History of HCK

Historical kindergarten photo

Photo provided by Mary Futter. Riley Kindergarten circa 1930’s

 Nettie Riley - Founder Hutt City Kindergartens

Nettie Riley - Founder

Celebrating 90 years of Kindergarten in Lower Hutt

Milestone birthdays are a time for celebration at kindergarten, and our Association celebrated one of our own in 2018. The year marked the 90th anniversary of the Hutt City Kindergarten Association and the opening of our first kindergarten in Moera in 1928.

The Lower Hutt Kindergarten Association was founded by Miss Nettie Riley, an Australian who came to Wellington to establish kindergarten and train teachers. The first kindergarten Miss Riley opened in Lower Hutt was Moera Kindergarten in 1928. The Hutt City Kindergarten Association now has 19 kindergartens in Lower Hutt and continues to provide quality early education for children aged two to five.

Our special anniversary was celebrated with a Vintage Fair event held at Moera Kindergarten on Saturday 3rd November. It was a fun afternoon with craft, food and activity stalls from our 19 kindergartens as well as from local crafters. The event was attended by a large group of kindergarten children and their families – past, present and future.

To read more about Miss Nettie Riley and the establishment of the Lower Hutt Free Kindergarten Association please click the button below!

Thank you to author Kerry Bethell who wrote this biography to commemorate our 90th anniversary.

Pitching in for Kindergarten

Our archives reveal a proud history of whanau working alongside teachers to provide the best learning outcomes for children. From fundraising to build new kindergartens and organising events to bring families together, to helping with gardening and donating resources; the community has always been a mainstay of support to their local kindergarten.

The United Mother’s Club, who operated from the early 1950’s through to the late 1970’s made an impression in our history books and on the stage. This group was made up of mother’s from different areas in Lower Hutt with a focus on fundraising.

They were instrumental in fundraising for new kindergartens to be built, particularly in Taita and Wainuiomata, and have a colourful legacy of bringing mothers together to support a cause close to their hearts. The United Mother’s Club held an annual Variety Show which was described in a 1975 newspaper article as “amateur theatre at its best”. The Variety Show featured performances from an all-woman cast of over 100 and was known for its fun skits and impressive handmade costumes and scenery. The first Variety Show was held in 1953 in the Epuni Community Hall then moved to the Little Theatre in later years. Local businesses supported the showcase with donations towards advertising and materials. All proceeds from the show was divided among the participating kindergartens to go towards extra resources and equipment.

Ninety years on from the opening of our first kindergarten in 1928, the Hutt City Kindergarten Association remains a not-for-profit community based organisation.