Dancing for joy at St Paul’s School 25th Jubilee

Students at St Paul’s School in Richmond danced for joy at a family picnic evening after a day of  Silver Jubilee celebrations at the school on 8 April. 

WelCom May 2024

Students at St Paul’s School in Richmond danced for joy at a family picnic evening after a day of  Silver Jubilee celebrations at the school on 8 April. 

The celebrations began in the morning with a formal welcome to guests arriving to commemorate the kura’s 25th anniversary and the official opening blessing of two new classrooms for the expanding school. 

St Paul’s School began its journey in 1999, on what was recalled then as ‘an empty paddock’. It first opened on 27 January 1999 with 47 first-day students and three classrooms. With its additional new classrooms, today St Paul’s has 14 classrooms, and the roll has grown to 341 students.

Archbishop of Wellington, Paul Martin sm, spoke at the jubilee commemorations and following a Jubilee Liturgy, he blessed the two new classrooms. 

St Paul’s students dance to a favourite school song accompanied by music teacher and composer John Philips and his band. Photo: Annette Scullion/WelCom

A day in the sun – Saint Paul’s School Silver Jubilee

Annette Scullion

Staff, students, families, Board of Trustee members, Archbishop Paul Martin sm, tangata whenua, MP for Nelson Rachael Boyack and Nelson Mayor Nick Smith, as well as guests from nearby Garin College and others from further afield, gathered at Saint Paul’s School in Richmond on 5 April for a day of celebrations, thanks and festivities. 

They came to commemorate Saint Paul’s Silver Jubilee and journey as well as the official unveiling and blessing of the school’s two new classrooms and playground area. One of the new classes is designated for intermediate-age students.

Guests arriving for the jubilee celebrations in the morning were greeted with a Mihi Whakatau by Andrew Dell and waiata from the students as they joined the school community seated outside in the sunshine.

Principal Maureen Phillips and invited dignitaries – including Board Chair and MC Lester Binns, Archbishop Paul Martin, Mayor Nick Smith – expressed the significance of the day in their addresses.

Marley Dallimore and Jonty Powick welcomed everyone to the Liturgy of celebration for the jubilee. Archbishop Paul led the opening prayer and a blessing prayer. Student Elvie Milmine gave a Reading from St Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians (2:19-22) and Saskia Barney, William Sladen, Li Seloti-Ese and Lila Bloomer led the Prayers of Intercession. Archbishop Paul concluded the Liturgy concluded with prayers.

Commemorative plaques were unveiled and Archbishop Paul proceeded to bless the new buildings and the rededicated library. The morning proceedings concluded with the school song, karakia, kai and hospitality in the new Ōhanga multi-purpose space.

Guests were invited to view the new buildings and the history of Saint Paul’s School depicted in artworks and photographic displays in the Ōhanga. Several guests returned later in the afternoon to join students and their families for an evening picnic, with entertainment from music teacher and composer John Phillips and his band, and the blessing and opening of the new playground area.

The journey…

‘St Paul’s journey began nearly three decades ago when Cardinal Tom Williams envisioned a school in Richmond. The pioneers who spearheaded his vision laid the foundation for what we celebrate today,’ said Board Chair Lester Binns in his address. 

‘St Paul’s welcomed its first students on 27 January 1999 with 47 first-day students and three classrooms. Its distinctive design with vibrant colours and its open teaching spaces were groundbreaking thanks to the hard work and vision of architect Les Clapcott,’ Mr Binns said.

‘With its new classrooms, St Paul’s now has 14 classrooms and has grown from 47 students in 1999 to 341 and is well on its way to its new maximum role of 371 students.’

Mr Binns acknowledged current architect Gerard McDonnell and builders Robert Powick, Glen Carmody and their teams. He also thanked the teachers, support staff, board members, parents, students and the fundraising team. ‘Your collective efforts have made St Paul’s the amazing school it is today.’ 

Archbishop Paul Martin said, ‘Catholic schools exist to know, love and serve Jesus Christ in our community’. To the students he said, ‘One day you will be parents and your children will come here just as you do, to know, love and serve Jesus Christ. Thank you all for being here today and may God bless you.’

Mrs Phillips said the jubilee was an opportunity to give thanks for the vision of those who took up the challenge of establishing the school, those who have contributed to its success over the past 25 years and to pray for those who will take on the challenge of progressing in the future. 

Mrs Phillips thanked Archbishop Paul, the Chair and Board members, the four previous principals, neighbouring Salisbury School, architects Gerard McDonnell and Les Clapcott, and Mayor Nick Smith, for their ongoing support and contributions in bringing Catholic education to the Richmond community.

 ‘We are incredibly proud of our kura. One of the goals of Catholic Education in New Zealand is to “communicate Christ’s Gospel of love, mercy and justice in both word and deed”. Recognising the world would be a better place if this mission was integrated across society, we make a deep commitment to this goal.’