The idea of a Rudolf Steiner/Waldorf School in the Wellington area was conceived in the 1970s by a small group of young state-trained teachers who shared a common interest in the works of Rudolf Steiner and who wished to make a difference in education. They studied together and in 1978 began a campaign to ascertain public interest in a school by holding lectures and exhibitions. The resulting interest helped to establish Raphael House in a renovated residential property in High Street, Avalon, Lower Hutt.
Raphael House opened as a private school to 12 children on June 11th 1979.
Earlier in December 1978 the Rudolf Steiner School Trust had been registered and in 1979 they bought the existing site (then 3.2 hectares) of mostly gorse with rejuvenating bush.
The school in Avalon grew rapidly, expanding to two kindergarten groups and three classes by 1981. In 1982 the first building (the present kindergarten) was completed and occupied by three primary classes. Subsequently the school added a new class each year, these children were accommodated in a mix of prefabs and new classrooms.
Some Key Dates
- 1979 First composite class began on June 11th in Avalon.
- 1981 Foundation Stone laid, December 23rd at 27 Matuhi Street.
- 1983 First three classrooms built. School roll 145.
- 1984 Kindergarten moved from Avalon to present site.
- 1989 A further 2.5 hectares purchased.
- 1989 A decision to begin the Upper School and Petone West building was reconstructed on site.
- 1991 First Class 8.
- 1992 Raphael House became an integrated area school (24 February) and School roll 254.
- 1994 New Eurythmy building opened (30 January) .
- 1995 New Upper School Building opened (29 January) and School Roll 330.
- 1999 Classrooms 3 and 4 Lower School opened.
- 2002 Classrooms 1 and 2.
- 2003 The “Knoll” removed.
- 2005 Class 8 and craft room opened.
- 2010 New Class 9&10 Building opened.
- 2011 IT Computer Room opened.
- 2011 Science Lab opened.
- 2015 Learning Hub opened
- 2022 Tirohanga Nui opened
The physical growth at Raphael House has been a huge and exciting task. Much of it achieved by parent volunteers, and except for some minor works, all paid by parent donations and fundraising. This has been driven by the enthusiasm of teachers and parents observing their children’s journey through the school and recognizing the value of Waldorf Education.
Some of their stories have been written down. We warmly recommend:
“Raphael House – the beginnings” by Sarah Gaitanos
“Raphael House – celebrating 25 years” Chronicles 1-12 by Jill Hemming.
A pictorial record available on two compact discs was compiled by Godfrey Therkleson for the School’s 25th Anniversary. One gives a fascinating and comprehensive overview of the building and site development, the other portrays the children’s activities, and social and cultural events through the years.
For those interested in more detail, the school’s earliest newsletters were compiled in two volumes by Gert Christeller and are available in the Library.
As our School continues to develop, we as the Raphael House community stand even more committed than ever to holding true to the vision of our founders Trudi Schladitz, Paul Denford and Gerald Richardson who have devoted their lives and personal resources to creating a truly remarkable school for our young people and their parents.
The school was founded because of the deep concern at the increasing spiritual and cultural poverty of the education being offered to young New Zealanders. They observed children’s lack of will and motivation, their loss of a sense of destiny and purpose in life (even more evident in today’s world). They saw the growing social and psychological problems facing children in a materialistic world which denied their spiritual heritage.
Trudi, Paul and Gerald believed Steiner education was the most valuable remedy for these problems and had the commitment, foresight and courage to act upon their convictions.
Trudi Schladitz stated, “I wanted to create a culture – true spiritual life. All proper culture originates from a spiritual impulse. I wanted a school that must educate the parents, it cannot really work otherwise. That was my vision – with it culture – spirit which manifests in matter: whether it be a picture, a sculpture, or a teaching. Spirit reaching down into matter, matter originating in spirit”.
The solution for Trudi, Paul and Gerald was to found Raphael House.
The Birthday Chronicles
The full history of Raphael House was captured for its 25th Birthday in a series of articles for the Bush Telegraph. These are available for viewing below