Hewed from stone that had formed part of the lava flow from nearby Mt Eden, the beginnings of St Peter’s had its origins as part of work schemes of the Great Depression of the Thirties. On 6th February 1939, the doors of this third Christian Brothers of Ireland school to be opened in NZ, welcomed 183 students. The site had been bequeathed to the Catholic Diocese of Auckland by the Outhwaite family to be used for education of youth. Initially it was bounded by Reeves Rd, Boston Rd, Khyber Pass and Mountain Rd, with playing fields at Stockade Reserve.
In 1959 the site was enhanced by the purchase of the field across from the main site from Lion Breweries by Bishop Liston (the “Cage”).
More land became available as the Auckland motorway system was extended during the mid-1960s, swallowing the lower playing fields of neighbouring Grammar and the surrounds, including prison houses that had been on the other side of the North West boundary. The top field was further extended on two separate occasions engulfing a “mezzanine” level where outdoor tennis courts had been.
In the following years extensive building developments occurred: in 1953 the opening of the Chapel alongside the Brothers’ Residence (later removed to allow for the building of the Br L H Wilkes Technology Block); in 1960 the development of the “far field” (now known as “The Cage”) culminating in the opening of the Pavilion; the building of the Science Block, with additional classrooms and lecture theatre, opened in 1961 and the extension of the Brothers’ residence to provide accommodation for the burgeoning community of Brothers (the latter during the leadership of the beloved Br PC Ryan).
In the early ‘70s the main teaching block with its foundation on the original Reeves Road was built and opened, followed shortly afterwards by the completion of the College Hall and Squash Courts, under the jurisdiction of Br BE Ryan. An important adjunct to enable access to the campus was the opening of a designated rail stop below the “back” entrance in 1964, the result of determination and resolve of Br TA Monagle; only in 2010 was this replaced by the new Grafton Station at Park Road
GENERATION OF CHANGE
The footprint of the College campus expanded dramatically during the stewardship of Mr Kieran Fouhy during 1989-2015, when he retired from his position as Headmaster. He was the first lay Headmaster following the term of Brother John Prendergast, the first Old Boy to lead the College. The present Headmaster, Mr James Bentley, also claims a first – the first Grammar Old Boy to lead.
A story was added to the Science Block (Br J B Lynch), new Library (Edmund Rice), Music Block (Br W R Smith), new Technology Block (Br L H Wilkes), new Middle School (Br V A Sullivan), and in 2010 the completion of the College gymnasium on the site of the Catholic Basketball (Netball) Association courts for sixty years.
Further jewels have included the development of the ‘Cage’ to be all weather- a great asset allowing all year round for many sports and providing a home ground for the SPC 1st XI football team.
In addition, there has been the extension of the Middle School at levels one and dedicated to the memory of Miss Outhwaite, from whom SPC has its origins. Each of the levels have been named in honour of two great Christian Brothers – Social Sciences, Br R Mills the first NZ Christian Brother to join the staff (until his arrival all staff originated from Australia), and Mathematics, Br V Jury, highly regarded during the ’60s and ’70s for his teaching of Sciences and Mathematics.
Mr Tom Weal (Kay) has been remembered by the naming of a corridor in the ground floor of Br B. E. Ryan building. The daily missions’ collection, a significant event as part of the “morning yard assembly” has been officially aligned to the name of Br B. Louisson, the first St Peter’s old boy to join the Christian Brothers, and who has dedicated his life to working in the missions of Papua New Guinea.
In 2015 a further three long serving staff members (longer than 20 years) were honoured by the dedication of “windows” – Mrs M. Ubels-Rattray, Mr B. Fricker and Mr B. McMurdoch. In 2014 there was a dedication to Mr P. Watt (26 years). In 2016 Mrs C Herbert was similarly honoured.
The initial community of four Brothers from Australia, was determined that St Peter’s be recognised for academic excellence, sporting achievement, cultural development and spiritual enhancement. Br O’Driscoll was tireless in his endeavours and was quickly recognised among his peers in Auckland schools as a person of quality and ambition for students at St Peter’s College. Early Government inspectors’ reports are glowing in their assessments of those early years at St Peter’s.
What became evident in later years was the solid foundation of spirituality as numbers of priests were ordained after being pupils of those early years. At the time of the 50th jubilee in 1989, 49 Priests, 25 Christian Brothers and 8 other Religious Brothers had been pupils of St Peter’s. The most recent old boy Christian Brother, Br Paul Robertson, is now part of the Edmund Rice Oceania Leadership Team in Australia after working for more than twenty years at St Peter’s, his final years in the position of Associate Headmaster.
St Peter’s has continued its development and built a strong tradition of excellence based on faith and community involvement. Under the stewardship of Mr K. Fouhy, the College embraced a number of mantras, the most empowering one to “grow good men”. The campus became one of inclusiveness and challenge. In addition to the expansion of sports provided and encouraged, around 40 in 2016, cultural and religious trips grew to include a first journey to the Phillipines to mirror the biennial trip to India, and humanities tours to Europe have included some music students.
