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Victoria University College an Essay towards a History


page 45

Mediaeval universities, said the Frenchman, were built of men—bâtie en hommes; and that is one way in which the modern university, different in so many ways from its ancestor, has not changed. Men and women make it with themselves. So, whatever the physical difficulties of 1899, we may say that our infant college had the essentials—it had the teachers and the students, and both were willing to learn. Nevertheless, an infant flourishes best that has a home. In April the Council tried to bring things to a head by agreeing to Stout's motion, that it was absolutely necessary for the success of the college that permanent buildings should be provided, if possible centrally situated in the City of Wellington; and directed its chairman to communicate with the government over ‘the property of at once vesting the Mount Cook Prison Site in the College’. The chairman said he would do his best. But what was anyone's best with Seddon? Mr Blair could report only a long interview in which the Premier ‘had said that he was determined to put the Victoria College Building on a satisfactory basis and would take an opportunity shortly of announcing his intentions’. There was the Ministerial Residence. It ceased to be a boarding-house, though page 46 when inspected it did not promise very well as an academic building. Easterfield, getting in early, made it clear that his science departments would at once require the whole of the ground floor: this would have put the other classes into the bedrooms, and the bedrooms were not very adaptable, even for temporary use. The students held a meeting and opposed the scheme. Could the property, then, be vested in the college for the revenue it would bring? No, was the answer. A committee was thereupon set up again to ponder the question of a suitable site.

Meanwhile deputations of the citizens of Wellington had waited upon the government in the matter, and had at least got an undertaking that Mount Cook would not be used as a gaol. The weeks passed. In July the Council petitioned parliament for the site, and conferred hopefully with members representing the university district. Mr Graham and Mr Hogg came back from a meeting with the Premier, who had this time said ‘very decidedly’ that the government would not give it; Mount Cook was colonial property and if it was given away other land would have to be bought with colonial moneys; but they had inaugurated the Institution, ‘and it would be their pleasure and duty to find funds and a site’. This was cold comfort to a body as used to the Premier as the Council now was. But even the Council underwent a startled horror when, a few weeks later, Seddon attacked it in the House, accusing it of gross neglect of duty, and of having done absolutely nothing except to bring out professors under false pretences. He reiterated his refusal of Mount Cook, concluding that if the Council would not accept what was offered (but what was offered—presumably the Ministerial Residence?), he would have to appoint a royal commission ‘to enquire whether Palmerston North, Nelson or Blenheim, or some other place could be utilized for the purpose’. Noisy bluff this might very well be; nevertheless it page 47 left the Council where the imperial statesman had already placed it, in hopeless bewilderment.

The arts professors were not so badly off for the time being in their Girls' High School rooms at £50 a year. As long as the caretaker was squared and the young ladies of the school and their mistresses were not unduly inconvenienced (they paid due attention in their magazine to the coarse male irruption), and as long as undergraduate enthusiasm remained high enough to keep the bicycles going at the rush hours between the different parts of the town, life was not intolerable. Mackenzie could ride his horse down from Karori and hitch it to a paling in plenty of time; apart from lecturing there was not a great deal to be done; the professors, being non-peripatetic, had an easier time than their students. But Easterfield could not just stand up and expound his subject—there was more to a research school than that. Experiment, experiment! So the upstair rooms in Victoria Street were adapted to some purpose. Twenty-five years later he told some of his own story.1 ‘The physical laboratory was also the lecture room, but each student as he left the room removed his chair and collapsable table, to the no small annoyance of those who made use of the rooms below. As the arrangement with the Technical School authorities was only just completed when the term began there was no time to install laboratory benches and fittings. The chemical laboratory was therefore equipped with tables made of boards on trestles. The water was brought in large jugs from the kitchen, one or two buckets received all the waste liquids and all heating was effected by means of spirit lamps. A chemical balance, still in use in the physical laboratory, stood on a packing case in the corner and server a small but enthusiastic class in the practice of quantitative analysis. There was no laboratory attendant and page 48 the students fetched the water and emptied the slop buckets as required. On one occasion they forgot this emptying and the corrosive liquid ate through the bucket, ran through the ceiling and made an unwelcome mess in the director's office.

