In July 1876 the Marist Brothers began teaching at St Mary’s Catholic School, Thorndon in Hill Street. They moved to a new building in Boulcott St and were there for some years.
However, in 1911, in line with a shift of the population they established a school in Hawkestone Street which was to become something of an institution.
It remained providing education for Std 2 – Std 6 (Yr 4 – Yr 8) boys from the city and Western Suburbs until 1969 when it was demolished to make way for the motorway.
The Brothers and the school were housed temporarily in Viard House, Guilford Tce, while their new school and accommodation was being built.
In 1970 the new school was blessed and opened by Peter, Cardinal McKeefry, in Albemarle Rd, Wilton and re named in his honour. It was spacious and modern and had amazingly large grounds with both concrete and grassed areas.
However, in this area there is also a long history of other Religious Orders involved in primary education.
For a time the Mercy Sisters travelled daily from the city to provide education in Karori.
In the early 1940s the Marist Sisters opened two schools for the Parish of Karori / Northland. (St Teresa’s and St Vincent de Paul’s). The Marist Sisters withdrew from Northland and for a time in the 1970s the Sisters of St Joseph ran the school. In the 1990s the Marist Sisters withdrew from the school in Karori.
During these years boys left their parish schools in the Western and Central Suburbs at Std 2 (Year 4) to travel to “Marist Thorndon” as it was known.
In 1979 Cardinal McKeefry School was the first Catholic primary school in New Zealand to be integrated with a maximum roll of 278.
In the 1980s Parish Schools began to retain their boys and so Cardinal McKeefry School was designated as a full primary co-educational school for Northland Parish.
In a strange twist of fate – St Teresa’s and St Vincent de Paul parishes are now merged into the Catholic Parish of Otari and with the Parishes of the Cathedral, and St Mary of the Angels are a designated Pastoral Area and our pastoral, educational and historical links are renewed.
Peter Cardinal McKeefry
Peter McKeefry was born in Greymouth, on the West Coast, 3 July 1899. At the age of 26 he was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Auckland. In 1947 at age 47 he was ordained a bishop and appointed as coadjutor Archbishop of Wellington.
He became Archbishop of Wellington in 1954 where he was Archbishop until his death in 1973, at age 74.
During his time as Archbishop he was elevated to Cardinal in 1969 by Pope Paul VI, becoming New Zealand’s first Cardinal. He was the first cardinal in New Zealand and the first New Zealander to hold such a title.
A fuller account of the life of Cardinal McKeefry can be found in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.