50 year reunion for class of 1967

Members of the class of 1967 with the Chairman of the MAGS Board of Trustees, Mr Greg Moyle (left) and Headmaster Mr Patrick Drumm (far right).

Around 55 Albertians who completed their time at MAGS in 1966 or 1967 gathered from around New Zealand the overseas for a 50 year reunion from 24-26 March.

1967 Dux Mr Jim Greatbanks organised the event from his home in Canada, working with 1967 Head Prefect Mr Bernie Allen, an Auckand lawyer.

The group gathered at MAGS on the Friday, where they had a tour of their old school by some of this year's Prefects before afternoon tea at School House and an evening at the Mt Albert Bowling Club. On the Saturday they caught up in groups before a reunion dinner at Sails Restaurant.

Among the group was All Black Mr Bryan Williams, world renowned scientist Dr Robert Evans, who travelled from Melbourne, and Bryan Brooking also came with Mr Greatbanks from Canada. During the school visit Mr Greatbanks, an engineer, spoke to an assembly, encouraging students to find what they loved to do and pursue that as a career.

Golf Day 2017

Mr Bryan Williams (in blue) with his team, from left, Graham Chapman, Dave Gilbert and Greg Allen.

The annual Mount Albert Grammar School Foundation fundraising golf day was held at Akarana Golf Club on Thursday, 16 March.

Twenty teams comprised of 80 players took part, and more than $20,000 was raised for the BG Williams Rugby Endowment Fund.

Second place was claimed by the MAGS student team - George Stephens, Archie Gothard, Nicholas James and Daniela Jeremic - who achieved two Eagles in their round. A staff team also competed, made up of Mr Simon Allen, Mr Paul Ferner, Mr Max Jeremic and Mr Allan Sangster. The team of Headmaster Mr Patrick Drumm comprised his Personal Assistant Ms Annemarie Wright, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Mr Greg Moyle and Mr Owen Wright. Albertian Stephen Luatua played with others from his Blues rugby organisation. Event sponsor Barfoot & Thompson put forward two teams. The winning team was from Les Mills.

Master of Ceremonies at the after-match function was sports personality and Albertian Mr Mark Watson. An auction was run by Barfoot & Thompson auctioneer Mr Murray Smith. Mr Bryan Williams spoke about the Rugby Endowment Fund, and Mr Drumm presented the golf prizes.

Fine Art Show the best yet

A big crowd gathered for the Gala Auction, led by Mr Murray Smith of Barfoot & Thompson.
The 2016 MAGS Fine Art Show held from 19-21 August was the biggest and most successful to date - initial estimates are that more than $65,000 was raised for the school.

More than 1000 artworks from 130 of New Zealand's most renowned and emerging artists were exhibited, with 40% of each sale going to the MAGS Foundation for benefit of the school and students, particularly in the area of Visual Art.

About 600 people attended the Gala Opening on Friday night, including parents, Albertians, staff, exhibiting artists, sponsors and MPs Mr David Shearer and Ms Melissa Lee. Arts patron and philanthropist Sir James Wallace attended for the third year in a row, saying the event was "an exemplary school Art Show."

Barfoot & Thompson auctioneer Mr Murray Smith sold eight pieces of donated art to enthusiastic bidders, for a total of nearly $9000.

More than 1000 people visited the exhibition over the weekend.

Director of Advancement, Mr Tim Kay, said the MAGS Foundation was extremely grateful to the Friends of MAGS parent committee, chaired by Ms Nealie Barker, "for organising such an outstanding and professional event. The Fine Art Show not only raises funds to benefit both current and future students of our school and support our Visual Art Department, it is also a way to showcase excellence at MAGS engage the school's supporters and the wider community."

Ms Barker said that after the committee's hard work, "it was with pleasure and pride that we enjoyed the visual spectacle, spirit of parent teamwork, community engagement and the satisfaction of raising a record total for the school."