‘The class in practical physics had to put up with at least as great inconvenience as the class in practical chemistry, but it is questionable whether the students really suffered. Most of the apparatus was home-made, treacle tins made excellent calorimeters and long stretched wires served for quantitative experiments on linear expansion. There was no spectrometer, but with a small photographic replica of a Rowland's getting, a telescope at the far end of the laboratory, and a carefully measured base line, the students obtained fair values for the wave length of sodium light. After all, the equipment was probably as good as that with which Isaac Newton made some of his fundamental discoveries.’

‘It was at once apparent that this makeshift arrangement could only be of a temporary nature, and would break down with any considerable increase in the size of the classes’. It was therefore suggested to the Council that they should apply to the Government for a grant of £3000 for equipment of science laboratories.2 Cabinet granted the request, and when the students returned in April 1900, they were surprised to find the rooms fitted up in a manner which must have seemed palatial in comparison. The fund was most carefully husbanded so that after a good working equipment had been secured and maintained, there was still a small balance available for the permanent laboratories in 1905.’

Science gave aid to Art. The young women to whom Mr Nairn taught painting in the Technical School were always peeping in at the laboratory with its odd goings on, and Nairn finally gave them the task of putting it down on paper. Most page 49 of them, records Easterfield, were quite unsuccessful, but one produced a delightful water-colour picture with a fascinating colour scheme which is amongssst my most treasured possessions.


The Four wrought mightily; but four professors were not enough. In May 1899 the Council appointed not merely a Registrar, the bearded C. P. Powles, who did the business of so much of the education establishment of the city, but also— after its preliminary hesitation—a lecturer in Political Economy. This was David Ritchie, another Scotsman, all, somewhat dour-looking, able and well-read, a Writer to the Signet and a graduate of Oxford and Edinburgh. There was nothing dour, really, about Mr Ritchie. He was a wholly different type from his colleagues—a man of means who had come to New Zealand for his health, a good horseman and shot, a gentleman who ‘didn't care two straws’, but who was willing to turn his hand to anything agreeable while waiting for the right farm to turn up. Somehow, not unnaturally in that day of double-banking, and in spite of the Council's earlier resolve. Mr Ritchie seems also to have been saddled with General History—a predicament from which he escaped through the simple process of not teaching it. Then the University registrar, J. W. Joynt, a rather guff but most warm-hearted little man (Irish luckily—the Scots were having it too much their own way) with an almost terrifyingly brilliant record at Trinity College, Dublin, cut short by ill-health, volunteered to help the department of modern languages by teaching German. He would do it simply for the students' fees. A grateful Council insisted that he should accept twenty guineas.

It was in May 1899 also that Stout, coming to the rescue of Maclaurin, gave notice to move that law should be taught, and that a lecturer should be appointed for the following ses- page 50 sion at £ 100 per annum. Losing his motion, he improved on it later, and in December it was agreed to advertise for a lecturer in the second and third year subjects for LL. B., at a salary not to exceed £150. The Council can hardly be accused of extravagance, but then, as Stout had said at the beginning, ‘lecturers would do for the other subjects’; and it was an era when, on an even lower rung than lecturers, a laboratory assistant could be obtained for 7s 6d a week. At the beginning of 1900 Maurice Richmond was appointed—at the maximum amount. He climbed: in 1902 he was asked to give a more elaborate course, at £250; and the following year the Council, building steadily, agreed ‘That with a view to making the Law School in Wellington the most complete in the Colony a professorship of Law be established as soon as the Finances of the College permit, and in the meantime Mr Richmond be asked to make the teaching of Jurisprudence and Constitutional History part of the law lectureship for one year at a salary of £300 a year.’ He was to go even higher, to a chair of English and New Zealand law, before, in rather unhappy circumstances, his resignation was forced. Richmond was one on the most interesting of the early members of the teaching staff. The son of James Crowe Richmond, the Unitarian railway engineer who played so important a part in our politics in the sixties, the had been largely educated in Europe and had taken an honours B.Sc. in experimental physics at University College, London. Back in New Zealand, he studied law and was in practice for the seven years before his appointment to the college, though he did not take a law degree till 1904. Sensitive, serious, refined in face, of a philosophical, even metaphysical cast of mind, with all his family's slavery to the demands of a painful and urgent conscience, he had hardly the personality, or technical skill as a lecturer, to satisfy the other quite different demands of the law students of his day. For what the law students of his day wanted page 51 was a degree as swiftly as possible, with no nonsense of philosophy about it, and the man who gazed at his feet as he groped for the exact, the honest, the elusively truth-laden word was not precisely the man for them. The one gazed at his feet, the others dragged their feet wearily across the floor.

