellsop, James and Christopher Dromgool, Ellen Buchanan and Margaret Craig.

The first register contains the following names – Charles Mellsop, Arthur Mellsop, Edward Dromgool, Thomas Tierney, Percy Dromgool, Huntly Hamlin, John Tierney, Leorna Mellsop, Ellen Buchanan, Margaret Craig, Mabel Hamlin, James Dromgool, Christopher Dromgool, Edward Conroy, Rachel McDonald, Florence Mellsop, Alice Tierney, Agnes Buchanan, Jane Mellsop and Clarissa Hamlin. Miss A. Hamlin, a first day pupil, wrote in 1957 “The Brookside School, as it was known on our day, was built on land formerly owned by my father, the late Ebenezer Hamlin, who farmed the “Brookside Farm” until politics took up most of his time. In 1880 he sold out to Mr Goble and we moved into the village and I attended Waiuku School. At Brookside we usually walked to school, but sometimes we were taken on the sledge. There were wild pigs in the bush, and occasionally one or more would come out and roam around the school, but we were not afraid of them”.  Mr H. O. Mellsop, an early pupil of Brookside wrote in 1957 “My schooldays commenced in 1882, about five years after the school opened, The teacher was Mr Alfred Goldsbury, and Brookside was a half-time school school. Mr Goldsbury taught one week there, then one week at Karioitahi. The other scholars went to West Mauku for the alternate weeks, and some, I think to Waitangi. Mr Goldsbury was the fourth teacher. Mrs Dromgool, Miss O’Connor and Miss Wily having come and gone.

Following Mr Goldsbury came Miss Escott, who, with the exception of short periods of leave taught right through our years of schooling. All pupils in our day walked to school from Brown’s Gully in the north, from the Needles in the west, from Waitangi Bay in the southwest and from as far east as Glenbrook station. Cross-country tracks were the rule, and no one objected to trespassers. The roads were mud in the winter and dust in summer, but the attendance was good. Of course, we had no flu in those days.

We had no cricket except for home-made bats, a rubber ball and a few ti-tree sticks  for wickets. We cut our hockey sticks in the bush and used a supple jack root or a jam tin for a ball. We had no knowledge of soccer, and stranger still we had never seen a rugby ball. Yet we enjoyed our games, and our paper chases, which meant  at least a two mile run during the dinner hour. We had an earthquake on 26th June 1891. The pupils of all surrounding schools rushed out of doors and it was said in most cases the teachers went out the windows. Our teacher Miss Escott, remarked “that’s an earthquake, go on with your work”, and we did.

We planted trees around the old school grounds on the first Arbour Day, 1891 or 1892 I think. They are still alive I see (1977). We had in those days two visits a year from Schools inspectors – O’Sullivan, Goodwin,  Airey and Crowe. They deserve mention; they travelled many miles on horseback, often over atrocious roads and seldom missed their appointments. The school was the social center too in those early days. A church service

one Sunday each month and Sunday school on alternate Sundays was held. Dancers traveled in those pre-car days up the Mauku Creek by launch and walked the three or four miles to school.”


  • O. H. Mellsop


The  only records available until the Glenbrook School Committee minutes of 1918 commence are  the Auckland Education Board minutes which are held at the Auckland War Memorial Museum library. Many interesting events concerning Brookside have been taken from these.

June 1878 – Mrs Dromgool resigned in September of that year and school was closed until February 1879.

In June 1881, Brookside became a half time school as mentioned by Mr Mellsop. During the three years that Brookside and Karioitahi shared Mr Goldsbury, Brookside was threatened with closure for it appears that Karioitahi’s roll rose sufficiently to make their school large enough to be a full time school while Brookside’s roll remained about the same. The inspector’s report always favoured leaving Brookside for another term and finally in May 1884 Miss I. McCaw was appointed full time.

On 17th October 1890, chicken tenders were invited for the enlargement of the school during “Midsummer Holidays”. Mr A. Robb did the alterations for £ 47 ($94.00).

1912 was the year that the district adopted Glenbrook as its new name and from that time the address of all parents and guardians in the school register is shown as Glenbrook. However, it was still Brookside in the Education Board minutes until March 1914. A new gate cost 1 pound 12 shillings and sixpence in 1913.


1913 the first school trip was made. Students of the school travelled to Pukekohe in a wagon drawn by horses, and then to Auckland by train to see the battleship “H.M.S. New Zealand”. Mrs Ruth Harvey (nee Sargood) and Mrs Cora Hay (nee Whitham) say that this trip was one of the highlights of their school days. They left home at 4.30 a.m. but, because they were very excited, they had had little sleep.

1917, March 13th, the Education Board received a report stating that the old school was 40 years old, 58 pupils were attending, and as the building measured only 33 feet times 12 feet, with an 8 feet stud (10m by 3.6m by 2.4m stud), there was serious overcrowding. Further that only 27 desks were at the school, leaving 4 pupils without desks. The Ventilation was claimed to be bad and it was suggested that a new enlarged building was required. On 5th June 1917, estimates amounting to £ 705 ($1410.00) were prepared for a new school. On the 18th November 1917, advice was received by the Auckland Education Department that a special grant was to be made enabling the board to start the building of a new school.

1918: Early in 1918, four acres were purchased from Mr T.D Reid for 131 Pounds ($262.00). Building materials and timber were carted from the Waiuku wharf to the school site. The School had until 18th April 1918, been under the jurisdiction of the Waiuku School Committee. On this date the boundaries of the Glenbrook School were gazetted in the “New Zealand Herald”. The first meeting of the householders was held five days later, and the first committee members were Messrs. A. Haycock (Chairman), A. Sargood (Secretary), A.J. Williams, A. Goodare, and A. Ashwin. Mr Sargood was secretary for twelve years missing only one meeting during that period. An interesting note from the first meeting reads:~ “It was agreed that the monthly meeting be held on the Monday evening before full moon”. The School was opened on the 4th June 1919.

Many of the following extracts are direct quotes from the minute books and it is hoped that they will portray the feelings, frustrations and accomplishments felt by many people associated with the school over those years. They record, of course, only a fraction of what really did take place.

1919: To mark the opening of the School it was decided “that a concert and dance be held in the Glenbrook Hall on the 11th April 1919. Miss Cooke Head Teacher to arrange the concert – Admission Adults 1.6d (15c). Children 6d (5c).

1921: The board proposed half day schooling during February. The Committee decided “That it was advisable that the children attend a whole day as owing to the distance many have to travel to school, walking home in the heat of the day was not advisable.”

1922: Coal was used as heating fuel for the first time. Scholars were allowed a half day off to go to the pictures. The Education Institute wrote to the committee suggesting that a resolution be passed asking to the Government to spend more on Education. The Committee did not consider it the opportune time “as it appears that the government is spending all it can spare at the moment.”An urn was purchased for heating water, and cocoa during winter months was once again introduced. (Remember those enamel mugs in the cupboard?).

1923: The Head Teacher was asked “that when a new book was needed by a scholar, that the old one be sent to the parents so they could see the progress of their children or otherwise.” Roll number 75.

1924: The Education Board suggested that the old school site should be sold but the committee rejected this, stating that “it considered it will be required as a teacher’s residence in the future.” The Education Department declined to finance a school at Glenbrook Station. The Committee agreed to “pay a boy Is.0d (10c) per hour to help the Secretary load puriri tops into a wagon for use as kindling wood”.

