Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Early Wellington



Schools from 1840.

“Some Schools and Schoolmasters of Early Wellington” is the title of a very interesting little book by Mr. George MacMorran, published in 1900, and from which a summarised account is given as follows:—

Miss Tilke, who arrived by the “Adelaide,” under the care of Mrs. Dr. Evans, has the honour of being the first to open and conduct a regular school in the Port Nicholson district. The school was held in a long, clay-built house with thatched roof, a little to the west of the corner of Mulgrave and Pipitea Streets.

Mr. Jabez Allen secured the services of Miss Annie Maria Smith as governess to page 404 his children at Pito-one in 1840. Some of the children of the residents there also attended.

Mr. Chas. Grace's establishment was next to Ray's store, Thorndon Beach, and later (in October, 1840) he established an academy at Kumutoto Point (corner of Woodward Street and Lambton Quay).

Mr. Henry Buxton kept a night school in a tumble-down shanty near St. Paul's site in Mulgrave Street, and later Mrs. Buxton (“Mother”) had a school near the present site of the Thorndon school. She removed to Tinakori Road, about opposite Hawkestone Street, and died there aged eighty-six.

Messrs. W. J. and Jabez Clark held a school in Willis Street (site of present school), 1842.

Mr. J. H. Rule conducted a school from the 6th June, 1842, in the building then known as the Mechanics' Institute, Church, etc., at the corner of Charlotte Street and Lambton Quay (Anzac Memorial corner—the triangle opposite the Government Buildings) about the same time that Mr. George Edwards held one in Tod's Store, the site of which was intended for a Rope Walk. It was situated about 30 yards to the north of the present Thorndon Railway Station, Thorndon Quay.

Other schools in 1842 were:—

  • Miss Wakefield, Tinakori Road (near Murphy Street).

  • John Allan, Boulcott and Willis Streets corner; native built.

  • Henry Atkinson, Sydney Street (back of Barrett's Hotel).

  • Wesleyan Sunday School, Wade's Store, bottom of Lombard Street, Te Aro, not far from the beach. Five boys attended, and sat on soap boxes, sugar and rice bags. Messrs Cayley and J. E. Bradshaw were the first superintendents, Miss Smith assistant.

  • 1843.—Mr Davison, for children under five.

  • Mr. Tomlin (Tommy), near Hobson and Murphy Streets; clay building.

  • Charles Hinchcliffe, Sydney Street; High School.

  • 1845.—A list of schools is given in Grimstone's Southern Settlements of N.Z., p. 71. Those at Wellington were:—

  • Partly supported by the Bishop of N.Z.: One public, 25 boys, 20 girls; 1 Sunday, for aboriginals, 74 boys, 53 girls.

  • Partly supported by the Wesleyan Missionary Society: One Native (taught English), 20 boys; 1 Sunday (Europeans), 46 boys, 54 girls; 1 do. Porirua Road (do.), 23 boys, 17 girls; 1 do. Hutt (do.), 35 boys, 25 girls; 1 day and Sunday, Karori, 25 boys, 25 girls; 3 private, 42 boys, 9 girls.

  • Number of pupils, 290 boys, 203 girls; total 493.

  • 1846.—William Finnimore, Willis Street.

  • Mr. Cayley, Manners Street; Wesleyan day school.

  • 1847.—There were, according to Wakefield's Handbook for N.Z., 1848, nine schoolmasters and eight schoolmistresses; 13 day schools, 366 scholars; 6 Sunday schools, 336 scholars; 5 infant schools, 98 scholars; total 800 scholars.

  • 1847.—Mr. James Fryer, Boulcott Street; Roman Catholic.

  • 1848.—Mr. Norgrove (drawing), Lambton

  • Quay, Mechanics' Institute.

  • Mr. Holmes (drawing and singing).—Lambton Quay, Mechanics' Institute.

  • 1849.—Convent School, Hill Street; Roman Catholic.

  • Misses Spinks, Dixon Street.

