The legacy of Albertian All Black Bryan ‘BG’ Williams was honoured in the naming of the school’s number 1 rugby ground the BG Williams Field at an event at School House on Saturday, 20 May.
The luncheon was organised by the MAGS Foundation and attended by some of the top names in New Zealand rugby, including former All Black coach Sir Graham Henry and All Blacks Ant Strachan, Mark Brooke-Cowden, Dylan Mika, Ofisa Tonu’u, Keith Nelson, Lawrie Knight, Brad Johnstone, Ron Williams and Ron Urlich.
Guest speakers included the Chairman of the NZ Rugby Union Brent Impey, sports writer Phil Gifford, the Managing Director of MAGS’ First XV sponsor Barfoot & Thompson, Peter Thompson, Headmaster Mr Patrick Drumm and, of course, Bryan Williams. The MC was Albertian sports radio host Mark Watson.
Representatives from Auckland Rugby, the Ponsonby Rugby Club, Barbarians Club, New Zealand Rugby Union, Manu Samoa and the New Zealand Rugby Foundation also featured on the guest list – a reflection of Bryan Williams’ illustrious rugby career. Members of Mr Williams’ family, the families of MAGS’ Director of Rugby Geoff Moon and current First XV players, and a number of Albertians and community supporters also attended.
Mr Williams was a student at MAGS from 1963-1967, and was a Prefect and Victor Ludorum in his final year. Following a stellar career with the All Blacks, and qualifying as a lawyer, he served as President of the NZ Rugby Union, was Director of Rugby at MAGS and is still involved with the Ponsonby Rugby Club.
Each speaker commended Mr Williams not only for his playing prowess, but also for giving back to the sport at a national and community level through his administrative and voluntary work.
Mr Drumm said that in recognising Mr Williams’ contribution, the school was reinforcing the values it teaches students. “We impress on our students that leadership is achieved through service – this is what strengthens our young people, our school culture and our community. In that way Bryan Williams is a role model for the students who have come after him, on and off the playing field.”
Mr Impey (right) said Mr Williams set an example not only in what he had done for the game in New Zealand, but in the way he went about his work. “You have given so much with dignity, humility and kindness. You are a true gentleman, and very deserving of this honour today.”
Mr Thompson said Mr Williams’ stood out because he was a ‘doer’, exemplified by his lifelong commitment to the Ponsonby Rugby Club. “Bryan was once quoted as saying ‘Clubs are about community, they’re about participation, they’re about volunteer effort, people putting up their hands and doing things for the common good, and I think that’s pretty special.’ To me, that sums up Bryan Williams.”
Mr Williams spoke about his time at MAGS, how much he enjoyed competing with the Cricket First XI, in Athletics, where he was a sprint and field champion, and in the First XV under legendary coach Eugene Cheriton. Academically he benefited from outstanding teachers, acknowledging the attendance at the lunch of Alan Burton, who collectively prepared Mr Williams for a career as a lawyer.
“I went to a 50 year reunion of my class of 1967 a little while ago, and many of us agreed that the school had done a marvellous job in preparing us for life.”
Mark Watson read out a number of messages sent by people who could not attend, including Auckland Rugby player and administrator Maurice Trapp, and All Black selector Grant Fox, who spoke of Mr Williams’ “wisdom, support and guidance” when he was starting out as an All Black in the 1980s.
At the end of the luncheon Mr Williams presented the MAGS’ First XV with their jerseys, before leading them onto the newly named BG Williams Field to take on Auckland Grammar School. Although MAGS lost this encounter 12-21, Mr Drumm said later the day was about much bigger things. “It was an honour to host Bryan and so many distinguished guests for an event that will see our number 1 rugby ground forever known as the BG Williams Field.”
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.
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
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.
Mr Meredith with family and friends who joined him for the evening.
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.
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.