Bruce Coleman (1962)
Jan 22nd 1962
After lunch, went to Takapuna.Went to George's & was outfitted for Rosmini College.Nearly 85 Pounds worth.Came home and spent the rest of the afternoon reading.
(Author's note: I can't believe the cost of the uniforms.That would have probably been my dad's wages for two weeks!!! Mr George, being of the parish, would have allowed the bill to be paid off.)
Jan 28th 1962
Went to 8.30 Sunday Mass.After lunch, went in uniform to the opening of Rosmini College.
Feb 1st 1962
Went to Curran's to see TV. Saw opening of Rosmini College on news. [Author's note: We didn't have the black and white marvel of TV at our place. Seems like a 4-day delay for the news to reach TV was acceptable in the early days of the medium]
Feb 6th 1962
First day at school! Rosmini College (just in case you forgot). Left home at 8.15 with P.Bailey on bikes. Bro.Tedesco taught us today & issued with books (loved the ampersand as it saved space). Quite good! Came home and did our 3 minutes homework. For some unknown reason, the first sport we played was Softball. And this 12 and a half year old schoolboy was in bed most weeknights at 8.30 [Author's note: Mums and dads please note this]
Bruce says, “I do remember the cards that we received on Friday each week. Blue (great schoolwork, good student),White (average,could try harder) and Red (bad everything.....behaviour in class,learning,tests etc). They had to be given to our parents or else!!!” Consequently he was pleased to hear that this card system is still in place for Rosmini’s current Years 7-10. Bruce continues, “I lost touch with most of my class as I became a musician in a band called Hi-Revving Tongues. Hi-Revving Tongues' name came from something to do with girls kissing boys’ ears...too much info? Strange practice, but that was the sixties! We had a single called 'Rain and Tears’ which won the Loxene Gold Disc award in 1970.I then moved to Australia where I have been in bands ever since playing up until this time last year (2009). Many Kiwis live in Perth as it is a smaller town with a lovely river and huge white beaches (and most of us grew up near water in NZ). It has temperatures from 0 to 40+ and clean air but unlike New Zealand we've had no rain for 60 days so gardens and lawns suffer and turn brown.” He says he maybe visiting New Zealand in the not so distant future as there has been talk of a Hi-Revving Tongues reunion in Auckland.
Father John Bland returned to the United Kingdom after Easter 2009. He also visited Sydney, Cape Town and Nairobi as there is an International House of Studies and a Mission Station just outside Nairobi. Father Bland was born in Harrow on the 4th March, 1935 where he attended two Rosminian schools: Grace Dieu Manor (a prep school) and Ratcliffe College. He joined the Rosminians in 1953 at the age of 18. Father Bland was ordained on 25 October 1969 and came to New Zealand in October 1970. When Father Bland joined the staff in 1970, Rosmini College had a role of 520 students. He says, “I taught junior Science in Form 1, Christian Living in Form 2 and Mathematics in Form 3. I taught at Rosmini for three years. I also taught Christian Living in Form 6.” Mr Tom Gerrard says, “John was always a school man – he worked with the kids” and he was “tolerant of other people’s views.”
Father Bland went to St Peter’s College in 1974 as Deputy Principal and Hostel Master where he taught Mathematics, Physics, Creative Design, Form 1 Metalwork and Woodwork and Christian Living. He was there for seven years but he returned to Rosmini in 1981 where he taught Mathematics, Religious Education and Computing. Father Bland says, “I started the first computer room with Commodore 64’s and then setup the first computer room to have IBM compatibles. We had just heard that you could get hard disks rather than two disk drives so we had 20mg hard drives.” He adds, “I developed a great interest in computers and started the admin computer with Terry Perreau. We had all the students details on one five and quarter floppy disk.” Mr Gerrard describes Father Bland as, “really the trail blazer for computers/I.T.” In the 1988 Rosminian Father Bland is affectionally described as “our swept-up computer and video afficianado. What he doesn’t know about the equipment is not on the market yet. His ‘little notebook’ is always at the ready for Mass dates, boys’ names and Maths problems (his other ‘hobby’). He has been a tremendous motivating force in the advent of the Foster Cooke and the new classroom extension.”
Father Bland became the chaplain of the college from about 1983 onwards. He says, rather ruefully, “Alas, I gave up teaching before I really wanted to, mainly because of hearing problems. It never dawned on me to get a hearing aid at the time. I now have one and wonder why I did not get it fifteen years ago!” He adds, “I thoroughly enjoyed my years at the college. I always felt we had a very happy staffroom where I still feel welcome even though I do not know many of the staff now. I think this is something rather special about the Rosmini Staff.”
