A little bit about us.

Back in 2007 we (the McMahons) made the bold decision to leave Auckland and purchase a country school in need of some repair in Pongakawa, Western Bay of Plenty. Fast forward a number of years and the buildings and property have been renovated and Old Forest School is a now fabulous vintage venue.

Old Forest School is a proud supporter of The Rotoehu Ecological Trust. A community based organization to protect the endangered Kokako and other native birds in the Rotoehu Forest.



A very brief history of Old Forest School

  • 1933 Pioneer tobacco farmers ask Department of Education to build a school in the valley
  • 1933 Department of Education takes steps to erect a temporary school
  • 1933 Temporary school building used with a role of 24
  • 1934 School building completed – Pongakawa Valley School
  • 1934 First School Committee meeting
  • 1936 First Arbor Day celebrated and Headmasters cottage built
  • 1937 NZ Forest Service plants 24,000 acres in Pines surrounding school
  • 1939 Government abandons tobacco farming scheme
  • 1941 School Building extended
  • 1943 Pool and tennis court build – cost 90 pounds
  • 1947 School temporarily closed with a Polio epidemic
  • 1952 Electricity installed at school
  • 1953 School name changed to Rotoehu Forest School
  • 1958 Cartwheel merry-go-round, old motorbike & car installed in playground
  • 1958 Telephones installed
  • 1960 Football posts erected
  • 1962 New toilet block and storeroom addition
  • 1962 Garage at Headmasters cottage built
  • 1963 School trip to Tauranga Domain to see Queen Elizabeth II
  • 1963 Extra classroom built November
  • 1964 Rural mail deliveries start at school
  • 1970 School named changed to Rotoehu School
  • 1977 School library open to public
  • 1979 Pool resurfaced with fiberglass shell
  • 1983 50th Jubilee celebration
  • 1986 School closed and sold by tender
  • 2007 School purchased by McMahon family
  • 2013 Opens as a vintage wedding and events venue