I went to the lauch last night of a new secondary school in Parnell, the Montessori College of Auckland, part of a worldwide movement developing new Montessori secondary schools in response to overwhelming parent demand (read about one of the standard-bearers, David Kahn's Hershey Montessori Farm School in Ohio). Maria Montessori's first elementary school, the Casa dei Bambini, was set up by her in Rome's slums in 1907, and there are now literally thousands of elementary and primary schools around the world offering the Montessori philosophy of "freedom through a prepared environment."
New Zealand's first use of the Montessori Method was in 1912 at an elementary school in Wellington run by Suzanne Aubert. We now have just over eighty elementary Montessori Schools and twenty or so primary Montessori schools (some history here). The Montessori College of Auckland will be New Zealand's second Montessori secondary school -- the first, Athena College in Wellington's Willis St, was opened in 2002; Athena sees "the city as its campus," and offers students access to such resources as Te Papa, the Wellington Library and Victoria University's Science department. Students take their lessons around the city, each carrying a mobile phone to keep in touch, a concrete expression of Maria Montessori's educational philosophy of encouraging student's independence.
Parnell's Montessori College is being set up by some inspirational parents who want the very best for their own children, and who have worked for some years to set up this school so they can get it. I wish them well.