Myers kindy turns 100
Myers Kindergarten is celebrating 100 years of caring for some of Auckland’s youngest residents.
The kindergarten opened its doors on November 15, 1916 after being donated by former Auckland Mayor Sir Arthur Myers as a haven for urban children.
Former pupil Heather Peterson remembers attending the kindy and being picked up from home by a teacher carrying a rope with knotted loops.
She would hold on to a loop and follow the teacher picking up other children.
‘‘It would have been 1948, I remember I was living at Greys Ave at my Grandma’s house.
‘‘We’d have afternoon naps on sacking beds, one time I’d had enough of nap time and tried to run away but an old man chased me through Myers Park so I never did it again,’’ she says.
In 1913 the former mayor donated £9000 (about NZ$2 million today) to the council for the park’s land to be bought. He then donated a further £4000 for the kindergarten to be built.
Its completion in 1916 marked the final element in the transformation of the Grey St Gully above Aotea Square.
The area was transformed from an area of slum housing and a dump for household waste into a safe park for children to play.
Myers was mayor of Auckland City from 1905 to 1909 and also championed the Grafton Bridge being built.
In 1918 the building was used as a temporary children’s hospital during the influenza epidemic which was New Zealand’s most deadly disease outbreak.
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, continued outbreaks of the disease prompted the kindergarten to implement preventative health measures such as monthly health checks and free fresh fruit, milk and biscuits.
A glassed-in veranda with a sand pit room and a modern children’s playground featuring a paddling pool have been added recently.
lare Wells was a former head teacher at the kindergarten and left in 1998 after four and a half years.
‘‘The building, being purpose built was a unique feature, all the separate rooms were challenging to supervise the kids.
‘‘When I was there we had 40 children and only two teachers,’’ Well says.
‘‘Our community was supportive of the diversity and it was a very special place.’’
Each decade the kindergarten has developed as student numbers grow.
It is currently branded as KiNZ Myers Park, an early learning centre.
The Auckland Kindergarten Association’s chief executive Tanya Harvey is proud to be celebrating the centenary.
‘‘Talking to past teachers and pupils, it’s clear how many people hold incredibly fond memories of their time spent at Myers Kindergarten.
‘‘I’m sure Sir Arthur Myers would be proud to know that this vision and legacy of his is still alive and thriving in the Auckland community,’’ Harvey says.
The kindergarten celebrated its birthday on November 20.