Our History

In 1910 the Catholics of Kaikorai, Dunedin bought a section in Taieri Rd on which to build their Church and in June 1912 the foundation stone was laid by the then Bishop of Dunedin, Bishop Verdon. In a few short months the church was completed and opened on December 8th the same year.

The Bishop was on a visit to the Hot Springs so the ceremony was performed by Rev Fr Coffey. For a number of years Father Coffey travelled from Rattray Street to St Mary’s by horse and trap on a Sunday morning to say Mass. The entrance from Taieri Road was much wider in those days and Father was able to bring the horse and trap into the grounds and tie up the horse where the hall is now. Then Father became the proud owner of a Model T Ford which he used to drive into the church yard. However history relates he was not so happy when one morning he drove it over the bank, the same history does not say if anything apart from his pride was hurt.

In February of 1913 the Dominican Sisters came to teach school in the back half of the Church which was curtained off. There was a promised attendance of 40 children and 32 were listed as first day pupils ranging in age from 5 to 10 years.

A new departure was made in favour of the new suburban school. The Dominican Sisters, for the first time made use of Cable Cars from the Octagon up Stuart St, to the terminus at the Nairn Street cable sheds, which meant that the Sisters had to walk up Taieri Road in all weathers. As a result sometime the Sisters arrived badly weather beaten. However, there were many compensations.

The school can claim bright sunshine, pure air and a beautiful view. The children too are affectionate and were never as happy as when performing some service for the Nuns, so that it is a pleasure to teach and train them. Every year many desirable pupils pass from St Mary’s to Christian Brothers Secondary School and St Dominic’s. In both establishments the Kaikorai pupils take a good stand. Indeed some of the most successful pupils in the higher examinations come from the Kaikorai Hill.

Undated early years photo of St Mary's School pupils outside the lower class block.In 1929 the lower school was blessed and opened by Bishop Whyte, and in 1953 Bishop Kavanagh opened the upper school. A third classroom and an administration block were added in 1980.

Molly Lane became the first lay Principal in 1978, and the last teaching sister left the School in 1979. Today the staff members are all lay teachers who aim to preserve its special character.

2003-2005 saw an extensive rebuilding programme. We now enjoy a new administration block, refitted classrooms, new resource areas library and toilet block. We continue to use the lower school hall for assemblies and other activities. The upgrades reflect the support and advice received from the Board of Trustees and the Diocese of Dunedin.

Our Parish and School celebrated our centennial anniversary at Labour Weekend (19-21 October 2012). This was a wonderful weekend.


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