St Peter's College Gymnasium opening

Speech to open the St Peter's College's gymnasium, Auckland
21 Sep 2010

I begin by greeting everyone in the languages of the realm of New Zealand, in English, Māori, Cook Island Māori, Niuean, Tokelauan and New Zealand Sign Language. Greetings, Kia Ora, Kia Orana, Fakalofa Lahi Atu, Taloha Ni and as it is the afternoon (Sign)

I then specifically greet you: Bishop Pat Dunn, Catholic Bishop of Auckland; David Milne, Chair of the Board of Trustees of St Peter’s College and your colleague trustees; Kieran Fouhy, College Headmaster and members of your staff; Sean Ginders, Head Boy and fellow students; Distinguished Guests otherwise; Ladies and Gentlemen.

It has been a pleasure to accept the invitation to be here for the opening of the St Peter’s College gymnasium.  I have been asked to unveil a plaque to that end, and just before I do I would like to speak of the significance of this event and of the school.

St Peter’s College opened its doors to its first students on 6 February 1939.  From the comfortable distance  of 71 years later, it is difficult to imagine the dark days that the world faced in 1939. 

While the fifth Waitangi Day was held in New Zealand on 6 February 1939, on the same day in London the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain told the House of Commons that an attack by Germany on France would automatically be considered an attack on Britain.  There was a widespread public sense that war was inevitable and so it was nearly six months later, the Second World War, one of the greatest tragedies our world has experienced, began on 3 September.

That the Christian Brothers and Catholic community of Auckland, led by Bishop James Liston, should choose to establish a new school at this time, speaks of a deep seated faith in the future and in the regard placed on education in developing young men.

Guided by its motto—To love and to serve—St Peter’s College has continued to grow and achieve.  I note that the review of the School by the Education Review Office last year noted that 84 percent of Year 13 students gained University Entrance. This is a commendable result and is a significant indication of teachers' success in meeting the aim of preparing students for tertiary education.  St Peters has an enviable reputation in producing doctors and lawyers and businessmen as well as priests and bishops.

The school has also been well known for the sporting prowess of its students.  As a Sacred Heart College Glen Innes student, I well recall the times when boys from the two schools squared off on the sports field.  There is often a special bit of ginger in encounters between Catholic schools.  In sport this school can be proud of adding names like Dallow, Eastlake, Hafoka, Howarth, Jakich, Kohlahase, Lam, Love, McCahill, McGahan, Mika, Nukunuku, and Vuksich to sporting annals depending on which sport you care to name.

The high quality of the education provided at St Peter’s is reflected in its growth.  From 183 pupils in 1939, the school now has a roll of about 1,200, making St Peter’s the largest Catholic school in New Zealand.

But that growth has also placed pressure on the college’s facilities.  I understand the old gym was built in the 1970s when the roll was just over half that currently here and has been much awaited.

Taking a year to build, this facility, with a floor area of 1000 square metres, reflects the ongoing partnership between the School, the Catholic Diocese of Auckland and wider St Peter’s College community.  I understand this new gymnasium forms part of a wider $12 million school development plan. 

The investment in this new gymnasium and other buildings will, I am sure, serve your school well and will be much admired when your school celebrates its 75th jubilee in a four years' time.

At that time, when the school's alumni return, they will no doubt comment on how St Peter’s College has changed.

But there will also be a recognition that it was the education they received at this school that was an important factor in their later achievements in life.

A good education requires more than just books, computers and examinations.  Healthy minds need healthy bodies. Facilities such as this new gymnasium are important because they provide an outlet for physical education, regardless of the weather.

The point was made well by the French educationalist, Baron de Coubertin, who founded the modern Olympics more a century ago. In support of presenting the Olympic idea he travelled widely and to New Zealand.  Writing of education in New Zealand Coubertin said: "In New Zealand one finds oneself well off to have received in the public schools such a strong physical and moral education.  Muscles and character are there the first object of necessity."

And on that note I will close in New Zealand’s first language Māori, by offering everyone greetings and wishing you all good health and fortitude in your endeavours.  No reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, kia ora, kia kaha, tēnā koutou katoa.

Back to Speeches

Tours of Government House Wellington for the public, schools and community groups are offered by our Visitor Centre.

Find out more.


