For up to 600 years before the first European settlers arrived in Nelson, the hub of the Waimeha Plains was the Waimeha Pa, situated between the Appleby River and the current Appleby School site.

Several iwi were linked to the area incuding the Tu-mata-Kokiri and Ngati Apa tribes, but the closest and longest lasting connection with these lands were with Ngati Kuia. These links are still alive today as the school enjoys a close relationship with Ngati Kuia, and the land which the school sits on is owned by the iwi.

The original Appleby School on the current site was opened in September of 1859. The exact roll is unknown but it has been estimated that around 23 pupils were present. The roll was quite small for many years, with only a few families represented. A number of these families still remain in the area and can now count up to six generations who have attended Appleby School.

In 1865 the school was presented with the bell from the wreck of the Delaware. This remained the school bell until 1912, when the bell was presented to the Nelson Museum. The Hammond family donated the present bell in 1963.

The old classroom, now the Music room, dates back to 1930.

The dawn redwood tree in the corner of the playground was planted to commemorate the centenary of the school in 1959.

The school has witnessed many changes to its management, infrastructure and environment over the years. While embracing progress, Appleby School has maintained its standing as the focal point of the community. It provides families with a sense of belonging through their involvement with the school.

In 2009 Appleby School celebrated its 150th anniversary. Jacqui Pestell wrote the wonderful book ʻLessons from the Past” to record the school’s history.

Today, Appleby School is a decile 9 contributing school with a roll of around 120-130 Year 1-6 students. On site there are six classrooms, an administration block, a school hall and a well equipped library. The school is well placed to help the students to become confident, connected lifelong learners.