There were more than 300 boarders when we were living at school but by 1979 the number had dropped by two thirds to 120 and in 1980 both Pridham and Niger were demolished.
In my first term at NPBHS I had to private board as the hostels were full and I needed to wait for a vacancy to come up. This I did with another former Waitara boy, Graeme Van Praagh, whose father was a doctor in the town. Graeme is now the proprietor of Lake Tarawera Water Taxis.
Two things I remember from this term one private boarding experience. Firstly the landlady, kind as she was, had very limited culinary skills. She was English as served up the standard northern Engish fare. Everything with pile of fried chips seemed to be the scope of her menu which was just the ticket for adolescent pimples! Prior to this 12 weeks I had never imagined that I would ever tire of fried chips, but I rapidly did.
The second thing was that Graeme taught me the rudiments of boxing which stood me in good stead when we confronted by 4th form bullies later on. Boxing has been a major sport at school in its early years but by the time I got there all that was left of this tradition was a case full of impressive silver trophies. The reason for its decline (so I was told) was the arrival of boys from the Pacific islands who were physically far better developed than their European counterparts and didn't necessarily abide by the Queensbury rules.
When I finally got into the proper boarding hostels I was placed in the Pridham Annex and Graeme went to Carrington.
It is interesting to compare the 2011 daily boarding routine with what we experienced back then. The current hostel sees the boys rising at 7:15am and showering. If I am correct, showering us took place earlier than this and for some reason I believe this masochistic ritual commenced at 6:00 am.
As a third former the showers were cold ones and prefects ensured that one stayed underneath the high pressure torrent for at least 30 seconds. Failure to do so saw a repeat of the procedure. Even in summer this was feat of endurance but in winter these ablutions were diabolical. The showers had hardwood duck boards which were meant to counteract the spread of foot diseases such as tinea but seldom did.
As a senior we progressed to hot showers in the morning, something we all appreciated. We had prep in the evening, then silent reading and lights out, very similar to today's routine.
I came across an account from another old boy who had started at school in 1945 and his memories are somewhat similar to my own - there were even some of the same masters that we experienced, teaching during his time.
John (McGeach?) went on to become a dentist and live in Australia but he records "Our Maths teacher was Mr. Tetley, and a brilliant man he was, although a left winger and as far as the other teachers went, was a loner. Mathematicians from near and far used to send him problems to solve".
I too remember "Tet" as he was still teaching maths in the 1960's. He also conducted the 'art classes' although there were no Raphael's amongst our lot. I recall "Tet" standing on his desk holding a sack in in hunched position and asking our art class to draw him.
He was an old man by then and near retirement. The act of climbing on to the desk seemed fraught with danger and I regret that we did not do his athleticism justice.
Rodney Warman from Moyes (who had gone to intermediate school with me in Waitara) was quite a character. He drew "Tet" as a Father Xmas disappearing down a chimney, in fact I think we all did.
The great irony is that I later became an art teacher myself. Firstly at Tararua College in the Wairarapa, then as Head of Art at Rotorua Lakes High School and finally as a head of an art school in Papua New Guinea.
I didn't however stand on my desk holding a sack during my teaching days although there were times in PNG that I sometimes wish I had!