Comment

In 1951, I found myself at the age of 12 enrolling for my first year of secondary school.

My family had recently moved to Tauranga and what was then Tauranga College was only a block or two away from where we lived.

At that age, I assumed that institutions like schools had been there forever. I did not realise that the school had emerged on to the scene only a few years earlier.

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I was small for my age and young for my class but I rapidly made some friends and enjoyed all that the school had to offer. I can see in retrospect that I was very lucky to have begun my secondary school years at such an excellent establishment.

A couple of years later, my family was off again - my father worked for the National Bank and was always being sent to different branches around the country - so I had to give up the school where I had been so happy.

A few years later again, Tauranga College was split into two - a sign of the rapid growth the town had already begun to experience - one for boys and one for girls, and the boys remained on the same campus in what became Tauranga Boys' College.

Tauranga Boys' College celebrates this year its 60th anniversary - and a 60 year-long success story.

It has provided the growing city with what every community needs - an institution that is there for the long haul, that provides that focal point and sense of stability and continuity and service that are so instrumental in building the sense of community itself.

The school has benefited over its whole history from the contributions of first-rate headmasters and excellent teachers - and it has rewarded those stalwarts by producing students who have gone on to achieve great things in later life.

I am proud to say that I was myself honoured to be made Old Boy of the Year in 2012, and - at the jubilee dinner last weekend, two other Old Boys of the Year - Peter Burling and Kane Williamson - were the guest speakers.

For me, however, the celebrations were somewhat restrained.

Back in 1951, one of my closest friends at school was a youngster who was just as small as I was - but he had a quick mind and a strong sense of the society in which he lived and a willingness to give everything a crack.

We discovered in each other kindred spirits, although it was only in later years, after my wife and I had come back to New Zealand, that we realised how alike we were.

His name was Gary Ware, and he was the prime mover in keeping the TBC Old Boys Association alive and flourishing.

My wife and I had looked forward to dining at the same table with Gary and his wife Marlene at the 60th celebrations.

Sadly and shockingly, however, Gary died in hospital just a few days before the 60th celebrations that he had worked so hard to help to organise took place.

It is not just his former schoolmates who will mourn his passing; there are many others in Tauranga who will miss Gary's energy, commitment and concern for others.

He was one of the founders of Closing the Gap, an organisation devoted to reducing inequality in our society and he also lifted his eyes to wider horizons in his work for Amnesty International.

Our community is hugely better off for the efforts of people like Gary Ware.

Our school can be proud of having produced him, just as he was proud of having been a pupil at Tauranga Boys' College. Well done Gary and well done the College!

Bryan Gould is a former British MP and Waikato University Vice-Chancellor.