1925: A complaint was received that the children seemed to catch more colds when attending school than when at home. Miss Cooke was asked to place the windows on a slant to avoid draughts. The Franklin County Council was asked to erect a notice by the school asking motorists to reduce speed. The School Committee Council decided to support the legislation to have the Bible read in schools.

1927: The flagpole was erected and the assembly area was sealed. The tennis court was also built. At the annual householders meeting in April it was decided to write to the Franklin County Council asking them to straighten the corner at the school. Older pupils will remember the narrow sharp corner. Unfortunately nothing was done immediately and a pupil was killed when his bicycle collided with a car later that year.  


1928: At the annual householders meeting in May when the school corner again came up for discussion it was proposed and carried “That we appoint deputation to wait on the Franklin County Council to impress on them the necessity to effect this improvement.”

1929: The school corner was straightened and widened by the Franklin County Council. A petition from the McLarens Road people asking for riding expenses was received and forwarded to the Board. In reply to this petition for riding fees, The Education Board stated that “No horse allowance would be granted in cases where road was fit for vehicular traffic and that in all cases where such grants were allowed the horses used would have to be hard fed.” An interesting note states “As we had twelve scholars to be exclaimed for proficiency we were successful in having our school made an examination center so that they could be examined here.” Over the years, at least from 1900 onwards, pupils travelled to Waiuku for examination. The need for travelling to Waiuku was discontinued about 1936 when pupils sat an internal examination and the old proficiency became a thing of the past.

1930: Years of tradition were broken when the school picnic was held at McLarens Beach. All previous picnics had been held in “Reid’s and Hodgie’s Bush.”

1931: Apparently what would now be known as the “White Paper” on Education, was being formulated and the following extract from the Minutes show Glenbrook School Committee’s reaction:~ “Correspondence from the Education Board, Auckland, with reference to the Recess Education Committee Report was read and discussed and it was proposed and seconded that this committee is strongly of the opinion that any alteration in the present system of education administration whereby the powers and functions of the Education Board would be curtailed and a centralised control from Wellington substituted in it’s place, is a retrograde step and most inimical to the highest interest of educational administration in the various centers” and “that copies be sent to J.N. Massey M.P., the Hon. J.G. Coates M.P. Minister of Education and a copy to the Education Board, Auckland for their information” Roll 60.

1932: Clare Dromgool, Dick Goodare and Roy McKinney were appointed to sweep the school daily, to be paid £ 2.0.0d ($4.00) per quarter year. A public farewell was arranged to say “Goodbye to Miss Cooke, the teacher whose character and dedication probably made the biggest impact on Glenbrook School and its pupils during all the school’s history. Then Calf Club was started and apart from a few years, has been held ever since. Mr O. Henry, an ex-pupil and businessman of Waiuku, presented a Shield for competition. For the first few years, the calves were brought to school in drays and wagons, and then the local carriers helped.

1933: A petition for assistance had already been sent to the board for travelling allowance for six children who lived between three and six miles from the school. This the board declined. By August 1931, 12 children were involved and by June 1933 the number of children had risen to seventeen. The Glenbrook beach parents were not to be denied a service and by September of that year, Mr G. Leaming, who owned a Model T truck started a school bus service. The cost to parents was 6d (5c) per child per day. Apparently the vehicle was not quite large enough and Mr Leaming extended the rear. This was fine except when coming up the “Big Hill”. The children moving to the back caused loss of steering! Harsh words issued forth from “Hori” Leaming who seemed to know most of the phrases suited to the occasion. When balance was restored, the journey would proceed. The years of Glenbrook Beach “horse brigade” had ended.

Mr Sid Russell of Glenbrook Beach was the next operator of the school bus, also known as the “monkey bus”. It was a 1928 Chevrolet. Mr Russell was an expert handyman and he built the bodies of the truck chassis. They had wooden sides and back (like stock sides) and were neatly covered with canvas. When the summer came, the sides would be rolled up making delightful open air travelling. Wooden forms for seating were placed carefully around the interior. Mr Russell had a great record as owner-driver. He was never late over the seven or so years he ran the service.

1934: First mention of the Manual and Technical School which it was hoped would be in Waiuku.This block was duly erected and the pupils of standards five and six travelled weekly in Flexman’s bus to receive training – the boys learning woodwork and the girls cooking and sewing. Mr Flexman Snr. sometimes bought the whole busload of children an ice cream. The Chairman, Mr Jack Bellingham, and the teacher Miss Sands were appointed to take the pupils to Auckland during the children’s rally held to welcome H.R.H The Duke of Gloucester.

1936: Mr North was appointed headmaster.

1937: To commemorate the coronation of King George the sixth and Queen Elizabeth, the pohutukawa, now growing in front of the school, was presented  by the Glenbrook Women’s Institute. It was planted by Myrtle McKinney and Alan Walker while being held by Mrs R. McElwain (Institute President) before assembled pupils.

1938: A move was made again towards obtaining a schoolhouse for the Head Master.

1939: This appears as a quiet year. Every effort was still being made to obtain a schoolhouse. Peter Friedrich and Malcolm McIntosh were the school sweepers.

1940: Mr K. A. North resigned and left in August. This was a great disappointment for the parents. Mr North had come to the school nearly four years before, at a time of some difficulty within the school. He soon portrayed his personality and ability. The school moved forward again under his expert guidance. Later in his career he became a Senior Inspector of Schools. It was well known at the time, that had Glenbrook had a school house, this  outstanding teacher would have been with us for a longer term. It was a sad day when Ken North drove his Ford Coupe with the canvas top, from the school for the last time. Mr A.Gilmore was appointed Head Teacher. On the fourth of June, Mr Russell discontinued the bus service, and the Head Teacher enquired if he could exempt the children from school until the bus dispute was settled.



Mr Russell was receiving a weekly total of £ 4.2.4d ($8.25c) to operate a bus plus a driver over a distance of 22 miles, and when he asked for an increase to cover the  extra costs (which must have increased considerably during the seven years) some parents refused. Finally, on the 4th November, 1940 Mr Thomas commenced a bus service at the rate of £ 6.10.0d ($12.10c) per week.

1941: 18 children received dental treatment at the new dental clinic.

1942: These were, of course, war years, and Mr Gilmore resigned “to take up military duties.” Mr Edwards was appointed the next Head Master. A house-holders meeting was held at the school on the 15th April 1942. From the Chairman’s Report, it is interesting to record that in commenting on the changes of teachers he thanked “the local ladies who had offered to help at the present time when teachers were short”. At this meeting only two nominations for the committee were received and  the Chairman instructed the Secretary to notify the Board about the lack of members. A second householders meeting was held on 6th May. Eight householders were present and a full committee was elected again. In July, Mr Greenaway was appointed Head Master.

1943: Early in 1943 an accident involving the Glenbrook school bus and a United States Army vehicle at Pukekohe, resulted in the death of Mr Thomas, the owner-driver. The late Mr Thomas was the father of Mrs C. Yorke of Glenbrook Beach Road. Fortunately, no children were injured. With typical American goodwill, a large U.S. transport  truck maintained the bus service. A soldier rode in the back and lifted the smaller children into the back of the vehicle. Mr H. Wymer of Glenbrook purchased a bus and continued the service. The school garden was extended to further the “Dig for Victory” effort – a slogan used through the war years.