In the middle of 1899, too that full year, the Council received a letter from the Education Department, observing that while the government had approved of the table of college fees, no provision had yet been made for lectures in German, biology or geology. Students therefore could not take a science degree, for which more was needed than chemistry and physics. Mr Blair had replied (he might have been forgiven for some asperity) that the Council was doing its best, but could be greatly helped by the government's placing more funds at its disposal. Nevertheless the question had to be faced. Joint provided the German. The Bishop suggested lectureships in both biology and geology at (it was inevitable) £150 a year. The Professorial Board resolved in favour of some natural science, preferably biology. Stout harked back to his perennial idea, and had a committee set up to see if some scientist in government service could not be got ‘to conduct classes in Biology and Geology’. It is an idea which makes one ask how deep the great educator's understanding of education really was. But the committee went to work: it thought of Mr H. B. Kirk of the Education Department as one who could ‘take up Biology’, and Hogben the Inspector-General agreed that the Department would not put any difficulties in the way. But Mr Kirk had too much to do, in Wellington and out of it (he was an inspector of native schools), and the committee went to the Minister of education, who said—uncomforting words—he would consult cabinet. What did Sir James Hector—the next enquiry—think of making use of government officers? Sir James was not encouraging. Teaching would have to be thorough. English page 52 examiners were ‘men well up in the latest developments’, a larage outlay for a laboratory would be necessary: biology, for which Wellington and its surroundings offered a good field, would be better than geology, ‘the surroundings of Wellington offering very little opportunity for its study in the field’;3 but his opinion was that the college had better not undertake science teaching at present. So, in November, the Council, torn between the demands of the government and the advice of the government's chief scientist, was reduced to writing to the Minister beseeching that they should be relieved of the Queen's Scholarships, a burden which in the near future bids fair to wreck the college by absorbing so much of the statutory grant that an insufficient sum will be left for providing a teaching staff'. The government, taking pity for once, granted the £3000 for buildings and laboratory fittings that Easterfield found so useful—nothing of which was to be expended except for material which could be utilized when permanent buildings should be erected.

Then Stout moved again, in February 1900. He had found a government scientist. In the Survey Office was Mr C. E. Adams, trained at Canterbury in engineering. He could give lectures in geology (£100 per annum); Stout and Blair could interview the Minister of Lands and arrange it. The Minister of lands was amenable, Mr Adams was appointed. Mr Adams was an amiable man (he was later a benevolent Government Astronomer) and the Council settled down to granting not infrequent requests for apparatus with surprising complaisance—minerals £15, blowpipe, two microscopes and slides £20, cutting and grinding appliances £40; science certainly was a financial drain. Then Adams suggested a course of lectures in surveying, and another committee, in 1901, reported that ‘at small expense’ teaching could be pro- page 53 vided of the subjects necessary for the civil engineering degree and for authorized surveyors, if the Technical School could be utilized for the drawing practice required. With somewhat more realism (for Canterbury was jealous of her privilege as seat of an engineering school) it suggested, in view of the proposed extension of the college's teaching, a Finance Committee. Fifteen months later Adams offered to become a full-time teacher of either geology or civil engineering, and another committee recommended engineering; but it was too late. In August 1902 the Council, after a great deal of discussion, had decided to get a professor of biology (at £700), to begin work in 1903. There was still before the end of the year, a scheme to save money by having the new professor made assistant to Hector in the Museum, with the right of succession, so that the government could pay half his salary; but it was dropped, and in February 1903 the man was appointed. It was the gentle and courteous Kirk.