Ms Barker thanked the families and members of the community who visited the show, and the volunteers who helped throughout the weekend.

Student prizewinners, judged by artist Emma Bass and John Gow of the Gow Langsford Gallery:
Photography: 1st: Daniel Pereira; 2nd: Ernest Lim; 3rd: Maya Blair; spot prize: Ruiling (Sabrina) Hong
Painting: 1st: Samuel Kriehn; 2nd: Holly Grbich; 3rd: Natasha Baxendale
Design: 1st: Ali Hawksworth
Highly Commended: Mia Llewellwyn, Jamie Logie, Milly Bayfield, Qiyue (Rita) Cai, Kendall Elson, Gia man Tran Quan, Jason Bellm, Merry Wu, Lois Wadsworth

Chef Michael Meredith named 2016 Albertian of the Year

Mr Michael Meredith (left) with President of the Albertians Association Mr Aftab Moosa after the presentation of Mr Meredith's award.

Renowned chef Michael Meredith was named Albertian of the Year at the annual Albertians Reunion Dinner on Thursday, 23 June, and in his acceptance speech thanked the school and his teachers for helping give him the self-belief that has ensured his success.

"The school's motto - Through Hardship to Glory - was something that resonated with me. My introduction to New Zealand from Samoa wasn't easy, but a school helps lay the foundations of your character and MAGS contributed some important building blocks for me.

"My teachers gave me a spark, an insight to life - a lot of that was about self-belief. If you believe in yourself, that's hugely motivating - you can overcome anything in life and let the light inside you shine."

Mr Meredith said he was very grateful, deeply moved and honoured to receive the award.

The chef is best known through his award-winning restaurant Meredith's in Mt Eden, and for helping to establish the Eat My Lunch social enterprise business, through which customers can buy a lunch and have one donated to a child in need. Eat My Lunch now delivers meals to 1300 children in Auckland every school day, and is soon to start the service in Hamilton and Wellington. Mr Meredith received recognition for this initiative through the Restaurant Association Good Neighbour Awards and the New Zealander of the Year Awards last year.

Mr Meredith attended MAGS from 1988-1991. He and his elder brother Milton had just arrived from Samoa and MAGS was their first point of contact with New Zealand. While he can't recall a cooking class being offered, art fostered his creativity, and he enjoyed helping on the school farm.

After leaving school, a cooking course ignited his interest in the profession, and he gained work at the reputable restaurants Vinnies, Antoine's and The Grove. He went on to win a scholarship to the Culinary Institute of America, and worked in New York, Melbourne and Sydney, before returning to Auckland to open his own restaurant in 2007.

Meredith's is consistently named in Metro magazine's Top 50 restaurants in Auckland and both the restaurant and Mr Meredith have won numerous awards. One night a week, proceeds from the restaurant are donated to various charities. Among those which have benefited are the SPCA, Home & Family Counselling, Cure Kids, Kidney Kids, Starship National Air Ambulance, Guardian Angels and the Fred Hollows Foundation.

Mr Meredith brought his partner Ms Claire Baudinet, mother Ms Metita Saleilua (left) and a number of friends to the reunion dinner, including some he met at MAGS. A large number of Albertians also attended, as well as Headmaster Mr Patrick Drumm, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Mr Greg Moyle, Chairman of the MAGS Foundation Mr Peter Thorp and President of the Albertians Association Mr Aftab Moosa.

Mr Meredith's citation was read by his friend, food writer Ms Nici Wickes. She said that Mr Meredith was now inspiring a new generation of chefs, with many seeking time in his kitchen to learn from the best. It was his charitable work, however, that was most remarkable.

"Michael chooses to get up at 5am every day to help make sandwiches for the Eat My Lunch programme - they have delivered 180,000 lunches to children in need so far. His Tuesday night dinners at his restaurant, from which he donates all the proceeds to charity, have raised more than $100,000."

The Tuesday dinners are called STEM Tuesdays, named after his daughters Sophia, Tahlia and Ella Meredith.