  • R. Huntley, Hill Street; Roman Catholic.

  • Various schools also conducted in the 'forties were:—

  • Mrs. (Rev.) Green, Ingestre and Sydney Streets.

  • Mrs. Harvey (later Mrs. Waterson), Lambton Quay (near Batkin's).

  • The Highlandman's, Murphy Street.

  • Miss Mudgway, Te Aro. This lady had a very effective way of keeping the younger ones from straying, by pinning them to her apron.

  • Mrs. Fox (organiser), Sydney Street; for Thorndon residents.

  • Mrs. Dr. Young, Upper Ingestre Street.

  • Mrs. George (afterwards Mrs. A. Domett), Terrace (near Captain Holliday's old house).

  • 1843—Mr. Cameron, Molesworth and Murphy Streets corner; technical school.

  • 1850.—Mr. Marshall, Hawkestone Street (near Crescent); grammar school.

  • Rev. Edwin Wheeler, Upper Ingestre Street (Clark's and Mrs. Young's); grammar school.

  • Mr. E. Toomath, Lambton Quay (English at Mechanics' Institute).

  • 1851.—The census returns for December gives:—16 Private Schools, with 580 scholars; 1 Church of England, 50; 1 Roman Catholic, 30.

  • 1852—St. Joseph's School (Bishop Viard); industrial.

  • 1852.—Mr. Wadsworth, Sydney Street. opened by Bishop Selwyn (105 names on the roll).

  • 1853.—Mrs. Green, Sydney Street.

  • Mr. E. Toomath, Thorndon.

  • This year (1853) Reserves were set aside for a Wellington College.

page 405

The Church of England Education Society held a meeting in the Schoolroom, Thorndon Flat, on the 21st Feb., 1853, and opened the proceedings with prayer by the Lord Bishop (Selwyn) and the singing of the hundredth psalm, which was sung with great expression of feeling. Sir George Grey, Colonel McCleverty, Lieutenant-Colonel Gold, Dr. Prendergast (65th Regt.), H. St. Hill Esq. R.M., Archdeacon Hadfield, Revs. Cole, Hutton and Wheeler, Messrs. G. Moore J.P., W. B. Rhodes, S. Carkeek, J. C. Raymond, Jas. Smith, J. H. Wallace, John King, W. Bishop, and others participated in the business of the evening. (Aust. and N.Z. Gaz., 23/7/1853.)

Reports on the Inspection of Schools (22/12/1852), Wesleyan (19/2/'53), Roman Catholic (30/7/1853 and 13/8/'53), may be seen in the Aust. and N.Z. Gaz.

1853.—The first elected Wellington Provincial Council was convened on Friday, October 28, 1853, and on the next sitting day (Monday) Mr. Fitzherbert gave notice of his intention to move for the appointment of a Committee to take evidence with a view to the introduction of an Education Bill. The Committee was duly set up, consisting of Messrs. Bell, Wallace, Brandon, Lyon and Fitzherbert. An Act was passed whereby the Superintendent was empowered to appoint a commission to enquire and report in time for the next session of the Provincial Council. The Commissioners were Messrs. C. Clifford, W. Lyon, W. Fitzherbert, W. Fox, T. Mason, H. S. Harrison and S. Revans. £50 was appropriated towards the expense of procuring the necessary books and papers.

In 1854 Dr. Featherston announced that a Bill embodying the recommendations of the Commissioners would be laid before
Fig. 244.—E. Toomath, Esq. Known as the Father of Secular Education.

Fig. 244.—E. Toomath, Esq. Known as the Father of Secular Education.

the Council. (See Stouts' New Zealand, p. 112.)

On 3rd January, 1855, Mr. Fox moved the adoption of the Education Commissioners' report, and naturally devoted some attention to the outcry which he saw was about to be raised against his proposals regarding religious education. Outside the Council there was considerable excitement, fanned by the leaders of the English Church and the Roman Catholics, and further roused by the fulminations against it of the local “Spectator,” which referred to the “offensive” system of education proposed to be introduced. The English Church authorities convened a meeting to denounce the Bill against religious teaching. This meeting was held in the Athenaeum to discuss the Bill on the evening of Wednesday, 10th January, 1855.