Kirk, born in England but a New Zealander since his early childhood, was the son of a man most distinguished in the exploration of the New Zealand flora, and a brilliant and precocious boy. He grew into a very able man; but it was suspected by some that he might be the wrong sort of person for a professor, and there was even some distress at his appointment. Had his years among native schools, those years of travel in remote places, familiarized him so much with the lower levels of education that he would have difficulty in sustaining life in a more rarefied atmosphere? Never was suspicion more belied, Kirk had learning enough, and he had enough experience of men, enough of charitable humour, to carry him safely him safely through any atmosphere. His colonial background, his knowledge of settler and drover and coach-driver, of bush and river and Maori pa, of the natural history of man in shirt-sleeves, as it were, was as valuable as the more urban, the more surface-polished backgrounds of his page 54 colleagues. And what stories he had to tell, what a master-hand he was at the causerie! What tolerance was there in this bright-eyed ‘professor of Bohemian appearance’, with the large straying moustaches, so different from the clipped propriety of the others in the college collection. Always a late worker, his light would be seen burning on Saturday or Sunday nights by passing young men; up would go a handful of pebbles, and Kirk would let them in and they would take counsel with him on the problems of life—extravaganzas or the politics of annual general meetings—or would listen to some masterly reminiscence of the Far North, Or, a generation later, the sons of his early students would listen, in the haze of tobacco smoke—Kirk was considerably, though inconspicuously, diverted by the preachments of a lecturer who deplored the evils of nicotine—to stories of the pioneering past, when the heroes that he had known, Hector and Hutton, Dendy and Parker, would come alive to the aspiring youth. Extraordinary in his modesty, he was both a first-rate worker over wide expanses of his field, and a first-rate teacher, abreast somehow of each new advance in the modern biological sciences, always with fresh material.4 He would be remembered more as an original worker, had he not been accustomed to put greater importance on his students' work than on his own; he would have been less successful as a teacher page 55 had he been more dogmatic. But Kirk had that great capacity of the born teacher, the capacity to ask questions, or lead his students to ask questions, and make them find out the answers. Not that that argued any defect in benevolence; Harry Borrer Kirk, a humanist, honour's very soul, chivalry's exemplar, upholder of all that was good and true, teacher at Victoria College for forty-two years, might have stood as model for a seventeenth century ‘character’ of the Kind-hearted Man. For nothing will he be remembered by man or woman, student or colleague, more than for that quality in him which made his teaching a communication of friendship, and his friendship a teaching in wisdom. The Biology Department was installed in a room in Miss Baber's Kindergarten (it was Pipitea Street this time), hired for 5s a week.5 The members of the first class were of course known as Kirk's Lambs. They talked about their subject ‘as though it were Football or some other exciting pastime’. It is hardly surprising that the Council, having now got biology, should decide to dispense with geology after the current session—for the number of students was small; and hardly more surprising that having dispensed with geology, they should suggest that Kirk might teach it. Kirk declined.