"In an interview once Michael said that his dreams were simple: For his daughters to be brave, to fully trust their instincts, to be kind. For them to have a good work ethic, to work to achieve their goals and dreams. But most importantly, he wants them to be great spirits.

"To that I say they have the best role model to follow in him, the boy from Lepea, Samoa, who has become a man of great culinary accomplishment, a true community spirit and a man of wholehearted kindness."

In other speeches, Mr Moosa, Mr Drumm, Mr Thorp all paid tribute to Mr Meredith, and updated the audience on the school's progress, including planned developments of the FW Gamble Hall and the school farm. Performances were given by the MAGS Gospel Choir and singer Siosiua Atuekaho. The evening concluded with a toast to the school by Albertian Mr John Liddell.

Golf Day 2016

The third Mount Albert Grammar School Foundation fundraising golf day was held at Akarana Golf Club on Thursday, 31March.

A record 21 teams took part and over $20,000 was raised for the BG Williams Rugby Endowment Fund.

The winning team was the MAGS Staff team, comprised of Mr Paul Ferner, Mr Allan Sangster, Mr Simon Allen and Mr Max Jeremic.

Master of Ceremonies at the after-match function was sports personality and Albertian Mr Mark Watson. Mr Bryan Williams spoke about the Rugby Endowment Fund, and Headmaster Mr Patrick Drumm presented the golf prizes.

Amdrew Harmos inducted in Hall of Distinction

Mr Andrew Harmos after his induction with his wife Sheridan, daughters Sophie and Phoebe, and Sophie's partner John Burnett.

Albertian Mr Andrew Harmos, a leading corporate lawyer who until recently was also Chairman of the New Zealand Stock Exchange, was inducted into the Mount Albert Grammar School Hall of Distinction on Wednesday, 2 December, 2015.

The ceremony fittingly took place at a gathering of Albertians for a special Christmas Luncheon and the AGM, also attended by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Mr Greg Moyle, outgoing President of the Albertians' Association Mr Ben Stallworthy, incoming President Mr Aftab Moosa (pictured right), Headmaster Mr Dale Burden and Chairman of the MAGS Foundation Mr Peter Thorp. Mr Pat Drumm, who will start his tenure as Headmaster from Term 1, 2016, was also there, along with former Headmasters Mr Greg Taylor and Mr Maurice Hall.

Mr Harmos was accompanied by his wife Sheridan, daughters Sophie and Phoebe, and Sophie's partner John Burnett. A number of Mr Harmos's friends and colleagues also attended.

His citation was read by his lifetime friend, Albertian Dr Charles Ng, who spoke of Mr Harmos' academic and sporting success, his outstanding career so far, and his advocacy for retaining New Zealand ownership of strong New Zealand businesses.

In his speech, Mr Harmos paid tribute to his father, Mr Andrew Harmos Snr, who passed away this year. His parents escaped Hungary in 1956 following the invasion by the Soviet Union, and, after settling in New Zealand, his father became a teacher. Mr Harmos Snr went on to become Head of Commerce at Mount Albert Grammar. His son attended the school from 1972-1975.

"My parents embedded in me their qualities of curiosity and hard work, and I would like to dedicate this award to my father," said Mr Harmos. "He ended his life saying that coming to New Zealand was the best decision he ever made, and he died a proud New Zealander. This country is great because everyone contributes to it in their own way - my way has been through corporate law and helping save the stock exchange from being taken over by its Australian counterpart. I'm a big believer in New Zealand companies retaining their independence, and their New Zealand workers."

Mr Harmos also acknowledged the teachers of Mount Albert Grammar, including some long time members of staff in attendance - Mr Warwick Gibbs, Mr Evan Gray and Mr Brian Murphy.

"What we learned was important, but we also learned how to learn, how to relate to people with respect, and how people responded when they were treated the way they wished to be. Those learnings have stood me in good stead throughout my life.

