School History

A School with Vision: 1950s – 1960s

Elwyn Richardson was the first Principal of Hay Park School. He was an innovative ‘pioneer’ of New Zealand education during the 1950s and 1960s.  Oruaiti School and Hay Park School were his experimental schools where he used his child-centred approach to teaching through encouraging children’s natural curiosity.  He taught them to make sense of their feelings and experiences, and of the physical world around them through the discipline of art and writing.

Linda Stevens, a foundation pupil, remembers Elwyn Richardson with affection. She remembers sitting in ‘houses’ made of cardboard ‘grocery’ boxes to write, and the printing press set up by Richardson.

He knew the importance of children expressing their thoughts and emotional responses to their experiences. 

Shirley Baskett also has fond memories of Richardson: “He was the most fantastic headmaster and teacher ever. My entire life has been impacted by my time at this school. I write for a living and this is due to his influence.”  

Diane Macleod, who attended school from 1963-65, cites Richardson as her ‘most influential teacher’. “(I) loved writing stories, doing the lino cuts and setting type for the printing press. I remember we used to have heaps of fun running along with the old tyres at playtime and on sports day. Used to spend ages making a "guy" for the November 5th Bonfire at the school!”

Today this child-centred approach to teaching is the norm and is particularly relevant considering our children’s diverse cultures, languages and experiences.

While Principal at Hay Park School Elwyn Richardson wrote his book 'In the Early World'.

Elwyn Richardson died in December 2012.