Joan Metge

1943 to 1944

Written by Joan (May 2015)

I attended Matamata District High School in the second and third terms of 1943 and the whole of 1944.  My family arrived in Matamata when my father Cedric Metge was appointed Head of the Intermediate School within the District High School which comprised the Primary School, Intermediate School and Secondary School under the one Principal Mr Horace Fawcett.  When the Education Department decided to separate the Primary School out as a separate school from the beginning of 1945 the Intermediate School was absorbed into the Secondary School and my father was transferred back to Auckland.


While at Matamata District High School I was excused geography classes in order to taken Latin with teacher Norman Gilling, who had one other pupil whose name I cannot remember.  Mr Gilling was an excellent teacher and I was up to standard in Latin as in my other subjects when I returned to Epsom Girls’ Grammar in 1945.


What I remember most vividly of my time at Matamata DHS was attending rehearsals and performances of the Gilbert and Sullivan opera The Gondoliers, one of the G & S productions staged by Mr Fawcett which were a school tradition.  The cast was composed entirely of girls:  I don’t remember what the boys did at the same time.  I developed a lifelong love of Gilbert and Sullivan and attended several productions in London when studying there.


After leaving school, I completed BA and MA in Geography at Auckland University College and began training as an anthropologist.  Graduating PhD from London University in 1958 with a thesis on Maori urban migration, I held positions in Adult Education at the University of Auckland 1960-1964 and in Anthropology at Victoria University of Wellington 1965-88, and since then have been fully engaged in research.  My teaching and research are focused on Maori society and culture and cross-cultural communication, interests fostered by my time living in Matamata.


I did not marry but keep in touch with a wide circle of kin including my sister’s children and grandchildren and those of two tama whangai in whose parenting I shared many years ago.