In 1989 he joined the Auckland Diocesan Retreat Team for four years where, “We gave over 500 school retreats to most of the secondary schools in the Auckland Diocese.” Father Bland then returned to Rosmini where, as well as looking after the computers, he was the chaplain again and he says “I made a point of visiting parents of the boys in their homes. Needless to say I could only get to some but it was a worthwhile ministry.” He regards a major achievement, “Keeping the Sacramental side of our faith as an important part of Rosmini life. We had Mass every week and in the early days we had class Masses as well. We also had the opportunity for the boys to get to the Sacrament of Reconciliation which I think is terribly important. I feel the boys always appreciated the opportunity to go to the Sacrament at school.” He concludes “I am sure the Principal and staff will continue the great work of bringing the message of the gospel to the boys of Rosmini College.
The college has changed considerably over the last forty years. We came to educate Catholic boys in their faith. Today the teachers often have to bring the message of the gospel to boys for the first time. The whole purpose of the church (and therefore of schools) is to evangelise. If we don’t then we fail in our mission. I am sure Rosmini will continue for many more years bring Christ to those who know him and those that don’t.”
Father Bland became the Parish Priest of Glenfield’s St Thomas More Catholic Church in 1998. Mr Gerrard said Father Bland’s, “Great ability was to turn his hand to many pursuits – he was a teacher, a preacher, an administrator, a Board of Trustees Representative, a Parish Priest, a Retreat Master – you name it – John did it. He was a great advocate for the under dog. I personally benefited from his kindness. He also put himself out very much to care for the sick and dying.” Mr Gerrard goes on to say that he knew “a number of people who were fortunate enough to have Father Bland care for them in their last days. Father was able to ensure that their ‘passing’ was a peaceful one.” This included his colleague and close friend, Father Ernie Milne who died on the 27th October 2007. Consequently, it was with some sadness, Rosmini College wished Father Bland all the very best for his future. He will certainly be missed by all the students and staff of Rosmini College.
Tom Gerrard (1966 - present)
Sunrise's roving reporter and part-time host, Ali Ikram and a TV3 film crew visited Rosmini College on Wednesday 13th August 2008 to conduct an in-depth interview New Zealand’s longest serving secondary schools’ Principal. Ikram was interested in both the school and Gerrard’s views on Education. Mr Gerrard also appeared on the front page of the North Shore Times on Tuesday 23rd December 2008. He has been the Principal of Rosmini College for 33 years.
Mr Gerrard was born in Cavan, Ireland and came to New Zealand at the age of nine. He has a B.A. in English and a M.A in Philosophy. Mr Gerrard says he, “always wanted to be a teacher at Rosmini.” He arrived at Rosmini College in 1966 where he taught here for four years. Mr Gerrard then went to Levuka, Fiji where he was the Assistant Principal for three years. He came back to New Zealand in 1974 and became the Head of English at Ruawai College near Dargaville. In 1975 he returned, as Deputy Principal, to Rosmini. In 1976 Tom Gerrard became the Principal of Rosmini College. He was the first lay principal of a Catholic Boys’ School in New Zealand. Mr Jim Flanagan was appointed as his Deputy Principal. The 1988 Rosminian describes Mr Gerrard as, “the top of the pyramid: a man of many tasks and hats – interviewing, using two phones at once, dictating letters. His office is often empty because he’ll be out at assembly, taking senior Christian Living, coaching a rugby team, speaking at a conference or watching the socks, shoes and shirts of sartorially imperfect boys.”
In 1999 Mr Gerrard was awarded a Woolf Fisher Fellowship and he traveled to Rome, Ireland and Wales where he visited a number of different schools, including Eton, and universities. He describes the building of the Tindall Auditorium as his biggest achievement as it has, “allowed for big assemblies, masses and school productions.” Mr Gerrard noted in his television interview some of the changes from his time as Principal were fewer male teachers, the introduction of NCEA and abolishment of corporal punishment. Mr Gerrard says in order to achieve “boys need discipline and the opportunity to be leaders in the school’, he also says that “teaching needs to be contents based and “that a school is only as good as its teachers.” Mr Gerrard loves rugby, classical literature and culture and he says, “there is still a place for Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte today.”
NB: To see the full Sunrise interview, click the YouTube link below.