"I am very humbled and honoured to be conferred with this distinction."

1960s staff reunion

Twenty two men who began their teaching careers at Mount Albert Grammar School in the 1960s reunited here on Wednesday, 28 October, 2015.

As a group they have done rather well in the years since: Seven went on to become secondary school principals, at least three others were deputy principals, most were heads of departments. Some are still teaching, including a Professor of Education at AUT. Another is a former MP and Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Auckland. Yet another is an Archdeacon in the Anglican clergy, another a senior rugby coach. One came especially from Queensland. A couple are now fruit farmers.

The reunion was organised by Mr Mike Blamires, an old boy who came back to teach. His father also taught here and his granddaughter is a student now.

After introducing the former teachers to current teachers over morning tea, Headmaster Mr Dale Burden took the group on a tour of the school. They had lunch at School House, dinner that evening at a restaurant, and got together again for lunch the following day.

The get-together was such a success that there was general agreement that they meet again, more informally, twice a year.

Mr Brian Murphy, former teacher and now MAGS Archivist

Olympic stars gather for A Golden Night of Rowing

Olympic Gold medallist Mahe Drysdale with, left, World Champion Zoe Stephenson and Olympic Bronze medallist Juliette Drysdale (nee Haigh).

A Golden Night of Rowing on Friday, 25 September, 2015, was a star studded affair, as Olympic and Albertian rowers gathered from New Zealand and overseas to help launch a new scholarship fund.

Olympic Gold medallist Mahe Drysdale and Albertian Shane O'Brien (pictured with Headmaster Mr Dale Burden), who won Gold at the 1984 Olympics, were guests of honour at the launch of the Kerry Ashby Rowing Endowment Fund, named in honour of the late MAGS rower, national champion, Empire Games Silver medallist, coach and patron. Mr Ashby was instrumental in restarting rowing at MAGS six years ago, and the fund will benefit students who have the talent but not the financial circumstances to take up the sport.

Mr Drysdale and Mr O'Brien were joined by a number of other Olympic and New Zealand rowers, and Albertians from rowing's heyday at the school in the 1950s and 1960s reunited in the FW Gamble Hall.

Radio Sport host and Albertian Mr Mark Watson was MC, and interviewed the Olympic rowers on stage throughout the evening.

Also in attendance were Headmaster Mr Dale Burden, Chairman of the MAGS Board of Trustees Mr Greg Moyle, Chairman of the MAGS Foundation Mr Peter Thorp, MAGSROW parents, rowers and supporters.

A charity auction led by Ms Marian Tolich of Barfoot & Thompson rounded out a successful night, which will see the Endowment Fund launch with a strong base with which to assist Mount Albert Grammar School's young rowers of the future.

Fine Art Show sets new milestone

MAGS' second Fine Art Show exceeded the fundraising total of its first year, lifting profit from $47,000 in 2014 to around $65,000 this year.

The funds go straight to the MAGS Foundation for use in projects to benefit students. This year projects will include an artist in residence programme in the Visual Art Department.

Director of Advancement Mr Tim Kay said the show was not only an outstanding fundraising event for the school, but also brought people together from the local and wider Auckland community, reunited former students, and showcased the culture of MAGS.

"The students who helped throughout the weekend, led by Arts Prefect Tessa Cochrane, were outstanding - a credit to the school," said Mr Kay.

About 450 guests attended the Gala Opening Evening on Friday, 21 August, up from 350 last year. The evening included an auction, run by Marian Tolich of Barfoot & Thompson, of six donated works by photographer Emma Bass, the Gow Langsford Gallery, the Greg Moyle art collection and artist Peter Collis. In total the works raised $10,000.

This year the student art exhibits were judged and the winners named at the Gala. First place went to Uhila Nai (pictured right with John Gow of Gow Langsford Gallery,), second was Hugo Harvey (centre) and third was Jeremy Porteous.

