Walton Park School

The Northern end of Fairfield was originally called Walton Park.

During the mid-1800s the activities of three men led to the residential development of Walton. This, in turn, led to the development of Walton Park School which opened in February 1872.

The first of the three mean was Mr William Martin. He was a horticulturalist leaving Scotland and arriving in Dunedin on the Philip Laing. In due course he bought 186 acres of land in the Walton area, planting out some ten acres as a nursery and leasing out the balance of land to farmers. He named his nursery 'Fairfield'. This nursery became very well known and was in the area now known as Martin Road.

The second man that influenced the area's development was Mr James Howorth who opened the Walton Park coal mine in 1863 and subsequently floated it in 1875 as the Walton Park Coal and Pottery Company. Coal mines were being developed in various parts of the area from Green Island to Saddle Hill. The Jubilee Coal Co operating on Saddle Hill set up the Walton Park Sand Pit.

The third person was Mr James Loudon who was originally in partnership with his brother in the Lanarkshire Coal Company in Green Island. He moved to become the mine manager at the Walton Park mine. 

The nursery and mining developments lead to the number of families in the area increasing and these three men started to push for a school in the area. Their efforts were successful and a school was formed, initially housed in the Mission House in Green Island, then in 1872 was moved to Walton with the acquisition of a two-roomed wooden house. This was situated just north (Sunnyvale) of where the Fairfield store is today, close to the Fairfield nursery and just up from the Walton Park sand pit and coal mine.

John Blair was appointed as the first teaching principal of Walton Park School and it began with a roll of 27 girls and 30 boys. Numbers in the district continued to grew rapidly. So much so that Mr Blair had an incredible 72 boys and 59 girls by 1874. It wasn't until 1876 that an assistant, Miss Ellen Jane Horne, was appointed.

Mr Loudon, being the mine manager was encouraged to build a store to cater for the mine staff and, in 1881, a store was completed together with the Southern part (nearest Saddle Hill) acting as the post office. The building still stands with Mr Loudon's name on the face of the building.

Turning to the 1940's and four of the Mason family from Abbotsford attended the school, arriving on the Green Island bus service. The room nearest Sunnyvale was long and in the middle was a pot belly stove. On top of this stove was a leather strap - if you misbehaved an outstretched hand would feel this strap

(information kindly provided by Trevor Mason, former Walton Park School pupil, and founding pupil of Fairfield School, 1953.

Fairfield School

On New Year's Eve in December 1950 fireworks landed on the roof and the following day Walton Park School burnt to the ground. The Education Board had a few weeks to find an alternative premises for the school. They bought two houses, one that was situated where the old pre-school in on Main Road (up 'the lane'). This housed the junior school. The second house was on the top corner of the Main Road and Old Brighton Road and it housed the senior pupils. Somehow, during this time, there were up to 130 pupils gathered together to learn with Mr. Donald Buchan as Acting Headmaster. Standing room was said to be at a premium in some rooms and officials acknowledged the competence of the teachers in such cramped and stressful conditions.

The Education Board then bought a good area of farmland (nearly 5 acres) on which to build a new school - the current location of Fairfield School at the end of Sickels Street. It took two years to build a four-roomed school (the recently refurbished Main Block or 'Matamata' Block) and establish appropriate play areas. These play areas included 'an ample open playing area and a well-surfaced tennis court used for netball and physical education. Football and cricket areas also provide space for other games and athletic sports'.

In 1953 children moved into the new school, opening on the 17th March with Mr Farrant being the Headmaster. The name Walton was abandoned as the whole area took on the name Fairfield from what was the famous Martin Nursery in Martin Road. 

Modern History

Over the years the school has experienced a series of growth points due to a variety of reasons.

In 1979 there was a new influx of students following the Abbotsford Landslide. Buildings installed following this event still existed as classrooms right up until 2016.

In the mid 90s a joint initiative between the Board of Trustees, the Parent Teacher Association, and the Fairfield community resulted in a new Fairfield School Hall being built in behind the school swimming pool. The hall is used regularly for sports practices and gatherings of the whole school for performances and assembly. The 2003 Fairfield Bypass on the Southern Motorway resulted in an increase in population in the suburb with several new subdivisions and housing developments. New enrolments continued and the roll at Fairfield School continued to increase. Several classroom blocks were added between 2004 and 2008 (Rooms 5, 9, 10, 11 and 12) to accommodate the extra children, including the Kotahitanga ('Unity and Togetherness') Tay Block (2004). This block originally housed the school library and the IT Suite, but wes repurposed in 2020 to unite the New Entrant and Year 1 children under one roof.

In 2017 the Akoranga ('Place of Teaching and Learning') Larson Block opened to the Year 7/8 Senior School. This dedicated space for the 'intermediate years' contains a four classroom block with a large communal space in the centre. 

A multi-million dollar refurbishment of the Main Block finally opened after lengthy delays. This space includes Rooms 1-5 and the school library. Flexible classroom spaces and breakout rooms allow for a more collaborative working culture between rooms. Relocating bag storage to the front of the building has created small spaces for small group or individual support. Currently Year 3/4 composite classrooms occupy this block, with the library space at the rear. The office and administration area was also part of the redevelopment. This block was officially re-opened on the 3rd February, 2023 and was named 'Matamata' after the taniwha of Saddle Hill. 

The Board of Trustees continues to invest in school property to provide the best possible environment for teaching and learning. Watch this space for the next project - redevelopment of the second original school block housing Rooms 6 & 7. 

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