Gerrit van Asch was from Rotterdam, Holland and was employed as director of the newly created School for the Deaf in Sumner. van Asch was a strong promoter of the German (or “oral”) system. His appointment and methods set the pattern for Deaf education in New Zealand for the next 100 years.
As well as attending class, students were involved in manual labour, milking cows, tending the vegetable gardens and doing the washing. This continued until 1936.
During the 1930s, students were placed into jobs by Department of Education placement officers after they left school.
Due to the outbreak of World War II, van Asch was used as a military base and North island students relocated to the Titirangi School in Auckland until Kelston School for the Deaf was built.