Parnell District School came under the jurisdiction of the Auckland Education Board on May 1st 1873 and was one of the first eight schools to do so. At this time school attendance had become compulsory for all children between the ages of 7 and 12 years following the Auckland Education Act of 1872.
A private school in the St Mary’s Church Hall in Scarborough Tce was taken over for this purpose, but this soon proved inadequate. A permanent building was opened in April 1880 on Parnell Rise (on an area now known as Fraser Park) and by June the school had a roll of 327.
As the school roll continued to grow, more rooms were added and a separate Infant Department was built. This then gave rise to the problem of an insufficient playing area. After much negotiation for flat land, the school’s present site on St Stephen’s Avenue was acquired from the Diocesan Trust. This site was previously used by St Stephens Maori Boys School (which relocated to Auckland’s Bombay Hills), a brother school of Queen Victoria Maori Girls School on Glanville Tce, also in Parnell.
The first pupils moved across in to the new St Stephen’s Ave school buildings on 22nd May 1933, but it wasn’t until the 11th December of that year that the school was officially opened. The opening roll for the school at that time was 395. The original buildings of 1933 were much the same as they are today with major interior alterations completed in 1982 and again in 2007.
As a result of roll growth since 1993 and reduction of class sizes, new classrooms as well as a hall and a new administration block were completed in 1996-97, followed by the opening of the school library in 2002. In March 2007 the newly refurbished Leonard Building was opened, which included the addition of a Performing Arts Room, a Technology Room and a Science Room as well as a dedicated Computer room. The building of an additional classroom in the junior school was completed in early 2010. The character and style of the original buildings has been deliberately incorporated in the design of all building additions.
In 2008 Parnell District School celebrated its 135th birthday with a school gala, whilst also celebrating 75 years of being on the existing St Stephens site.
Parnell District School is a full primary school including an intermediate department with Year 7 and Year 8 pupils (Form 1 and 2).