Head of Saint Kentigern Commissioned

May 09, 2017 at 2:08 PM

Last night, the Saint Kentigern community came together at Somervell Presbyterian Church for the formal commissioning of the new Head of Saint Kentigern, Mr David Hodge, marking a new chapter in the history of Saint Kentigern education.

The commissioning of a new school leader is a formal Saint Kentigern tradition, dating back to the founding of the College in 1953 by a group of Presbyterian elders, and the commissioning of the first Headmaster, Reverend Adam MacFarlan.

The official party was piped in by College piper, James Milner with the Head Prefects from all three schools joining Trust Board members, Principals and invited guests in the processional. Mr Hodge was supported by his wife, Maggie, his mother and two of his children, Caitlyn and Charlotte, along with staff and students from his former school, Rangitoto College.  

The Minister of Somervell, Reverend Brett Johnstone welcomed the congregation before Chaplain to the Boys’ and Girls’ Schools, Reverend Reuben Hardie, made the call to worship.

It was a pleasure to invite Deputy Principal of Rangitoto College, Mrs Ros Robertson to speak on behalf of their students and staff; her words confirming that in choosing Mr Hodge, the Trust Board made a sound decision for the future of Saint Kentigern. She concluded, ‘David is an exceptional leader, and his educational vision is vast, exciting and challenging – he will serve and lead you well.’ The Fundamentals Choir from Rangitoto offered a moving performance of ‘Muse E’ as they made their final farewell to their former Principal.

Following on, it was the turn of the Girls’ School Kapa Haka group to entertain with a polished performance of ‘E te Hokowhitu a tu’ accompanied on guitar by Whaea Vikki Demant. The Boys’ School Head Boy, George Beca then led the congregation in the Prayer of Saint Kentigern before Reverend David Smith addressed the congregation, welcoming Mr Hodge to ‘this exciting new era in the life of our Trust.’ As the new Head of Saint Kentigern comes to know the Trust Board, the Principals of each school, staff and students, Reverend Smith encouraged him to ‘walk with them, listen to them, teach them, guide them, lead them and serve them.’

Accomplished Year 13 College soloist, Sophie Maehl, well known for her jazz vocals, gave a powerful rendition of ‘Have a little faith in me’ accompanied by College pianist, Mr Stuart Saunders.

In undertaking the Commissioning, Chairman of the Trust Board, Dr Bruce Goodfellow spoke of the history and accomplishments of our schools. He said, ‘In 2016, the Trust Board determined that to enhance the organisation and to provide for its future growth, including evaluating new educational opportunities which may arise, it needed to appoint a Head of Saint Kentigern who, through outstanding educational leadership, can take us into the future. Following an extensive search and interview process in late 2016, the Trust Board selected Mr David Hodge for the new role of Head of Saint Kentigern. Mr Hodge has extensive experience in education in New Zealand with outstanding achievements.  He is internationally recognised for this work and we are delighted and privileged that he has accepted our offer of the position.’       

Dr Goodfellow asked Mr Hodge, ‘David, to the best of your ability, will you uphold the objects of the Saint Kentigern Trust Deed?  Will you, to the best of your ability, serve the students of Saint Kentigern, its staff, its Principals and its Trust Board?’ Dr Goodfellow then addressed the Saint Kentigern Community asking, ‘Will you, to the best of your ability, support David as Head of Saint Kentigern?’

Dr Goodfellow concluded the commissioning saying, ‘On behalf of the Saint Kentigern Trust Board, I now commit to your charge, the role of Head of Saint Kentigern, the care of our Principals, teaching and administration staff, students and all whom we serve as a community, assuring you of the Board’s confidence in you, and support of you in implementing the objects of the Trust.   May God richly bless you in this task.’

The Boys’ School choir came forward to sing ‘The Saint Kentigern Blessing,’ a beautiful piece written by New Zealand composer, David Hamilton for the School, with Oscar Van Druten taking the lead solo.

Representatives from each of the age groups, the College, Schools and Preschool, then came forward to present gifts to Mr Hodge. College Head Boy, Matthew Stirling, Girls’ School Head Girl, Lola Wiltshire and preschoolers, Monica Qian and Oscar Hunter were given the honour. As Mr Hodge gratefully accepted the gifts, bending down to greet the preschoolers, he was left with no doubts about where his allegiance now lies – he was presented with a Saint Kentigern Bible, a Saint Kentigern presentation tie and a Saint Kentigern supporter’s jacket – all in blue and white!

In response, Mr Hodge gave thanks to all those who came in support, in particular his family and representatives from Rangitoto. Humbled by the trust that has been placed in him to serve Saint Kentigern, he said, ‘In the past week, I have been overwhelmed by the strength of commitment, the enthusiasm and the expertise that exists within each of the schools. To be tasked with bringing these people together so that they can build the capacity of one organisation is truly exciting. The role of facilitating the sharing of perspectives and expertise for the benefit of all is something I look forward to with great anticipation.’

The service concluded with the ‘Saint Kentigern Song’ and, out of respect for our forebears, a Scottish Benediction delivered by Reverend Reuben Hardie.

As guests enjoyed supper in the foyer, the Pipes and Drums of Saint Kentigern played outside, drawing both the Saint Kentigern community and those passing on Remuera Road to stop and listen. With time, Mr Hodge will come to understand that the skirl of the Pipes and Drums, links to Scotland and life at Saint Kentigern are irrevocably linked.

Mr Hodge is now formally a member of our community. The Trust Board is confident that Mr Hodge will provide robust and effective leadership for Saint Kentigern as it continues to build on the strong foundations and achievements of the past 63 years of Independent Education.


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