But the scientific story has outrun chronology. Kirk's was the sixth chair to be established; it was preceded by a year by Modern Languages. In March 1901 Brown wrote to the Council about the inroads the teaching of French was making on the time of a professor of Greek and Latin, and a committee reported in favour of a lecturer in modern languages. Again there was struggle with the inelastic statutory grant. Perhaps £350 would do; the lecturer's services could probably be made use of by others, whereby his salary could be supplemented; but at the same time he must be under the control of the Council. In June, after careful calculation, it page 56 was decided to go up to £500 and forbid outside work except with the consent of the Council and on such terms as It should lay down; then Joynt resigned to free the Council To appoint a professor; and in December George William von Zedlitz, aged 31, M. A. Oxon and a Scholar of Trinity College, with seven years teaching in French, German and the classics, currently a master in the Loretto School, Musselburgh, was appointed to the chair. It was a significant step, though how significant the council could hardly guess. Von Zedlitz brought the college something it badly needed. The child of a German father and an English mother, with paternal roots going deep down in the history of Europe, by birth he had inherited two cultures, and his training in French had given him another; say rather that he had inherited, to an extraordinary degree, the civilized mind of Europe. From England he had received formal education and a home. At Oxford, an ornament of the Union, he had battled with Belloc and sharpened his gift for intellectual mockery; and in New Zealand he found enough that could be mocked at, if humanity had not restrained his talents. For complex as his character was, sensitive, various in its gifts, it had, as such characters sometimes have, a fundamental simplicity, the simplicity of the sympathetic imagination—which is, perhaps, another name for a wise tenderness in dealing with human beings. He could be direct enough, if need be, as men found in days of university controversy that were coming. He disliked sham, but like his friend and coeval Maclaurin, he could tolerate with amusement where redemption was impossible—if the evil were not too arrant. There he may have been difficult; for a province like New Zealand will find rage more intelligible than satire, thunder and tempest from a Carlyle easier to bear than the light Voltairean phrase. In lightness of touch, indeed, in a sort of perverse logic of wit, von Zedlitz, the half-German-half-Englishman, could somehow be page 57 unexpectedly and surprisingly French. But he had, also, the free and uninhibited mind of one sort of educated Englishman; on a tram he would toss Brown for the fares; he would attack the University and all its works in the person of the Chancellor at the most inappropriate of times. He would— one fears—being young, take a certain pleasure in the urbane embarrassment of staid and worthy persons. He would, also, make students, the callow and unsophisticated, delightfully his equals. He was a godsend to college clubs. His mind ranged widely; you never knew where you would be taken by a lecture from Von, though it might start with grammar, or a page from a set book. Indeed it might never (such are the ramifications of literature and life in our extraordinary cosmic environment) reach its staring point. But how adventurous, how amusing, how exciting is this journey through the intelligence of mankind! No one more gained the devotion of his students, from the day of his arrival when, on adventitious grounds, he snatched half Maclaurin's admirers—was not he, too, a bachelor, and a man of superlative charm?

It all amused him. The square, strongly-marked face is not a solemn one. He was probably amused by himself. Like Maclaurin, of whom he afterwards wrote, he, who might have chosen otherwise, had accepted an insignificant post in New Zealand, at an institution scarcely of university rank, just struggling doubtfully into existence. It was something he could see very clearly, with detachment and—oddly enough —understanding. Yet is it odd? The teacher of men was also a student of men. To consider it odd, really, would be to misunderstand his own whole character. What some people possibly found hard to understand was that the Comic Spirit —in the civilized sense—had come to Victoria College. There had also come something it had not yet had experience of, replete with virtues as its foundation professors were—the good European. His relations with his colleagues are instruct- page 58 tive: Mackenzie his mind could appreciate but hardly impinge upon; Easterfield was as remote, in a different way, too plainly English, as Mackenzie was too unsubtly Scotch; Maclaurin he admired and took advice from; Brown he made uneasy. It is perhaps not without symbolic meaning that of all the painted portraits which hang in the college library, his is the only one which is a work of art.


