The first Oruaiti School was opened in 1896 and moved to the site in 1898. The school was situated at the western end of the Oruaiti Valley beside State Highway 10 approximately 45km from Kaitaia to the west. The nearest village is Mangonui which is 8km to the west of the school.
The Foster family donated the land for the school to be built on a small farm of thirteen acres. The school farm helped to create profits to upgrade the school classrooms and playgrounds. During the World War II the school was closed for two years.
Elwyn Richardson was an educationalist of vision who spent 13 years at Oruaiti School where he investigated the processes of creativity through language, arts, pottery, clay sculpturing and visual arts in the early 1960’s. This led to Education Department approval to experiment with the curriculum.
Elwyn Richardson wrote a book called “In the Early World” which soon became a text book for training teachers. He also wrote “Provisions for creative, gifted and talented children”, “Into a further world”, “Creative processes of language”, “Arts teaching” and created two videos. “The song bird” and “A day at Oruaiti School 1961”. Copies of his books are available to view in the school entrance foyer.