During the 1910s the Presbyterian Church, under the leadership of the Reverend John Laughton, began mission work with the Tūhoe people in the Urewera region. This included the opening of several native (Māori) schools. In 1918 the government supplied materials for this two-roomed school at Ruatāhuna. The use of wooden palings rather than weatherboards as cladding echoes traditional Māori architecture.
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