Hero photograph
Photo by Sally Wenham



Gordon Neil Cruden

12 April 1933 – 28 January 2021

PNBHS 1947-1951

It is with great sadness to pass on the news that Gordon Cruden (LLD) passed away on 28 January 2021. Gordon was a wonderful man - a father to Hamish, Liza-Jane and Harriot, and husband to his late wife Patricia. Gordon trained in law, topping Victoria Law School in his time. A brilliant debater, he along with Sir Edmund Thomas and Sir Brian Elwood ensured that the Victoria University debating team were frequently victorious nationally. Gordon was passionate about Palmerston North, returning to the city to practice law despite being courted by Wellington’s top law firms. Gordon also served 25 years in Hong Kong as a High Court judge. On returning to Palmerston North, Gordon served for a significant length of time as a Palmerston North City Councillor. He was also passionate about his old school, Palmerston North Boys’ High school, where again he was an outstanding debater. He gave back to the school by frequently passing on his knowledge and experience to the school debating team.

Gordon’s private funeral was held on the 4th February 2021, at Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, with about 40 close friends and family in attendance.

Morgan Dilks

PNBHS 1988-1992

Big loss to martial arts

Manawatū's martial arts community lost a lot with the death of Morgan Dilks at the age of just 46 on February 8 2021.

As a diligent karate instructor, he saw 25 of his students gain black belts until the Toyota NZ Business Manager finally succumbed to a three-year battle with cancer. After two expeditions to Japan, he had set up his own Palmerston North dojo in 2008 under the banner of Universal Shotokan Karate Union (USKU).

Morgan had left Palmerston North Boys' High School on a scholarship to Japan in 1993 to study Japanese and returned in 1997 on an exchange to teach English. It was while living in Miyazaki Prefecture on the island of Kyushu that he began karate training after studying various martial arts in New Zealand. Takanabe in Miyazaki was the home of USKU and in 1999 Morgan expanded USKU as a founding member of USKU International in order to develop friendships. It now operates in 14 countries and Morgan travelled extensively overseas to seminars, gradings and tournaments.

As the Palmerston North head instructor, the dojo regularly trained up to 50 fighters, and still continues to operate.

Ryan Buchanan

PNBHS 2008-2010

A message from Chief of Army, Major General John Boswell.

It is with great sadness that I acknowledge the passing of Bombardier Ryan James Buchanan, RNZA.

Ryan served in the New Zealand Army within the Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery for eight years, having enlisted into the Army on the 6th of March, 2013. Ryan undertook a number of appointments within 16th Field Regiment, in the Command Systems and Targeting areas. However, military life was a familiar environment for Ryan, having grown up on a number of Royal New Zealand Air Force bases.

Ryan was awarded the New Zealand Defence Force Service Medal with Regular Clasp. In addition, Ryan was awarded the Gunner of the Year title in 2020 for his high levels of commitment, courage, technical competency and leadership ability.

Ryan had a strong interest in sports. He played for both the Army and NZDF basketball teams, as well as fulfilling the role of assistant coach when he was unable to play. In 2019/2020 Ryan was also training towards competing at the Invictus Games.

Ryan passed following a long battle with illness, maintaining positivity until the end. He demonstrated a strength of character, never admitting defeat. Ryan’s passing is a loss to our Army Community and our thoughts are with his family, and all his friends and comrades from the Army, Air Force, and Navy.

Gary “Red” Wilson

PNBHS 1952-1955

Gary “Red” Wilson (1952-55) died in Napier in March this year. Red was a staunch College House guy and a Gordon Club member as Murray did not come into existence until 1962. Red was in Ian Colquhoun’s first 1st XV in 1955. “Coke” said of Red, “Hooker - light but an outstanding success. Smart striker of the ball with either foot. His opportunist sorties from the front of the lineout were often rewarding”. Red received his 1st XV cap and a school blue in 1955. Red’s College House connection continued when his son Tim (1986-90) was Head Boy of the hostel in 1990 and Red served on the College House committee and became the Board of Trustees first College House Representative.

After school Red completed a Wool Classing Diploma through Massey College and became a wool classer. He was firstly at Hamilton Station in the South Island and remained life-long friends with the owners. An eight year OE followed in Canada. He returned to Hawkes Bay to work in forestry before starting his milk run in Wairoa which he had from 1974-2004. Red was immersed in the Wairoa District and spent countless hours on community projects. He was club captain of the Wairoa Golf Club, a life member of the New Zealand Radio Association, and heavily involved with the AMP Society. He managed four holes-in-one.

Red shifted to Palmerston North briefly before retiring to Napier. He continued to play golf and drove concrete trucks, often with 3am starts, until he turned 75. He never lacked energy and lived by the school’s motto “nihil bone sine labore-nothing achieved without hard work”. Red also had a phenomenal memory for mates, incidents, anecdotes etc.

Ian McSweeney

6th October 1941 – 18th February 2021

PNBHS 1955-1957

Ian was Palmy born and bred. He enjoyed all aspects of sport, especially tennis and squash.

After completing his Business Studies by correspondence he joined Henry Berry Ltd, where he quickly climbed the ladder from Storeman to Branch Manager. In 1987 he joined Davis Trading as Director/ Shareholder.

