One of Ōmata’s ex students, Max Richards, became an accomplished poet in his lifetime. Max died in 2016 at the age of 76.
Obituary: Maxwell Eric Arthur RICHARDS
Max was the son of the headmaster and this is a poem he wrote of the time the school well was dug. When I first started as principal, 19 years ago, we were still using the well and all our water was pumped up from the ground near the pool. It wasn’t that long ago that we hooked into the town supply. I remember many a morning with torch in hand, restarting the pump so we had water. It lasted well!
The School Well
One time, the dowser came with his forked rod.
He frowned and paced. It struggles with him.
Everyone tried. The wrists of doubters felt
nothing, believers went wrenching everywhere-
as if the school grounds floated on a sea!
So the men dug. Each day the bucket can
further, and wound back up less hopefully,
but winding down into the dizzy dark
they said: “The stars shine all the tie down here”,
grinning upwards dwindling, so I doubted -
“How could they?” “Ask your Dad - he’s the teacher”.
He said: “Truth’s at the bottom of the well”.
“When can I go down?” “All in good time…”
The other kids were not to get a look.
Their Dads were share-milkers. They came by bus.
They had chilblains and runny noses,
Their mothers were gave them handkerchiefs.
Cloud stretched from mountain to coast. The men dug.
Then came a sudden hot bright afternoon -
school finished, the bus emptied the playground.
My moment - allowed to ride the bucket
down into chilly clay, I saw the sky
darken - the stars shone down, my thirst was slaked.
At length, some yellow water, then plenty -
clearing, approved. A pump sealed tight the one -
time-entered treasury, forbade the stars.
The dowser had his fee, the school its well.
- Max Richards - ex Ōmata School student