In the lead up to the College's 50th Anniversary, Anne Hunt, our Foundation Co-ordinator, has been writing a series of articles for the local paper. In case you haven't spotted them in The Ensign, or if you live out of town, we'll be sharing them with here on our Foundation Blog. Keep an eye out for upcoming parts in our 'Brief History of St Peter's College'.
The Boarding Hostel
Running alongside the history of St Peter’s College is the story of its boarding hostel, now called Rosmini House.
Prior to 1970, Catholic families living in the remote parishes and farms of Southland and Central Otago had to make difficult choices when their children left primary education. This often involved sending them away out of the area to Catholic boarding schools in other regions. Travelling times were long and costs were high.
With the opening of the hostel at St Peter’s College in Gore, boys at least had the opportunity of boarding much closer to home. According to the college’s Rock Magazine at the time, ‘Thirty four well scrubbed and apprehensive boys assembled on February 3rd as the first St Peter’s boarders. They quickly showed themselves a lively group and, if the evidence of scrubbing soon vanished, so did the apprehension.” So began a long history of hostel life at the school.
Ex-boarders will remember Fathers Bland, Hughes and Willett and Brother Tedesco being in charge. Popular after school activities in the Hostel included billiards, table tennis, model making, basket weaving, chess and draughts. The older boys lived in a house across the road from the college named ‘St Paul’s Without’. The name derived from St Paul’s church, outside the walls of Rome.
Initially girls had to board in private homes in Gore or at Gore High School Hostel, but with the closure of Teschemakers at Oamaru in 1977 and St Catherine’s College in Invercargill in 1982, the demand for girls’ boarding grew so the priests’ house was converted to a hostel for 24 girl boarders.
Getting enough kitchen staff for the hostel was always difficult, but Pauline Hickey answered the call and worked there over a period of 20 years. She placed great emphasis on home cooking and remembers some of the ‘littlies’ being homesick, but getting them involved in helping out with jobs, usually cheered them up. The modern kitchen was her pride and joy, its steam oven consistently produced eggs boiled to perfection.
One ex-boarder recalled that the boarding experience taught him how to get along and be tolerant with different types of people – a skill that has proved useful in his career and life in general.
Nowadays the wheel has come full circle as Rosmini House has opened its doors to boarding pupils from Gore High School, following the closure of the hostel there.