Issue No. 166

From the Executive Principal

Staff Garth Wynne

Garth Wynne
Executive Principal

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The enrolment process for 2021 has already begun and, over the last fortnight, I have met with around 30 boys, talking with them and their parents about College and finding out what they value in education.

By the end of the process I will probably speak with around 150 families, parents who want the very best for their sons, and boys who are looking to enjoy rather than endure secondary school. Most anticipate the College experience will provide a breadth of academic and co-curricular opportunities, and the boys will experience high quality teaching and coaching. They hope our small class sizes will be more conducive to personalised learning and help facilitate good relationships both within and outside the classroom.

I don’t ever get the sense that parents expect their sons to achieve “more” than their best, but rather they hope they will be inspired to make the most of the wide range of opportunities available at College and, in doing so, develop their talents and strengths. Most are also interested in the idea of boys only education and, after a career spent teaching in boys’ schools, it is easy for me to articulate the benefits. The value of single-sex education is widely recognised, as outlined here on the website of the International Boys’ Schools Coalition.

In these conversations, I always refer to the College virtues, handily displayed on a poster in my office, and the fact that we are a faith-based Anglican school. Whether student, parent, teacher or friend, this is at the core of how we think and act. At a time when some people believe such an overt commitment to a faith context would be unpopular, the people I have spoken to see it as a great strength of our offer. Our focus on health and wellbeing and developing global competence – as evidenced by our membership of Round Square – is also of significant interest. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is their appreciation of our House system as the cornerstone of pastoral care. When I explain the significance of the House and the importance of the relationships among Housemasters, House staff, mentors and students, plus the fact that our target is 15 boys in each year group and 15 boys in each vertically-oriented mentor group, there is a real appreciation of the wraparound care provided at College.

I thoroughly enjoy meeting these boys and their parents and being able to advocate for this wonderful school. It always reminds me that there is something unique and special about College, and I am very fortunate to be working alongside so many wonderful people who are all committed to providing an exceptional educational experience for the boys.

One of our biggest community events is coming up on Friday 21 February and, weather permitting, we are looking forward to another fantastic Athletics Day. I hope parents of dayboys can join me for lunch in the Chapman Room on the day. If you haven’t already registered, please do so here by Wednesday 19 February, 12pm.

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From the Chaplain

It was wonderful to have so many parents and whānau at the first Sunday evening service in Chapel on Sunday 9 February. This was an excellent opportunity for me to introduce a lot of what our services are about, and also to meet and chat with so many of you afterwards. The next evening service is this weekend – Sunday 23 February, 7pm.

Ash Wednesday

I am absolutely delighted to announce that His Grace The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, and his wife, The Reverend Margaret Sentamu, will be at our Ash Wednesday service on Wednesday 26 February, along with our Warden, Bishop Peter Carrell. For any who do not understand Anglicanism, the leader of worldwide Anglicanism, “first among equals”, is the Archbishop of Canterbury. In the Church of England, second to the Archbishop of Canterbury is the Archbishop of York.

Archbishop John is originally from Uganda, where he practised law and sat as a judge of the High Court. In 1973, he was detained for 90 days for criticising the Ugandan president, military dictator Idi Amin. Beaten terribly, he found the temptation to give up hope of release was always present – and, in 1974, he fled to the United Kingdom, where he was baptised, studied for a doctorate, and trained for the priesthood. In 2005, he became the 97th Archbishop of York.

Archbishop John has often been in the news – for example, camping in York Minster, forgoing food in solidarity with those affected by the Middle East conflict. I well remember his appearance on The Andrew Marr Show in 2007 when, in protest against the rule of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Archbishop John took off his clerical collar saying that Mugabe had taken people’s identity and “cut it to pieces”, so he would do the same with his collar. After this, Archbishop John did not wear a clerical collar for a decade.

As an aside, Archbishop John is retiring later this year and Bishop Stephen Cottrell will be next Archbishop of York. I got to know Bishop Stephen well at last year’s AngloCatholic Hui, where he was the keynote speaker and I was a presenter. This experience was a highlight in my professional learning in 2019.

