The Last Word

By Henry Stowers | Posted: Wednesday March 7, 2018

Talofa lava lou afioga o Otago Boys'.

Back when I was living in the Islands, because, well you know I’m not white…I was given the opportunity to come to New Zealand and study. The first thing that came to my head was, "Why?" Why in the world would I ever go to a place where it's cold and where no one knows me? But none the less, I came anyway. As a Polynesian, family has always been first, they are the reasons why we take these opportunities in the first place.

I can still remember my first couple of weeks here at OBHS. It was the last two weeks of school and an opportunity had presented itself. The opportunity to take part in the junior mid year exams and I was like, “Yooo definitely gonna fail." But thankfully, I think I managed to pass them.

I sat the English exam but that was all good cause it didn’t really count for me. After seeing my exam results I was quite shocked about how I did. I remembered in Maths when we got our results for a test we took, and I could remember the words that came out of Hector Nafatali’s mouth, “How the heck did I get an  A and you got an E?” In the back of my head I was saying to myself, "Did you really think I was that dumb?"

You know, a couple of minutes later the bell rang and I was thinking, "You know what, I’m gonna show him, a fellow Polynesian that us brown boys can be smart too." So, I stuck my head down and got to work. A few weeks later I was invited by Mr Taufua to go down to the university to meet some of the few Polynesians who were once here where I am, and I was just amazed at what these guys had to do. The guys worked hard in their 5 years of high school to get that opportunity to pop up. Those guys were doctors, engineers and artists, people who seized their moment, seized their opportunity and took it. Some of you have already said, “Stuff it, I’m gonna go work at Maccas.” Or, “I’m not gonna achieve it.” How can you say, you’re not gonna achieve it, if you’re not even gonna try in the first place?

Now I remember sitting up there where you guys are now. I remember watching previous prefects get their ties for the first time and I was just like, man wouldn’t it be cool wearing one of those. But eventually our Rector, Richard Hall gave me an opportunity to be one of these great school leaders. For us Polys, it’s our family that motivates us, we do it for them. Looking back at these past 4 years, I’m glad that I took every opportunity that I could coming here. Now I’m not saying that opportunities are easy to get, you’re gonna have to work for it. Hard work opens up all these possibilities that you have yet to explore. If you work as hard as you can for the things you want, the opportunities are endless.

They lead to a lot of different things, it may lead you to play for the school's top sporting team, it may even lead you to become one of the country’s best singers, heck it may even lead you to becoming one the school’s top scholars. All these great people, those who are on our walls are there because they took every opportunity they got. Don’t expect these opportunities to come around, it's up to you to make the most of it. I will finish with a quote, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door."