by PETER OWENS

St Peter’s College, Gore, was the first Catholic, co-educational and Form 1-7 boarding school in New Zealand. It was also the first school in New Zealand to offer Japanese as an option and did not impose a prefectural or monitorial system.

Despite prophecies of doom, the joint management of the college by the Rosminian Fathers and the Sisters of Mercy proved very successful.

However the college is quietly rejoicing at another first. This is the first place earned by year 13 student, Grace Turipa, in the English section of the Mana Korero Secondary School Speech Competition for Otago/Southland.

Grace’s winning speech placed her second overall in the competition, which was held in early June at Taieri College in Mosgiel.

The national secondary speech contests are in their 53rd year and the national finals this year will be in Palmerston North in September.

While St Peter’s College (Gore) students have been entering this competition since the late1980s, this is the first time a student from the college has won a division in this prestigious competition.

Kate Nicholson, the retiring principal of the college, said there is special joy in that Grace has spent the whole of her
intermediate and secondary education at St Peter’s and before that at St Mary’s, the local parish primary school.

The judges of the section won by Grace were impressed with the content of her speech and its delivery — she was awarded 99 marks out of a possible 100. It was also well received by the large audience.

Grace said she felt compelled to build her speech around living in a Pakeha society as one of very few Māori. In doing
this, she felt further compelled to speak publicly about her pride in being Maori and in Maoridom itself.

In 2020, Grace intends to go to the University of Otago, where she plans to study for a double degree in psychology and the performing arts.

Grace said she is alarmed at the extent of mental illness among young Māori people. She hopes to set up her own operation after graduation, aimed at restoring personal worth to young Māori people, using Māori methods to do so.

She believes a degree in psychology is imperative for this, as is qualification in the performing arts. She believes this is often the key to restoring self-worth to young Māori people.

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