The New Zealand Educational Institute wanted a Chair of Pedagogy, and for a while the Council was hospitable to the idea; then, luckily, the Education Department not being financially co-operative, it was dropped. Stout wanted extension lectures in the larger towns of the Middle District, from New Plymouth and Napier all the way down to Greymouth and Hokitika, but this time it was the professorial Board which was not co-operative, even in suggesting courses— though it was sure such lectures should be of a ‘really Educational nature’. Then Stout, chasing after a fresh hare, and generally stimulated by reports of what was done in American universities, wanted correspondence classes; here even the council was untouched by enthusiasm. The Board did, in its second year, agree to give a series of public lectures, leading off with Easterfield on the Romance of Coal Tar; but the public does not seem to have been very receptive to English literature in relation to the philosophical influences of the century or the Importance of the study of Economics, and the experiment was not repeated. The Board met conscientiously in Mr Powles's back room to do its exiguous business, considering terms, and rules for the conduct of the library that had been begun, and spinning out talk till it could decently adjourn to the Blue Platter, a little tea-room at the north end of Lambton Quay, At the beginning of the second session it had to make regulations for the Discipline of Students, to page 59 be posted on the High School notice-board: there had been too much noise, there had been smoking in the precincts, inscriptions had been carved on desks. It was hoped that the good sense of students would render complaints impossible in the future; if not—our men were prepared to strike an ominous note. ‘The professorial Board will deal with any violation of a student, and in the event of repeated misconduct will visit the offence by rustication, which involves the loss of one or more sessions, or by expulsion from the College. By order of the Professorial Board’.

In that first year 46 student, out of the 115, kept terms. There were other milestones. It was in 1900 that a student took the first B.A., H. P. Richmond, to be followed by a larger crop in 1901; in 1902 James Bee and Mary Blair graduated B.Sc., and in 1903 the first LL.B. appeared, H. P. Richmond again. The first senior scholarship went in 1901 to Marion K. Wilson, in chemistry, the second to P. W. Robertson in 1903, in the same subject. Easterfield the experimenter was having his reward. In 1900 the government founded the first scholarship the college ever had of its own—that know by the name of Sir George Grey, a scholarship in science. In 1900 the first Calendar appeared, a thin pamphlet of 38 pages, bound in a not unpleasant dark red cloth (it went into blue, and ornamental lettering, in 1902). It set a permanent pattern with its calendar proper at the beginning; then came a two-page of Historical Notice couched in severely neutral tones, a page of Council in capital letters and half a page of staff in small letters; two pages on regulations and fees (‘For any course of Lectures to which five hours a week or more are given, three guineas a year; for any course of Lectures to which less than five hours a week age given, one guinea and a half a year’—English was three guineas, laboratory fees three guineas, everything else a guinea and a half); a time- page 60 table and the necessary notices on classes and text-books (here Easterfield goes down as professor and Director of the Laboratories); results of college examinations, list of students who kept terms in 1899, and a final two pages on the Queen's Scholarships. It is all very simple, though before very long the complications begin to set in. In 1902 there was a short series of benevolent suggestions to intending students. They were recommended to take during their first two years subjects they had already studied at school—English, French, Latin, Mathematics—' and to reserve for the second part of their course the more scientific and philosophical subjects'. The professorial board wished to discourage the idea that any student was likely to pass his Degree Examination in any subject on one year's work, unless he had had some previous acquaintance with the subject in question. The Chairman of the Professorial Board or any professor would be glad to advise students with regard to their work. It is obvious that experience of the colonial mind was making its impact on the professors; obvious also that that mind had its usual optimism.

Certain other important matters occupied the attention of the captains of higher education. The college must have a Seal, it must have a Motto. In 1901 the question, like so much else, was referred by the Council to a committee, which at the end of three months recommended a crown and a laurel wreath and the motto (suggested by Richmond) Sapiemtia auro magis desideranda. Adopted, these three things appear in unhappy juxtaposition on the title page of the 1902 Calendar and the cover of the college magazine, After some months of ineffectual assimilation, the revolted Professorial Board asked for a conference, and in June 1902 the more agreeable suggestion was adopted of a seal ‘lozenge-shaped with a representation of the late Queen, standing, crowned and sceptred; round the seal the legend to be “Seal of the Victoria page 61 College Wellington New Zealand 1897”’. And the motto? Richmond's suggestion re-ordered, as Sapientia magis auro desideranda, or Victrix fortuna sapientia? wisdom as the conqueror of fortune somehow seemed less attractive than the other, with its high moral tone. But then what was the status of wisdom? A desperate argument broke out over the precise meaning of those words. Was wisdom more to be desired than gold, or was lack of wisdom preferable to lack of gold? Students assailed, Brown officially defended, the Latinity of desideranda so used. Anyhow desire of wisdom was there—even if, as Easterfield flippantly suggested, it was to be desired for the sake of more gold. The motto endured.