Archbishop of York


Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. Last year, our Lenten Appeal began with a focus on Tearfund, and then switched to raising funds for the Mosque and the Muslim community after the terrorist attack. Later in 2019, the Service Committee organised a $3,000 donation to Tearfund. The 2020 Lenten Appeal will be in the form of the Relay for Life, a fundraiser for the Cancer Society, which happens on Saturday 28 March. Thanks to Assistant Principal – Community Engagement and Special Projects Neil Porter and our Service Committee for leadership in this area.

Centre for Ethics & Spirituality

View from the Heavens
Physics teacher Dr Andrew Taylor will explore the view from the heavens – how looking out into the universe and back down to Earth from space has profoundly shifted our perception of our place in creation. He will share some current satellite work, historical observations, and how that reflects on his faith.

Thursday 27 February
Chapman Room, 7.30–9pm

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Curriculum News

Staff Nicole Billante

Nicole Billante
Deputy Principal – Teaching & Learning

Tracking progress and reporting

In the previous issue, I talked about students striving for their own personal excellence. On the converse side of that is the ways we, as a school, can help them to understand where they are at on this path. That is where our reporting systems come in.

This year, to help students to better track their progress, we are moving away from the traditional twice a year report, and instead using Schoolbox’s capabilities of posting grades and feedback to bring in “live reporting”. What does that actually mean and look like?

Every time a student has a major assessment, their grade and feedback will be posted in the weeks following through the “due work” facility on Schoolbox. They will receive a notification this has been posted and be able to see how this fits in the big picture of their grades for that subject and their subjects overall. Parents will receive a notification through the parent portal and can view their son’s comments through the “grades” tab at the time it is posted rather than wait for a formal report.

For most subjects this will be at least once a term. For subjects that may only see students once or twice a week this will be a little less frequent, but teachers will still feedback where possible to tell students how they are tracking. Another point to note is when there are multiple assessments being worked on at the same time. In this instance, grades will be published against all assessments, but the comments will be combined into one piece of feedback so it logically links to the way the student learned the information.

To bring this feedback together for parents, at the end of each term we will publish a summary on one document and post this under academic reports. This will help to act as the permanent record of teacher feedback. We will also have traditional Housemaster comments, as we know how these are valued by boys and parents alike, and will end the year with a brief “summative learning comment” to allow teachers to comment on all other aspects of the student, such as learning attitudes and character attributes, that have contributed to their achievement.

I am confident this change in our reporting is a very positive step forward for students, teachers and parents. Reporting through Schoolbox is being successfully used in schools across Australia and New Zealand. For those students who are excelling, it is an opportunity to continually celebrate their focus and drive. For those students who may need more close monitoring, this will provide more up-to-date information and give us the means to better support each student.

While on the topic of reporting, I would like to take this opportunity to extend my thanks to the parents who provided their feedback on our reporting systems in focus groups last year. I hope the changes we have introduced have captured our discussions and hopes for how to work together on helping our students achieve their best.

NZQA Scholarship 2019

Congratulations to all the students that gained NZQA Scholarship in 2019. Scholarship is a separate examination framework designed to recognise the best critical thinkers in their chosen subjects. Scholarships are only awarded to the top 2–3 percent in each subject, with Outstanding referring to the very top students in that group. It is a great accomplishment and these boys should be commended on their fantastic achievement. Click here to view.

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Staff Chris Sellars

Chris Sellars
Careers Advisor

Upcoming careers dates
28 FebruaryCareers session Year 13, University of Canterbury, 1.05pm
3 MarchLattitude Global Volunteering information evening
10 MarchVictoria University of Wellington liaison visit
19 MarchMassey University liaison visit, 1pm
24 MarchUniversity of Auckland liaison visit
27 MarchNew York University Abu Dhabi liaison visit, 9am
7 AprilUC Year 12 Discovery Day
19–24 AprilUC Elaine P Snowden Astronomy School
1 MayUC Careers session, Year 12
3–4 MayDunedin Tertiary Open Day
7 MayCareers Expo, Horncastle Arena, Year 12
8–9 MayCareers Expo, Horncastle Arena
8 MayUniversity of Otago careers session, Year 13
27 MayUC Choose Science careers evening
1 JuneMassey University, Student Experience Day
3 JuneUC information evening
6 JulyMassey University, Student Experience Day
9 JulyUC Open Day

