Hero photograph
Photo by File

Passing of stalwart and supporter

Mr Grant Lander —

On the afternoon of Thursday 24 May 2018, Mr John Mortimer a stalwart and a person who had a major influence on our school passed away.

Mr John Mortimer was a member of the Waikato Anglican College Trust Board for just under two decades – joining the Trust Board in May 1963 – just 3 ½ years after the school’s inception and stepping down in July 1981. Over this period, John, through his impressive stewardship, oversaw a school which had a fragile beginning and just 281 students, emerge into one which had a sound foundation, a great future and a roll which had grown to 459 boys.

It is not an overstatement to say that John Mortimer played a pivotal role in the School’s history and development. As Chairman of the WACT Board from 1973 to 1977, during his five years, John successfully led the governance of the school, oversaw the construction of the new Chaplain’s residence, a major kitchen upgrade, the completion of the Mary Hornsby Music School and the visual arts block; improve board/staff relations; invited the first woman on to the board – Loris Eyre; and played a crucial role in the opening of the Tihoi Venture School.

An enthusiastic environmentalist, John Mortimer right back in 1970/1971 talked about the possibility of a long-term investment in the outdoors. A strong supporter of forestry, he played a crucial interest in the school community involvement in the purchase and development of the Honikiwi forestry block.

John Mortimer, then Headmaster, Tony Hart and a team of staff viewed a wide range of selected sites in Raglan, Mount Pirongia, Great Barrier Island, the Kaimanawas, the Kauaeranga Valley and Waikeria before settling on a recently vacated timber-milling village in Tihoi in 1976. He then led a fundraising campaign that secured $200,000 to purchase Tihoi. The commitment of John Mortimer 40 years ago to this ‘Jewel in the St Paul’s Crown’ is recognised in the naming of one of the nine houses –Mortz House, after him.

The name of John Mortimer will always hold a special and important place in the hearts of many and in our school’s history. A selfless man, who consistently, over a major part of his life, gave so much to St Paul’s. It is not surprising that John Mortimer was inducted as the first Fellow of St Paul’s in 1984. At this most difficult time, our thoughts are with his wife, Bunny; children – Philippa, Tony, Joanna, Matthew, Prudence, Clive, Jane, Rachel and Gerald; their extended families and friends. The world is a sadder place for the passing of John. As a community, we are greatly appreciative of John Mortimer’s hard work and commitment towards our school.