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Last updated: 12 January 2010

Dunedin Kindergarten Association

Collection | Ref # ARC-0261 | Held by Hocken Collections - Uare Taoka o Hakena

What is it?


Dunedin Kindergarten Association


Dunedin Kindergarten Association

Level of description:



4.42 linear metres

Reference number:



The Dunedin Free Kindergarten Association was founded in 1889. Rutherford Waddell, the Presbyterian minister, began planning an organisation to take children off the streets in the very poor area around his church. He asked the advice of Lavinia Kelsey, who had begun doing 'something in the kindergarten way' in her own private school, as well as that of Rachel Reynolds, a community leader who was concerned about the waifs of the notorious Walker Street (Carroll Street) area, and Mark Cohen, a social reformer interested in the Californian free kindergarten system.

After a public meeting in March 1889, the Dunedin Free Kindergarten Association was set up with Rachel Reynolds as President and Lavinia Kelsey as the first honorary secretary. Kelsey knew of a woman teacher in Christchurch, W. Wieneke, who was brought to Dunedin to begin the first kindergarten in the Walker Street mission hall. It opened with 14 children in June 1889.

Lavinia Kelsey was closely involved with the kindergarten during its first years. As honorary secretary she wrote enthusiastic annual reports about the changes in the children who attended the kindergarten. Dullness and apathy were being replaced by vitality. Money for the kindergarten was always hard to find, and she encouraged a fund-raising scheme through the children's page of the 'Otago Witness'. She was influential in the provision of training, insisting that a well-trained teacher needed two years of experience working with small children before being allowed to take charge of a kindergarten.

After some years Lavinia Kelsey had to retire as secretary, because of the needs of her own teaching work, but she remained on the committee of the association. In 1912, as president, she was responsible for inviting representatives from kindergarten associations in other centres to a conference in Dunedin to discuss their views and methods, and to consider forming a New Zealand union; this was established the following year (from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Scope and contents:

The collection includes minutes, annual reports and accounts, correspondence, financial records, files relating to individual kindergartens, Principals' reports to the Education Committee, centennial material and publications. Other material includes teacher's sample workbooks, newspaper clippings, plans and photographs

Dates covered:

Circa 1880 - 2001

Physical characteristics:

This collection includes photographs and architectural plans.

Access conditions:

Not restricted

Finding aids:

Listed on the 'Hakena' archives and manuscripts catalogue

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