Old Boys' Newsletter

World Refugee Day

Earlier this term we held an assembly in recognition of World Refugee Day.
   World Refugee Day Assembly  by PNBHS

Refugees are people who have been displaced from their homeland by war, famine or because of fears for their safety. The United Nations estimate that worldwide some 80 million people have been forced to leave their homes. World Refugee Day is a United Nations initiative and this year focuses on the power of inclusion.

“The shared experience of COVID-19 has showed us that we only succeed if we stand together. We have all had to do our part to keep each other safe and despite the challenges, refugees and displaced people have stepped up.
Given the chance, refugees will continue to contribute to a stronger, safer and more vibrant world. This year, we call for greater inclusion of refugees in health systems, schools and sport. Only by working together can we recover from the pandemic.” - United Nations

Our assembly begin with a presentation from one of our Old Boys, Steven Sedley – the first refugee student to attend Palmerston North Boys’ High School.

Steven Sedley (the Hungarian spelling Czegledi was altered) was at PNBHS 1949-52, having arrived from Hungary in 1948 speaking no English. His brother Janos (called John) also attended Palmy Boys’ from 1951 – 1954.

Both Steven and Janos were in Albion Club. In 1950 Steven was in Form 5, Year 11, where he was first English, Social Studies, Mathematics and Science, an amazing achievement considering that he spoke no English when he arrived in New Zealand two years earlier. He passed School Certificate in 1951 and University Entrance in 1952.

After leaving school Steven trained as a teacher and returned to PNBHS to teach History and Social Studies in 1961. He was the Master in Charge of the Historical Society that year, a group that held fortnightly meetings averaging 25 in attendance with a range of guest speakers.

Janos is a music teacher in Tokyo and Steven went on to become the founding Chairperson of the Holocaust Centre in Wellington. In the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honour’s list he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to the Jewish community and music. In his citation, Steven’s role as a Volunteer Support Worker for New Zealand Red Cross Refugee Services was also mentioned.

Steven was unable to join us in person for assembly, but was very keen to contribute so recorded a short video:

Steven Sedley Reflects on his Experiences as a Refugee at PNBHS

The sentiment that Steven finishes with – that people could not understand what happened to us, that we were only refugees and people stopped and stared at us - is a sobering comment to consider.

Steven and his family lived in Budapest, Hungary, which had a Jewish population of 825,000 prior to the Nazi invasion – when Budapest was liberated at the end of the war only 119,000 Hungarian Jews survived – more than 700,000 had been exterminated by the Nazi regieme.

The quote on the wall behind Steven in the video - ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’, the words of British statesman Edmund Burke – links with the presentation we had earlier this year from Chris Harris of the Holocaust Education Centre and the message he had about the importance of having the courage to be an upstander when we see wrongs occurring.

The brutality that the Jews of Europe – including Steven and his family – had to endure is unimaginable. To follow this up with a move to the other side of the world, to a country where the customs, culture and language are completely foreign and to try to get on with daily life would have been unimaginably challenging.

It is a challenge that is not unique to Steven, it is one that refugees the world over, including those in Palmerston North and our school have to face.

Click here to read the Queen's Birthday Honours citation for Steven Sedley, of Wellington, MNZM, for services to the Jewish community and music

Christine Mukabalinda, Manager of the Manawatu Multicultural Council, spoke about the work of the Multicultural Centre and the opportunities available for young men to support some of the new immigrants in our community.

Christine concluded her presentation with this message:

Cultural heritage is something that all human beings share; wherever we come from there is a culture that follows us from that place.  No matter where you grow up, where you go, your culture will always be something you can take with you.  The Manawatu Multicultural Council believes it is very important that we teach our high school students the value in protecting their cultural heritage.
Most of our activities are run by volunteers.  Students can help organising events, mentoring younger students with another language to write a story in that language.
World Refugee Day Assembly — Image by: PNBHS

  1. World Refugee Day
  2. Sports Hall of Fame recipient Stuart Jacobs
  3. Jim Stuckey with the McKegg Cup
  4. Ray ‘Butch’ Hewer with the Hewer Trophy
  5. Old Boy Brian Plimmer
  6. Loyal Old Boy Bill Pearson
  7. Old Boy Tasi Vaha'i performed in the staffroom
  8. Congratulations to Campbell McKay who has started at his 3rd school as Principal at Mount Waverley Primary School
  9. Bob Burgess is discussed in this recent documentary on Māori Television (the interview with Dr. Bob Burgess starts at 11.40).
  10. Congratulations to Adam Milne and Dane Cleaver, who have been added to the group of contracted players for Central Districts cricket
  11. Always great to hear from our Old Boys:
  12. Congratulations Nick Wilson
  13. Hurricanes Old Boys
  14. Shayne Harris has been appointed as Chief Executive of the Manawatū District Council.
  15. Nick Wilson is chasing the dream of competing in his third Olympic games
  16. Old Boy and professional musician David Shanhun (1997 – 2001)
  17. Old Boys News Letter August 2021
  18. 2001 Cricket Reunion February 2021
  19. Palmy Steel
  20. Sports Hall of Fame 2021
  21. Lunch date with a few loyal Old Boys.
  22. PNBHS Old Boys' Annual Golf Day April 2021
  23. PNBHS Anzac Service April 2021
  24. Palmerston North Boys' High School Anzac Service
  25. Anzac Service Wreath Laying
  26. Rugby Reunions in June
  27. Old Boys in Hastings, Lunch at Summerset in the Orchard.
  28. Tauranga Old Boys' Function July 2nd 2021
  29. Auckland Old Boys' Function
  30. Revamping the 1st XV Changing Rooms under the Grandstand
  31. Up coming Palmerston Old Boys' Events
  32. Old Boys Dinner and Day at The Races. It's time to buy your ticket.
  34. Obituaries
  35. Turbos squad for the 2021 season
  36. Old Boy Carson Taare to perform original songs at Globe Theatre
  37. Old Boy Bob Burgess - All Black looks back at Springboks tour, 40 years on
  38. Old Boy Graeme Elston
  39. (1984) - Palmerston North Boys' High School band
  40. Old Boys' News