Katrina van de Water: 1973-1977
Katrina van de Water left school having gained just two subjects at School Certificate. Never part of the in-crowd – short in stature, with glasses, red hair, dyslexic tendencies and she struggled with reading. Not a promising beginning, but there were aspects of school that Katrina loved. Social studies, the spirituality, the singing, the Masses, the vitality of life at St Peter’s under the Rosminians and the Mercy Sisters, all combined to ensure that overall she enjoyed her schooldays. In later life she was able to build on these positive things to become a successful academic.
Katrina was a Gore girl, although she spent some of her childhood at Mandeville where she attended primary school, before moving back to Gore and a year at St Mary’s. The van de Waters were a Catholic family and three of her brothers were pupils at St Peter’s. The family ran a 7 day a week dairy in town among other things. Katrina and her brothers all had turns working in the shop to help out and earn a little pocket money.
When the time came for her to start at St Peter’s, she was given a bike so that she could ride to school. This was one highlight of her school days, another being a trip to Christchurch, when her class sold the most raffle tickets and were rewarded by being taken to see “Jesus Christ, Superstar”.
By the time she reached form 5 in 1976, the family had moved to Dunedin and she completed her education at Moreau College. With her shop experience, she decided on a career in retail at Arthur Barnett’s department store.
Ten years went by, during which time Katrina rose to be a Department Manager/Buyer and decided to re-explore academic life by taking a year off to study at Otago University. One year became three and she gained a degree in Theology. A new career followed, as chaplain at Kavanagh College and buoyed up by her success in gaining a degree, she embarked on a teaching diploma at Wellington. With this under her belt, she moved to Palmerston North and taught Religious Education and her old love – social studies at the Francis Douglas Memorial College. Here she took her education to a higher level still and embarked on a Master’s Degree in Theology, but was also lured by the “call of the wild”.
The de La Salles order wanted teachers to work in remote Aboriginal communities in the Australian desert regions and Katrina found herself completing her Masters by distance learning while teaching at Balgo in the Outback. She loved the desert life and peoples and went on to work as a Religious Education Advisor in Kimberley in the Broome Diocese, while completing a second Master’s Degree in Religious Education.
After a spell as principal of a remote school at Gibb River, she decided to come home to New Zealand after her father died. She returned to a job in Palmerston North as a Religious Education and Tertiary Advisor for the diocese.
By then memories of life in the desert made her realise that she was homesick for Kimberley and she returned to the Outback as a deputy principal in Beagle Bay, before moving on to be principal at Warmun Aboriginal School at Ngalangangpum.
Working with Aboriginal children proved to be tremendously rewarding and her final teaching job was five years at St Mary’s College where fifty per cent of the students were Aboriginal.
Her mother became seriously ill in 2014 and she again returned to NZ and a part-time job with the Dunedin Diocese as Catholic Education Advisor working in Otago and Southland. Based in Roxburgh, she can now enjoy time in her extensive range of hobbies – gardening, fishing, brewing, distilling, pistol shooting, cooking, and keeping chickens.
She has travelled widely – not only to Australia, but also Europe, America, Canada and the Cook Islands. Looking back, Katrina says she has loved all the places in her wide range of experience.
A late starter academically, she still relished the vitality at St Peter’s in the 1970s and has gone on to prove that it’s never too late to learn.