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PM: Unveiling of Terry Stringer Sculpture

Wednesday 12 April 2006

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister

Address at Unveiling of Terry Stringer Sculpture

Selwyn College - Kohimarama Road, Auckland

Wednesday 12 April 2006

Thank you for inviting me to join you today for the unveiling of the school's new sculpture.

I have visited Selwyn College on a number of occasions, usually connected with the school’s tremendous work in educating refugee students and families.

The way this school works to serve community needs is a model of what we like to see in our schools.

What you achieve here every day – whether working for the National Certificate of Educational Achievement, assisting refugees, caring for your environment, or presenting exciting theatrical productions – is a tribute to the students and staff, and to the leadership of your co-principals, Carol and Paul.

The redesign of the front of the school five years ago led to a search for a piece of art which could best tell the story of the values of the college.

The work of art selected is a stunning sculpture by Terry Stringer, one of New Zealand’s most respected sculptors.

Entitled “Queen Victoria thinks of Te Kawau, Te Kawau thinks of Queen Victoria”, this sculpture symbolises a meeting of cultures – something very characteristic of this school.

Queen Victoria and Te Kawau were major figures in their own realms - Queen Victoria throughout the British Empire, and Te Kawau among the people of Ngati Whatua in Tamaki Makaurau.

Te Kawau was himself a signatory to the Treaty of Waitangi. He later invited Queen Victoria’s representative in New Zealand, Governor Hobson, to settle in the Auckland area, which was held by Ngati Whatua under the mana of Te Kawau.

His efforts were decisive in the founding of Auckland as a city. He is said to have seen “hope in the winds of change” blowing from the north.

Late in life Te Kawau made friends with another extraordinary man, and one this college is named after – Bishop Selwyn.

Bishop Selwyn apparently convinced Te Kawau of the benefits of Christianity and baptised him, but, the story goes, not before Te Kawau had shown some reluctance to give up his many wives !

Terry Stringer, has captured this rich history through the work which will stand in front of the school.

I know that Selwyn College is proud of its strong arts tradition, and you will be especially proud to be the guardian of this important work.

There has been a major community effort to bring this project to completion, with considerable fund-raising, including the sale of smaller versions of the sculpture. I thank Terry for his generosity in making those available, and I also acknowledge your Head of Art, Prue McDougall, for the huge effort she has made.

I believe a community which supports art projects like this is also more likely to value student achievement and enrichment in many ways.

Public works of art are important because they are so accessible. They give those who may not have the opportunity to go to galleries, or have their own collections, to enjoy and appreciate art.

This is a big year for Selwyn College, with your Fiftieth Jubilee coming up at Queen’s Birthday weekend. The unveiling of this sculpture adds to an already significant year.

Congratulations on your many achievements here at Selwyn. I wish the school all the best in its golden anniversary year.


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