All Blacks (1994-2001)
There was great excitement at both Rosmini College and at Marist North Harbour in 2008 as two Old Boys (1994-2001) were named in the 2008 All Blacks squad – former Head Boy, Anthony Boric (24) and former Sports Captain, Rudi Wulf . Both played in Rosmini’s 1st XV (winning the North Harbour Secondary Schools competition in 2001). North Harbour lock, Boric joined the forward pack and North Harbour outside back, Wulf joined the backs. All Black coach, Graham Henry said these new players, “forced their way into the squad through outstanding performances in the Super 14.”
Wulf suffered a terrible neck injury in 2005 in which he fractured the top cervical vertebrae of his spine and he spent six months not knowing if he would ever play rugby again. Consequently being named an All Black was, “a dream come true.” Anthony Boric celebrated with his family in Kumeu and said it felt, “pretty special” to hear his name read out as, “I never really thought I’d get in.” Wulf and Boric are Rosmini College’s fourth and fifth All Blacks the others being: Blair Larsen, Graham Dowd and Liam Barry.
Old Boy Teachers
In July 2009 Rosmini College had ten Old Boys on its teaching staff:
Ian Johnson (1963 – 1969) was the Head of the Intermediate school for many years but, after retiring last year, he has since returned to teach part time this year. He has taught at the college since 1975. Johnson recalls he was taught by a “wonderful, dedicated team of priests and brothers.” Those that made a particular impression on him were: Brother Ted, Father Watson, Father Catcheside and Father Dewhirst. He lists one of his major achievements as loving “all sports” but he hastens to add that he has, “tried most, usually performing poorly!”
Dan Rennie (B.Ed., Dip. Tching) (1970 – 1977) is the Head of Economics. He started teaching at Rosmini in 1984 and he says he will leave when he, “wins Lotto.” Rennie says, “I have very fond memories of my school days in the 1970s with a few lay staff and all the priests and brothers.” He particularly remembers the “corporal punishments” and “the projector room with the detentions held by the prefects.” Rennie adds, “The teachers I admire to this day are: Tom Gerrard, Father Hare, Sam Johnson and Paul McLaughlin.” As a teacher Rennie says that “Staff meetings are always a highlight as there is nothing like humour to start the day!”
Nixon Cooper (B.A., Dip. Ed) (1971 – 1977) is the Assistant Principal. He started teaching at Rosmini in 1987. A teacher that really inspired Cooper was his P.E teacher, Sam Johnson. Cooper lists his interests as, “Geography, Travel, History, Football, Rugby, Formula 1 and Jogging.”
Peter Keeling (B.A., Dip. Tching) (1971 – 1977) is the Year 9 Dean. He started teaching at Rosmini in 1987. Keeling recalls, “Father Catcheside lining all the red card boys up on a Friday afternoon for caning.” Two teachers that really inspired him were his Maths teacher, Paul McGlaunchan and Father Hare (a.k.a Bunny). Keeling lists his interests as being, “Rugby, running, cycling and multisport.” He and his wife have competed in the Coast to Coast a number of times.
Ambrose Samuels (B.A. Hons, Grad. Dip. Sec. Tching) (1990 – 1996) is the Head of Classical Studies. He started teaching at Rosmini in 2006. Samuels adds that “there is still the difficulty in calling some of the teachers by their first names! Thus far it has been an amazing experience and I hope to be here for a while.” He says he clearly remembers, “Standing outside in the carpark, where we used to have assemblies outside with Mr Flanagan pulling out his “You! Not you, you!” and grabbing a kid to come and stand up the front.” Another fond memory he has is of “helping out in the tuckshop with Mrs Rennie when it used to be where the Auditorium is now and coke bottles were 1c each.” Samuels describes one of his major achievements as being “coaching my Senior A Basketball team to the finals in the North Harbour Open Grade” and he adds it “was a great moment with a fantastic team.”
Michael Barry (1977 – 1982) is the Year 12 Dean. He has been teaching at Rosmini College for three years now. Barry vividly recalls his P.E. lessons with Sam Johnson who “armed with a length of bamboo (Salty Sam) ‘encouraged’ you to take no short cuts.” Barry also remembers, “assemblies on the front court (now the main carpark) listening to our weekly ‘prep talks’ from Mr Gerrard and Mr Flanagan. 1st XV meetings on a Fri in the Science lab with Mr Thorne that included a number of ‘mental’ tests the all time favourite being tin foil dipped in acid and placed directly on the skin to test ‘mental toughness’.” Another memory he has is of the Biology trips to Smiths Bush in which the class took a “short-cut across the motorway with Mr Burgess.” A less pleasant memory for him was the “entire class securing a red card, the first time in ‘card history’ courtesy of the Art (Mr Pitman) and Music (Mr Danrell) departments.” He fondly remembers the “Rosmini 1st XI winning the National Secondary Schools Championship in 1980.”
