Topic: School Nursery

Topic type:

School Nursery


The school nursery was established in 1979 on a plot of land that had always been intended for use as a school garden but had received little attention. Twice before in the twenty year lifetime of the school, gardens had been started but on both occasions the ventures were short-lived. The nursery contained a potting shed, tool shed, shade house, glass house and the garden itself which was divided into eight plots, each about fifty square metres. The school was able to employ two carpenters full time for several weeks to build the glasshouse an shade house and to renovate the old toolshed. The builders were employed at no cost to the school under an arrangement with the Department of Labour and the Borough Council. The schools only cost was the cost of materials - approximately $1,000.

During the building of the nursery facilities and the development of the area for use, parents, students and staff all helped and a considerable amount of time and energy was invested in the project. The nursery was very time consuming for the organising teacher, Mr. Rod Pemberton, and the other teacher in horticulture, Mrs. Thelma Stevenson, but with contributions from all students at some time during their two years at the school, the garden flourished.

Over their two years at M.I.S, all students spent at least ten hours working in the nursery. Their teachers tried to provide experience in three types of work: preparing the soil, planting indoors and planting outdoors. Students learnt about nutrient and chemical balance in the soil, different requirements of various seed types, sowing and cultivation as well as diseases and the different use of insecticides, fungicides, weedicides and fertilisers. Whether the crop was cauliflower or kiwifruit, learning by experience took place and while horticulture wasnʼt everyoneʼs favourite subject, most found it enjoyable.

With the passing of Ray Lory in 1996 and the resignation of key people involved with the nursery, things came to a standstill. The area became overgrown and maintenance became an issue. When the Environmental Science Centre became reality, the school cleared the area and developed garden beds at the back of the old hatchery. A hydroponic unit and an area was set up for the growing of native trees.

To be fair, it never got off the ground and gardening was not part of the school curriculum until 2009 when Irene McKinstry led a group of staff members and students and gained funding of $4,000 for the building of garden beds. These have been built in what was the bird enclosure and the security that they provide has allowed the garden to prosper without the increased vandalism that the school has to endure.