4 Nov 2012

Respected educator dies

1:06 pm on 4 November 2012

One of New Zealand's most respected feminists and educationalists, Marie Bell, has died at the age of 90.

A pioneer in early childhood education, Marie Bell was involved in the early days of the playcentre movement, Parents Centres and kindergartens.

She helped set up Matauranga School in 1963 which was described at the time as Wellington's most radical school because of its emphasis on play, parental involvement, and a ban on corporal punishment.

At the age of 60 she took up a lectureship at the Wellington College of Education, combining her lecturing with tutoring at Victoria University.

She wanted to see women's skills brought into teacher's training, believing most women have valuable but under-rated skills in healing and understanding.

Dr Bell was 79 when she began work on a doctorate with a dissertation on the pioneers of the Parents Centre movement. She was awarded the doctorate three years later.

In 2006, Marie Bell was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to early childhood education and parenting.