EDUCATION IN TWO CULTURES CAN BE A SUCCESS
A trust was established by Bishop G. A. Selwyn in 1848 ‘for the education of children of both races of New Zealand and the islands of the Pacific’. The school began operation in 1849 on a site at Taurarua (Parnell) in what is now St Stephen's Avenue, and was the first New Zealand school to celebrate its centenary.
Through its long life the roll of the school has been predominantly Maori, but there has always been a sprinkling of island and pakeha children.
Instruction, after the passing of the New Zealand Education Act (1877), followed fairly closely the state primary school system, and most pupils gained the Proficiency Certificate some of them staying on for a year in Standard VII. About 1910 a few pupils were entering for the Public Service Examination, and regularly winning Makerini Scholarships for advanced secondary schooling at Te Aute College. Numerous well-educated Maoris thus became old boys of both schools.
In the 1920–30 period, St Stephen's slowly developed its own secondary department, and after 1931, when the school moved to the beautiful Bombay site, the secondary roll grew steadily. Pupils stayed on for University Entrance Examination and further study in Form VI. The move to the country also allowed the development of an agriculture course.
During the 1939–45 war the school was requisitioned as a hospital, and its senior pupils went to Te Aute and Wesley Colleges, but without losing their St Stephen's identity.
The school opened in 1949, as a purely academic type post-primary school, and without the 230 acres of farm, which were still under lease. The rising cost of living brought suddenly a heavy increase in fees in 1953, and the roll dropped quickly in 1953 and ‘54.
With the appointment of the present Headmaster Mr L. E. Lewis at the beginning of 1954, it became the policy of the school to try to carry out the original aim of Selwyn for the education of the Maori, Pacific Islander and Pakeha side by side. It was also decided to terminate the farm lease, to start anew the Agriculture course, to run
parallel to the state schools in staffing and salaries, and to build up the work of the senior school to VIA standard. At the same time work began on the improving and extending of the playing fields.
The results of the new policy over these last four years show a record of achievement probably unequalled in present day New Zealand. On 3rd February, 1954, the roll stood at 31; on the same date in 1958 it had reached 125. There was no sixth form in 1953, but in 1958 there are 14 in VIb and four in VIa, the latter all intending to proceed to university courses. There are five now at University from the two previous years.
The library has been completely reorganised, and restocking proceeds rapidly, to keep pace with the revised and modern [ unclear: ] sed curriculum. Revision of the curriculum has been reflected in the great increase in School Certificate passes, and since 1957 the school has become an accrediting school for University Entrance.
Maori language study is compulsory for a [ unclear: ] l pupils to the end of Form IV, and in 1957 and 1958 the School has had pakeha pupils presenting Maori as a subject for U.E. Maori concert work, shared by all pupils, and developed in co-operation with the girls of Queen Victoria School, has reached a very high standard. The combined senior concert party has roamed as far afield as East Cape and Hastings in 1954, Masterton and Palmerston North in 1956, Northland and Waikato in 1957, and this year, the boys only to the South Island.
In rugby union football the record of St Stephen's 1st XV has probably not been equalled by any New Zealand School over the past four seasons. In that time the 1st XV has played 109 matches, won 104, drawn 2, and lost 3, and has journeyed as far South as Christchurch and Hokitika.
In its hundred odd years St Stephen's has served New Zealand well, and numbers among many of its great sons the two Bishops of Aotearoa. Many leaders in the Waikato have been pupils of the school, and the new scholarship system, now being operated by the Waikato Diocese, will provide St Stephen's with fine material to be moulded into the leaders of the future.
Hence we have here an establishment, catering for the education of Maori, European, and Island boys, an example of a mixed community living in harmony.
Following are accounts in Maori from boys from St. Stephen's College, telling something about themselves and their homes.