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Lower Hutt Past and Present (1941)


Educational and Social

Better build school rooms for "the boy" than cells for "the man."—Eliza Cook.

The Primary Schools.

The first known school teacher in the Hutt Valley was Miss Annie Maria Smith, who arrived in the "Oriental" in 1840 as governess to the children of Mr. Jabez Allen, who had opened a general store at Britannia. Other settlers were invited to send their children to Mr. Allen's house to be instructed with his children, and this arrangement continued until the migration to Thorndon took place in September of that year.
Wakefield records in 1846 that a building in the village of Aglionby was used as a church and school. It is probable that at this time private and church schools catered for the education of the children, and there is evidence that there were two private schools in the Taita district in 1855. Probably they existed earlier than this.
The "Evening Post," in its first edition in 1865, records that of nearly 15.000 people in the Wellington Province over school age, 25 per cent, could not read and 10 per cent, could not write.
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Waterloo School, Opened in 1938.

This is typical of the new schools erected in the Valley.
The records of the Hutt School prior to 1861 have not been traced, but in that year a two-storeyed blockhouse was built in Port Richmond, just above the bridge on the eastern bank, and a day school was held here until 1869, when the building (and the school) was removed to a site between the present post office and Riddiford Park. Mr. W. Singer was the teacher in 1872, and Mr. T. Burt was chairman of the School Committee.
In 1875 Mr. Willis, the master, interested Mr. E. Toomath, a Member of Parliament, in securing additional accommodation, and in the following year the Masonic Hall, with three-quarters of an acre of land, at the corner of what is now Railway Avenue and Victoria Street, was purchased and the school was transferred there.
Fees were then payable by the parents, and the Education Board made an annual grant of £3 per child towards the teacher's salary.
It is believed that the bell of the "Oliver Laing," a 1200-ton ship which was blown ashore at Wellington in September, 1858, and afterwards lay at Kaiwarra for many years, was hung on a bracket on the north end of the building.
The old Hutt Central School was built in 1903, and most of the pupils at the school in 1939 were transferred to the new building (near the Lower Hutt Railway Station), which was opened in February of that year.

Other Schools.

The first Taita school, which occupied the present site, was opened in 1861. Prior to this there was a private school, conducted by Mrs. Hales, close to Buck's Hotel, and another was kept by Mr. Robinson, between Ma-bey Road and Avalon Park.
The original school, at which Mr. Mantell was the first teacher, stood on half an acre of land, given by Mr. G. Buck, who lived close by. This building was burnt down on the 9th August, 1897, after which the present school was erected and the grounds were enlarged.
Mr. W. Ellerm approached the Education Board in 1872 and recommended that a school should be opened at Belmont, as there were 27 pupils who could attend. Four years later Miss Stevens was appointed in charge of a "half-time" school, but owing to lack of support it was closed in September, 1877.
Under the headmastership of Mr. Williamson, the Epuni School was opened in 1903, and since that date the following primary schools have been opened in Lower Hutt: Eastern Hutt, 1910; Waiwhetu, 1927; Boulcott, 1928; Randwick, 1929; Waterloo, 1938; New Hutt Central, 1939; Gracefield, 1939.
The primary schools of the Valley vie with each other in the beauty of their surroundings.

Secondary Schools.

The Hutt District High School was first established in the building now occupied by the Power Board on the Hutt Road about 1909, with Miss P. Meyers in charge.
Classes were transferred to the main school in Railway Avenue in 1912, when there were 26 pupils in attendance. The school was ultimately absorbed by the Hutt Valley High School in 1926.
When the Hutt Valley High School was established classes were held for a few months in the Petone Technical School, and on the 26th June, 1926, the new buildings in Woburn Road were opened and the school transferred there. Mr. H. P. Kidson was the first principal. There were about 140 scholars on the roll when the school opened. At the close of 1940 the number had grown to 523, and the school had acquired a decidedly high reputation. During the last fourteen years a strong Parents' Associaion has raised over £2000, and a new Assembly Hall was opened in 1938.
Mr. J. N. Millard, who followed Mr. Kidson, is the present Principal.

Technical Education

Evening technical classes were held in the Hutt Central School, as a branch of the Petone Technical School, in 1915. In 1921 local control was obtained, and the Lower Hutt Technical School building in Woburn Road was opened on the 27th October, 1922, on a site of one and three-quarter acres, donated by the Riddiford Estate. This building also serves as a manual training centre for pupils during the day time.
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The Hutt Valley High School.

—Photo, A. R. Hurst
This building has been added to considerably since it was opened in 1926.
The Hutt Valley Memorial Technical College, at which there are now nearly 2000 pupils attending the clay and evening classes, is situated in Petone, and caters for the technical education of the whole of the Valley. It was established in 1904 as the Petone Technical School. The first building was erected in 1908, and this later accommodated the Petone District High School, until the Hutt Valley High School was opened in 1926.
Day classes were established in 1930, when the name was changed to the Petone Memorial Technical College. Sundry accommodation was added in 1937, and the name was again changed to the Hutt Valley Memorial Technical College.
The secondary schools are well situated amidst delightful surroundings, and have ample playing fields.

Church Schools

In the early days the French Fathers and lay teachers commenced the work of Catholic primary education. The first school was destroyed by fire, and was replaced by the building now being used as the temporary Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. The Sisters of Mercy succeeded the pioneer teachers, and for many years the school was conducted by them.
In 1909 the Sisters of the Missions took over the school, and in 1912 the property of Mr. E. J. Riddiford, in High Street, was purchased by them. On this property the Sacred Heart College was established.
In 1918 St. Thomas's Boys' Home, Naenae, was established by the Sisters of Mercy. This institution, which is situated on the eastern hills amid delightful surroundings, was originally the home of Mr. John Duthie.

Chilton St. James

Chilton Saint James (The Hutt Girls' School Ltd), was founded as a Church of England girls' school in 1918, with Miss Geraldine FitzGerald as Head. The house, to which many additions have since been made, was built by the late Mr. Barraud, on a fine property with frontages on Waterloo Road and Knights Road.
The school opened with a roil number of 41—20 boarders and 21 day-girls. It has since grown steadily, until to-day it numbers about 140 pupils. In 1920 the increasing numbers made it necessary for the Directors to acquire another property in Waterloo Road to serve as another boarding establishment.
In 1930 the Directors bought the goodwill of Chilton House, thus consolidating between their Old Girls and Chilton Saint James the friendship that had always existed between the two schools.
At the end of 1939, the School's twenty-first year, Miss FitzGerald resigned. Her place as Head has been taken by Miss Nesta V. Mason.

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