And there was the Badge. Surely heraldry should be called on for tribute? The students were understood to be interested; but what sort of badge should it be; what sort of arms should the college bear? There was talk of the five-pointed heraldic star, or mullet of silver, with a centre of red; but was it not possible to invent something better than that? A committee produced alternative arrangements of crowns and stars, surmounted by that lion, or dubious spaniel, ‘the crest of the Duke of wellington’; and the familiar scutcheon was adopted.6


These things were being done; and while they were being done, a student body had leapt into activity. A student body —for among those mature and high-collared men and women who were storming the forts of learning by bight with such athletic enthusiasm there was from the beginning a most astonishing corporate feeling. Perhaps it was not astonishing page 62 —perhaps it was no more than natural; for they had been starved of what, in the twinkling of an eye, came to seem to them an indispensable element in their existence. Fellowship was life, and lack of fellowship was, if not exactly death, something extremely unpleasant. They had read all about universities in their books; before they had met hall-a-dozen times their college was met and drink and romance and high endeavour to them. Here at last, so they seem to have felt, was a mistress that could be loved with a pure heart, with a Galahad-like intensity; they would write her songs; they would exalt her, they would wear her colours and do battle for her; they would meet as frequently as possible and talk as much as possible and dance together as much as possible, and argue and laugh uproariously and compose high-falutin' exhortations to one another, and it should all be in her honour, the homeless and peerless one. They were abetted by their professors. Brown, with von Zedlitzs consultant, invoked the Latin muse, and in 1902 the strains of his Song of Victoria College were first raised to the air that has heard them (rather imperfectly, to be sure) so often since.

Aedem colimus Minervae
Acti Desiderio
Artes nosse liberals
Hoc in hemispherio.
Aedem colimus Musarum—

with loving care he ground the lapidary phrase. Let us cherish the abode of the muses, though under a southern star; let the youths and maidens court wisdom; here in this brotherhood, this newest of all colleges, should their professors lead them under a favouring Heaven through the laborious ways of learning in its every branch (French and Mental Science as well Classics and English?). Nor let the exercise of the body be absent; let us hasten to drive with cudgels the ball through the goal; and hark, the Ciceronian flood that orators page 63 pour forth, and their eloquent sisters, to the confounding of the very chairs!

O Victoria, sempiterna,
Sit tibi felicitas;
Alma mater, peramata,
Per aetates maneas.

O Victoria, everlasting one, bountiful mother, beloved, through the generation perdurable, happiness be thine.… It was nothing if not hopeful. Yet it was possible to gaze at the goddess, in her borrowed and sundered habitations, with the eye of faith; she was there, for the believer; the altar did not smoke for a presence altogether unknown.

Indeed there was fact as well as optimism. The learned professors were dragging their disciples along laborious ways, certainly. Oratores, oratrices?—the thunder of the Debating Society had been sounding almost as long as that other, professorial eloquence. Fuste pilam trudere?—the Hockey Club had been driving balls with cudgels, rather uncertainly, for a whole winter's season. When Brown wrote, there was a Students' Society, a Debating Society, a Hockey Club, a Tennis Club, a Christian Union; a football match had been played, the first of the Glee Clubs had even had time to be born and to die; in that very year 1902 The spike sprang into existence. The first Easter Tournament had been held.

