Hewed from stone that had formed part of the lava flow from nearby Mt Eden, the beginnings of St Peter’s had its origins as part of work schemes of the Great Depression of the Thirties. On 6th February 1939, the doors of this third Christian Brothers of Ireland school to be opened in NZ, welcomed 183 students. The site had been bequeathed to the Catholic Diocese of Auckland by the Outhwaite family to be used for education of youth. Initially it was bounded by Reeves Rd, Boston Rd, Khyber Pass and Mountain Rd, with playing fields at Stockade Reserve.
In 1959 the site was enhanced by the purchase of the field across from the main site from Lion Breweries by Bishop Liston (the “Cage”).
More land became available as the Auckland motorway system was extended during the mid-1960s, swallowing the lower playing fields of neighbouring Grammar and the surrounds, including prison houses that had been on the other side of the North West boundary. The top field was further extended on two separate occasions engulfing a “mezzanine” level where outdoor tennis courts had been.
In the following years extensive building developments occurred: in 1953 the opening of the Chapel alongside the Brothers’ Residence (later removed to allow for the building of the Br L H Wilkes Technology Block); in 1960 the development of the “far field” (now known as “The Cage”) culminating in the opening of the Pavilion; the building of the Science Block, with additional classrooms and lecture theatre, opened in 1961 and the extension of the Brothers’ residence to provide accommodation for the burgeoning community of Brothers (the latter during the leadership of the beloved Br PC Ryan). In the early ‘70s the main teaching block with its foundation on the original Reeves Road was built and opened, followed shortly afterwards by the completion of the College Hall and Squash Courts, under the jurisdiction of Br BE Ryan. An important adjunct to enable access to the campus was the opening of a designated rail stop below the “back” entrance in 1964, the result of determination and resolve of Br TA Monagle; only in 2010 was this replaced by the new Grafton Station at Park Road
Generation of Change
The footprint of the College Campus has expanded dramatically during the 22 years of Mr Kieran Fouhy’s service (appointed the first lay Headmaster from April, 1989, following the resignation of Br John Prendergast at the end of 1988 (the only Old Boy Brother to lead the College): extended storey on the Science Block (Br JB Lynch), extended Library (Edmund Rice), new Music Block (Br WR Smith), new Technology Block (Br LH Wilkes), new Middle School (Br VA Sullivan), re-furbished Tuckshop (Br VN Cusack) and, in 2010, the opening of the College Gymnasium on the site of what was the Catholic Basketball (Netball) Association courts for sixty years.
The initial community of four Brothers from Australia, was determined that St Peter’s be recognised for academic excellence, sporting achievement, cultural development and spiritual enhancement. Br O’Driscoll was tireless in his endeavours and was quickly recognised among his peers in Auckland schools as a person of quality and ambition for students at St Peter’s College. Early Government inspectors’ reports are glowing in their assessments of those early years at St Peter’s.
What became evident in later years was the solid foundation of spirituality as numbers of priests were ordained after being pupils of those early years. At the time of the 50th jubilee in 1989, 49 Priests, 25 Christian Brothers and 8 other Religious Brothers had been pupils of St Peter’s. The most recent old boy Christian Brother, Br Paul Robertson, is now part of the Edmund Rice Oceania Leadership Team in Australia after working for more than twenty years at St Peter’s, his final years in the position of Associate Headmaster.
St Peter’s has continued its development and built a strong tradition of excellence based on faith and community involvement. There is a dual academic pathway, Cambridge and NCEA, outstanding Music groups and competitive groups, service and faith initiatives and the promotion of sporting involvement and excellence.
There have been 6 All Black old boys, the first being Steve Nesbitt in 1960; Martin Pringle played cricket for New Zealand A; Paul Dallow represented NZ in athletics and there have been other notable sportsmen in Badminton, Golf, Kayaking and Tennis.
As the 75th jubilee nears (in 2014), the demand for Catholic education at an inner city campus is unrelenting and the Catholic Bishop of Auckland may be well proud of this burgeoning facility of service, available for dedicated members of the Catholic community.