  • Global Women International Women's Day Event
  • HM The Queen's Message to Christchurch
  • The Bledisloe Address - Waitangi Day 2017
  • Dame Patsy's New Year Message
    Dame Patsy Reddy - New Year Message
  • New Year Honours List 2017
  • Message from HRH The Prince of Wales
  • Message from HM The Queen regarding the North Canterbury earthquake
  • Messages from the Governor-General and Dutch King and Queen
  • Swearing-In Ceremony
  • Armorial Bearings - Sir Jerry Mateparae
  • Bledisloe Ballot 2017
  • Beer Braised Beef Cheeks
  • Queen approves honours for the Governor-General Designate
  • Boots the Cat - The Biography
  • The Governor-General's Anzac of the Year Award 2016
  • New Year Message
  • A Ceremony of Welcome in New Zealand
  • Charlotte Royale cake recipe
  • Charlotte Royale recipe - in honour of Princess Charlotte
  • Prince Harry - Visit Itinerary
  • Amazing Easter Wreath
  • The Governor-General's Anzac of the Year Award
  • Bledisloe Garden Reception 2015
  • New Year Message
  • Christmas Eccles Cakes
  • State Banquet for the President of China
  • Grilled Turbot Fillet and Cwmglyn Rarebit
  • The Governor-General and Government Formation After the Election
  • Government House Recipes - Orange and Olive Oil Syrup Cake
  • New Year message - 2014
    Governor-General's 2014 New Year message
  • New Year Honours 2014
    Queen honours New Zealand's best
  • Nelson Mandela
    Governor-General pays tribute to South African leader
  • Niue and the Cook Islands
    Visits reaffirm special relationships within the Realm of New Zealand
  • Badge of the General Fono of Tokelau
    Governor-General hosts ceremony at Government House
  • Leadership Week
    Governor-General leads the Sir Peter Blake Trust Dream Team
  • Matariki 2013
    Governor-General recognises the contribution of women
  • Coronation Diamond Jubilee
    The Governor-General looks back at the Queen's 1953 Coronation
  • AIDS Candlelight Memorial
    Message from the Governor-General
  • South Canterbury and North Otago Regional Visit
    20-23 February: An overview
  • Waitangi Day - 2013
    Governor-General and Lady Janine visit Waitangi and Auckland
  • New Year Message 2013
    Governor-General issues his 2013 New Year message
  • New Year Honours 2013
    New Zealanders recognised by The Queen of New Zealand
  • Birthday cake
    Secrets of Government House birthday cake revealed
  • Diamond Jubilee visit
    Royal couple to visit Auckland, Wellington, Manawatu and Christchurch
  • Royal reception
    Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall prepare for trip to downunder
  • New Zealand's Governor-General
    Government House publishes new booklet
  • 2012 London Olympic Games
    The Governor-General supports the NZ Olympic Team in London
  • Diamond Jubilee message
    The Governor-General's Diamond Jubilee message
  • Western Bay of Plenty regional visit
    The Governor-General makes his first official visit.
  • Open Days 2014
    Government House Open Days 2014
  • Christchurch and Canterbury Earthquake Anniversary
    The Governor-General's Programme
  • Waitangi Celebrations 2012
    The Governor-General's first Waitangi Day Programme
  • Governor-General's New Year Message
    Sir Jerry Mateparae issues his 1st New Year message - watch the video
  • State Opening of Parliament
    Governor-General announces the Government's plans
  • Speaker-elect confirmation ceremony
    Dr Smith confirmed as Speaker of the House
  • Appointment of the new Government
    The Governor-General appoints the new Government
  • Queen's Diamond Jubilee Emblem
    New emblem to mark the Diamond Jubilee
  • Rugby World Cup
    Message from the Queen of New Zealand on the All Blacks' victory
  • State Swearing-in of Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae
    A Government House short film
  • Royal NZ Navy 70th Anniversary
    The Governor-General hosted and attended associated events
  • New Zealand Gallantry Awards
    Government House has today issued a special honours list
  • One year on from the 4 September 2010 Canterbury earthquake
    Governor-General issues a message
  • Swearing in ceremony
    Sir Jerry Mateparae to become NZ's 20th Governor-General
  • Sir Paul Reeves
    New Zealand's first Governor-General of Maori descent dies
  • Visit by King George Tupou V of Tonga
    The Governor-General hosted a State Welcome for the King of Tonga
  • Māori King visits Government House
    The King plants a tree to mark the visit
  • Matariki
    The Governor-General's 2011 Matariki Message
  • The Royal Wedding
    Sir Anand and Lady Susan attended the Royal Wedding on 29 April
  • ANZAC Day message
    The Governor-General's message for ANZAC Day commemorations
  • The National Christchurch Memorial Service
    Details and photos are available here.
  • Christchurch Earthquake
    Governor-General offers the support of all New Zealanders
  • Canterbury earthquake
    World leaders send messages of support to New Zealand
  • Waitangi Day 2011
    Sir Anand Satyanand's last Waitangi Day as Governor-General
  • New Year Message
    Governor-General issues his message for 2011
  • Pike River Mine Tragedy
    World leaders send messages of support to New Zealand
  • Governor-General visits Canterbury
    A visit to support and encourage those affected by the earthquake
  • New Year Message
    Governor-General issues his message for 2010
  • Governor-General's 2009 New Year Message
    New Zealanders urged to volunteer