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Month: June 2022

Graduating Pleasures

‘Tis the season for graduations to gradually appear across the tertiary landscape a little like the burst of flowers in early spring. Graduands appear dressed in their splendour, family groups arrive seriously intent to support Mums, Dads, Siblings, Children of all sizes, Grandparents and so on. It is a seriously significant occasion Sunday-Best occasion.

These events and those people should never be taken lightly for they are changing the futures of communities as each batch of first-generation tertiary students flood into communities to leave a determination that the young ones, spectators on these occasions, can have opportunities to see higher education as an attainable goal – one day they will cross the stage. If Brother Sione, Sister Susan, Mums and Dads and other family members can do it – so can we.

I love graduations. The huge efforts made to get to the finish line of qualifications – a promise of a future that perhaps were thought of as a feint and distant rosy glow of Shangri La, are within the grasp of not just students, but also of their families. It is not simply to get a job but the start of many careers.

In my career I have been responsible for managing graduations leading teams that work hard in the background to get these shows on the road! Over this time, I have been at over a hundred graduations, perhaps more. The largest number of these have been in South Auckland and I have always thought that they work, not just to anoint, as graduates, those who walk across the stage in the time-fashioned manner to receive their accolade, but they are changing communities. I have been at graduations at many New Zealand institutions, at some Australian graduations and had the pleasure to attend graduations in Pacific Island countries.

No matter where or what the awards were, there is always one outstanding feature and that is the pride with which graduands present themselves to become graduates, and the huge pride with which families greet their freshly Graduated family members back into the family – the same but different.

Some time ago I graduated at Massey University and on that occasion received the highest award bestowed that day. That led to my leading the student procession down through the main street of Palmerston North. Did I feel proud – yes, it took me back many years earlier when I graduated with my twin brother, new first-in-family members of the family and the brand-new university that was Waikato University. Going to university was never in our plans – but that is another story.

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I Love it for the Music

Strewth! Only Australia would appoint a cabinet minister to promote and administer progress towards are publican form of government in this week of all weeks.  Presumably this will be a change from the Monarchy. It could be that the Honourable Anthony Albanese had got behind in his reading and failed to notice that the Queen of Australia was this very week celebrating being Queen of Australia for 70 years.

Couldn’t they have waited for the Platinum Jubilee Weekend to pass and then set the poor fellow out to argue the case for a change which will inevitably split the ranks? 

I have come across quite a few occasions when royalty has edged into my life, and it all started at school. Primer 2 saw us in 1953 drawing rather poor sketches of crowns, flags and other stuff like that which we would surely need when Queen Elisabeth II visited New Zealand. We were pumped up with excitement to see the Queen in 1954. Well, we waited for ages in Dad’s office on the second floor of the NZ Dairy Company Building on the corner of Victoria and London Streets where his office was. We waited for ages until the royal cars passed. We actually saw the Queen’s hat and a white glove from the second floor but that prepared us for the next sighting when we were assured that the Royals were just over there, on the other side of the adult crowds.

But we were happy to go home and play with the concertina picture of the Golden Coach which all students had been given at school before we broke up for the year along with and this was  a real highlight, a real metal medal complete with a purple ribbon.

The next visit was a rather grand occasion. It was 1963 when hordes of school children were gathered together in rows on the grass at Seddon Park on a terribly hot day. Actually we sat on seats because we were in the Fairfield College Brass Band and I imagine that we played as the royals waltzed past the corner of the field on the back of a Land Rover. This was unlike the Trooping of the Colour and there was little precision to our playing.

That didn’t stop a citizen of Hamilton from writing to the Waikato Times to compliment the band etc. etc. This pleased us enormously and it was only some years later that our Mother revealed that the citizen was indeed herself.

Visits of the Queen to New Zealand followed in 1970, 1974, 1977, 1981, 1986, 1990, 1995 and 1992 but came and went without involving us.

I wonder if bumping into a visit of the Queen Mother at the University of London in 1983 counts? Probably not! But I do love military music and played for some years in the Regimental Band of Queen Alexanders Own. But I have neither time or space to spare to regale you with stories of National  Service. I should tell you that I did savour times when medals have been pinned!

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