1944: Before 1944, the water supply was obtained from several tanks which held water from the school roof. As the school roll was rising and the swimming pool fund was coming along,  the committee of 1944, under the leadership of Mr Cedric Ramsey – the Secretary who had successfully sunk a bore on his own farm – proceeded to show the Education Board (who wanted nothing to do with this scheme) how to sink a deep well bore, using a hay stacker as the main centre of operations. Old Boy, Mr Bob Williams, our local water diviner, was called in. He proceeded to do his war dance and after meditating a while, made the statement “that water would  be found at 63 feet.” The bore was sunk, and we are told that at 63 feet water was located in good quantity and quality. The bore was cased and a pump was installed. The Education Board were apparently only too pleased to pay up then. The following motion was passed at the Householders meeting on the 12th April, “that it be a recommendation to the incoming committee to go thoroughly into the proposition put forward to provide a swimming bath for the school.” This the committee did and Mr Greenaway was elected Secretary-Treasurer of the ‘School Bath Fund.’ During early 1945 the swimming “bath” was completed. (Was it really a swimming “pool”?)

1945: At the school picnic held in February a presentation  was made to Miss Sands who was retiring after 24 years of continuous teaching service at Glenbrook School. This is the longest term served by any of the Glenbrook teachers. All the past pupils who were taught by “Sandy” remember her well for she was a strong disciplinarian. Everybody did what they were told to do paid attention while she expertly taught the three “R’s”. Failure to do so invited a sharp whack on the knuckles with a little stick which she kept on top shelf of her cupboard.

1946: From as early as 1922, the need for the teacher’s  residence in the district was apparent. This matter appeared off and on in the minutes over the years and approaches were continually being made to the Board. From 1938 onwards there was a continual barrage of correspondence and in 1945 a plan for the proposed house was received from the Board. Timber and builders were very hard to obtain. The war only just over. Finally, later in 1946, the goal was reached and the schoolhouse was completed. Mr L. Prescott was the builder and the cost  was £ 1970.0.0d ($3940.00).

1947-1948:    The Parent Teachers’ Association was started. Roll 73.



1949: Negotiations for purchasing extra land for a play area were started with Mr Devereux. Classroom and teachers’ common room were built on the western side of the existing school. Another great improvement was the widening and sealing of the road beside the school. The school staff was increased by one.

1950: The Roll jumped to 105. After some frustrating delays and many letters to the Department and our local M.P. Mr J. N. Massey and the Hon. R. Algie, Minister of Education, the Department finally approved the necessary grant for the purchase of 3¾ acres from Mr J. Devereux. This land was on the southern side of the school grounds and being level, was a great addition to the playing area.

1951 – 1952: The Chairman’s report submitted by Mr Reg Bennett to the Householders meeting revealed nothing startling, although, “ the school had reached the position where, for the first time, we were entitled to seven committee members.”

1953: The school children travelled to Pukekohe – the occasion being the visit of H.R.H. Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh. The committee purchased 10 dozen medallions and these were given to the children to commemorate the visit.

1954: While the new Glenbrook Hall was being built, the committee had made the school available to the Sunday School and the Women’s Institute as well as other district organisations. When the Hall was completed on 24th February, the children were allowed a half day off to attend the Official Opening. Roll 113 in September.

1955: Mr Cedric Ramsey resigned having completed eleven years as Secretary of the School Committee. By March, the roll had dropped to 93. Mrs Vazey, the Head Teacher’s wife, helped out with teaching duties while a replacement was being found.



1956: At a meeting on 6th February, it was unanimously decided “That a wreath from the Glenbrook school children be sent to the funeral of James Devereux Esq. who had been so outstandingly generous to the Glenbrook School.”

1957: Milk was finally to be delivered to the school after two years of negotiations. The School Committee pledged their support to the Jubilee Committee who were arranging the Glenbrook School 80th Jubilee celebrations. Ribbons bearing the following inscription “Glenbrook School 80th Jubilee 1957” were presented to the pupils.

1958: The Wendy house for the primer room was built. This was a great delight for the little ones.

1959: The dressing shed for the swimming pool was built for £ 120.0.0d ($240.00). A tape recorder was purchased. Roll 86.

1961: Roll 85. Mr and Mrs L. Schlup donated memorial gates to the school in memory of their two sons, both ex-pupils, who had been tragically killed in a motor accident. This year no Calf Club was held.

1962: Roll 83. The classrooms were extended and a Pre-fab classroom arrived. The roll jumped to 96.

1963: The girls’ toilet was removed and started a new life as a fowl house. Roll 91.

1964: After five years of requests to improve the corner on McElwain’s Hill, work was started.



1965: The first mention of the Steel Mill occurred in the Minutes and read:~ “Sir Woolf Fisher is coming on the 7th October and would answer questions about the Steel Mill concerning the School.” The roll was 83 at the beginning of the year but dropped to 69 by June. Daily milk stopped but “it is still to be supplied for 13 weeks over the winter months”

1969: A note from the September minutes reads:~ “The meeting closed at 9.45 p.m. Gossip then commenced.”

1970: A telephone was installed in the school. This must have been good news for the Headmaster’s wife. The horse paddock was developed as an adventure playground. (Many of the older pupils when reading this must surely smile, as from 1918 onwards this area was often put out of bounds because of some of the “adventures” which had occurred there.)  Roll 102.

1971: The Roll was 103 but jumped to 112, suggesting a real case for an additional classroom. The Committee received news later this year from the Board that a new classroom was to be built.

1972: Reports of the old school bus becoming overcrowded. Re-routing once again avoided this difficulty. Roll 104. A letter was sent to New Zealand Steel complaining that “the children’s feet were often blackened by the fall-out on the playing area and that windows, walls, roofs and school equipment were at time coated with dust and soot from the Mill.”

1974: Roll 100. Mr Thorn mentioned the black dust accumulated on the floors and windows, particularly during the holiday period. The Secretary was instructed to write to the Board “pointing out the extra effort required to maintain a high standard of cleanliness and suggesting that they chastise the culprit – New Zealand Steel Limited, and ask then to cease their polluting activities forthwith.”

Mr Crann, who had driven a school bus for 27 years, retired this year. Mr Wymer also retired from driving his own buses. Both were given a farewell presentation organised by the P.T.A

The last entry in the 1974 Minutes  is rather appropriate:- “Nothing further for 1974 but a fond farewell to Mr Thorn and a welcome to Mr Flay in 1975.” Mr Thorn was leaving the school after ten years as Head Master. Glenbrook School had again been fortunate in having a fine Headmaster. During his term at Glenbrook, Mr Thorn spent many hours of work around the school grounds – this had been unknown to many. At the farewell in the Glenbrook Hall, the district showed their appreciation at a bumper evening to Max, Bev and their children. In later years, Headmaster’s wives have become increasingly involved with the running of country schools, and special mention must be made of Mrs Bev Thorn, who was always available for those little extra “motherly” things so often required by many of the pupils.

1975: Roll 100. This shows the continued interest in the school by parents. The Committee discussed the possibility of building a library 15 x 30ft as a Centenary project.