Christ's College CareerWise

I encourage you to register on the Christ’s College careers website CareerWise – a rich source of information about all things careers, including weekly updates about events, jobs and news. For more information, go to

Careers interviews

Although I am interviewing Year 13 boys at present, any boy or parent from any year group is most welcome to come and talk to me, or we can have a conversation on the phone.

New York University Abu Dhabi

NYUAD is looking for capable, confident students who possess intellectual curiosity, are adventurous and entrepreneurial, get involved in their community, have a commitment to improving the world, and show global leadership potential. I have visited the university and am happy to answer any questions parents may have. We have had an Old Boy attend and complete a course at NYUAD a few years ago. NYUAD will be at College on Friday 27 March.

Lattitude Global Volunteering

Lattitude – an organisation offering international volunteering and gap year opportunities – is hosting a series of information evenings around New Zealand, with the next event in Christchurch on Tuesday 3 March. This is a great opportunity for students, particularly in Year 13, to find out more about the international travel and work experience opportunities available to them. Parents and guardians are also most welcome to attend. For more information and to register, go to

UC Year 12 Discovery Day

The UC Year 12 Discovery Day will be held during the first week of the school holidays on Tuesday 7 April. Year 12 parents have been sent an email about this event and I recommend as many boys as possible consider attending. Boys who want to attend should email me and I will forward their names to UC who will send them details for registration and planning.

Elaine P Snowden Astronomy School

Applications are now open for Year 13 students interested in studying astronomy or physics at university to attend the Elaine P Snowden Astronomy School. The programme will run from 19–24 April and includes a mix of seminars and practical work at UC’s Ilam campus and the Mt John Observatory near Tekapo. For more information, go to

Otago Tertiary Open Day

I will take a group of up to 18 boys to Dunedin for the University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic Open Days on Sunday and Monday 3–4 May. We will travel by coach with St Andrew’s College and stay at the Kiwi’s Nest backpackers hostel on Sunday night. On Monday we will have breakfast at one of Otago’s halls of residence. This is an opportunity for the boys to see Dunedin, attend lectures or information sessions and look at accommodation options. This is a school trip. We do not allow boys to drive their own vehicles with other students, but parents can travel to Dunedin with their son independently if they choose. The boys will be given booklets to help them plan their day. More information is available on College’s CareerWise website.

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Boarding Matters

Staff Darrell Thatcher

Darrell Thatcher
Deputy Principal – Planning & Co-curricular

With my character and leadership hat on, I am pleased to report the MINDfit and MANifesto programmes for 2020 are up and running, and the Year 12 and 13 cohorts have already completed their first session. The aim of the Year 9 and 11 MINDfit programme is to complement work completed in the Year 9–11 Health & Wellbeing programme, with a focus on mindfulness, character strengths, growth mindset and mental health. For the Year 12 and 13 MANifesto programme, the aim is to educate our young men to ensure they are making good choices as they prepare for life after College. In both programmes we want to create a conversation amongst the boys, as well as with their parents. Both programmes include a mix of external guest speakers and presentations from College staff – in whole group and small group settings.

Year 10 students are certainly not forgotten, with all boys completing the four week Immerse & Inspire residential programme. The intent of the programme remains the same as in previous years, to:

  • Guide boys to a better understanding of themselves and their unique strengths and character at a pivotal time in their personal development
  • Introduce concepts of character and leadership in a meaningful way, as they relate to life and to the College experience
  • Allow for a service learning experience focused on teamwork and community need, where boys will learn the power of giving
  • Allow for a unique learning experience focused on social entrepreneurship, which is led by Christchurch’s Ministry of Awesome
  • Allow for an adventure experience to teach boys to be safe in and appreciate the great outdoors
  • Allow all boys to experience the fun of boarding and learning to live with others as a key part of their College experience
  • Allow new friendships to form across College and between Houses

