Community bids farewell to former school principal

30 Mar 2021

Former Whenuakite School principal Alistair Rogers and his wife, Pat, the school secretary, were farewelled at a community gathering in the Coroglen Hall on Wednesday last week.

Organisers Dawn Walker and Lorna Black said the pot-luck dinner was a low-key, relaxed and friendly affair, in true country style. “The Rogers’ have been so much part of this community, we will miss them,” Dawn said.

The Rogers family came to Mercury Bay in 1987 when Alistair took up the position as Whenuakite school principal, a position he held until 1996 when he took early retirement due to ill health. Pat stayed on as school secretary, serving in that capacity for a total of 16 years.

Since his retirement, Alistair has raised emus and grown vegetables which he and Pat sold from their home in Boat Harbour Road. Both held office in the Presbyterian Church and they remember when services were held regularly in the Whenuakite Hall, now demolished.

Alistair and Pat were founding members of the Mercury Bay Community Support Trust, which runs the Mercury Bay Day Camp for more than 300 children every year. Both were heavily involved in the camp. 

In his farewell speech on Wednesday, Alistair said it had been a pleasure to see the children that he taught growing up and getting on in life. “I want to congratulate all the parents, well done, you can be justly proud of your efforts,” he said. “Also, congratulations to everyone on your honesty and support in buying veges from our gate. On many occasions we collected more than the produce was worth.”

Alastair also recalled many floods in the area, once when school children couldn’t get home because of slips and had to be billeted around the neighbourhood. 

“Everyone had such a good time connecting with old friends at the farewell,” Dawn said. “This is a scattered farming community and we are thinking we should get people together more often in the Coroglen Hall, not wait until someone is leaving.”

St Andrew’s Community Church said goodbye to Alistair and Pat at a lunch last Sunday. The congregation presented them with a copy of Janet Riddle’s local history book “Saltspray and Sawdust.”

Pictured: Alistair and Pat during their farewell in the Coroglen Hall.