1976: Roll 100. “The cost of ice cream for school picnics has become so expensive, that the children will probably receive ice-blocks next year.” $150.00 worth of musical instruments  was purchased and the Secretary, Mr Werny Volz, records “and many a hitherto happy home is silently suffering the weird and wondrous sounds of a child recorder.” The School Committees of the 1970’s appear to be a talkative bunch who enjoyed their after meeting “meetings” immensely. The school grounds were further enhanced by mid-year with a hoarding advising the passer-bys that March 1977 is our centennial year. If any momentous happenings occur from mid 1976 until the centennial celebrations they will have to be recorded when Glenbrook again celebrates, for we must now go to press.  

1977: Roll 110. School picnic at Glenbrook Beach. Purchased TT2’s (a form of ice block) from beach store; Mr Conroy purchased 30 lbs of paper bagged lollies; centennial celebrations planned; Tennis Club able to use school pool; Swimming Club using pool for lessons; Committee decided to purchase a room for a library; excess speed issues a factor regarding bus; bus would not stop at Reid Road only Conroy Road; time issues a factor in speed controversy; one hundred and forty children on the bus? (probably included college kids).

After fifty years The Henry Shield had to be replaced by another; school fees raised from four dollars per year to 2 dollars per term, plus one dollar per term for every extra child, max $10 per family.

Arthur Flay appointed.

Arthur Flay (Principal) wrote, “I received a notice from the Board that a male had been placed in the new entrants class and as that means there would be four males on the staff I immediately phoned the Board and told them, that was not on and I wanted a female.”

The school lawns will probably need mowing over the holidays. Volunteers?

Clubs. These are on the way again being taken by the following: gymnastics – Mr Maitland, pottery – Mrs Wybrow, knitting – Mrs Fraser, embroidery – Mrs Jonkers, crochet – Mrs Collie, photography – Mr Bellingham, soccer – Mr Phillips, hockey – Mr Flay.

1978: Roll 119. Stopped having paper drives – Smalley voted against this and wanted this recorded.

School committee wrote this to Tennis Club, “If they disregard school rules re the swimming pool then the Committee will stop their use of school pool.”

”Mr R.R Williams to be asked to open library , Mr J Ingram general manager of NZ Steel, Guest speaker.

Calf Club threatened with discontinuation regarding parent attitudes.

Buses over loading issue again.

Baled newspaper to be sold a $50 a ton.

Move to pay from $1 a term to children for cleaning school, amended to 10c a week.

Pupils cleaned toilets, classrooms and burned the rubbish (All of this without supervision).

Wrote to the Ministry regarding male dominance on the staff including a male teacher in the new entrance class. “Arthur Flay Demands a Woman.”

1979: Roll 123. Mrs Milne suggest seniors be asked to flush all toilets on Friday to facilitate cleaning.

Open new library, Merv Wellington, Minister of Education, in attendance.Mrs Barnett and Mr Flay introduced new maths to meeting.

Committee decided against goats but to keep drains clear by spraying.
Mr Wymer writes to board regarding bus overloading.

Head lice an issue.

Discussed possible demolition of old buildings. Library opened the 31st of March. Library funded by paper drives. Machine to strap and stack the paper in classrooms. Paper bales sent to wharfs.

Book firm came out. Each child to pick 3 books to begin library. Telethon for rheumatoid arthritis, School went to Auckland. Child with rheumatoid arthritis was in school party, so we were in first audience.

1980: Roll dropped dramatically to 104.

Bus fares for school trips to remain at 20 cents; bus extended to Mr Coers residence bottom of Reid Road because of child with asthma; Mr Wymer running bus down the bottom

of Reid Road without permission, Board wrote to Mr Wymer and Mr Coers and advised to discontinue until permission is granted by Education Board.

Inward correspondence regarding a certain Mr T, from Fair Go – ”Will not handle your Mr T” debt collectors appointed regarding $700 owed by Mr T.

Committee requested price for high jump mat; Grant Hyland suggested flying flag at school.

Still no money from Mr T; suggest call another debt collector.

1981: Roll 100. It is proposed we let Mr T. off. Demolished old bike shed.

Interesting to note that puberty talks from form 1 and 2 introduced this year after removal of bike sheds. Rob Petrie appointed scale A teacher.

1982: A very quiet year

1983: Roll 96,December roll 116. School picnic at Miranda $3 child, $4 adult; bible studies discussed and agreed to;  bi annual school committee 17 people attended.

1984: Arthur Flay retired. Bruce Adin was appointed, he introduced: school lunch scheme school sports day, school production, revitalised calf club day, week camp for form 1 pupils, trip to Northland for form 2 pupils, overnight camp for standards 3 and 4.

Adventure playground mooted. Never got off the ground.

Working bees were successful.

School cats will be disposed of.   

1985: Bruce Adin  resigned. August, John Hayes appointed.

Bus route extended to bottom of Reid Road on health grounds.

Requested and accepted that library became a public library available during school hours to the Glenbrook community.

1986: Roll 123. Whole school travelled to Auckland to see the Queen.

Two women and the three men on staff: Mrs Zelistra, Mrs Barnet, Mr Hayes, Mr Petrie, Mr Machin.

Computers considered. Raised by Mr lan Johnson.                   

1987 : Roll 126. Adventure playground mooted. Funds from 1986 were to be used together with funds raised by Glenbrook Play Group who were at the time using the school as a venue. First computer purchased. Staffing 6 teachers.

1988: Roll 152. Bibles in Schools yet again controversial – parents consulted. Children decide to spend money on new high jump bar; short tennis racket purchased; 50th calf Club day celebrations; teachers strike March 4th and 18th.

Picot Report set guidelines for Tomorrow’s Schools.

School houses or whanau – Kahikatea, Taraire, Totara, Puriri introduced.

NZ steel erected box in school ground to record samples of air emissions from steel mill.

1989:  roll 150. 50th Calf Club Day celebrations.

Last school committee meeting: Dennis O’Callaghan, Ed Coers, Dave Palmer, Kathryn Bailly Cath Campbell, Bruce Sowerby and Chris McGill.

Mr and Mrs Botma,s (school caretakers) last year. Renowned for always having lollies in their pockets. Robert Dawson new caretaker.

Adventure playground committee formed; took their own children to parks and schools to let them try out equipment, to decide what children liked best. Ropes spliced and knotted by Paddy and Dave Palmer – supervised by by Phil Green. Debbie van der Star, Cody and Jay Ralph cut ribbon at opening of adventure playground.

First Board of Trustees election start of Tomorrow’s Schools.

The Board received a request from a parent regarding gender imbalance on newly elected Board of Trustees (Lex Dillon demanded a woman).

1990: Roll 165 Rob Petrie acting like principal appointed principal.Meeting called to discuss future of old schoolroom. Discussion regarding possible removal of old room. Meeting unanimously resolved to keep old room in school.

1991: Peter Snell village camp.Room’s 5, 6, and 7 led by teacher Rob Petrie.

Motion put by Simon Brown that alcohol be banned from school camps. Motion lapsed for lack of a seconder. Bible in School survey; December, lan Woodfield appointed; school fees $14 per term; renovated old room; moved library moved into “the old room”; work completed on renovation of school house; built new sports shed, purpose built shelving, old shelter shed demolished.

Meeting procedure reviewed.

Morley Road and  Station Road parents looking into user pays bus run; office computer is purchased.

Proposal to resite Glenbrook School besides the Glenbrook Hall.

1992: Roll 207.

Dialogue continues with Shaws over vandalism on the buses.

January schoolhouse fire, soon after Ian Woodfield was appointed.

House completely destroyed.

