The Wesleyan Native Institution

The past few months have seen a campaign to recognise the importance of the name Wesley to the Puketapapa (Mt Roskill, Auckland) area.

Although Wesley isn't an official name for that part of the Auckland isthmus, it is the name that has been given to the area for decades. There is both Wesley Primary and Wesley Intermediate schools, and the name is held in great affection.

The campaign came about when developers of a new town at Paerata, north of Pukekohe, applied to the NZ Geographic Board to use the name Wesley, and to dis-establish it from the Mt Roskill area.

But as schools, the historical society, and the local board backed petitions to save the name, the developers acknowledged the affection shown towards 'Wesley', subsequently withdrew their application, and the Intermediate school held a mufti day in celebration.

So how did the name Wesley come to find a home in Mt Roskill?

It was all down to the Wesleyan Native Institution, established in the Three Kings area in the 19th century. The school occupied a significant piece of land alongside Three Kings, following a shift from its original Grafton location. The school aimed to be self-sufficient with farming, along with teaching and training of boys and girls, not only in ministry work but with a wide range of skills.  But in 1923, the school moved.

Concern had been raised over Auckland's encroaching industry, meaning Three Kings was no longer a suitable location with its farming ethic. A new school, Wesley College, was established at Paerata which still exists today.

For a well researched background, the 2015 Three Kings Heritage Study, Te Tatua a Riukiuta is worth reading.

The front view of Wesley College, Three Kings
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-A227

The plaque below is to mark the foundation stone of Wesley College. It was laid on 6 April 1940 in McCulloch Avenue and reads:

This marks the site of the Three Kings Wesleyan Native Institution Foundation Stone laid by the Governor Sir George Grey, April 6, 1848. Transferred to Wesley College, Paerata, August 28 1922.

Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-2671-30

If you had a Methodist relative in your past, there are plenty of resources at Auckland Libraries for you to do a little digging. One gem is the New Zealand Methodist Centenary Index, published in 1922, which lists Methodist ministers and preachers on "trial" - a history of where these folk served and what years. There is also a list of those who were at the Three Kings College and an alphabetical list of deceased ministers. Below is an example of the information you may find:

Call Number 2 NZL OCC in the Family History collection, Research Central

Author: Joanne, Research Central


  1. Where was the Wesleyan Native Institute in 1847, please? My GGrandparents were married there.

    1. Thanks for your message! In 1847 the original school site was the corner of Grafton and Carleton Gore Roads. A cottage was built there for the Rev T. Buddle, a schoolroom, and dormitories. In 1900 it was the Grafton Road Church. Information from 'Te Tatua a Riukiuta: Three Kings Heritage Study 2015' by Dr Elizabeth Pischief and John Adam. - Zoë, Heritage Collections Librarian


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