The Wesley College Old Students’ Association [WCOSA] is the successor to the Wesley College Old Boys’ Association that was formed in 1927, at a time when a group of Old Boys of the Paerata College could be identified: the College having completed its move from Three Kings in 1923.
The Foundation Officers of the Association were:
Patron: Rev J.H. Simmonds (Foundation Principal, Paerata)
President: Mr R.C. Clark (Principal from 1924)
Vice-Presidents: Rev Eruera Te Tuhi (enrolled 1904 at Three Kings) and Mr K.D. Henderson (enrolled 1924)
Committee: B.R. Hiskens (1923), C.H. Harding (1924), D. Raikes (1924), T.J. Stacey (1925).
Secretary-Treasurer: Mr G.T. White (1924)
In 1986 the name of the Association was changed to the Wesley College Past Students’ Association. This recognised that female students had returned to Wesley College in 1985, following a 125 Year break: now recognised as Past Students. At some point following this the name was again changed to the Wesley College Old Students’ Association.
Two of the current WCOSA Executive have been Officers of the Association for a lengthy period. Mr J.S. Cheeseman, first elected to the Committee in 1968, was then a teacher at the College, and Mr E. Lepper, a 1949 student and current Vice-President, was first elected in 1988.
The Old Boys’ / Old Students’ Association have provided the funds for a number of significant amenities over the years. The1944 the swimming pool was followed in 1953 by the In Memoriam Plague in the Chapel, listing the names of those who ‘paid the supreme sacrifice’ in the Second World War, the Memorial Gates at the southern entrance to the College in 1956, the filtration plant for the swimming pool in 1962, and a complete overhaul of the Chapel organ was funded in 1967.
For many years the annual Old Students’ Reunion was held on the first weekend of October. This memorialised the 7 October 1844 Colonial Government Land Grant of 6 and three quarter acres in Grafton to the Wesleyan Missionary Society for the purpose of establishing the Wesleyan Native Institution. In subsequent years the date of the reunion has varied so that it could be held while there were boarding students in residence. A change from a three term to four-term year now means that the first weekend of October falls within the school holidays. Over the years not all reunions have been held at the College. In 1949 the reunion dinner was held at Westhaven Yacht Club and in 1957 it took the form of a picnic cruise on the Waitemata Harbour.
For many years there was a keenly competed rugby match between the Old Students and current students for the Hickling Cup. There were those won by the Old Students, one of which was joyously recorded in the 1952 Collegian.
Since 1924 the record shows that the Association has enjoyed periods of strength and other times when it operated only in memory. That in some years no elections were held indicates minimal interest and that a formal annual reunion was not held; while at other times, e.g. the 1941 – 1947 War years any gathering was impossible. At present there is a dedicated group of former students and friends of the College meeting regularly that keep memories and old-student aspirations for the College alive.
As the Association marks the 175th year since the foundation of the College at Labour Weekend 2019, the Officers are:
Patrons: Dr Brian Evans (current Principal), Rev Ian Faulkner (enrolled 1963)
President: Mr Rod Gabb (1976)
Vice President: Mr Ernie Lepper (1946)
Secretary: Mrs Ngaire Lepper (honorary member)
Treasurer: Mr Steve Tupai (1971)
Committee: Mrs Stacey Linford (nee Bright, 1985), Mr John Cheeseman (1954), Mr Chris Bean (1983), Mr Chris Johnston (Trust Board Rep), and Mr Jeff Johnannson (…, Board of Trustees Rep).