1993: Sports and entertainment festival. Governor General Dame Cath Tizard attended.  April 93 Combat and Survival Day. Board of Trustees were narrowly defeated on a technicality during the tug of war. Activities included short course triathlon, wind sprints with medicine ball, one hundred metre train pull and volleyball.

Memorial garden and service for Mrs Gill Jones, School Secretary for eight years who suddenly passed away.

1994: Choices, Chances, Consequences programme initiated, Kia Kaha and Peer Mediation to enable children to cope and acquire skills that help them deal with difficult situations. Revised School Charter.

“Ooh Man contest “raised $2300. Won by local fireman Mike Keys.

Staffroom extended, multi-purpose building built.

Robert Dawson says “The pool is leaking badly, filter is held together with chewing gum and string”.

Simon Brown to become School Chaplain, commence first term 1995.

1995: Roll 226. Roll expected to grow to 242 by end of year.

New classroom arrives, positioning dependant upon land exchange with Ian and Sue Chitty.

School was approached with an idea for fundraising ~ collecting dead animals! School turned down the offer; ERO report; school trip to Mangere oxidation ponds; school lunches – mince pie $1.30, milk flavoured drink 70c.

Primary teachers strike March 1st and 2nd; teacher shortage made it difficult to find relieving staff.

November – Bavarian Social organised; March – trip to Orere Point and Miranda.


School roofs inspected and found to be polluted by Steel Mill fall out.

P.T.A didn’t start out too well, small committee but no support members, nearly folded. Attendance slowly went up to 12.

Pool is still leaking; car park built.

1996: Roll 223

Pool opens 4th March 1996.


View Road school house (replacement for Glenbrook school house burnt in fire) refurbishment in lieu of rent from tenant.

Land exchange successfully approved.

February; “The school has no objections to children wearing sunglasses at school.”

Leak in new pool; people mural painted for multi-purpose room; $5000.00 budget for classroom computers; enrolment scheme policy put in place.

Four term year started; $20.00 school fee per term.

1997: Roll February 226, September 245.

June – Ian Woodfield resigned. Alister McKinnon appointed relieving principal for term; 29 applicants for Principal’’s position. Barbara Duckworth appointed October.

Garden ramble in late November. Golf and dinner, social night out at Awhitu for B.O.T and staff.

Alister McKinnon suggested that 10c or a 5 minute token be given for good behaviour to be used for stationery or pies.

New junior block opened in May.

Old pool and changing rooms demolished, leak discovered; sports shed moved and courts extended; new bore sunk and new incinerator built.

1998: Roll 229.

New administration block built and staff room opened. Native grove planted on lower playground.

Smoking Policy formulated – designated smoking areas (to comply with Smoke Free Environments Act 1990).

Nit Busting group established; Mothers Day raffle raised $1934; school polo shirt. Green shirt with white motif.; July – memorial service for Rachael McKay; Chaplain resigned at Glenbrook to take up new position at Waiuku College.

Due to increasing number of children attending Sandspit Dental Clinic ~ children now attending Patumahoe Dental Clinic.

1999: Roll 242.

Room 6 visit to Takanini Dairy Factory; 60th Calf Club held; Junior rooms visited local farms.

Stage two of adventure playground complete; hall sub committee formed to collect ideas from other schools regarding a hall.

Strong man challenge – Aart Raaymakers pulled a train; refused Mr Wang’s proposal for fee paying student; Mothers Day raffle raised $2250.

Teacher Aide’s hourly rate increased to $10.71 per hour; Manual training cost to be passed on to parents $30 per half year.

2000: Roll 211

Jenny Shipley – Leader of the National Party attended Calf Club.

No parking under oak tree please!

Whanau logos introduced.

D.A.R.E Drug Abuse Resistance Education programme in school for years seven and eight.

Barbara Duckworth Principal given leave for 1 year to take up a position at Teachers College, Liz de Beurs acting Principal.

Trip to far North for years seven and eight; Bush and Bike Day at Awhitu Regional Park years four and five; contracting company to repair holes in car park for cost of two crates of Lion Red beer.


2001 : Roll 237

Barbara Duckworth resigns as principal in July.

Hall blessing September 19th, Hall opening September 21st.

The Fantastic Mr Fox School Production; Jubilee Committee formed term three; PTA presented sunhats to each child. Wearing of hats for sun protection compulsory from 10.30am; chickens for Calf Club.

School lunch pies~ Chocolate Milk 95c, Hot Dog $1 .40c

2002 : Roll 234

Colin Cochrane appointed Principal.

Flagpole resited by hall; Mr Machin rejoined staff.

Glenbrook School 125th Jubilee celebrations in November.

It is obvious, after sifting through the minutes of the school committees, that, over the years, Glenbrook School has been extremely fortunate in the interest shown by the parents and the teachers. There have been ballots for Committee (and more recently B.O.T.) positions nearly every election since the first meeting in 1918. Difficult situations have been handled with honesty and fairness. It is impossible to record all the accomplishments, but if the older pupils compare the school of today with that of their time, the dedication of those involved, is evident.

Glenbrook District History

                                             From Brian Muir’s Notes


Francis Dart Fenton, a judge of The Maori Land Court summarised the early Maori ownership of the lands in the lower Waikato and Auckland regions. He wrote “The Part of New Zealand between lines drawn from Cape Rodney across to the West Coast and from the Waikato to Tauranga was in the possession of one great tribe called Nga Oho after their ancestor who it is to be believed to have came from Hawaiki about 1150 A.D.

As the tribe increased, the people especially entitled to live within particularly defined areas acquired new names. The area around the Southern shores of Manukau Harbour became the home of Ngati Te Ata, Ngati Tamaoho and Ngati Pou sub-tribes who were descendants of Nga Oho who had inter-married with Waikato Tribes.” Their villagers were mostly located at various places known as Tauroa, stretching from the Manukau Heads to the Waikato Heads. The landforms there provided suitable sites for highly developed fortifications, and were ideally close to the food resources of the harbour, river and the coast. The area to the east of Waiuku inlet provided fewer pa sites except at Waiau Pa, the Needles and Bald Hill. The Glenbrook area was used for hunting birds, cultivating crops on the better soils and gathering fern roots. Many signs of fishing parties are still evident in Glenbrook today in the large piles of shell now mixed with soil along the shores of the Waikato River and the Mauku Creek.

When the first Europeans arrived the Ngati Tamaoho held the land at Kohekohe (Pehiakura), Ihumatao, Papakura, Glenbrook and inland to Patumahoe. Hongi Hika and the Ngapuhi from the far north arrived at the Manukau in 1822, the inhabitants fleeing before the devastating invasion. The Manukau and the lower Waikato were deserted until 1835 when the Ngati Te Ata and Ngati Tamaoho returned to their lands. At this time the Missionary influence in the area was initiated, settling first at Moeatoa (opposite the Needles). The land from the Moeatoa to the coast was of bleak appearance with few trees and mostly fern covered waste. In contrast there was a fine stand of native bush on the Glenbrook side, some of which still stands today. James Hamlin, the Missionary who arrived in September 1836, records in his journal that he had met J. R. Kent, the first European trader on the Manukau. Hamlin recorded that J. R. Kent died at Kahawai, Manukau, on the 1st of January 1837 at the fishing village, (the point where the Glenbrook Boat Ramp now stands). Just north of the ramp ground formations suggest that in the past a large population of Māori had resided.