In addition, we have added a new three-day programme that will take place at the end of Term 2 and Term 3. At this time, the boys will either complete the Lab3 Social Entrepreneur programme run through the Ministry of Awesome, or they will be involved in a College-led programme covering such topics as biculturalism, careers, study habits, wellbeing, and character and leadership. Research continues to show that education outside the classroom is as important as the subject specialist teaching that takes place in class. All of the above programmes play a significant part in preparing our boys for life after College

Another aspect of my role at College is to be in charge of the prefect group. When the prefects are appointed to their respective positions, it is important they are supported and provided with opportunities to develop in their roles. The term began with a session run by Sandy Geyer from EnQ Practice entitled "Circle of Empowerment". It was an opportunity for the boys to learn more about their personal interaction styles and how to deal with people whose styles are different. It was also an opportunity to reflect on how they want to be remembered as a prefect group. I have been impressed so far by the boys’ leadership and energy, and know there is already a lot of work going on behind the scenes in setting up student-led initiatives across a range of areas at College.

College Athletics Day is coming up this week, with the traditional boarding House lunches taking place on Friday 21 February. Your Housemaster will already have been in touch with you with details. As mentioned in the “Key Boarding Dates” handout, throughout the year there are a number of opportunities to attend social functions hosted in your House or across the entire boarding community. These are always a great way for boarding parents from all year groups to meet in a social setting and I encourage you to come along.

Boarding Programme

The boarding programme continues, with Year 9 students enjoying the Night Noodle Markets in Hagley Park on Saturday 8 February, followed by a trip to Hanmer on the Sunday, for an action-packed day that included jetboating, a fish and chip lunch, and a visit to the Hanmer pools. Meanwhile, Year 10–13 boys went paintballing at Ferrymead on Sunday 9 February. The Year 13 boys hosted St Margaret’s College Year 13 boarders for a special Valentine’s Day breakfast on Friday 14 February. On Saturday 15 February, the boys had the opportunity to see Sonic the Hedgehog at Hoyts EntX, and on Sunday headed to Mega Air for trampolining.

Click here view the full Boarding Programme for Term 1.

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From the Archives

Jane Teal

Guy Stanley Overton and Rudolf Gopas

In the College Archives is a large portrait of a World War I soldier in uniform. We know the portrait is of Guy Stanley “Swannie” Overton 7/384 of the 1st Yeomanry Cavalry Squadron of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles.

Overton[i], and his brother Percy John Overton[ii], were both at Gallipoli and both died as a result of that encounter. Percy reconnoitered the route for the attack on Sari Bair Range by the Australian, Indian, Ghurka and New Zealand units and, according to Australian World War I correspondent and historian Charles Bean, “At dawn, on one such ridge near the last fork of the Agyhyl Dere, this very gallant officer was killed.”[iii]

Guy Overton worked on his father’s station Winterslow at Alford Forest, and then as the Inspector of Canterbury College Reserves before enlisting.[iv]He was badly wounded during a silent attack from the rear on a Turkish machine gun position at Walden’s Point. The next day he was on the beach at No 2 Outpost, waiting transport on the Hospital Ship Delta to Alexandria. He died on 10 August 1915 and was buried at sea.[v]

Why does College have the portrait?

The clue lies in the words written on the back of the portrait: “Miss ER Overton”. Ethel Rose Overton, who died 5 June 1963, made a bequest to the University of Canterbury and, in 1966, the university established a scholarship to support postgraduate students studying art history, art theory or fine arts.[vi]

Further investigation uncovered her will and the associated probate and there was the answer: “I give and bequeath to Christ’s College Canterbury as a Memorial to my late brother Guy Stanley Overton the sum of one thousand pounds free of all death duties to hold the same upon trust to invest the same in such manner as the Fellows of such school shall decided [sic] and to provide out of the income of such a sum a portrait of my said brother to be hung in some part of the school”.[vii]

The next two questions that emerged were: what was the source of the image for the portrait and who painted the portrait?

