William Green, an outstanding Howick Citizen

William Green headmaster (far left) with Pakuranga School pupils in 1895.

As Howick and districts count down to the 175th anniversary next year, the Times continues its series by Alan La Roche giving readers a glimpse of life as it used to be. The countdown began at the 170th in 2017

William Green Domain at the corner of Bucklands Beach Road and Pakuranga Road is named for a much-loved teacher at Pakuranga School.

He was born in England in 1855 and died in 1937. William started as a saddler, but after marrying Emma Press in Manchester in 1882, they emigrated to New Zealand. On the sailing ship there were live sheep which he butchered but fresh meat was reserved for first-class passengers, not for steerage passengers.

William had an English teaching certificate and taught at Flat Bush School before moving to teach at Pakuranga School in 1893. William and Emma moved into the headmaster’s house next to the school. This house was eventually moved to Pakuranga College. Behind the headmaster’s house there used to be stables for his horse and hay for their house-cow.

All new students at Pakuranga School used to plant a tree behind the school, now part of Hutchinson’s Road Reserve. William taught the usual subjects as well as Latin, shorthand writing, horticulture, gardening and bee keeping using the school’s hives.

In 1897 Robert Maclean of Bleak House Farm provided wagons to take all students to Auckland to see special displays on Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. Robert also provided wagons for the annual school picnics at Barn Bay [now called Half Moon Bay].

Governor Lord Ranfurly visited Pakuranga School in 1900 and planted an oak tree followed by Lord Plunkett in 1907 who planted a pohutukawa which is still beside the St John’s Ambulance Station.

Both Governors admired the large flower garden in front of the school and vegetable gardens behind the school, maintained by the students.

William Green was respected by his students and admired for his knowledge. He used to open his beehive, extract honey without gloves, veil or a smoker but emphasised gentle handling and no one got stung. For school students it was excellent training.

William had a productive orchard behind his home including espaliered apple trees. Boys sometimes caught eels in the creek behind the school which they buried in William’s flourishing rhubarb garden. Most students at Pakuranga School at that time would become farmers or farmer’s wives.

William Green was a Justice of the Peace, a Church Warden and lay preacher at All Saints Anglican Church, even taking funeral services for special friends.

He used to maintain the churchyard with other helpers. He was a foundation member of the Howick Horticultural Society with Miss Nixon and others.

They planted the pohutukawa trees along Cockle Bay and Howick Beaches.

He was elected to the Howick Town Board and was responsible for selecting the Colville quarry granite for the Stockade Hill Monument in 1919 after World War I.

He organised the Anzac services between the World Wars which included repairing the post and wire boundary fences and scything a pathway up to the monument.

When he retired in 1914, Emma and William lived in a large villa at the corner of Picton Street and Wellington Streets.

William is buried in All Saints Churchyard and a lychgate in his memory was erected in Cook Street opposite the Monterey Apartments, as an outstanding Howick citizen.

  • Alan La Roche MBE
    Howick Historian
    alanlaroche@xtra.co.nz