Hamlin was not long at Moeatoa before moving to Orua Bay where there was a large Maori population and the soil was productive. An entry in Hamlin’s journals recorded that he purchased land at Waitangi and Te Tumu from the Maori. Te Tumu is part of the area known today as Mission Bush. While living at Orua Bay Hamlin began to farm Te Tumu. He travelled in an open rowing boat and recorded on the 15th of August 1839 he sowed wheat and made frequent visits to attend to it. He wrote “A small tribe at Moeatoa, desiring a European, offered land for one of my sons.” This he declined. They further told Hamlin that if he did not buy land they would sell it to a trader. He acceded to their request. He did not know the exact boundaries of this land and wrote that some of the woodland had been deliberately set on fire by the natives who went there to dig fern root. “They thought it” he said “of no consequence being only common timber.”

He eventually received a title to 2,200 acres which he had purchased from the Maori and this is shown as 15 blocks, marked A to L on the enclosed map of Glenbrook. One of his sons, Mr E. Hamlin (later Major Hamlin) donated the Brookside School site. He not only achieved distinction in the Waiuku Mounted Cavalry (the local defence force) but also served Franklin as it’s member of Parliament for many years.

The historical facts of Hamlin’s land purchases follows an article supplied by Mrs A.M. Ringer.



Te Tumu was sold to James Hamlin on 13th of September 1837 by a part of the Ngati Te Ata Tribe. ‘The boundary to the west is Waiamatakino and and the water of the Manukau to the falls of Waitangi a freshwater river near the dragging place of the Awaroa; it then turns inland running along a ridge of fern to a post set up as a boundary mark on this side, a place called Ruakiwi. This is the boundary to the South. A little on this side of Ruakiwi. It turns and runs across to a post set up on the North East; it then turns and goes to the West to the side of Te Tumu, and running along the ridge of fern descends into the Manukau at the Waiamatakino, this is the North boundary’. 16 blankets, 10 axes, 9 adzes, 30 lbs tobacco and 1 spade was payment. In 1838, on 19th June, he bought the 1,000 acres known as Tapuikitekite, which included part of Te Tumu and Waitangi and land to the South of Karaka, for 200 lbs tobacco, 1 Heifer Calf, 10 Hoes, 6 Spades, 20 Blankets, 5 Bars of Soap, 50 Pipes, 4 Shirts,  £ 7, 1 Clock.


All land bought before 1840 was investigated by Land Commissioners. Hamlin’s claims were allowed and he was in 1844 issued with Grants for land including that of Glenbrook. In 1859 these Grants were called in, cancelled and replaced by a final settlement which included the Glenbrook 2,100 acres.

On a modern cadastral map Hamlin’s Grant is outlined in blue, the line starting on the harbour at Cameron Road following the Waitangi Stream, running along the Pukekohe Road to boundaries parallel and to the South of Glenbrook Station Road, back along the Drury-Waiuku Road to Mission Bush Corner and directly across the Steel Mill property to the harbour.

Among the persons eligible to vote in the 1860 elections for the House of Representatives was Frederick Hamlin on account of this freehold land ‘Tumu near Waiuku adjacent to Mr Reid’s and Church Mission, in his occupation.’ In the electoral lists for 1862, Joseph Pratt Hamlin householder of Waitangi, and William Osbourne and James Senior both of Waipuna appear because of their interest in Waitangi. (Other names among those early electors were Samuel Hodge, George and Walter McElwain, for Waiuku East, and Charles Heaphy, R.C. McDonald and H.N. Warner for Pakington.)

The Rev. Hamlin died in November 1865, his Waitangi estate being divided into 15 sections among his twelve children. Ebenezer and Frederick remained in the district for many years.


  • A. M. Ringer



With the establishment of the Government in Auckland – sales in the Manukau began to escalate. The Kahawai block (Glenbrook) was purchased on 5th April 1853 by John White, the Government agent and interpreter, as part of what was then known as the Waiuku East Block, for  £100.00. In 1854 the land was surveyed and offered for sale to Europeans by auction that year. Mr E. B. Fitton, a visitor to the district in July 1854 stated, “There are very few Europeans except the Missionaries and a few traders. The land is at present entirely in the hands of the Natives.  

Trade to Auckland via the Awaroa (the creek running 1 ½ miles South of Waiuku into the Waikato River) is abundant.

The first settlers found the soil unyielding and unprofitable. The latter part of the 1850’s was a period of economic depression. The settlers were forced to seek other forms of employment and income. Flax Mills proved worthwhile and soon on most streams, no matter how small, waterwheels, dams and mills were operating.

An unknown traveller from Auckland to Waiuku in January 1864 has left a description of the countryside and his impressions as he approached Glenbrook. “After passing Mauku, the land improves. The road, owing to the formation of this country, runs close along by the bush, crossing one or more of the wooded spurs. By and by houses are seen on either hand, and fenced paddocks and green fields and brousing kine attest the presence of the civilised race. The houses are all abandoned, with one exception, along the line of  country, and it is impossible to pass through it without regret that such a necessity was forced upon the settlers as the desertion of their homes. (The settlers had moved into Waiuku or Auckland during the Waikato War of 1863 to 1864). The white houses of the settlers pop out from the green foliage of the forest, giving a picturesque appearance to the district. Looking down from the high ground as the traveller emerges from the bush, the settlement of Waiuku is caught sight of. The flax mill of Messrs. Purchase and Ninnis is the nearest considerable building to be seen (this was at Waitangi Falls). Further off the straggling houses in the settlement, and the stockade on the elevated piece of ground contiguous to the Waikato River are caught sight of. I had almost quoted – ‘Distance leads enchantment to the view,’ and my readers are not to consider this confession as anything in the shape of a quotation. But the truth is that, however pretty at a distance, the Waikato flat is as sterile a piece of land as can be imagined – that is, if the person whose imagination is to be exercised has never seen the Karaka. A great deal has been done by the settlers to improve the land, and certainly not without effect, but so much labour and money as has been expended ought to have produced greater results. In time, I have not doubt, all the land between Drury and Waiuku will be cultivated, but it can only be done by the employment of the best agricultural machinery and suitable manures. This, I need hardly say, will not pay in New Zealand at present. Labour is too dear and too scarce and money is of more value than to bury it in a soil which does not yield a speedy return.”

  • B. D. Muir

From the Auckland Gazette, the Minutes of the Waiuku District Roads Board, Brookside School Register, and discussions with the descendants of the early families it has been possible to give a fairly accurate picture of the earliest arrivals in Glenbrook. Mr W.C. Gearon who bought land in 1856 is the earliest settler whose descendants have continued to live in the district. He was born in Rathkale, Ireland in 1828. He went to the United States at the age of 18 where he learned the building trade. He arrived in New Zealand in the ship “Taliho” in 1856. During the Land War Mr Gearon moved to Mercer. His land in Glenbrook was mostly dense native bush. He purchased a flax mill from Runciman and converted this into a saw mill. A large waterwheel drove the saw and much of the timber for the early settler’s houses was sawn on his property. In 1906 Mr Gearon retired to Auckland where he died in 1925 aged 97 years. His son John continued in his father’s footsteps and did contracting work in the district. The Gearon farm is the boundary of Mauku and Glenbrook but this family has been mostly associated with the Glenbrook district. Three generations have attended our school.