The room was crowded. Some of the speakers were: Rev. Moir, Mr. Toomath, Mr. Fox, Rev. B. Paul, W. Fitzherbert, Archdeacon Hadfield and the Rev. A. Stock.

Mr. E. Toomath, at that time schoolmaster at St. Paul's, generally known as the father of secular education, attended a meeting held at the Thorndon school page 406 room prior to the public meeting, and in a letter to a friend discourses on it thus:—

Wellington, Jan. 13, 1855.

“… The Report of the Commission on Education has been adopted by the Council with only two or three dissentient voices. On Wednesday evening a meeting of members of the Church of England was held in the Thorndon schoolroom. It ended in adjournment till the following Wednesday, Mr. Fox promising to procure the adjournment of the second reading of the Bill founded on the Report.

“I took an opportunity, at the meeting, to address them briefly, to find out their opinions on State aid for the school. I said in substance that I did not think the Church of England as a denomination was justified in taking State assistance, even if the State would give it, and that so strongly did I feel on the point that I for one could not ask for, or take it, because then the same must be done for the Romanists. To my delight it was the all but unanimous feeling of the meeting, especially of the Archdeacon, who was in the chair. On Wednesday evening last a public meeting was held in the Institute, Mr. May in the chair, to consider the Report on Education now before the House. We met again on Thursday and again last night and have a further adjournment till Tuesday night next week. You will be surprised and no doubt pleased to hear that Mr. Paul sought Mr. Woodward to ask him to second this amendment, viz., that if it be right for the Government to interfere in the education of the people, its operations should be restricted to secular instruction only. Mr. Woodward complied, and in a telling speech seconded the amendment. Of course I could not on such a subject be silent. It seems I have hit a little too hard; the Government are trying to bring in the Irish Extracts to the exclusion of the Bible, while I, with others, have determined on the secular plan as the only one all denominations can take without infringing on principle. I much wish you were here to take a part in the discussion. The opposition fired off their two heaviest shots last night—Messrs. Fitzherbert and Hart. Our side has, of course, to reply. I have not escaped without my share of wounds, but on Tuesday I hope, when I have done, to be able to say I have repaid the compliment with interest. I forward you a ‘Spectator’ containing an account of Wednesday evening's combat. I know you will say we have been at it vigorously and at it as earnestly we must go again.

E. Toomath

(From the original by courtesy
Mr. W. Toomath.)

MacMorran, on pages 121 to 139, gives a good account of the Wellington Provincial Council and education, and from pages 140 to 157 matters pertaining to the Education Board to 1878. Space permits but a summarised account.

The Provincial Council proceeded to legislate on education on January 23, 1855, and on February 20 there passed a Bill to promote the establishment of common schools in the Wellington Provincial District.

By 1857 only two schools had been established, one at Whanganui and another at Turakina.

In 1859 Dr. Featherston stated that 10 schools had been established. In 1861, fourteen. In 1862 an Education Res. Bill was passed. In 1862–3, eighteen schools. But to deal with the Wellington schools from 1855, viz:—

  • Mr. E. Toomath, Wellington and Aurora Terrace (Grammar), Messrs. W. H. Holmes, W. Mowbray, J. H. Brann, W. Buller (Sir), and Rev. Kirton were visiting masters.

  • Mr. J. H. Bram also had a school of his own in Boulcott Street.

    page 407
  • J. G. S. Grant, Manners Street. Wesleyan Schoolroom.

  • Rev. Mr. Baker, Sydney Street, St. Paul's.

  • Rev. Mr. Woodward, Sydney Street, St. Paul's.

  • Mr. Finnimore, Sydney Street, St. Paul's.

  • Mr. Jupp, Sydney Street, St. Paul's.

  • 1859.—Wm. Mowbray, Sydney Street, St. Paul's.

