Governor General Opens New Performing Arts Centre
Despite not being able to hold the ceremony at the riverside due to poor weather conditions, the special occasion was still one that will be fondly remembered both in the history books of Christchurch Girls’ High School and in the heads of those who attended. An excited energy filled the room as Dame Patsy and Sir Michael entered to a respectfully standing crowd of over one thousand girls and guests.
The ceremony began with a Karakia by Mr John Bain, a strong and beautiful Te Reo welcome from Year 12 student, Aria Rolleston and CGHS Kapa Haka performance. This was followed by an address from Principal Pauline Duthie, an account of the school’s progress since the earthquake of 2011 by the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, Cymon Allfrey and the introduction of Dame Patsy Reddy.
An inspiring speech was delivered to the school by Dame Patsy, recalling the successes of influential and trailblazing New Zealand women Kate Sheppard and Jane Campion. There was also a reminder of the prominent members of our own school community such as Helen Connon, former CGHS Principal and the first woman in the British Empire to get an Honours Degree, as well as Old Girls’ who had bravely gone to war in order to help others. Dame Patsy gave the students, as young women, a special and memorable message of encouragement “to be bold, to believe in yourselves, challenge gender stereotypes and follow the amazing women who blazed trails for you.”
Following this empowering address a plaque to commemorate the opening of the Performing Arts Centre was unveiled by Dame Patsy Reddy, with assistance from head girl Stephanie Lester, amidst cheers and applause from the school. Dame Patsy Reddy was then treated to a polished, encore performance from the school cantrices choir, in the new purpose-built auditorium followed by a tour of the new facility by Art’s prefects Emily Gunn and Tomasin Patrick. At the conclusion of the Governor General's visit the girls of the school all enjoyed an ice cream treat to commemorate the very special and important occasion in the school’s history.
Beth Wray and Anna Coppens