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A Compendium of Official Documents Relative to Native Affairs in the South Island. Volume Two.

No. 8. — Copy of a letter from Mr. Tancred, to the Hon. J. C. Richmond

No. 8.
Copy of a letter from Mr. Tancred, to the Hon. J. C. Richmond.

Commissioner Native Reserves Office,
Christchurch, September 20th, 1866.


In further reference to my letter of the 6th instant, upon the subject of an application, on behalf of the Native school at Kaiapoi, for a grant in aid for its support, I have the honour to inform you that I took advantage of my visit to that place on the 12th instant to inspect the establishment, and to make myself acquainted with various details connected with its management.

1.As regards the buildings used for the purposes of the school, the Rev. J. Stack, who exercises a general supervision over it, informs me that he has already furnished the Government with a ground plan; and it will, therefore, probably be sufficient if I state here the dimensions of the different rooms.
(1.)The schoolroom, 20 feet by 13; weather-boarded and lined on three sides (including the outer wall), with a fireplace at one end.
(2.)Dining-room (adjoining), 16 feet by 13; unlined.
(3.)Girls' dormitory, 13 feet by 13; lined.
(4.)Boys' " 16 feet by 13; lined.
(5.)Teacher's sitting-room, 13 feet by 13; lined, with a fireplace.
(6.)Teacher's bedroom, 13 feet by 13. (This is merely a garret in the roof).
(7.)Storeroom, 10 feet by 13.
(8.)Wash-house and drying shed, 23 feet by 8.

The whole of this block of buildings was erected at a cost of £450.

In addition to these, a kitchen has been built at a little distance from the main body, together with a passage, for an additional sum of £52; making the total cost of the whole buildings used for the immediate purposes of the school £502.

The kitchen, which contains a well in one corner, is built of corrugated iron, and is connected with the rest of the building by a passage of the same material, in such a manner that, in case of fire, the communication between the kitchen and the rest of the building can be easily cut off.

2.The school was commenced in April last, and has, therefore, been in operation for about five months.
3.There are fifteen children in constant attendance, who are boarded, lodged, and clothed out of the income of the institution,
4.A teacher has been engaged (Miss Taylor), who has conducted [gap — reason: damaged]be school since its commencement. Her salary is £75 per annum.

For the present, and as a temporary arrangement, Miss Taylor superintends the washing, cooking, cleaning of the rooms, &c., assisted, so far as this is possible, by the girls.

5.The children pay in the shape of fees one shilling per week, and as no holidays are given, this amounts in the course of the year to £2 12s. for each child. page 159

There is every hope, from the interest felt by the parents in the education of their children, that this payment will be continued.

6.I carefully examined the children as to their progress in the subjects in which they had received instruction, and I have great satisfaction in being able to state that, considering the short time during which the school has been in operation, the result appeared to me very satisfactory.

The whole of the 15 children were present, viz:—four boys and eleven girls. They were all clean and neatly dressed.

They could all read easy words of one syllable, and some of the more advanced more difficult words.

I was particularly struck by the proficiency in writing, in which I should say, they evinced greater aptitude than the generality of the children who receive instruction in the ordinary schools of the Province, and who have mostly been at school for a much longer time.

In arithmetic there were none who were not able to do sums in simple addition, and they were all tolerably familiar with the multiplication tables.

In geography they could all point out on the map the principal countries, seas, rivers, &c., of the world.

The boys as well as the girls learn sewing, and, so far as I am capable of forming an opinion upon this subject, their work appeared to be very neat.

The general behaviour of the children was orderly and respectful.

The children appeared to me to be in the enjoyment of excellent health, and it is the general opinion that since they have been at school, a great improvement has taken place in this respect, arising, probably, from the better food and regular hours. It is a subject of general remark, that they have grown very much during this time.

The children are plainly dressed, but owing to the greater coldness of the climate here, when compared to districts situated more to the north, a more ample supply of clothing is required than that which has been found sufficient in warmer parts of the Colony. The cost of this item of expenditure is therefore proportionally larger.

Each child requires two sets of clothes per annum.

The girls' clothes are made by the girls themselves, and are cut out in the establishment; their cost is consequently only that of the material; whereas, in the case of the boy's, the clothes must be purchased ready-made, and thus the cost is proportionably larger.

Each child has a mattress of its own provided by the parents, also one blanket, an additional blanket being provided out of the funds of the institution.

It was not thought absolutely necessary to provide the children with shoes from the funds of the institution; but it appears that the parents were induced to come forward and to purchase these articles from their own means, with a view of adding to the comfort of their children; the result being that every one of the children appears with shoes in good repair.

Taking all these circumstances into consideration, I think it will be apparent that the school promises to become a very great advantage not only to the children themselves, but indirectly to the whole of the Natives in the place; and, from the fact that the instruction is given exclusively in English, it may reasonably be expected that the children will not only acquire English habits while under actual instruction, but they will also, by being able in future years to hold intercourse with their European neighbours, be in a position to take their place in a civilized community.

With regard to the aid required for the support of the institution, I may, in the first place, state that, with reference to your suggestion that I should ascertain how far the Provincial Government would assist, I have had an interview with the Provincial Government upon the subject, and I find that although that Government would be anxious to do what it can in the matter, yet that the financial position of the Province is not such as to justify any large expenditure.

It appears, moreover, to be the feeling of the Provincial Government that the management of the Natives, including that of Native schools, is a duty which more properly devolves upon the General Government; and that, as the Native schools in the Provinces of the North Island have been hitherto supported out of the funds contributed by the whole Colony, it is not quite obvious to the authorities of this Province why a similar course should not be adopted in their case.

I have, in the faco of these facts, found it very difficult to persuade the Government of this Province to take a different view of the matter; and this task becomes still more difficult when I am met with the objection that the Natives of this Province have been less cared for than those resident in the Northern Provinces, though their loyalty and good conduct have been much more conspicuous.

Notwithstanding these objections, however, I think I am warranted in stating, that if the school is supported in such a manner as to make it really efficient, the Provincial Government will consent to place on the estimates for the current year a sum of £50, to supplement the grant of the General Government.

I have carefully gone through the items of expenditure for the five months during which the school has been in existence, and this has enabled me to make an estimate for the whole year.

page 160

I find from the data thus obtained, that the probable expenditure Will amount to a total of about £225 for the year, distributed as follows:—

£ s. d.
Stores 40 0 0
Flour 12 0 0
Potatoes 12 0 0
Meat 20 0 0
Clothes (girls') 14 0 0
" (boys') 7 0 0
Blankets 15 0 0
Teacher's Salary 75 0 0
Servant 30 0 0
Total £225 0 0
Thus the gross sum required is £225 0 0
Deduct fees (say fifteen children at £2 12s.) 39 0 0
Net sum required as grant £186 0 0

With regard to the last item, wages of servant, I may explain that the proper conduct of the school absolutely requires that the present arrangement, whereby the teacher performs the menial duties of the establishment, in addition to her legitimate work of teaching, should terminate as soon as possible.

The children are too young to be of much real assistance, so that all the hard work falls to the lot of the mistress, and I should fear that she will find it impossible to attend properly to the duty of teaching, unless she is in a position to devoto her whole time to the work.

I have, &c.,

Henry John Tancred,

The Hon. the Native Minister, Wellington.