  • Mr. Stephens, Dixon Street, Wesleyan.

  • 1874.—Mr. Kenneth Wilson, Town Belt, Wellington College.

  • 1876.—Marist, Boulcott St., Roman Catholic.

  • 1878.—Convent, Dixon St., Roman Catholic.

  • 1879.—Girls' Classes, College Museum, Experimental.

  • 1883.—Girls High School, Upper Abel Smith Street (late Bowden's).

  • 1885.—Dr. F. J. Watters, Cambridge Terrace, St. Patrick's College.

  • 1885.—Graduates' Association, Victoria College.

  • 1887.—Girls' College, Pipitea Street.

  • 1893.—Convent, Newtown, Roman Catholic.

  • 1894.—Sir Robert Stout's Middle District University Act passed.

  • 1897.—Victoria College Act became law.

  • 1898.—The first Victoria College Council advertised for professors.

  • 1899.—Professors Brown (Classics), McKenzie (English Literature), Easterfield (Chemistry), and McLaurin (Mathematics) appointed.

Wellington College.

It is stated that certain reserves were set aside in 1853 by way of an endowment for this institution, and on Monday, 4th February, 1867, the Rev. E. Tuckey, B.A., and Mr. W. S. Hamilton commenced a Grammar and Commercial School—the future College—in the little Congregational Schoolroom in Woodward Street. Seven youths presented themselves.

In 1868 the school's existence was spent in the old barracks on Fitzherbert Terrace, and in 1869 removed to Clifton Terrace until 1874, when the present College on
Fig. 245.—Wellington College, 1875.

Fig. 245.—Wellington College, 1875.

page 408 the Town Belt Reserve was opened by His Excellency Sir James Fergusson, father of His Excellency the present Governor-General (Sir Charles), amidst much rejoicing. Mr. Kenneth Wilson, M.A., was selected by Dr. Vaughan to be Principal. Mr. A. D. Crawford, son of the earliest white settler to meet the “Tory” in 1839, was the pioneer boarder, and slept in the dormitory by himself until the arrival of the other boarders. In 1881 Mr. Mackay, of Nelson College, was appointed master, and in 1892 Mr. Firth assumed charge.

The writer is indebted to Mr. W. H. Field, M.P. for Otaki, for the following information:—

Among the masters in Fig. 245 are:—Messrs. Kenneth Wilson (headmaster), H. E. Tuckey, C. J. Hardy and C. R. Buckland. Some of the boys recognizable are:—C. R. Bidwill, A. C. and H. A. Bishop, C. S. Brandon, G. Burnes, G. Butts, D. G. A. Cooper, H. D. and A. D. Crawford, C. M. and A. F. Crombie, G. and P. Dransfield, W. H. Field, M. Fitzgerald, J. R. R. Gair, R. Giesen, H. M. and A. H. Gore, H. B. Harvey, H. C. Hazelden, W. B. and F. B. Henderson, F. J. Johns, C. and R. Kebbell, G. G. Knight, A. C. Koch, R. and F. McLeckie, Albert and Arthur Martin, J. M. Meredith, W. H. Sefton Moorhouse, E. H. and F. D. Morrah, James Muir, R. Nairn, J. T. Nott, G. C. Ormond, F. G. Parkes, R. C. Port, C. A. Pownall, W. H. F. Richards, G. St. John, E. V. Sanderson, G. E. F. Schultze, J. G. Seed, S. K. Sleigh, C. Snow, G. E. Swainson, J. and R. W. Taylor, K. D. Webb, Arthur Young, A. W. and F. Young.

The Provincial Council Act of 1871 came into operation in July, 1872. The first Wellington members of the Education Board, which consisted of ten members, one for each district, were Messrs. A. de Bathe Brandon (City) and E. Toomath (District).

The “Wellington College Old Boys Record, 1891,” gives further particulars.

Technical Colleges, Schools and Universities from 1884 to 1910 are dealt with from page 112, Stouts' New Zealand, published in 1911.