The first part of the question is relatively simple. Overton’s photograph can be found in the Christ’s College Register of December 1915 and in New Zealand’s Roll of Honour 1915, published in the Auckland Weekly News. And the artist who painted the portrait – a refugee from the next great global conflagration – arrived in New Zealand after the traumatic upheaval of World War II.

GS Overton
Portrait of Guy Overton

Rudi Gopas seems, at first sight, to be an unlikely artist for this portrait. His contribution to New Zealand art history is as a modernist artist, introducing first-hand knowledge of German expressionism to the New Zealand art community, exhibiting widely and teaching at the Canterbury School of Fine Arts between 1949 and 1977.

Rudolf Gopas (1913–1983) was born in a small German village on the Baltic coast, in present day Lithuania. At this time the village was a favoured summer retreat for members of the German expressionist groups who were experimenting with new, avant-garde ideas.[viii] They used vibrant colours and free, expressive brushstrokes, following the lead of artists like van Gogh and Gauguin who had paved the way for radical change in art.

Gopas studied painting in Lithuania, under teachers who espoused these advanced artistic ideas. A successful student, he gained his diploma, in the first category of his class, in 1939. War intervened, and after enforced military service with the Wehrmacht, he and his young family fled Lithuania as refugees as the Russian forces advanced.

The Gopas family arrived in New Zealand in 1949. World War II displaced numerous European artists to America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and Gopas is interesting as the most noteworthy New Zealand example.[ix] Within the New Zealand art scene, his work must have been a breath of new life to those aware of international artistic trends. His modern practice was welcomed by the artists of the Independent Artists’ Group in Dunedin and the Group, the influential Canterbury artistic community.[x]

His significance for New Zealand art was confirmed by his appointment to the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts in 1960, a position he held for over 15 years, influencing a generation of significant artists – and many of them, like Philip Trusttum, Philippa Blair and Philip Clairmont, following his expressive pathway.[xi]

So, to the Overton portrait. Knowledge of paintings like The Trawlers (1959)[xii], Christchurch Art Gallery, or his later, near abstract, astronomical works, like Nebula (1969)[xiii], Auckland City Art Gallery, make this art work, at first sight, a surprising example of his oeuvre. Closer inspection, of course, reveals the deft brushstrokes in Overton’s moustache, facial modelling and uniform, the rough treatment of the sky and clouds and the swan-like neck which contradicts the realist requirement of a memorial portrait. The likeness is obvious when compared to the photograph used as the model, but Gopas has asserted a small touch of his own style to create a painting of its time.

Familiarity with Canterbury painting, still unacknowledged in the standard texts on his work, reveals Gopas’s extensive work in portraiture. Continuing a pattern established in his early years in Europe, he regularly supplemented his income by painting portraits. Although these were rarely exhibited, wealthy farmers and professionals throughout the South Island commissioned portraits from Gopas, who met demand with competent works, largely in watercolour. It was fashionable to have one's children painted by Gopas and he almost became a society name.[xiv] Though others – for example, Bill Sutton, who also taught at the School of Fine Arts – could have been commissioned, Gopas’s popularity and extensive experience clearly inspired Christ’s College in the choice of artist.

Thanks to Art History teacher Robyn Peers for her contribution.

