Re­united to cel­e­brate cen­tury

Central Leader - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

When Mar­garet Tredin­nick­Ste­wart was a boarder at Monte Ce­cilia School in the early 1950s it was her job to pol­ish the paving stones at the front of the house ev­ery Satur­day morn­ing.

Sib­lings Joy Lawrence and Pam Weir re­mem­ber there was to be no talk­ing at all af­ter bed time.

‘‘The nuns would hold their rosary beads still while they walked up stairs so you couldn’t hear them com­ing. Once they were at the top they’d drop them and you’d jump,’’ Mrs Weir says.

The sib­lings were re­united with their class­mate at the school’s 100th ju­bilee cel­e­bra­tions this week.

Mrs Tredin­nick-Ste­wart didn’t recog­nise her old friends at first.

‘‘I had to go up and say ‘who are you’? But I wasn’t com­ing all the way from Tau­ranga for noth­ing,’’ she says.

Mrs Lawrence and Mrs Weir were brought up in Huntly, but in 1953 their mother died.

‘‘Dad had no choice but to move us up here and put us in board­ing school,’’ Mrs Weir says.

De­spite the strict rules all three women have fond mem­o­ries of their time at the Hills­bor­ough Rd school and liv­ing in what is now the Pah Home­stead.

The house has been a fam­ily home, an or­phan­age, and a boys board­ing school since its be­gin­nings in the 1870s.

The Sis­ters of Mercy bought it on Au­gust 26, 1913 and named it Monte Ce­cilia af­ter Mother Ce­cilia Maher who was the orig­i­nal leader of the sis­ters in New Zealand.

It be­came a co-ed­u­ca­tional pri­mary school in 1952.

In 2016 the school will re- open on a St John Vian­ney Church prop­erty fur­ther along Hills­bor­ough Rd.

In 2010 the Auck­land City Coun­cil pur­chased the school land from the Catholic Dio- cese of Auck­land so it could ex­pand the park space around the Pah Home­stead.

The sale and the re­sult­ing need to re­lo­cate the school was the sub­ject of a years long bat­tle be­tween the school com­mu­nity and the coun­cil.

Earth­works have started at the new site and prin­ci­pal Michelle Mill says the school has ac­cepted the move.

‘‘It’s a state of the school,’’ she says.

‘‘We’ll be sad

to

art

say good­bye to the cur­rent site, but ac­tu­ally we’re re­ally ex­cited now. Our mercy will carry on in the new school.’’

Fears that the move would af­fect the roll haven’t been as bad as some had ex­pected, Mrs Mill says.

‘‘The roll has been lower than it should have been, but it is grow­ing.’’

The school cel­e­brated its cen­te­nary by invit­ing old stu­dents and staff back on Mon­day for mass and a lunch on the deck of the home­stead.

Photo: EMMA WHIT­TAKER

Re­united: From left: Sib­lings Pam Weir and Joy Lawrence meet their class­mate Mar­garet Tredin­nick-Ste­wart again for the first time in al­most 50 years at the Monte Ce­cilia School’s cen­te­nary cel­e­bra­tions.

Old faces: Girls board­ing at Monte Ce­cilia School in 1954.

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