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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Special Schools

In the provision made for mentally backward children, a distinction is drawn between those who are capable of “education” (as are special class children) and the “intellectually handicapped” for whom training in the simpler, physical, personal, and social skills and habits is all, or nearly all, that is possible. Children of special class level who cannot be helped satisfactorily while living at home can be enrolled in two special residential schools at Otekaieke (for boys) and Richmond (for girls). For the intellectually handicapped, occupation centres may be established by education boards where there is an assured minimum roll of 12 children between the ages of five to 18 years. There are at present 23 such centres in New Zealand. In smaller towns where there are five to 11 suitable children, education boards will provide teachers for an occupation group if the local community will provide and maintain a suitable building. At the request of the Department of Health's Division of Mental Health, schools have also been established within the Kingseat, Levin, and Templeton Hospitals for their less severely handicapped children, and within Cherry Farm Hospital for selected young mentally ill patients. The two residential schools for the deaf (Sumner and Kelston) are under the direct control of the Department of Education. Eight specialist visiting teachers attached to these schools work throughout the country with pre-school deaf children and their parents, and give guidance to teachers in ordinary schools who have hard-of-hearing children in their classes. The New Zealand Foundation for the Blind administers New Zealand's one residential and day school for blind and partially sighted children — Homai College in Auckland — but the Department of Education meets the full costs of educating its pupils. Pre-school and primary children are taught at Homai College itself but some of its secondary boarders attend Auckland post-primary schools, whose staffs are assisted by an itinerant teacher from Homai College. Dr Earl Carlson's visit to New Zealand in 1948 focused public attention quite dramatically on the needs of cerebral palsied children and led to the development of a national policy for their education. There are now six cerebral palsy schools. Children mildly cerebral palsied attend ordinary schools while those who are severely handicapped intellectually are admitted to occupation centres. A school is attached to each of the seven health camps, and there are also two special schools for delicate children. The Mount Wellington Residential School, Auckland, admits severely disturbed children from all over the country. The Child Welfare Division controls a number of “open” institutions for the rehabilitation of wayward boys and girls. Educational programmes form a part of their work, and schools and classes are established at Burwood Girls' Training Centre (for older girls), Fareham House (for younger girls), the Levin Boys' Training Centre (for older boys), and Hokio Beach School (for younger boys). There is also a post-primary class at Owairaka Boys' Home (Auckland) and at the Lower Hutt Boys' Home. The Department of Education has also an official relationship with the Department of Justice in the appointment of part- and full-time teachers to prisons and borstal institutions, and it also pays the salaries of the tutors in lip reading employed by the New Zealand League for the Hard of Hearing to assist deafened adults.

by Stephen Selwyn Powell Hamilton, M.A., DIP.ED., Officer for Special Education, Department of Education, Wellington.