Kilbirnie School opened on 28 January 1884 to serve the whole of the Miramar peninsula, Lyall Bay and Kilbirnie area. Prior to this the nearest school was at Newtown, but there was a need for more schools due to growing settlement and the passing of the Education Act in 1877 which made primary education compulsory.
The school was called Kilbirnie School because it was situated in Kilbirnie in the Evan's Bay district. There was no "Hataitai" as we know it: the suburb we know today was mostly farmland at this time and considered as part of Kilbirnie or Kilbirnie North. There were few roads, and these were not in good condition. The name Hataitai came into use after the Hataitai Land Company began selling sections up the hill. "Hataitai" as a pupil's address doesn't appear in the school's admissions register until mid-1903.
Thirty-six children attended on the first day of school in 1884, but the role gradually increased. The original one-room school was soon enlarged with a smaller room added on. In 1899 this was judged to be sufficient for the role of 150. As the role increased more classrooms were added, but by 1906 the role was 400. The school was again bursting at the seams, even though Clyde Quay school had opened in 1889 and Worser Bay in 1897. By 1908 the four existing classrooms were overcrowded and the Methodist Church next door was used as a classroom. More classrooms were added during 1911-1914 and at the same time new schools were opened nearby to take the increasing population (Roseneath 1898, Lyall Bay 1909, Hataitai 1916).
Kilbirnie School in 1955. The old main building is in the centre and the brick infants building (built 1921, demolished 1971) is at the bottom near the intersection of Hamilton Road and Raupo Street.
Detail of photo from Evening Post Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library ref EP/1955/1491-F. View full photo at National Library
Kilbirnie held 50th jubilee celebrations in 1934. Former principal Mr Worboys talked about the old days and there was a roll call of former pupils. The chairman of the Wellington Education Board said in his speech that Kilbirnie School was regarded as one of the best schools in the city; it was a school which had rendered exceptionally good service to the State.
The roll has fluctuated over the years, being affected by general population patterns and the opening of Evan's Bay Intermediate in 1964. At the time of Kilbirnie's centenary in 1984 the roll was between 150 -170, but it has increased again and is now about 250 pupils in 10 classes from Year 1-6.
The original main building was demolished in 2011 as part of a major redevelopment. A new hall and admin block was built on the old tennis courts, and a hi-tech four-classroom block replaced the old main building which partly dated back to 1884.
Visit the Kilbirnie School website for information about the school today.
The old building, with the 1971 block on the right.