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Torch lit for Selwyn 125th celebrations

Wednesday 21 March 2018 8:55am

Warden Ashley Day with the Selwyn College banner

Selwyn College Te Maru Pūmanawa to celebrate 125 years this weekend.

The pear tree has been pruned, the “Carry the Torch” banner unfurled and preparations are well underway for Selwyn College’s 125th Jubilee, which will be held in Dunedin between  23 and 25 March.

College Warden Ashley Day says more than 270 former Selwyn College residents will gather at New Zealand’s oldest university residential college for the three-day celebrations.

Selwyn College in 1893

Guests from New Zealand, Southeast Asia, the Pacific, Australia, North America and even one from the Cayman Islands will attend.

The Right Honourable Bill English will be guest speaker at a jubilee dinner at Dunedin’s Toitū Settlers Museum on Saturday night.

The former Prime Minister was a resident in the early 1980s and his brother Connor (who will also attend this weekend) and four of Mr Bill English’s children have also been Selwyn residents.

At the Jubilee dinner University of Otago Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne will speak about how generations of students have benefitted from their time at Selwyn College.

“The University is immensely proud of the rich history of Selwyn College. It is the oldest residential college in New Zealand, and for 125 years it has enriched Otago’s cultural, sporting and academic life. During their time at Otago, Selwyn residents enjoy a vibrant and supportive residential experience. Many Selwyn alumni have gone on to make a significant impact in a range of professions, both in New Zealand and overseas,” Professor Hayne says.

The master of ceremonies will be High Court Judge the Honourable Justice Simon Moore, who was a Selwyn resident between 1972 and 1973.

Celebrations start on Friday with a golf tournament, after which guests will be welcomed on to the college’s Castle St premises by current students performing Selwyn’s waiata and haka. Former resident Dr David Kirk MBE, will speak at the Friday evening get together and will be introduced by his nephew and 2017 resident Jack Manning.

Students perform the College's haka.

On Saturday, many guests will attend tours of the Dunedin campus, which are run in conjunction with Otago’s Development and Alumni Relations Office. Yearbook-style photos will be taken at the college before a luncheon is served at the University Staff Club.

At 1.30pm youth will be pitted against experience when current and former residents play a cricket match at Chingford Park.

Sunday’s events will focus on acknowledgement of the college’s links with the Anglican Church and the need for future growth.
At 10am a new 15-bed apartment facility immediately behind Selwyn’s heritage buildings will be blessed by former college warden, the Most Reverend Archbishop Philip Richardson, and Bishop Steven Benford, Bishop of Dunedin.

The facility will be named Fitchett House in honour of the former Dean The Very Reverend Alfred Robertson Fitchett (1836 – 1929), and in recognition of the long association the Fitchett family has had with the College over many years.

At 10:30am a church service will be held at All Saints Anglican Church, presided over by the Archbishop of New Zealand, the Most Reverend Philip Richardson and Bishop Steven Benford.
Formal events will conclude after the 12pm lunch in the Brothers' Hall.

Mr Day says nine of the college’s former wardens will attend events.

“It is a distinct privilege to be warden at this time, and to see the hard work and careful planning by so many come to fruition to make this weekend a stand-out event in the college’s history.

The Leith Run is another Selwyn institution.

“We always talk to prospective students about the pastoral care and residential systems that set Otago apart, and at college alumni events all around the country announcing the jubilee last year, I was struck at the depth of feeling our alumni, many of whom are of advanced years, still have for the college and the University for exactly the same reason. Like current cohorts they came here for knowledge but, because of our close-knit community, gained life-long friendships.”

Selwyn has a special relationship and longstanding rivalry with Knox and the two colleges meet for various cultural and sporting competitions throughout the year.

Mr Day says Selwyn also maintains many traditions unique to the college, including the annual Leith Run and performances by the all-male Selwyn Ballet.