He was a much loved and supportive husband, father and grandfather to five grandchildren, three grandsons attending PNBHS.

His interests were gold, but in particular horses and breeding in the thoroughbred racing industry.

John Chemis

PNBHS 1962-1966

John Chemis died earlier this year in Gisborne following a lengthy career in Education. In 2019 he was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his contribution to Education. This was recognition for his contributions to the development of rural communities working with young Maori and their Whanau. Beginning his career up the East Coast which included Ruatoria and being Deputy Principal at Tologa Bay Area School, his final position was Chief Executive at the Eastbay Regional Education Activities Programme (REAP) and Deputy Chair of REAP Aotearoa New Zealand. As John said, “Compared with many other professions, in education you can clearly see how you have made an impact on the world”. This he achieved in his own distinct way.

Logan Hughes

PNBHS 2015-2018

Logan Hughes sadly drowned late last year after courageously trying to rescue a girl who got into trouble in the Waikato River. The girl was subsequently rescued but unfortunately, Logan could not be revived. Logan’s attempted rescue was described as “an instinctive display of humanity”. Logan had been working in his home town of Taihape, and was a respected member of the Taihape Rugby Club.

John Graham

PNBHS 1963-1964

John Graham died in March this year after a lengthy battle with cancer. As mentioned at John’s funeral he left school the day he turned 15 because his mother Marie refused to make his lunch anymore, and his father Alec declined to do his homework anymore, so he had no option but to leave. John had a four year apprenticeship to become an “old fashioned” men’s barber and cut hair for many long term clients until a few months before his death. He even famously cut the All Blacks hair during the 1978 Grand Slam Tour.

John’s adventurous and eventful life included working for many years as a Kon-tiki Courier in Europe and entertainment manager on cruise ships. Back in NZ he became a raconteur stand-up comic, MC at the field days, Oyster Festival host, Race Day host, Old Boys dinner MC and many other roles related to entertainment. He was known throughout the country and overseas. Many watched the live streaming of his funeral in Australia and Europe. He also worked with people like Mike King, Rachel Hunter and did men’s health presentations with Colin Meads.

John was an outstanding sportsman and excellent at rugby and lawn bowls. He was invited to major bowls tournaments in return for entertaining at night. John loved his horses and was generous to his many friends.

John although never marrying, was very close to his family. His father Alec turns 100 in July this year. His brother Ross (1965-60) and Bruce (1967-71) also attended the school. Bruce spent a lot of time with John and provided great support as his health declined.

500 people attended John’s funeral with a further 300 watching it online, John Williams (1963-66) was the officiating minister.

Lindsay Savell

PNBHS (1958-62)

Lindsay Savell, former school prefect and proud Kia Ora man died on Boxing Day, 2020 in Perth. After leaving school he worked for the family business Savell’s Radio Ltd as a technician. Lindsay also played the double bass in local bands. While holidaying in Australia he met his wife Pippa and stayed. Initially working for Hitachi Australia and becoming their Sales Manager. The sales theme continued onto Perth where he set up his own real estate company and worked there for many years. On retirement he became the groundsman at the local primary school. Lindsay was also heavily involved in the Western Australia Masonic Lodge.

He is survived by his wife Pippa in Perth, has one child in Perth and one on the Gold Coast, and three grandchildren. Lindsay and his brother Alan used to speak with one another on a Tuesday night for many years.

Lindsay visited the school two years ago and was especially keen to see the School’s Memorial Gallery.

Winston Donald Rowe

21st June 1940 – 8th November 2020

PNBHS 1954-1957

Winston grew up on the family farm on Rowe Road and attended Waitohi Primary School before going to PNBHS. His main passions were horse riding, rugby and boxing.

After leaving school he took over a part of the family farm and began a career in crop, sheep and beef farming. He continued to play for the Te Kawau Rugby club.

He married Lesley and had four daughters, Estelle, Lisa, Diane and Charlotte.

He was involved with politics and the Feilding A&P Show which he went on to be president of for many years. After retiring from farming he set up a landscaping business which he enjoyed immensely. Recently he moved to town to Julia Wallace Retirement Village where he made wonderful new friends. He died peacefully on the 8th of November 2020. He will be remembered as being a great father and friend to many.

Doug Bowden

PNBHS 1942-1945

One of the last remaining players from Central Districts’ first season, Doug Bowden, has died, aged 93. The former Manawatū batsman was part of CD’s pioneering 1950-51 season after CD had fought to become its own major association, having previously been part of Wellington. He played 16 games for CD from 1950-58, including a match against a touring West Indian team, which included the great Everton Weekes, in Whanganui in 1956.

Bowden learnt his trade early, being selected for the first XI at Palmerston North Boys’ High School in his first year at school in 1942, facing players such Manawatū pace bowler Tommy Downes in club cricket. Bowden captained the first XI in his last year at school in 1945, where he played alongside future New Zealand batsman Noel Harford. He also played in the first XV rugby team as a first five-eighth.

Doug died after a suspected heart attack or stroke. He was living in Taupō with his wife Christina.