Moya Smith (Sister Mary Andrew) 1971-1976
I joined the staff in 1971. I was known at that time as Sister Mary Andrew, a member of the Sisters of Mercy from Dunedin. At St Peter’s I taught English, French, Chemistry, Art History, Music and Maths.
My parents were very happy to see me working in Gore after thirteen years away at school and university including eight years teaching at St Philomena’s in Dunedin.
It was my first time teaching boys and working with priests and brothers. There was a sharp learning curve in gender and cultural studies. The men bought their midlands English flavour to the predominantly Irish/Scottish Celtic culture of Otago / Southland catholic life. And the boys turned out to be a joy to teach.
After the initial challenges of settling in and coping with the cleaning expected of the female staff members, I really came to enjoy teaching in Gore. I found a group of students who were very keen to learn. Most realized that their futures meant leaving the south to study at Otago University and seek work elsewhere.
In English classes I remember teaching lots of Thomas Hardy, Graham Greene and George Orwell. Since I had a huge interest in film, I used to supplement my teaching of literature with films of novels. This led to setting up a Sunday evening Film Club and I remember those frosty winter nights showing “art films” in the James Cumming wing with supper and good discussion afterwards. I remember too those three special boys who wanted to study music for University Entrance. We did not have a classroom and ended up in the Convent ‘parlour’ immersed in Bartok! And there were the burgeoning skills of the young actors in play productions such as The Admirable Crichton and The Diary of Anne Frank!
Around 1972, Art History was offered as a new subject in New Zealand schools. I loved teaching those enthusiastic students about Cubism, New Zealand art and the study of design. The course included lots of trips outside the classroom visiting artists in Dunedin and viewing the work of architects like Ted McCoy. I remember too evening bus trips to NZSO concerts in Dunedin Town Hall returning to Gore in the early hours of the morning.
After five years, I knew it was time to leave. I went to Christchurch, did my Masters in English at Canterbury University and studies in Art History while tutoring in English and working on a farm at Woodend. I then spent fifteen years at Sacred Heart Girls’ (now renamed Cathedral College) in Ferry Road, Christchurch as H.O.D. English, followed by English language teaching in Japan at Sonoda Women’s University and other institutions in Canterbury and Otago.
I have many great memories of my time at St Peter’s and the wonderful young people I met there. Some are still friends today across all those years. I look forward to the great reunion in 2019 and I hope to meet lots of familiar faces there!