[i] Guy Stanley Overton (1662). At College 1895–1904. Head Prefect, 1st XV 1901–04, 1st XI 1902–04, Captain of Cadets 1904; Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Lone Pine Memorial, Turkey, 71.,-guy-stanley/; Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kawanantanga Personnel Record
R 2138107 AABK 18805 W5549 108 0089219. It appears he was known as “Swannie” as his birthplace was Swananoa.
[ii] Percy John Overton (1542). At College 1892–94; 2nd and 7th contingents South African War. Queen’s Medal (3 clasps), King’s Medal, MID; Major Canterbury Mounted Rifles. Killed in Action, Gallipoli 11 August 1915. Now buried in the 7th Field Ambulance Cemetery, Turkey,,-percy-john/;
Archives New Zealand Record Te Rua Mahara o te Kawanatanga Personnel Records R12052254 AABK 18805 W5515 44 0004304 and R121383109 AABK 18805 W5549 108 0089221.
[iii] Quoted in Stowers, R (2005). Bloody Gallipoli: The New Zealanders’ Story. Auckland. David Bateman. p346.
[iv]Sun 18 August 1915; Christ’s College Register December 1915, p289.
[v] See “Unsung Gallipoli Heroes of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles”,
John Christopher Rolleston (1544) was also wounded in the same attack see The Press 22 October 1915, quoting a letter of Major Acton-Adams of 28 August 1915.
[vii] Overton, ER. 1963. Probate. Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te KawanaTanga ID R22317271 CAHX 2989 CH171 626/ CH1479/1963.
[ix] Furniss, KJ (1987). Rudolf Gopas (1913–1983). Unpublished thesis, University of Canterbury. p116.
[xiii] Art New Zealand 27, Winter 1983
[xiv] As note 9, p32.
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Latest News & Events

Dr Jess Shatkin 2020 2a

Mental health expert challenges College community

What kind of parent are you? Authoritative, permissive/indulgent, authoritarian, or negligent? The whole College community benefited from hearing a leading world expert on child and adolescent psychiatry share his views...

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The latest addition

Former mathematics teacher and rowing coach Tony O’Connor was back at College recently – the guest of honour at the boat naming ceremony of the latest boat in the College fleet...

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An international perspective

With “not much to do” while he was visiting family in China over the summer break, Year 11 student Bruce Chen decided to enter the Immerse Education Essay Competition...

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Just add water

House and school spirit were every much in evidence at the Swimming Sports on Monday 10 February, with boys flooding in to support the swimmers, their cheers and applause echoing...

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Food for thought

The Founders’ Dinner brings all Year 13 students together at the start of their final year at College.

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Vietnam and Cambodia

We are pleased to offer senior students studying Geography or History the opportunity to travel to Vietnam and Cambodia during the September school holidays in 2021.

Starting at the Vietnamese capital Hanoi and working our way south to Phnom Penh, this educational tour will challenge the boys’ perceptions and viewpoints of this extraordinary part of the world. This field trip will allow them to examine the environment of both Cambodia and Vietnam in relation to specific case studies used in senior Geography and History. Moreover, it will provide a valuable practical experience directly related to their learning.

The trip is for students in Years 11, 12 or 13 in 2021. An information evening for interested boys and parents will be held on Friday 27 March, the Chapman Room, 7.30pm.

For more information, please contact HoD Geography Neil Nicholson at

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Sponsorship creates opportunities

Are you interested in becoming a Christ’s College sponsor?

Sponsorship helps drive a culture of excellence in sport and the arts. It provides that something extra – the resources, time, equipment and expertise – to give College a competitive edge and help our boys perform at their best.

Our sponsors are our partners, and sponsorship puts your business, your brand, at the heart of our community. We encourage our families to support those who support us.

For more information, please go to the sponsorship page on our website and contact Senior Development Manager Shelley Keach – email

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CCOBA Reunion Weekend

We look forward to seeing many Old Boys back at College for Reunion Weekend in February. In addition to the “Year On” reunions, all Old Boys are welcome and encouraged to attend these events:

Friday 21 February

  • The Old Boys’ Race – a fixture on Athletics Day, taking place on Upper at 3pm. Enter if you dare!
  • CCOBA AGM – upstairs in the Miles Warren Building at 4.30pm. Come along and have your say in the running of your Association.
  • Cocktail Party – the Chapman Room, 5.30–8pm. Bring your partner and enjoy the opportunity to socialise with Old Boys from across the years

Saturday 22 February

  • Jock Hobbs Memorial Window Blessing – Chapel, 10.30am. Many of you will remember Jock Hobbs – a titan of New Zealand rugby – and some of you will have been at school with him. We’re proud to have installed a beautiful new stained glass window in Chapel in memory of Jock, which will be blessed at this special service on Saturday morning.

Register online at or contact Alumni Manager Lizzie Dyer at

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