Steve Wright (Bach. Of Sport and Recreation, Dip. Personal Training, Post. Grad. Tching) (1993 – 1996) started his teaching career as a reliever at Rosmini in 2007and he was given a permanent teaching position in 2008. Wright also recalls the infamous outdoor assemblies with Mr Flanagan and Mr Gerrard. His fondest memory is that of his Maths teacher, Mr Mohammad ringing him up to congratulate him on passing School Certificate Mathematics. Wright lists his interests as being “Running” and he has “run a few marathons and half marathons” as well as heading the Rosmini College Running Club.
Mike Thornley (B.Ed.) (1993 – 1996) is the current Head of the Intermediate school. He started teaching at Rosmini this year and says, “it is strange working with most of the teachers who also taught me 12 years ago.” Thornley says Ray Roberts was an inspirational teacher and he recalls in “Form 7 studying Henry V, Ray sat up the front and could quote page after page without ever looking at the book. He never left out a word. It made it an interesting subject because he enjoyed teaching it.” Thornley lists his interests as being “Cricket, Soccer and Irish Dancing.” He lists as one of his major achievements as coming “6th at the World Championships in Ennis, County Clare, Ireland in 1999.”
Steve Mills (B.A., Dip. Tching, Grad Dip. Ed. Tech.) (1965 – 1970) is the Head of Religious Education. He began teaching at Rosmini this year. Mills says he has, “lots of memories of the Priests and Brothers who taught me and the real effort they put into our lessons. People like Father Marriot, Father Moss, Father Watson, Brother Cunningham and of course, Father Catcheside. Also on the staff were some interesting people like Mr Gowsmith (who told any boy who asked, that he had 54 children!) and our music teacher, Father Dewhirst. Father Dewhirst would get very exasperated when students didn’t play their recorders properly and would, occasionally, scream “NO!!” at the top of his voice.” Mills goes on, “I have some very fond memories of other special teachers like Mr Hanne and Father Hare who taught me junior and senior English respectively. Both were very dedicated teachers. Father Hare in particular was very bright and was largely wasted on us pubescent brats. He did, however, inspire a lot of us. Father Watson, my French and RE teacher was also very dedicated and would give up much of his after school time when we wanted to chat with him about various issues.” Mills adds, “School was a great place for the meeting people who were to become life-long friends. Most of the close friends I have today go right back to my school days and, our Rosminian bond forged strong friendships as we went on to play club rugby and went to university together in our late teens and early 20s. Mills points out that the “school population was much smaller in those years and we only had the two fields to play on. Our school ‘Library’ was a cramped bookroom in C block before we finally got a proper library at the end of the 1960s.” He adds that the “school was always very sports oriented from the beginning, though the codes were limited to rugby, cricket and athletics. Sports Day was fun with the four Houses competing for highest points. Also, in the winter, the Houses played off for the rugby trophy. Our strong rugby tradition was nurtured by people like Brother Willott and his apprentice, Tom Gerrard!” Mills concludes, “Father Catcheside was a very inspiring principal and all of us students loved him. He did so much for the school and was the Principal, Secretary, and Groundsman all rolled into one. I think he liked the role of Groundsman best as he was always happiest when he was driving the tractor around the school grounds!”
Alex Brown (Bach. P.E) (1997 – 2003) is the Head of Maori. He started teaching at Rosmini this year. Brown says he enjoyed his time at the school. He can particularly remember a humorous incident which occurred in Mr Bonetti’s Year 13 Geography class. After previously setting his cellphone off in Mr Bonetti’s pencil case, Alex arrived in class the following day only to hear a high pitched noise. Brown later discovered an alarm clock taped under his desk courtesy of Mr Bonetti! He too remembers the outdoor Assemblies and he says what a difference to the school the new Auditorium has made. Brown describes one of his major achievements as being in the school’s 1st XI cricket team for three years and he vividly remembers the cricket tours to Australia and “Mr Gyde’s bus driving.” Another highlight for Brown was winning the Secondary School’s Stockmarket Challenge alongside Robert Colhoun and John Casey when he was in Year 13. Brown says it was the P.E. lessons he received from Mr Richards, Mr Wood, Mr Bell and Mr Stanovich which inspired him to pursue his current career. Brown has continued to play club cricket and he has taken part in the Coast to Coast.