Old boys return to St Stephen's for reunion

By Ripeka Timutimu

Footsteps were retraced and memories were recalled for the old boys of St Stephen's College who reunited on the school grounds, that were closed 13 years ago, to enjoy each other's company and stoke the embers of grief, as they look to reopen the school.

It's the same road these men travelled many years ago, as they embarked on a new journey in life.

Now they return to a place that, for many, became a home; Te Poho Tapu o Tīpene.

Ron Tahi (Tuhoe) remembers, "For the five years I was here, this was my home.  It was here that I learnt about the world beyond my own awareness."

Like many other Tīpene students, a scholarship allowed Ron Tahi to attend the school from smaller places like Ruatāhuna and Rūātoki.

He says great leaders emerged from the school, something he saw from his first day here.

'That day, I saw a guy standing there in his uniform and I said to my mate, "Hey that guy's like us, from the school." That guy was Jim Nichols,' says Mr Tahi.

Three generations of Hemana Eruera's family attended the school.

His father was the first, he was the second, and his sons were the third generation.

Joe Harawira says that if the doors were to open again, a new approach would have to be taken for them to remain open.

He says, "The school would have to have new buildings and a new curriculum to cater to our young people.

We don't want a return to the old ways."

A feasibility report will be delivered this December, from there the Board will decide what lies ahead for both St Stephen's College and Queen Victoria School.