• Opened in 1953 as a co-educational state full primary under the authority of the Department of Education and Canterbury Education Board.
  • Has catered for over 400 pupils with the roll declining in the 1980s and growing in the late 1990s.
  • Celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2003
  • Hall was built through public fundraising in early 1960s and named after the first Principal, Mr Edwards
  • Resettlement Unit began in 1992 and won an excellence award in 1994. It is the only existing school-based organisation to target the learning needs of refugees.


Principals who have been employed at the school are recognised by having their photos displayed. They are:

  • A L Edward 1953 -62
  • I M Willoughby 1962 - 69
  • F B Smith 1970 - 76
  • L B Hayward 1977 - 81
  • B Fahy 1982 - 84
  • C A Chapman 1985 - 88
  • W Butler 1989 - 91
  • J Hawker 1991 - 95
  • J A Duncan 1996 - 2000
  • J J Bangma 2001 - current

Early Beginnings - The Establishment of Mairehau Primary School

1946 - Decision to apply for a full sized school in Mairehau

In October 1946, the Education Board decided to make an immediate application for a full sized school on a section to be purchased between Mahars Road and Westiminster Street. This would cater for a portion of child population from the block of state houses, to be erected north of the Shirley School, and also for children living at the northern end of Innes Road. It would also provide general relief to St. Albans, Shirley, and possibly indirectly to Richmond.

1949 - Land purchased

Three years later in May 1949 a site of approximately seven acres was purchased.

1951 - Grant to develop site approved

A grant of £3246 for the development of the Mahars Road School site was approved by the Education Department in June 1951. The following month, plans and specifications for eight classrooms and administration block as the nucleus of a twelve classroom school were forwarded to the Department for approval. The plans were deemed unacceptable due to economic constraints and the Education Department suggested using the Dominion Basic Primary School plans instead. This lead to the following resolution passed during the August meeting of the School Committee indicating their disapproval of the suggestion.

After considerable discussion regarding the Department's decision, for the use of the national standard plan for the new Mahars Road School, instead of utilising the plans already prepared by the Board's architect, it was decided to advise the Department that the Board expressed regret that the plan adopted by the Canterbury Education Board over the last fifteen years, involving the provision of an open veranda has been superseded by the standard plan, which eliminates the veranda and substitutes a corridor along the rear of the classrooms. The type of buildings erected in Canterbury has improved from time to time and the present day structure is accepted as being the best to meet the climatic conditions in this province.

1952 - Work commences

In November 1951, tenders were accepted and in January 1952 the tender of Messrs. John Calder Ltd. for £40 321 was accepted. In March 1952 work commenced.

1953 - Opening day!

Mahars Road School opened on May 25 1953 with a roll of 213 students. The first Headmaster was Acting D.G. Wilson, Permanent A.L. Edwards. 

In July 1953, at the request of the parents, the Education Board approved changing the name of the school from Mahars Road to Mairehau School to better reflect the area in which the school was situated.

1955 - Further buildings added

January 1954 - The Education Department was approached for additional accommodation - four rooms, Infant Mistress' room, and Dental Clinic - due to a consistent increase in the roll. A temporary prefabricated building was approved pending erection of a further block of permanent rooms. The following month the prefabricated classrooms were authorised. A second prefabricated room was required in May as a result of an unexpected influx of pupils during the term. Tenders were advertised for all of the additional rooms and in July 1954 the tender provided by John Calder Ltd for £17 100 was accepted. The work on the new buildings was completed and the new block occupied by September 1955.

In October 1955, a quote for £1,146 from Richardson Construction Ltd. was accepted for the construction of the swimming pool.

1962 - Assembly hall opened

The new assembly hall, named "Edward Hall" after the first headmaster, was opened in April 1962.