From the Auckland Gazette, 1860, the following purchases of land in Glenbrook were recorded. The price during those years was between 15/- and  £ 1.76 per acre.

Pike owned The Mauku Hotel which was listed under the heading “Publican’s Bush Licences.” This Hotel, also known as the Mauku Inn, was located across the Mauku Bridge on the right hand side going to Auckland. Several old trees mark the site. The first licensee was George Walters in 1861.

The Waiuku Highway District Assessment Roll, (1868), includes more new arrivals. Below is a copy of landowners, the acreage occupied, and the rates struck that year. Below the last entry is written:

“The Trustees of the Waiuku Highway District will meet at the Mauku Inn on Monday, 20th Day of April, 1868 to hear appeals against the above Assessment Roll.

Waiuku East, 3rd Feb. 1868”

  • J. Kelcher

Chairman of Trustees


In 1874 the Church Mission paid rates on 323 acres. This land was later purchased by Thos.Reid.

Timothy Conroy Snr. arrived in Glenbrook in 1874 and purchased land in 1882, James Lowe 1874, John McElwain 1874, E. Hockin 1876, W. Craig 1876, Thomas Tierney 1877, Robert Goble 1880, and Thomas Smeeton 1881.


From the Brookside School Register the following names and years have been obtained. The dates indicated the approximate arrival years of the following families.

1881 George McElwain

1881 J. McDonald

1883 Daniel Flannagan

1885 John Lowe

1886 William Woodward

1887 James McKinney

1895 James Chalmers

1896 William Summerville

1897 George Morley


The late Mr H.O. Mellsop provided much of the recorded history of the Glenbrook district and noted the Glenbrook residents who took part in the 1863 Wars and veterans who came to Glenbrook shortly afterwards.

Lieut. J. T. Mellsop; Privates Chas. Melsop, J Kelcher, C. Dromgool, J. Dromgool, A. Speedy.     

The volunteers were organised by Major James Speedy. The interpreter with the Colonial Forces was Fred. Hamlin and Ebenezer Hamlin was Colour Sergeant in the 3rd Waikato Regiment, William Flavell, a Sergeant in the Wanganui Volunteers and James Mellsop, Ensign in the Forest Rangers.

Mr Mellsop continues:

“The Forest Rangers, or rather a company of them, with the Mauku Volunteers were engaged in the fighting at Bald Hill, Ti-Ti Farm and the big clearing (now Steenson’s corner on Union Road, Pukekohe West). The Glenbrookites together with their comrades from Mauku had only been in the colony five or six years but with their chief officer Major Lusk, were singled out for great praise for the way in which they beat the enemy at bush fightings.”


The following is an extract from a dispatch from the Governor to the Duke of Newcastle (Colonial Secretary in London)

“The Gallantry shown by Captain Lusk and all concerned in the engagement reflects the highest credit on them. It was no enterprise which they undertook against the Natives, but an attack upon one of those murdering bands who had penetrated far into the settlement for the purpose of murder and plunder. I am satisfied that the spirit with which this body assailed the enemy the moment it was discovered, and the punishment they received from this force of only one eighth their own numbers will do much to increase the respect of the Natives, for the courage and determination of the settlers will check the marauding parties who have murdered so many people. It is impossible not to feel the greatest admiration for the resolute gallantry displayed by the small body of men under Captain Lusk’s command.


  1. Grey, Governor.”


Mr Mellsop also wrote an excellent article about his boyhood and Glenbrook prior to the 1900’s for the School’s 80th Anniversary in 1957. It is included slightly abridged.

“Spring carts or drays were the chief means of conveyance and were an advancement from the bullock drays of the fifties. Not until about 1890 did the first sulky appeared in Glenbrook. Of course, most families had at least one hack, but legs and feet were fully developed and much used. On the Western side of the road to ‘Brookside’, stretching to the salt water from Waitangi Bay to the Needles, was the 900 odd acre farm ‘Reid Park’, where wool and fat bullocks where the chief products. J. R. McElwain’s ‘Grange’ farm joined ‘Reid Park’ and was perhaps in those early days the most highly cultivated in the district. ‘The Grange’, together with Ross McElwain’s present farm, was famous for its Lincoln sheep and a fine class of milking Shorthorn cattle. McElwain’s Lincolns, together with C. T. Barriball’s, and later Eber Barriball’s, were the chief prize winners, not only at local and Auckland shows, but also at the Sydney Royal Shows.

Some farms were vacant in the eighties, notably ‘the Grange’ between Mauku Bridge and Browns Gully, originally the homestead of Major Speedy, our first magistrate. (A memorial to him is by the Bridge). Then Kelcher’s farm, now Schlup’s opposite the hall, was vacant as far as farming went, growing only gorse and rat tail until Chalmers bought it and make it a farm in the nineties.

John Lowe, later our patient, humourous, Sergeant-Major in the Waiuku Mounted Rifles, bought Nortons out, next to the school, and as an ex-member of the Queen’s Life Guards in London was of great interest to the school children.

To our astonishment, too, we found that Mrs Lowe was sister-in-law to one of the greatest thought readers that ever lived, Stuart Cumberland. We had just read in the papers of his astounding demonstrations before the many crowned heads of Europe, including Czar of Russia.

In the eighties before the export of farm produce began, before fertilising by top dressing was thought of, about half of Glenbrook was uncultivated and to a large extent unoccupied. All the Pakington area was ti-tree and bracken, kept short by the occasional fire of the gum-digger. And the same applied to all that now prosperous area stretching to the Glenbrook Beach.

The change that has taken place since the turn of the century can only be fully appreciated by those of us who have been fortunate enough to watch the development. Whereas in those early years the bush land was rated first-class, the advent of top-dressing and modern farming has completely obliterated any lines of demarcation between the two. Nowhere is this more marked that in Glenbrook and its neighbouring districts of Waiau Pa and Karaka.

In the days of which I write only two houses existed near the main road from Glenbrook to the outskirts of Drury. There were a few others around the harbour front, but this large area carried no trees. From our house on the hill, back from the present hall, we could see the New Plymouth boats come in from Manukau Heads and move up to Onehunga. We could see the S.S. Manukau crossing from Onehunga to Awhitu and so on. We could see the volcanic cones of Auckland, and from the Manukau we could pick out an Australian gum tree near our house which, only planted in 1858, towered above the surrounding bush. So fast did this tree grow that before 1900 we split over 100 posts from it. Yes we were vandals. However, trees, trees and more trees now obliterated this far reaching view.

The virgin bush in the early days reached from Pukekohe and beyond, almost to the Waiuku-Drury road. Here and there it was felled and cleared, but bushfires raged through a very large area in the Glenbrook station and two years in succession. The bush had contained much Puriri and other timber trees. Railway sleepers and posts had been shipped to Onehunga from landings on Mauku Creek by trading cutters or scows, leaving the partially destroyed forest as a great fire potential – and so it proved to be. If those people who today are ever so ready to criticise the early settlers for their destruction of the forests, realise the tremendous efforts of those settlers day after day and night after night through many an Autumn to keep bush fires under control, to save some shelter here, some few timber trees there, or perhaps a house or sheds, they would instead pay tribute to their efforts. The many patches of bush remaining through our district today are a lasting monument to their labours with only the crude firefighting appliances of those days.

