The first Mt Albert primary school opened its doors in 1870 as a result of the Common Schools Act, which aimed to remove education from church responsibility. Mr McElwain presented 1 acre to the Auckland Education Board from his farmland between Kingsland and Morningside. The first wooden school building was erected by local residents at their expense on the site. In 1880, this first building was removed, and replaced by a two-roomed wooden building.
The Mt Albert School roll of 1879 classes one and two mention very familiar names in Mt Albert including Sadgrove, Woodward, Garlick, Kelly, Walters, McGeehan, McDonald, and McBride.
The school roll grew rapidly and the building underwent a number of additions and remodelling over the years. From 1903–1906 attendance grew from 248 to 323 on average with 5 teachers, who had to share classrooms. This was an unsatisfactory state of affairs and in 1912 the addition of two classrooms were made to accommodate sixty pupils, although the Chief Inspector noted that “I do not think the accommodation thus provided will be able to meet the rapidly growing needs of this suburban district.”
The school was remodelled again in the 1920s, but a request for a rebuild was denied as it was pointed out that the Auckland Education Board owned another site on the corner of Mountain Rd (now Kitenui Ave) and Alexandra Ave (now Alexis Ave), and it was considered better to build there than add to the present site. However, that site was not used, and by 1936 the Education Board was looking at the site occupied by the Morningside Quarries (commonly referred to as Wilson’s Quarry) on Salisbury Rd (now Sainsbury Rd). Tenders were finally put out for the building work in 1939 and the Mt Albert School was relocated to its present site in Sainsbury Road in 1940.
The Auckland Education Board held onto the School Rd property until 1954. It leased the building to the RSA for 21 years. The crown split the building from the rest of the site in subdivision and the reserve was vested in the council. The last known owner was Te Puni Kokiri.
This article was written by Mary Inomata and first published in the Mount Albert Historical Society Newsletter 16, September 2011, page 4. It has been slightly revised for publication on the website in October 2020.