By Des Smith | Posted: Tuesday February 28, 2023
The Otago Boys’ High School Hostel 1871 - 2021.
What a wonderful weekend. Following 5 years of planning including 3 postponements, around 350 Old Boys, former teachers, hostel masters and partners gathered together to celebrate 150 years of boarding at Park House, Campbell House and School House.
On the Friday afternoon Old Boys registered at the hostel, were greeted by the Rector and the Committee, and then were taken on a tour of the hostel by senior hostel boys. This was the first time many of the Old Boys had seen each other for a number of years so they all took the opportunity to catch up over a cup of tea and some lovely hostel food.
The Friday evening was mainly a mix and mingle get together where many stories were told and friendships rekindled. Navy blue rugby jerseys from the 1964-84 era were auctioned as were 15 hooped jerseys with each jersey having both the old and new crest as well as the appropriate embroidery reunion details. Paul Ellison was an amazing MC with interviews with Old Boys Ken Stewart (1968-70) and Gary Williams (1968-71) being well received. As expected, the school song was sung with real gusto adding to the enjoyment of the evening. Thank you to the Alhambra/Union RC for hosting us so well.
The mass photo was held at the school on the Saturday morning followed by photos in decades all held out on the open theatre in glorious fine weather. Littlebourne was picture perfect for the cricket with tents providing shade from the sun, seats around the boundary together with a popular BBQ running during the afternoon. The Old Boys loved the atmosphere while the cricket match ‘Day Old Boys vs the Hostel Old Boys’, had plenty of fun out in the middle. Up at the tennis courts in the Dome, Old Boys also competed against each other in a close and enjoyable encounter. Many Old Boys took the opportunity to view the Dome and were very impressed with this magnificent facility. The Rector and his wife Fran hosted all 4 teams at the Rectory following the games which was extremely well received.
For the record, OBHS won both the cricket and the tennis!!
The Saturday night was one I will remember for a long time to come. The bag pipes on entry, the background music while people were arriving and the welcoming by our current hostel boys was so impressive. The meal at the Polytechnic Hub could not have been better. The atmosphere was amazing with people being able to mix and mingle but also be comfortable to chat with those from their vintage. The OGHS/OBHS kapa haka group and the school choir were wonderful to listen to and set the tone for the evening. Mitch Pryde, Head of House in 2016, was a superb MC as was the auctioneer Mitch’s father, Tony Pryde. We had three amazing interviews during the evening. Alan Burgess (1954-57), was hilarious in telling some great stories about his time at Campbell House, while Todd Charteris (1984-88) was also really interesting tracing his time since he left OBHS to his current position as CEO of Rabo Bank. Richie McCaw capped off the evening with a question and answer session with Paul Allison, where he talked about his time at school and how he managed to work through the tough times he had as Captain of the All Blacks.
Further auctions were held with more jerseys and various other items netting a tidy sum which will all go towards the proposed redevelopment of the hostel.
We will keep in touch with the efforts to redevelop the Hostel, so badly needed and so generously supported by many at the reunion.
The organising committee should feel very proud of their efforts. This was a team effort with many hours of planning and perseverance ensuring an extremely successful weekend.
The booklet “Shall Memory Rise” was given to every Old Boy that attended the reunion, and was compiled by Gregor Macaulay for this special occasion.
Here is one of many messages I have received from Old Boys since the reunion.
“Good evening Des
You may well have been overwhelmed with accolades for you and your team for the Hostel Reunion this last weekend - Congratulations on a job extremely well done.
Thank you for your persistence and for having the ability to have made it happen.
To meet again so many people that I regarded as my brothers for so many years - wonderful - I could stand another get together now - so much we could all have talked about, but only just managed to scratch the surface.
Where do the years go? Thanks again for providing the opportunity to relive so many memories!”
Des Smith MNZM
OBHS Hostel Reunion Committee