Seventeen or eighteen families lived in what is now Glenbrook in the 1880’s from Waitangi Stream to the Mauku Creek. Most were semipermanent, but a few were only short residents, and during the late eighties and nineties more newcomers moved in, but it was not until very near the last years of the century that farming made real advancement and many new settlers came in.

No account of the early days of Glenbrook would be complete without a mention of our annual picnics, later to become picnic and sports. The first was held in Reid’s Bush in January, 1894, and they were held annually for a long while.

Memories crowd into my mind of picnics, surprise parties, an occasional riding party to the West Coast; town visitors who all wanted to ride our hacks and did, although unable to sit down for a week afterwards. One, a relieving teacher hung on with his spurs while ‘Old Darby’ bolted from Waiuku to the hall site. The school stool was no use to him for the fortnight he remained with us.

I now sometimes wonder if amongst all the progress and the smaller subdivisions I could find my way to the rapids, champion schnapper fishing spot near the mouth of the Mauku Creek; to the beaches where we got such bags of flounder; to Rimu Gully and Peach Gully at the Pakington end. A feed of peaches and glorious peaches they were, then 60 or 70 full sized flounder and a ride home across the fern wastes at midnight, where only the horses could see the tracks, left memories which still linger.

Yes, Glenbrook life was good in those days. The times produced the people and the people suited the times. In the almost 50 years our family lived at Glenbrook we never had a lock on an outside door. We had the periodic visit from the swaggers of those years. We had regular visits of ‘Bob Socks,’ otherwise G. G. Smith, and others of his ilk selling us clothing requirements. We captured a violent escapee from Avondale Mental Asylum but never had anything stolen.

Farming in the eighties and early nineties last century in Glenbrook was a succession of cropping, laying down in pasture, then after three to five years ploughing up again, then cropping, etc., again, an everlasting ‘vicious circle.’    

Our implements, a Wallace mole plough, a set of triangle harrows, and later discs, and here and there a wooden roller which would be lent to others or perhaps owned by two or three neighbours. These rollers made at home out of a Matai or Rimu log 8ft in circumference were heavy. One went over me once so I ought to know. I just had time to throw my arm over my head otherwise someone else might have been writing these notes. Our only power was horsepower, animal not mechanical as now. Our horses had to be hard fed if working in summer and during the winter always.

Outside, travelling machines came in to drill our crops, to cut our oats and wheat and to do our threshing and chaff-cutting. Charlie Hosking, Tom McGowan, Eber Barriball, with their own mowing machines, George Bennett, the drill, all horsepower of course, did their annual round of Glenbrook. John Keith had a monopoly of threshing and chaff cutting at the start of the mechanical age. The old horse power of Sam Currie’s with home made thresher lasted two seasons. The driver, standing in the centre – generally a school boy – kept the four horses moving in their endless trail and during the first few hours felt a man. During the next few hours he watched the house for the inevitable billy of tea which came at two-hour intervals, and during the waning hours of the day and far into the night he dosed on his seat and growled at the dull monotony of farm life.

Then came the Keith portable steam engine above mentioned. Eight  to ten of the best draught horses were assembled to haul this portable from farm to farm, then another trip for the combine and a couple of good draughts for the chaffcutter. John Keith’s day of threshing and chaff cutting commenced at 8 a.m. and finished at 10 p.m. or later, then moved onto be ready for 8 a.m. next morning.

The first method of filling chaff bags was a round hole in the ground slightly larger than a sack, over which was placed a frame with iron rings to keep the mouth of the sack open. A worked tramped the chaff tight till he had his bag full and then lifted it out to the bag sewer. Tramping was a heavy job and a dirty, dusty job, and all were glad when the steam tractor and its twin bagging, chaff cutter came along with a clock to register the number of bags filled.

At farming we were making progress. Ten or a dozen men were still needed per operation, but the teams to move the machinery were needed if the steam tractor got stuck – and some of the swamp crossings were precarious. In a good dry autumn most of Glenbrook threshing  and chaff-cutting would be done in less than a fortnight of 14 or 15 hour days.

One night the steam tractor moved Christy Dromgool’s house from its old site to 50 acres he had bought, being the back portion of Knockmaroon, our property. The house on skids was crossing the Waiuku-Drury Road and many of the interested neighbours were inside having a free ride when the ridge board,  catching in the Waiuku-Auckland telegraph wire was torn off. Those people who were inside broke all previous records for quick exit. They taxed the capacity of doors and windows.

With the steam tractor came reaper and binder. The mowing machine side delivery  and hand-tied sheaves which had superseded the sickle and the scythe disappeared and we made progress, but in the late nineties the whole scene changed. Superphosphate, kainett, blood and bone, yes, and even green bonedust, were found to be just as beneficial sown as top-dressing when harrowed into ploughed ground. I remember once at Knockmaroon I had been broadcasting swedes, and sowed a box full of artificial manure on an adjoining strip of grass. A  farmer visitor came across and asked me what I was throwing the stuff away for. I told him of the rumour and he roared with his laughter.

However, we were long enough in Glenbrook to see just the beginning of the transformation, and even this farmer visitor became an ardent top-dresser of grass. Top-dressing and grass farming ended the grain growing, but this is bringing me into 1900, of which you will be told by others. Our farm teams teams, many of them bred on the properties, were good in their places but, like the All Blacks at Wellington, were not cooperative in ten-horse teams.

Some farm horses in those days were imported from Sydney, and regular sales were held of Australian horses in Auckland. Hack sales and ponies from Galatea and Rotorua were held at Drury, and many of these wild Maori reared  bronks found their Tangent – really great ponies. In those days we had to be aware of the professional horse dealer. He was an artist at his game, and by what I hear the used car dealers of today must be his direct descendants.

All goods in those days were of course brought to Waiuku and Glenbrook by steamer, and by Steamer were travelled to Onehunga, then by bus to Epsom, and by horse tram the rest of the way to Queen Street. We could land at the Needles in the first years I remember. Then Woodward Wharf was built, with a bad approach by steamer and by impossible one by land. Once, when I was 17 years of age, we had five tons of bonedust landed on this wharf   and I carried it to the top of the wharf cutting on my back, a bag at a time 80 1 ¼ cwt bags about two chain up a grade of about one in four. It took me about four hours and I hated the sight and site of Woodward’s Wharf ever after.

Later a wharf was built on Battersley Point, and here again I had a unique experience. I acted as chainman and line cutter with a surveyor who was born on the day of the Battle of Trafalgar. His name, Horatio Nelson Warner, proclaimed the fact. Mr Warner when surveying there, was over 85 years of age. He was a very old surveyor and I a very young chainman. We, from the Battersley Trig picked the trig at Maioro (Birds Hill), Pukeroa (Mt. Kaihau) and on Mt. Eden. There were then no intervening  trees. I acted as a chainman in the same area with the late C.C Otway. M. Dromgools (now Hodgkinsons) and the Grange (McCrystals) were the only farms on the Glenbrook Beach Road in those days. Warnambool Tierney, as he was always called, lived on the waterfront near Glenbrook Beach but did not farm.

All movements of cattle from Waiuku to other districts went through Glenbrook then – beef from the sandhills and Awhitu and store bullocks, some five to seven year olds, from the Te Akau station over the river were encountered regularly before the fattening lands of the Otaua and Aka Aka were opened up. Fortunately the cattle were usually road wise by the time they reached Glenbrook.’


  • O.H.M