When Tilly Hirst looks at the names lining the Rotorua Boys' High School Hall of Fame, she finds it hard to believe hers now sits among them.

Sir Howard Morrison, Taini Jamison and Clayton McMillan are among the hundreds of alumni whose names line the walls and yesterday another 22 joined them.

Among them was Hirst (nee Vercoe) who went to the school from 1955 to 1958 when it was co-educational.

She went on to become Silver Fern number 37, playing in goal keep and goal defence.


"In those days I was considered tall."

She played for the team from 1967 to 1971, and was the vice-captain when the team won the second ever Netball World Cup.

"At my age you never think of yourself as being considered for the sports Hall of Fame but I was honoured because I really love the school and we had some amazing times here."

She said she had enjoyed her time at the school and being inducted was "a huge surprise".

"It was a prestigious school to come to ... Everyone seemed happy and we always looked forward to coming to school."

Tilly Hirst (nee Vercoe) attended the school from 1955 to 1958.
Tilly Hirst (nee Vercoe) attended the school from 1955 to 1958.

Yesterday's inductees attended the school as recently as 2011 and as long ago as 1923, so some inductions were done posthumously.

That included Te Uru O Te Whetu Frederick Whata, who died in 2016 and was inducted for his services as a kaumātua.

His son, Fred Whata Jnr, works at the school and said the family was surprised when they heard.


"We're very honoured and privileged to have him among the illustrious company on the wall," he said.

"I'll have to be the best I can be under his watchful eye."

Whata said his father was being honoured because of his hard work.

"The kaumātua title comes from being part of your community, working for your community without asking for anything in return, at home, in the marae and in the wider community.

"That's what he's done," Whata said.

Te Uru O Te Whetu Frederick Whata will be honoured as a kaumatua.
Te Uru O Te Whetu Frederick Whata will be honoured as a kaumatua.

But Whata was clear the induction evening was about more than just his father.

"The event was not about our father. He's one of a number being recognised so current boys and those to come, like his grandson next year, have these role models."

Principal Chris Grinter said the Hall of Fame was a celebration of achievements but also a "statement of hope and inspiration" for current students.

"It has become a celebration of the schools Raukura creed and an acknowledgement of those deserving of this highest acknowledgement."

The book Plumes of Raukura - The Rotorua Boys' High School Hall of Fame was launched at the induction.

- Kelly Haimona, 2000-2004: Rugby
- Teimana Harrison, 2006-2011: Rugby
- Richard Kingi, 2003-2004: Rugby
- Eretara Mohi, 1959-1961: Maori All Black
- William Ripia 1999-2003: Maori All Black
- Hector Steele 1927-1934: Maori All Black
- Ruki Tipuna 2000-2001: Maori All Black
- Tilly Hirst (nee Vercoe) 1955-1958: Netball
- Wiremu (Bill) Whareaitu 1923-1927: Athletics
- Danny Lee 2003-2008 : Olympian - Golf
- Paora Winitana 1990: Olympian - Basketball
- Allan Beck 1961-1965: Aviation
- Kerry Hayes 1975-1978: Engineering
- Leslie Brooker 1931-1937: Military
- Professor Kevin Forsyth 1966-1970: Medicine
- Hiwinui Heke 1945-1950: Pharmacy
- Dr Russell Neilson 1992-1996: Science
- Peter Anaru 1942-1949: Service to the Community
- Reverend Te Napi Tutewehiwehi Waaka 1945: Kaumatua
- Sir Matiu Rei 1962-1964, 1967: Services to Maori
- Wetini Mitai-Ngatai 1977: Maori Performing Arts
- Te Uru O Te Whetu Frederick Whata 1951-1953: Kaumatua