A favourite for generations of local kids.
Kidsfirst Hillmorton opened on the 27th of June 1944.
It has been a vibrant part of the community for over 65 years, with generations of the same families coming here to learn, play and have fun.
Kay Smith (nee Caldwell) was the Director (or what is now known as Head Teacher) of the Hillmorton Kindergarten in the late 1950s.
She remembers riding her bike to the homes of the parents whose children were next on the waiting list for an interview and to see the boy or girl in their own home before he or she came to kindy.
In those days it was common practice for the Kindergarten Director to write to the families several weeks in advance to arrange a meeting, because telephones were a rarity and there was no other efficient means of communication besides the mail service.
Kay also remembers that when the land was being levelled at the kindergarten and the grass sown, she asked the workers to leave the mound in the middle as a hill. "This was a popular place to work off excess energy," she recalls.
The hill still forms an important part of the outdoor environment at Hillmorton and is as enjoyed by children today as it was more than 50 years ago.
The mezzanine level in the kindergarten was used back then as a dressing up area and a 'housekeeping activity' place. Other recollections of the kindergarten include the log fire and chimney, inside the kindergarten, that was protected by a simple barrier - something we'd shudder about today! Kay's sister Maxine Carlsen has her own special connection to our kindergarten which you can read about here.
Current Head Teacher Margaret McCormick notes that the kindergarten was first established at the Baptist Church on Lincoln Road. It was the 12th kindergarten to be opened in the city by the CFKA.
After a brief period of closure, a section of land and a hall was bought in 1953 and the kindergarten has gone from strength to strength since.
Margaret, who's been teaching with us for more than twenty years, says the kindergarten had received a lot of support over the years, which had contributed to making the centre at Hillmorton a special place for all those associated with it.
Margaret highlights that while much has changed at Hillmorton, there has also been a level of consistency.
"The history of the kindergarten in this community, the relationships that we have with our families and the generational connections - these are what make our kindergarten community at Hillmorton such a special place to be."
In 2005, to mark the 60th anniversary of the Hillmorton Kindergarten, Harold and Betty Warrington cut the cake with their great grand-daughter Ellis Hills, who attended the kindy.
Ellis is the third generation of her family to have gone to Hillmorton.
They joined past and present pupils in celebrating and reminiscing.
Above: Doing the twist in the 1960s
Our website uses material from the Canterbury Westland Kindergarten Association's own archives, Kindergarten Chronicles and other CWFKA publications, and those sourced from the kindys themselves. Unless otherwise noted, we believe all photographs are those of the kindergarten association and sincerely apologise if we have use any images inadvertently, without appropriate credits or permissions. If so, please advise us so we can rectify the situation..
KIDSFIRST KINDERGARTENS ARE A NOT FOR PROFIT ASSOCIATION THAT HAS DEVELOPED AND MAINTAINED KINDERGARTENS IN CHRISTCHURCH, CANTERBURY AND ON THE WEST COAST FOR OVER 100 YEARS - AS THE PLACE LOCAL KIDS COME TO LEARN, PLAY AND HAVE FUN.