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Memories of their old school, St Stephen’s at Bombay, are still very much alive and it is a dream for many that it will be re-opened sometime in the future.
Closed in 2000 by the then Minister of Education, Trevor Mallard, the school has been vacant ever since and has been subjected to vandalism over the years, leaving the buildings in an extremely poor state.
This has saddened many, particularly those who attended the school, like Dallas Faul and Paul Puna who were students from 1984 to 1988 and 1994 to 1998 respectively.
Paul and Dallas are members of a group of four who are working hard to retain the enthusiasm for re-opening the school at some stage. The other two members are Lee Lidgard and Johnny Panapa and, by default, all four represent the houses that they were part of when they were at St Stephen’s – Selwyn, Bennett, Pomare and Panapa.
“It is co-incidental but it is also pleasing that all four houses are represented in our team,” Paul told We Love Pukekohe in an interview at his Papakura home.
Still hopeful school will be re-opened
Both men are cautiously happy that a study is being carried out as to the feasibility of re-opening St Stephen’s School but not knowing what the outcome will be, makes them nervous at to the end result.
“We have been hearing this for sometime now but we live in hope,” said Paul.
“There are many of us who would like nothing better than to see our children go to St Stephen’s. It was a proud school with a great tradition.”
In the meantime, the old boys have continued to be proactive, keeping the name of St Stephen’s, or Tipene as it was affectionately known, in the forefront of the public.
Memorable trip to Gold Coast
They have arranged annual reunions, sports tournaments and last month they arranged for 55 people (old boys and their families) to travel to the Gold Coast played a rugby match hosted by the Sunnybank Rugby Club in Brisbane.
“Two of our old boys members, Pat Rae and Wiremu Maunsell, have coaching roles with the club at junior level and we worked with them to arrange the trip,” said Dallas.
Each member of the party received back packs, tour shirts, bumper stickers, rosettes and lanyards and, for some, it was the first time they had been out of New Zealand.
Also for some, it was the first time they had been in a plane. One of these was Barney Anderson, a student of St Stephen’s back in the 1960s.
“It was a special time for him,” said Paul. “At 64, he was the oldest member of the tour party, so he was made the kaumatua. The youngest member was only eight years old.”
The core group of the party stayed over from the Thursday to Sunday and a small group continued on until the following Tuesday.
The game, played against a Presidents grade team made up from members of the Sunnybank club and the Brisbane Barbarians calling themselves the Puffing Dragons, was described by Paul as a rather one-sided affair.
“We lost track of the number of tries we scored,” he said, smiling.
“Yes,” chimed in Dallas, “and it was quite a relief to Wiremu and Pat who were dead scared they were going to get some stick if their Puffing Dragons had beaten St Stephen’s. Their fears were quickly allayed though.”
After the game the old boys were presented with some “unexpected” souvenirs in the form of rugby jerseys from the clubs involved, while St Stephen’s Old Boys reciprocated with a Tipene plaque and one of their tour shirts.
More events in the pipeline
With the overseas experience behind them, the St Stephen’s old boys are now looking to further events in the near future: At this stage, 22 old boys will be taking part in the Maori Ironman in December; there will be an annual touch tournament at Whakatane on January 10, 2015; and a reunion will take place at Hamilton during Labour Weeekend next year.
“The Tipene movement is growing larger with every event we hold,” said Paul. “We see at least 10 new faces each time.”
“And, it is on the cards we will do another overseas trip in the near,” added Dallas.
For further information on St Stephen’s Old Boys, email Paul at email@example.com
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