My­ers kindy turns 100

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - CA­TRIN OWEN

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.

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