by Supplied

Happy birthday to... us!!

On Tuesday, 12 February 2019, St Paul’s Collegiate School turned 60 and to celebrate, a timeline of the past six decades was unveiled in the Sports Centre, students were given a piece of cake and a commemorative pin for the lapel of their blazer.

The following is the speech made by Headmaster, Mr Grant Lander at this event:

“Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

Special guests, Collegians’ committee and Board members, staff and students, we welcome you to this special occasion to mark this day six decades ago, when on 12th February 1959, St Paul’s opened its doors for the first time.

In the mid-1950s, there were only three independent Anglican secondary schools of national significance in New Zealand – Christ’s College in Christchurch (founded in 1850); Wanganui Collegiate School (1854) and King’s College in Auckland (1896) – all were overcrowded and were turning away a huge number of applicants, mainly due to the growth of the population and the improvement in farm prices and general prosperity; especially as a consequence of the Korean War. As a result, three new schools were opened up between 1953 and 1964 – Lindisfarne College in the Hawkes Bay (1953); St Paul’s (1959) and Rathkeale College in Wairarapa (1964).

At a meeting held at Southwell School in March 1957, a decision was made to form a boys’ boarding secondary school in the Waikato and in September 1957, it was decided that its location would be the Great Oaks farm in Hukanui Road and soon after, Mr Walter Ford, who had taught Mathematics and Physics at Wanganui Collegiate, Sydney Grammar School, Morrinsville College and Mount Roskill Grammar was appointed as the new school’s first Headmaster.

In 1958, the farm fields were levelled for the sports grounds and construction of three blocks – classrooms, staffroom, dining room and kitchen and a dormitory for the School House boarding boys – in rooms which are currently occupied for the teaching of Mathematics, English and Digital Technology – on the side of the main quad, closest to Hukanui Road.

On this day, sixty years ago, 59 pupils and five staff made up the St Paul’s school community. One of them is present at this special occasion, Mr Andrew Bryant, who went on to be the first student Head of Hamilton House. As you can imagine, the school that Andrew arrived at in 1959 was almost unrecognisable to the one we have the opportunity of enjoying in 2019. With 40 of the 59 boys being boarders, there were no veterans or senior students who knew the routines and could give guidance – all of the students were first timers, as were the five staff; a Headmaster with a very ill wife, who was to pass away five months into the year; second master and boarding housemaster, Mr Bruton whose services were to be dispensed with in December 1959; Mr Small, the third full time teacher was only employed for the first two terms of the school year; while a part-time teacher, Mr Senior, the Waikato Dio Chaplain and the Headmaster’s Secretary completed the admin and teaching team.

The students and their parents, along with the staff can only characterised as risk-takers. Through a huge leap of faith, young men from the Hawkes Bay, Waikato, King Country became the Foundation students of a school that was to have a fairly shaky beginning over its first five years, but which would grow in student numbers, reputation, facilities and opportunities over the next six decades through the commitment of staff, Board, parents and its students.

Today we are joined by Pat and Diana Plant, who together represent the many icons who played such an important role in the school’s development. Pat arrived at St Paul’s in July 1961 from England. In his first year, he taught Science, Mathematics, History and all the PE at the school. A passionate sports coach, he soon became a boarding housemaster of firstly Sargood (1963-77) and then Clark (1978-1985). A twenty-two year pastoral commitment in which he was ably supported by house mum, Diana. For his 39 years of full time dedicated service, Pat was made Patron of the Collegians and it is in this capacity that he attends this ceremony today.

There will only be one Pat Plant, but there are so many like him that made such a significant contribution. Today it is highly appropriate that current members of staff, who benefited significantly from their own secondary education at St Paul’s, after a blessing from Reverend Peter Rickman, will come forward and unveil a timeline; Collegians Mr Guy Johnstone (the 1960s board); Mr Byron de Beer (the 1970s board); Ms Andrea Dela Rue (nee Jenkins) (the 1980s board); Mr Ryan McCarthy (1990s board); Mr Michael Rameka (2000s board); Mr Daniel Teka (2010s board). While foundation pupil, Mr Andrew Bryant, will appropriately unveil the 1950s board, which provides a history of this land. After which, at the cutting of the birthday cake by Pat and Diana Plant, we as a school will recognise and show our respect for all those who have given so much to St Paul’s over the past 60 years. The timeline highlights significant world and New Zealand events, as well as for our local iwi, Tainui. Then for each of the individual sixty years that the school has been in operation, the timeline highlights many of the milestones in St Paul’s history.

I thank everyone that has made this day possible. In particular Mrs Suzanne Miller, Collegians’ Executive Officer; Mrs Michelle Smith and her superb marketing team of Rebecca and Rachel, for the research they have undertaken for each of the boards; to the designers Kieran and Annie Barry and Sarah McFarlane who have done such a wonderful job with the visual presentation of the timeline; and the President of the Collegians’ Association, Mr Brent Mexted and his executive for enabling this magnificent tribute to be a legacy project for the upcoming reunion celebrations.

Thank you to everyone for being here at this momentous occasion for St Paul’s Collegiate School.”