The College Jubilee celebrations were commenced on Saturday evening 29th November, 1924, by a concert in the Town Hall, at which Mr. W. F. Ward, Chairman of the Board of Governors, presided. Speeches were given by Sir Robert Stout, Sir Francis Bell, Mr. Firth and Mr. R. Darroch (representing the Old Boys' Association, on behalf of its President, Mr. Walter Bethune, who was absent through illness). The College orchestra assisted in the excellent programme provided.

On Sunday a procession of scholars and old boys proceeded to the Town Hall, where a Jubilee service was conducted. Sir Robert Stout, Administrator of the Dominion in the absence of the Governor-General (Sir Charles Fergusson), Mr. J. Caughley, Director of Education, Mr. and Mrs. Firth, Mr. and Mrs. Cresswell and members of the College Board of Governors occupied the place of honour in the front row of seats.

The opening of the Pavilion, Firth House and the Gifford observatory took place on Monday, 1st December, 1924. A long account is given in the “Evening Post,” 1/12/1924. The foundation stone of the War Memorial Hall was laid by His Excellency the Governor-General (Sir Charles Fergusson) on the 3rd September, 1926, and officially opened by him on the 2nd March, 1928. About 80 of the old boys, who saw active service, paraded under the command of Colonel page 409 St. J. Beere, and were reviewed by His Excellency. A guard of honour was formed by the College Cadet Corps.

The erection of the Hall was brought about by the active work of the Old Boys' Association, who had contributed over £6000 for the Hall and its internal embellishments.

Victoria University.

The N.Z. University (Fig. 102) was established under the Act of 1870. At that time steps had been taken to organise a University in Otago, and in 1873 Canterbury College was founded. So that students in other portions of the Colony might not be placed at an undue disadvantage, certain institutions were given the status of affiliation. Wellington College occupied this position from 1872 to 1881. A grant of £300 to the local college was utilised in maintaining a natural science lectureship under Professor Kirk; classes were held in the evenings by the staff for the instruction of candidates for their degrees. In 1885 a Graduates' Association was formed, which assisted materially in keeping alive the agitation for a local University College. In 1894 “The Middle District of N.Z. University College Act” was passed, and in 1897 the Victoria College Act, to promote higher education by the establishment of a College at Wellington in commemoration of the reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, was passed. The pioneer professors arrived in the Colony at the end of March, 1899. Classes were organised and lectures began. The V.U.C. Calendar for 1928 contains further information for those interested, on page 128 of which will be found an alphabetical Roll of Graduates from 1901 to 1927.

The 1901 graduates to receive distinction were:—Alexandra Mary Brown, B.A.; Mary Rose (nee Greenfield), B.A.; and Frank David Thomson, B.A.

Public Schools.

  • 1875.—Mr. Newlyn and Mrs. Tarn, Buckle Street.

  • 1875.—Messrs. Hurley, John Young. Mr. MacMorran, 1884; Terrace. This was the old Grammar School and College.

  • 1878.—Mrs. Francis, Mt. Cook.

  • 1878.—Mr. Everiss. Mr. Hardy, 1879. Tara-naki Street Boys.

  • 1879.—Mr. Lillington, Newtown.

  • 1887.—Mr. Hulke, Newtown.

  • 1880.—Mr. W. Mowbray, Thorndon. Burned down 1900.

  • 1881.—Mr. C. Watson, Willis Street.

  • 1889.—Mr. Grundy, Clyde Quay.

  • 1896.—Mr. Flux, Rintoul Street.

The history of the Educational Institute is given on pages 161–169, Mr. McMorran's book.

Misses Swainson and Baber successfully conducted private schools in Thorndon in the late 'nineties and for some time after.

Wellington East Girls' College.

This institution was formally opened by His Excellency the Governor-General (Sir Charles Fergusson) on the 9th September, 1925; Miss Batham principal.

The tennis courts in connection with this College were opened in October, 1926. The City Year Book contains names of the College Councils, Education and Technical School Boards.