The settlement of Ōhoka was founded in the mid 1800s as a mill town, the school in 1868.  In the latter part of the 1800s, Ōhoka was a thriving place with over 200 pupils at the school, a large hotel and many shops. With the demise of the mills after the turn of the century, and a subsequent move into the city for many families, Ōhoka became a quieter place. Many of the farms continued to prosper and grow, however, and Ōhoka maintained itself as a small village, with the garage, hall and school at its centre.
In recent years, Ōhoka has become a haven for families from every walk of life (from throughout New Zealand and abroad) who are drawn to its lush scenery, historic gardens and homes, and availability of land for development into blocks for  farming, boutique vineyards and other lifestyle pursuits. While many enjoy the convenience of working and shopping in Christchurch (only 25 minutes away), Ōhoka has a strong community of its own, connected by sport clubs (which include rugby, touch, tennis, bowls, soccer and others), garden groups, churches, the garage at the centre of the village, and of course, the school, which is a major hub for young families.  While Ōhoka has grown quickly in the last decade, its population increasing by 50%, it has been planned growth, and well done, and Ōhoka retains its semi-rural feel with small country roads, walking/riding paths, farm land, views to the mountains, and unspoilt beaches nearby.
Ōhoka also retains some of its history (with  Ōhoka Hall still used by local residents for dances and parties as well as sporting practice) and much of its charm, with its old farmsteads and towering, century-old oaks, elms and maples. However, it has grown with the times and acknowledges the needs of the future. Things such as its strong community groups, a community newsletter, and the active community at Ōhoka School will see that its future as a desirable place to live is assured.

Ōhoka is a community of substance. Recent work attempted to identify that which makes the community what it is. You can see and comment on the high level headings here.

Ōhoka: A school with history

As written for the community newsletter by Sue Allison.

The children of the early colonial settlers in Ōhoka were educated in a house in Bradley’s Road (then Smith’s Road). This aptly named  “Temporary School”, set up in a two-storey brick building owned by the Bradley family, was established in 1862 and was school to just a handful of children.  

On 30 June 1868, a proper school was officially opened on a site in Flaxton with a roll of 22 children. It was named the Flaxton Side School and stood on about an acre of land near the junction of Main Drain Road, Flaxton Road and Threlkelds Road. (The original concrete trough can still be seen today.) The wood and iron building had room for 40 pupils in a single classroom with a porch. A four-room house was built nearby for the caretaker.

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Around 1873, with the district flourishing and Ōhoka the home of a flax mill, wool wash and thriving village, a building on the present Jackson’s Road school site was used to teach senior pupils from the Side School. This was known as Flaxton School.

In 1877, the Flaxton Side School was closed and a school built on the Jackson’s Road site in Ōhoka (then Wetheral). The school was known as the Flaxton Main School. It started with a roll of 94. The principal was Mr Goodeve, with his wife and a pupil teacher, Miss Eliza Sealy, his assistants.
A report dated 1923 stated that the workload of the two teachers employed at that time was too arduous, there being 78 pupils at the school, but that would ease when the roll grew to 81 at which time a third teacher would be employed.

In 1926, the school was burnt down in a dramatic overnight fire. Most records of the Flaxton and Ōhoka Schools were destroyed. All that was left of the school was the bell, which we still use. After the fire, a new two-room school was built and these classrooms still stand.