Hundreds of people visited the show on the free admission days of Saturday and Sunday to enjoy the 750 pieces of art by 130 established and emerging artists. Works included paintings, photography, sculpture and objects. The artists donated 40% of each sale to the school.

"The Friends of MAGS parents committee is to be hugely congratulated for organising such a wonderful show," said Mr Kay. "The committee members are all volunteers and have other commitments but they devoted a great deal of time over the last six months to stage a great event. One of New Zealand’s most prominent art benefactors said the MAGS Fine Art Show was the best school art show he had been to."

Albertian of the Year 2015

Te Papa CEO is Albertian of the Year

Mr Rick Ellis, the CEO of Te Papa, was named the 2015 Albertian of the Year at the annual Albertians Reunion Dinner at The Northern Club in Auckland on July 1.

Mr Ellis, who attended Mount Albert Grammar from 1967-1971, took over as the CEO of Te Papa in November last year. He was previously Group Executive at Telstra in Sydney, and CEO of TVNZ from 2006-2011 and from 1998-2002. He also held CEO roles with Ansett NZ and EDS NZ, and a number Directorships for companies, crown entities and not-for-profit organisations.

His father, Jim Ellis, also attended Mount Albert Grammar during World War II, and in accepting his award Mr Ellis said his father would have been proud.

"Boarding and schooling at MAGS prepared me for a long and successful life and career," said Mr Ellis. "The quality of the teachers I was privileged to have been taught by was quite extraordinary - they instilled in me a desire for continuous learning."

In addition to many Albertians, the dinner function was attended by Headmaster Mr Dale Burden, who gave an update on the school's progress, the President of the Albertians Association Mr Ben Stallworthy, the Chairman of the MAGS Foundation Mr Peter Thorp, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees Mr Greg Moyle and board members, staff and parents.

Mr Ellis's family history with MAGS began when his father Jim attended the school. The school farm ignited Jim's interest in the rural sector. He went on to Lincoln College and later ran his own farm at Kaipara Flats and then Kaiwaka, where Rick grew up. Jim wanted his son to also attend MAGS, so Rick attended as a boarder at the original school house on New North Road.

“I quickly settled in and enjoyed the companionship and camaraderie of the boarding school environment,” recalls Mr Ellis. “The Housemasters and Prefects shaped a very collegial spirit, and were supportive in helping us grow as individuals."

Mr Ellis became a House Prefect in Year 11, was a School Prefect in Year 12 and 13, and promoted to Head House Prefect in his final year.

“This was my first experience of leadership, and it pitched my ambitions toward leadership in my career.”

Mount Albert Grammar also gave Mr Ellis his first exposure to technology.

“MAGS was one of the first schools to introduce technology in the form of programmable calculators. That triggered in me an interest in computers and the technology sector - after university I worked for Burroughs in Australia and New Zealand, one of the early computing companies, and have remained involved in the sector in some way ever since.”

Sport was compulsory for House boarders, and Mr Ellis played hockey for the First XI in winter, and tennis in summer. The boys also had to attend the nearby Anglican church every Sunday.

“So I felt I gained a complete, end to end education at MAGS. Academically, I had a wonderful Economics teacher in Mr Harmos, and that, together with an exposure to Accounting, ignited my interest in business.”

Mr Ellis went on to the University of Auckland to complete a Commerce Degree in 1976, but returned to MAGS as a boarders’ Housemaster in his second year of tertiary study, and was Head Housemaster for two years in the early 1970s.

On hearing that he was to be awarded the Albertian of the Year for 2015, Mr Ellis says he was “quite chuffed. My dad, if he were still alive, would be extremely proud of me. MAGS was a big part of my young life, and set me up for a very successful life since.”

His advice to students today is to seize the opportunities the school offers them and use them as a “launchpad”.

“Get involved in education, sport and relationship building – what you gain from Mount Albert Grammar can set you up for life.”

Golf Day 2015

The second annual MAGS Foundation Golf Day has raised another $20,000 for the Bryan Williams Rugby Endowment Scholarship Fund.

