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St James' Catholic School History

St. James' School 50th Jubilee 1958-2008

On 29th February, 1st and 2nd March 2008, St James, school celebrated its Golden Jubilee. The history starts in the early 1950's when the land was purchased - four acres for 5000 Pounds. This was soon extended by another eight acres, so that its frontage was Albert St, but it extended over to the back of Lincoln Terrace and out to Te Awe Awe Street. St Patrick's Parish, under the Parish Priest, Monsignor James MacManus, wanted to establish a primary school. Convent, church and presbytery, secondary school and Brothers' House. (The Forms ½ would stay at the Marist Brothers in Grey St). Twenty six members made up the Hokowhitu Catholic Church School Building Fund Committee - three members are still alive - Mesdames J.Cronin, J Bowler, and P Bateman. They immediately started fund raising and soon paid off the land.

You could say that St James' was built on raffles, bottle drives, jumble sales, euchre and housie evenings. Or you could also say that it was built on a strong faith, commitment and the hope of better facilities for the children and parents of this area.

The school started on 3rd February 1958 with forty two children, representing thirty three families, and two teachers. However, it was officially blessed and opened by Archbishop P. McKeefry on 9th February. It was called after the two great apostles - James the Great and James the Less, but named in honour of its founder, Monsignor James MacManus. Of the first Home and School Association, only four survive - Sister de Sales (Ruth Oakley, First Principal) Sister Pius (Joan Manson) and Mesdames P Bateman and J Hood. They set a standard that has been followed over 50 years by all the P.T.A's, of bringing the community together, and raising vast sums of money to maintain the high standards of education. Who would think that the first Gala Day of 1958 would grow into one known throughout Palmerston North and the Manawatu today?

In 1965, eight acres was sold off for $70,000 to pay for St Peter's College - this land formed the Chilton Grove of today. The financial burden was eased in 1981 when the school was integrated into the state system, and again in the late 1980's with the election of the Board of Trustees. The roll has grown steadily over the years, but with integration a maximum roll was set for both Catholic and non-Catholic children. This has been raised four times over the years to accommodate the numbers on the waiting lists.

Who would have thought that the original three classrooms set in a paddock in 1958, would grow into the splendid modern facilities of ten classrooms, administration block and assembly hall? This has all happened through the dedication of teachers and parents, who have sacrificed their time and effort to provide today's modern school. Here today, as over the past fifty years, we have a caring, faithful and loyal community, linked with their parish church.

Hundreds of ex parents (many now grandparents) ex pupils and teachers returned and met old friends and to discuss old times.

In this way you shall set the 50th year apart and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you:

And you shall return, everyone of you to your property and everyone of you to your family. Leviticus 25:10.

Barry Slade

Note: If you wish your children to be part of this successful, secure community, it is important that you get in touch with the Principal.


St James the Greater

Who was St James the Greater? Find out More

"I will show you my faith by my actions"

James 2:18

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