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Skyline of Leeston
Leeston is located in New Zealand
Location of Leeston
Coordinates: 43°46′S 172°18′E / 43.767°S 172.300°E / -43.767; 172.300
Country  New Zealand
Island South Island
Region Canterbury
Territorial authority Selwyn District
 • Total 1.90 km2 (0.73 sq mi)
Population (June 2016)[1]
 • Total 1,810
 • Density 950/km2 (2,500/sq mi)
Time zone NZST (UTC+12)
 • Summer (DST) NZDT (UTC+13)
Postcode(s) 7632
Local iwi Ngāi Tahu

Leeston is a town on the Canterbury Plains in the South Island of New Zealand. It is located 40 kilometres southwest of Christchurch, between the shore of Lake Ellesmere and the mouth of the Rakaia River. The town is a farming service centre, but has all the necessities for a real township such as a supermarket, schools, churches, hospital (for the elderly only) and a small open swimming pool. The Selwyn District Council currently has a service office in Leeston, after the headquarters was shifted to Rolleston.

Leeston is growing relatively fast for a small town, having a 2006 population of 1,299 [2] up 8.3%, or 99 people, since the 2001 census. This is significantly above the average population growth rate in New Zealand, though not as high as centres close to Christchurch. The 2013 census returned a population of 1,506, which is 15.9% higher than the 2006 census. Population growth is expected to continue due to people leaving Christchurch as a result of the 2010 Canterbury earthquake and the 2011 Canterbury earthquake.[3]

Schools in Leeston[edit]

Shops on the main street of Leeston

Its primary school was opened in 1865 and consolidated during the early 20th century. It was located on the west side of Leeston, with school residences being built in 1868. Its peak roll was 275, with classes in woodwork and metalwork for the males and cookery and sewing for the females being introduced in 1897. A side school for younger pupils was opened in Doyleston, and named Leeston Side School. Its peak roll was 131.

There were many other schools in the Ellesmere area, including Doyleston School, Irwell School, Lakeside School, Brookside School, Killinchy School, and Little Rakaia School. These schools had very small rolls, and as early as 1898 there was a proposal that they should be closed and their pupils moved to the schools in the larger townships of Leeston and Southbridge. The Board replied that while the advantages that might accumulate from such a move were recognized, no funds were available for the purpose and no power existed to make attendance compulsory. The matter then was left alone for quarter of a century.

In early 1923, the Chair of Education at Canterbury University College, Professor James Shelley, gave a public address in the Leeston Town Hall. He promoted the idea of closing a number of small schools and moving their pupils to Leeston Primary. The Ellesmere Guardian followed this up with an article supporting the idea. Some months later, at a meeting of the Leeston own Board, Dr. B. Volckman moved that Leeston was a suitable trying out ground for such consolidated. The clerk was instructed to send this resolution to the Canterbury Education Board after a unanimous vote of the members. For the next ten years the theoretical advantages and disadvantages of consolidation were discussed on and off.

In December 1936, the party favourable to the consolidation gained a victory when a meeting of householders in Irwell voted in favour of consolidating Irwell School with Leeston. A week later, similar victories were achieved at Lakeside and Doyleston, with resolutions also being passed despite some opposition. Irwell and Doyleston pupils became foundation pupils of Leeston Consolidated School by April 1938. Lakeside opposition managed to hold out for slightly longer, but after a household meeting in August 1939, the motion carried in 1936 was confirmed, and in February 1940 the Lakeside pupils were conveyed to Leeston. In 1945 Brookside School also consolidated with Leeston after falling roll numbers made it apparent that the school would soon only be entitled to one teacher. Killinchy School remained open until 1959, when its pupils were then distributed between Leeston and Southbridge.

Leeston Consolidated School is still in existence today, with approximately 200 families with children enrolled, largely of European descent. It now has 7 Scale A teachers and 11 classrooms, as well as a library, a computer lab and a Reading Recovery room. Most children who attend the primary school then go on to attend Ellesmere College.


External links[edit]

Media related to Leeston at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 43°46′S 172°18′E / 43.767°S 172.300°E / -43.767; 172.300