Held at the Titirangi Golf Club on Tuesday, 31 March, about 80 people took part in 19 teams. They included a team of teachers - Mr Paul Ferner, Mr Allan Sangster, Mr Simon Allen and Mr Max Jeremic; and a team of students - Michael Soffe, Eric Lee and Daniela Jeremic.

At a function after the game, Albertian and radio host Mr Mark Watson ran a fundraising auction which included a MAGS First XV jersey signed by 10 Albertian All Blacks. They included Sonny Bill Williams, Olo Brown, Joe Stanley, Bryan Williams, Matthew Ridge, Andrew Blowers and Mark Brooke-Cowden.

Director of Advancement Mr Tim Kay said income from the fund would eventually enable scholarships to be granted to talented but less privileged rugby players to enable them to board at School House and benefit from MAGS' sporting and educational opportunities.

Fine Art Show 2014 a great success

The inaugural Mount Albert Grammar School Fine Art Show raised more than $40,000 for the school, with more to come in through commissions placed with artists at the show.

The funds will be used for a range of initiatives at the school, particularly in the Arts. The show also marked the launch of the Greg Moyle Arts Scholarship for talented MAGS students.

The Director of the MAGS Foundation, Mr Tim Kay, said more than $100,000 worth of art was sold over the weekend of 22-24 August, 2015, with 40% of each sale going to the school. An auction of pieces donated by respected artists Dean Buchanan, Neal Palmer and Bobby Hung raised an additional $6000.

More than 400 pieces of art were exhibited at the show by more than 100 artists. Neal Palmer (left) and Bobby Hung painted 'live' at the opening night cocktail party, while talking with guests about how they produced their work. The exhibition included pieces by MAGS’ top art students.

“It was particularly pleasing to see about the three quarters of the students’ art sold,” said Mr Kay. Leading art collector Sir James Wallace bought four student artworks and said he would exhibit them in the Wallace Arts Centre at the Pah Homestead.

About 350 people attended the opening night cocktail party and Mr Kay said there was a steady stream of visitors through the weekend, from the Mt Albert community and further afield.

“The show more than met our expectations from a fundraising point of view, and in terms of community enjoyment,” said Mr Kay. “It showcased what MAGS can do not just for our families and contacts, but to the wider Auckland community.”

Albertian and the Chairman of the MAGS Board of Trustees, Mr Greg Moyle, said he was proud to be able to launch an Arts Scholarship that would help other students develop their talent and passion for the arts. Mr Moyle has a large art collection, a number of pieces of which decorate the walls of MAGS’ main administration block.

The MAGS Fine Art Show will become an annual event, and Mr Kay said he already had artists committed to exhibiting next year.

Fundraising Golf Day a hole in one

More than $20,000 was raised at the MAGS Foundation's inaugural Golf Day, in aid of the Bryan Williams Rugby Endowment Scholarship Fund.

Nineteen teams comprised of 76 players teed off at the Titirangi Golf Club on Tuesday, 8 April, 2014. Those who took part were the school's corporate partners, sponsors, Albertians and parents.

Funds were raised through entry fees, golf hole sponsorship, raffles and an auction of two items of rugby memorabilia linked to Mr Williams - a MAGS First XV jersey signed by MAGS All Blacks, and a print of images representing Mr Williams' playing days.

Albertian Mark Watson, a host on Radio Sport and ZB, was MC at the prizegiving function after the game. The individual winner was Albertian Mark Birtwistle (who has played rugby for Samoa), and the team challenge was won by Coverstaff Recruitment.

MAGS' Director of Advancement Mr Tim Kay said the day was a great success and would become an annual event.

The Bryan Williams Rugby Scholarship rugby scholarship to assist talented players from outside Auckland.

The Bryan Williams Rugby Scholarship will help enable talented young rugby players from outside Auckland to board at School House and benefit from the rugby coaching and academic opportunities offered by MAGS.