The dual academic pathway, CIE and NCEA, continues to be refined, with due acknowledgement of student needs. Students are encouraged, with notable successes, to enter National and International competitions in a number of subjects. The Sam Hunt writing competition, named in honour of the College’s memorable old boy, has become popular and its winning highly sought.
Kapa Haka and Pasifika groups have enjoyed regular successes at the annual Auckland schools’ Polynesian festival, and College participation has increased.
Music groups continue to thrive and each year the College bands win gold at the highest levels.
The annual musical has become a highlight of participation for many students and the collaboration with Marist College eagerly anticipated!
In 2013 the headmaster, Mr Fouhy, was awarded a Papal Knighthood, the Order of St Gregory the Great, by Pope Francis. This is a great honour, not only for Mr Fouhy, but also St Peter’s and the wider College community. Following his retirement at the end of 2015 he was accorded a Queen’s Honour on the Queen’ Birthday list.
There has been a history of the first 75 years of the College published and distributed during 2016. Written by Matt Elliott this largely anecdotal account has been well received, and particularly appreciated by many of the old boys from the early years of the College.
Beyond its 75th year the demand for Catholic education at an inner city campus is unrelenting. The Catholic Bishop of Auckland, Bishop Pat Dunn, can well be proud of this burgeoning facility of service, available for dedicated member of the Catholic community.
The College anticipates further growth and development under the guidance of Mr James Bentley, who began his term at the beginning of 2016.
sporting greats of st peter’s college
Arguably the highest performed old boy sportsman on the global stage is Frank Nobilo, who won a PGA title and finished 4th, his best result, in the Masters, alongside three other top ten finishes in the other three majors. He now features as a highly accorded commentator on the PGA circuit.
There have been 8 All Black old boys, from the first, Steve Nesbit, who played 2 tests on the All Black tour of South Africa in 1960, the last team to be selected to tour that country in accordance with their ban of Maori players, to the most recent, Patrick Tuipolotu, forced out of consideration for the 2015 Rugby World Cup as a result of injury. In 1987 Bernie McCahill was a member of the All Black team that won the inaugural RWC, and played in the 1991 team. Since then have been Shane Howarth, Pat Lam, Bradley Mika, Dylan Mika and Francis Sailli.
At international level there have been two outstanding Kiwi Rugby League captains, Cyril Eastlake and Hugh McGahan. Both played rugby while students at the College, and Eastlake is remembered as perhaps the most outstanding player of either rugby code to play.
The highest performed cricketer from the College is Martin Pringle – NZ A.
Paul Dallow was a member of the NZ Athletics team that competed in the Empire Games (now Commonwealth Games), running the 110m and 400m hurdles.
There have been other notable sportsmen in badminton, golf, kayaking and tennis.
Most recently Stephen Jones was selected as stroke for the men’s eight that qualified for the Rio Olympics in 2016 and Zac Williams has been a squad member of the NZ cycling team competing at World events, and won silver at the Rio Olympics as a member of the cycling team, a first for a SPC Old Boy.
The Kohlhase name has become synonymous with sport at the College, particularly softball and rugby. Eddie captained and then coached the Black Sox to world titles, and although his father, Eric, was also a national representative, his most significant contribution to St Peter’s sport was as coach of the 1st XV, highlighted by the winning of the National title in 2000.
Colin Jillings is noted as one of the greatest trainers in thoroughbred horse racing in NZ. Appropriately “Jillo” as he was referred to, was an “Ellerslie boy” and would catch the train after riding early “work”. Following a brief but promising riding career, Colin trained his first Auckland Cup winner in 1955, and his first Derby winner in 1958. Among one of his most memorable horses was McGinty, half owned by Barnie McCahill, father of Bernie.
In harness racing Derek Balle has fashioned a proud record, particularly with square gaiters (trotters) from his Pukekohe base.
The most recently ordained Old Boy Priest from the College, Fr Antony Sumich, represented Croatia and then coached their National rugby team.
During the 2016/17 season Sean Solia has established himself as a regular 1st class representative of the Auckland cricket XI.
Peter W Watt
ST PETER’S HEADMASTERS FROM 1939 TO PRESENT
10. 2016 – : Mr James Bentley
9. 1989 – 2015: Mr Kieran Fouhy (first lay Headmaster)
8. 1980 – 1988: Br JP Prendergast (old boy)
7. 1975 – 1979: Br NC Doherty
6. 1966 – 1974: Br BE Ryan
5. 1956 – 1965: Br PC Ryan
4. 1954 – 1956: Br KV Watson
3. 1948 – 1953: Br WR Smith
2. 1945 – 1947: Br JA Morris
1. 1939 – 1944: Br FP O’Driscoll