My days at Matamata College are full of great memories, great friends and great teachers. I recall with fondness Ewan Merry at Intermediate, Eric Fisher, Doug Olsen, Don Scott, Vic Lewis, Vi Bell, Joy Tompkins and of course, my dear old Dad, Percy Stone. With help from all these teachers I managed to get through the system to our 6A year, with most memories favouring sporting activities, especially cricket in summer and rugby in winter.
My last year was a lovely social year without exams, and I can remember listening to various teachers trying to instil knowledge into us, while I concentrated mainly on polishing the line-up of cricket balls on the desk in front of me. One of my duties as a prefect was to watch the clock, ready to race off to bash the separator bowl which was our bell.
In winter, the build-up each week to Saturdays 1st XV clash over-shadowed all the academic activities. I well remember Margaret Jellie bemoaning the fact that her English lessons took a back seat when rugby was imminent.
All these teachers, some of whom had a somewhat powerful and forbidding aura about them, were however, very human and normal. At term’s end, it was not uncommon for many of the staff to arrive at mum and dad’s place and have a party probably to celebrate the fact that some of us were leaving the College for ever! I was excluded from these parties, but I did catch a glimpse of Vi, Joy and Elizabeth Cranswick sitting on the floor eating fish and chips from the newspaper packet.
During my last year, I was captain of the 1st XI and also played cricket for the Matamata rep team on odd weekends. I must have succeeded somewhat because I was selected to play for Waikato in a quadrangular tournament, quite daunting for a schoolboy.
I left school at the end of 1955 and went to Ardmore Teacher’s College. (Yes, I followed my parents into the teaching profession). After two years I returned to Matamata, and was again selected to play cricket for Waikato and eventually into the Northern Districts team. This was a highlight as we played not only the other Plunket Shield teams, but also we had games against touring teams. So my cricketing CV includes playing against an Australian XI, South Africa, West Indies and Fiji.
While at Ardmore (1956-57), sport continued to be an important part of our lives, and the winter it was rugby. In our second year we had to play senior. I played fullback, and was selected for Counties, and I played all season, quite an experience.
My first year’s teaching was at Hinuera School with a Standard 4 class of just 14 children. What a lovely start to my career. During this year, 1957, I was selected for the Corinthian Rugby Team to tour Fiji, and spent three fabulous weeks playing rugby and being feted as if an All Black. Incidentally a large contingent of ex Matamata College pupils were in the team, which ended the tour undefeated. So, a happy and successful first year of teaching. The following year, to have 42 E Stream Form II kids in Te Awamutu, what a reality check! I stayed some years and while there, I met Margaret and we married. We moved around from town to town, as teachers did in those days, chasing promotion. Tauranga, Cambridge, Maihiihi (inland from Otorohanga), Warkworth and finally back to Tauranga to retire. I have spent well over 50 years in the classroom, and found it challenging and enjoyable. Especially happy and rewarding were the 12 years we spent in Maihiihi where I was Principal and found the whole district very supportive and proud of their school.
So now Margaret and I are retired, or semi-retired as I still get the odd phone call to relieve. Tauranga is a lovely city and is full of retired Waikato people who enjoy the climate and lifestyle. We have one daughter, Anna, who is married and living in Australia. They have four lovely girls, and we try to get over as often as possible.
We have had two trips to Europe and find travel very exciting. Luckily we are both still in good health and look forward to further fun in our “more mature” years.