Purewa – Mrs Constance Duthie

Mrs Constance Duthie [1]

Constance Duthie was the founder and first principal of Corran School in Remuera in 1952.


She was born Victoria Constance Clark on 19 Jan 1901 in Sholing, South Stoneham (Southampton), Hampshire, England. Her father Alfred was born in Cerne Abbas Dorset 17 Sept 1861. Died 1 Feb. 1947 Waihi Beach. He married Isabella Elizabeth Friedricke Wanger (or Winzer) in Hamburg on 3 Jan. 1893, with whom he had 3 children in England, Paul Graham Clark (1897 – 1918), Phyllis Katherine, born 9 Feb 1898, and Victoria Constance. Alfred and his family came to Ashburton from England on the Orita to Sydney and Auckland on 13 June 1903 when Constance was 2 years old. Two further children were born, Roger Shepherd on 13 May 1904 in Ashburton (died 1952) and Alfred Martin Clark in Auckland in 1907 (died 1990). By 1912 they were living at Cerne Abbas, Victoria Avenue, Remuera, Auckland. [1]

Dr Alfred Clark [2]

Paul Graham Clark [3]


Dr Clark was a radiographer for 8 years at Auckland Hospital. The N Z Register of Medical Practitioners & Nurses lists Alfred Clark as registered in 1903 with the triple Scottish qualification of Lic. Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh in 1892, Lic. 1892, Fellow 1898 Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh and Lic. Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow 1892. In 1915, after WW1 broke out, he wrote to Major Talbot, Acting Principal Medical Officer, about “the possibilities of my going to the front (!) – if I am needed I am willing to go as either radiographer or surgeon”, ending “I am 53 years and am fairly vigorous as you know and can ‘rough it’ without growling. “ Alfred joined the N Z Medical Corps’ New Zealand Hospital Ship No. 1 Maheno on its Second Charter and left New Zealand on 25 January 1916 to sail to the Emergency Clearing Camp, Zeitoun, in Egypt. After the war, he was added to the Retired List of Officers as Captain A Clark, FRCS, Edin. Each year he had to report in at the beginning of the year to the N Z Military Force – in 1929 his address was given as 3 Broome St, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.


Victoria’s brother Paul was a first year medical student and also a student at St John’s Theological College in 1915 when he first applied to go to WW1. However, he was too young but was finally accepted in 1917. Paul Graham Clark was killed in action fighting in Bapaume, France on 26 August 1918 at the age of 21. After the war his father was a driving force for the erection of the Memorial Lychgate which stands outside St Aidan’s Church, Remuera. Dr Alfred Clark died 1 February 1947 at Waihi Beach, New Zealand, aged 85. [2]

After the departure of her father overseas in 1915 to WW1 and the sadness of her brother’s death in 1918, Constance appears to be living in Epsom (12 Domett Avenue, Epsom). She had started attending Training College and University when she married Hugh Clayton Duthie at St Mary’s Cathedral in Parnell on 26 September 1923. [3] Hugh Duthie had been on the military staff in Singapore during the war and then worked for New Zealand Insurance Company before and after the war. They had two daughters Barbara Florence 1926–1990 and Annette Ruth 1928 -1990, who attended Diocesan School. In 1928 they lived in Benson Road, Remuera (1928 New Zealand Electoral Roll). They were divorced in 1945. [4]

Corran School [4]

Duthie Constance with Barbara Duthie [5]


During WW2 Constance worked as a mail censor which she greatly enjoyed as it gave insight into the lives of soldiers and directions of the war. Then she taught for a time at St Cuthbert’s College and also worked for a toy manufacturer. [5]

In 1947 Constance Duthie started a private kindergarten for boys and girls in her home at 13 Wairua Rd, Remuera. The kindergarten then moved to rooms behind the Remuera Library, and as it grew further, moved to her home at 15 Orakei Road, Remuera. An extension to the house was designed and built for the expanding kindergarten by her future son-in-law, George Bruce, then an architectural student. Such were the high standards attained by Mrs Duthie, as she was known, that she was persuaded in 1952 to increase the scope of her school and establish a primary school which was officially registered on 28 July 1952.

 

Mrs Duthie also wrote children’s and adult short stories which were published in the N Z Woman’s Weekly and other magazines, wrote book reviews for the Auckland Star and a news column for local publication the Remuera Round under the pseudonym A. L. Shepard.

A Trust Board, comprising Mr George Philip Hanna as solicitor, Mr Selwyn Kerry Burcher, Sir William Goodfellow, Mr James Richard Cropper and Mr Geoffrey Pollard, Mr Henry Shove, Geoffrey Wheeler, Victor Sanders, Robert James Ivan White, Bernard Shieff, Jack Kingsley Burleigh, John Philip Hooper, George Murray Court, Henry Granvell Windebank (parents who wanted their daughters to further their education at Corran) was established in 1954. The Anglican school was established “to provide and maintain a school … wherein girls were taught those things that are commonly regarded as essential for their education and for their advancement in life and for a proper appreciation of the Christian virtues.” [6] The primary school (Primer 1 to Standard 4) was registered on 28 July 1952. A school badge was designed incorporating the school motto ‘Gaudeamus’ (which means ‘Let Us Rejoice’) around the Tudor Rose. The rose was later changed to the Manuka flower which was felt to be more appropriate for a New Zealand school.

New Corran School [6]

Saint Kentigern Girls School Corran House [7]

Constance Duthie [8]


Community interest in Corran then generated sufficient funds to purchase 514 Remuera Road from the Mormon Church in 1955. The gracious home, known as ‘Korinina House’ had been built in 1918 for the Louisson family who, in later years, built a smaller but similar home in a corner of the property before selling the original home to the Mormon Church. When the transfer of Corran School to 514 Remuera Road took place, the roll was 70. The co-educational kindergarten closed in 1956 and the secondary department registered in 1957.

However in 1960 Mrs Duthie retired due to ill health as she had been suffering from leukemia and died on 6th April 1965 aged only 64. She is buried at Purewa Cemetery in Block J Row 43 Plot 103.

Corran School closed at the end of 2009, and St Kentigern School for Girls was established at the site of the former school in Remuera Road. In 2018 Kentigern announced the relocation of the girls’ school to the St Kentigern Boys School site in Shore Road. In 2019 St Kentigern announced the sale of the Remuera Road site to the Auckland Hebrew Congregation. The school’s board of trustees sold the current site of the school and preschool, valued at $23 million. The buildings, covering a land area of 1.24 hectares, 3 acres, included classrooms, science and technology blocks, a preschool, a two-level villa, an assembly hall, a large swimming pool with changing sheds, a tennis court and open spaces. The pre-school is to remain at Remuera Road until the end of 2022 when new buildings will be ready at Shore Road.[7]