Sam under the Pohutukawa

On a flying visit to Auckland, in late May 2009, I had six energising encounters – Hayden Kingdon (religious studies, St Peter’s), Damaris Kingdon (Edmund Rice Network), Sam Drumm (social justice), all at St Peter’s, and the two dynamic communities in Queen Mary Road, the Brothers and the young lay community. The St Peter’s visit said to me that an Edmund Rice school can ‘embed’ many other vital components of the Edmund Rice movement – to their mutual benefit. Many of our Indian schools do this superbly well too.

The sixth encounter? I was not in a camera-clicking mode that day, and the only photo I took was of Sam under this magnificent pohutukawa tree, that clings to the rocky substrate on which St Peter’s College is perched. While Sam is a striking enough subject in his own right, it was the tree that caught my attention. How old is it? Was it there before they built the school?

Pohutukawas hang on to the rocky cliffs around New Zealand’s coasts. Their deep red blossoms (at Christmas time, in full summer), their shaggy trunks, their contorted limbs, give the coastline a unique character. St Peter’s is gifted with this old grandfather tree, speaking Maori, speaking of the local ecosystem, speaking of a future we can fashion together.

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