The activities of 1899! On Saturday, 6 May, a meeting at the Girls' High School (Professor Maclaurin in the chair) decided to from a Students' Society.7 A committee was appointed to draft rules and report to another meeting on 16 May, and on that evening the Society was constituted and the first Executive elected: ‘president, Mr. J. Prendeville; Vice-Presidents, Miss M. A. Blair, S. W. Fitzherbert; Secretary, Mr. J. E. Patrick; Treasurers, Miss M. Fleming, Mr. K. Kirkealdie; Committee, Misses Ross, Greenfield, Reid, page 64 Messrs. Hutchinson, Stout, Logan and Charters’. There is a dignity, a respectability, a measured formality about this list that go with the high seriousness nd the high collars of the early photographs; ‘Mr’ and ‘Miss’ are prefixes that come naturally to the lips and the pen. Society is still a stable thing, it has its ceremonious imperatives. But that did not stop a life abounding. Pausing but to decide that the patron of the Society each year should be the chairman of the Professorial Board, the meeting went on to instruct the Committee to frame rules for a Debating Society; before the month was out the Society entertained the students at a concert and dance, ‘which was such a success that a ball was held in the Sydney Street Schoolroom on the 18th July’.

Precious, draughty, unadorned, Spartan Sydney Street Schoolroom; gone, like so much else of that departed era! Scene of how many balls and concerts, euchre parties and amateur dramatics! Centre, for how long, of whatever branch of culture in Wellington that needed a platform; and home of the alma mater for half a decade as much as the Girls' High School or the laboratories of Victoria Street; a Hazlitt, a Lamb should describe thee, no lesser pen. A Hazlitt, a Lamb—or Spike. And here is Spike, for June 1902, and mirth and culture are linked, are unrestrained. ‘Socials’ is the heading, Horace at Athens is the sub-heading.

‘It was to raise money for the Easter Tournament that a concert and play was held in the long vacation. The Students' Association Committee met at the tennis courts, appointed a Sub-committee, and instructed it to arrange for a concert and face. In a few days it was decided to produce “Horace at the University of Athens”. Mr. H. E. Nicholls, the prominent amateur, was asked to take charge of the acting, and he very kindly consented. On the 19th March the Sydney street Schoolroom was well filled. The concert programme opened with a piano solo by Mr. W. F. Furby. Mr. J. W. Hill sang in artistic page 65 style Bohm's “Still as the Night” Miss Julia Moran was heard to great advantage in a violin solo, “Reverie”, by Frunne. “For the Sake of the Past” (Mattee) was tastefully sung by Mrs. F.P. Wilson. Miss R. Richardson recited “How the La Rue Stakes were Lost”, and Mr. Douglas Jackson sang “A May morning”. Nearly all the items were encored, and Mr. A. Newton's song, descriptive of Hooligan's Fancy Dress Ball, was so much appreciated that he was brought back to relate the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet in modernized form.’

What items were not encored among that galaxy of talent, one yearns to know, and what did Mr Furby play on the piano? Horace at Athens, with gags adapted to local requirements, but even then leaving its audience in a certain bewilderment, took a page and a half of small type to describe. ‘After the play the Romans foregathered in the supper room, and asked Mr. Nicholls to accept a walking stick as a memento of the good times past—hurried rehearsals enlivened by his racy wit and good fellowship. Professor Maclaurin made the presentation.’

The next year it was in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that our students graced the boards, moulded again by the admirable Mr Nicholls; while the concert this time began with a piano duet, tastefully played by the Misses Parker and Page. And there was Mr A. Newton again, achieving signal success in his song ‘A Girton Girl’–‘describing the troubles of a young man who thought Tolstoi was a racehourse and who had to take a “new woman” to dinner. As an encore he explained why “Mother laid the carpet on the stairs”’. At this period, indeed, the college and the leaders of the local stage (a strongly comic stage) were very close together; college thanks were due, Spike would say, ‘to some of Wellington's leading musicians and reciters for the readiness with which they give their help on occasions of this kind’. But pianoforte and drama were not the extent of social entertainment, nor page 66 even recitations and violin solos. There were euchre parties and dances (Brown was a great hand at euchre) to welcome new students, or for their own sake; there was the ball the professors tendered to students; not alone in the Sydney Street Schoolroom but also in the Hall of the Girl's High School the fun waxed fast and furious.

And then the Debating Society. A debating society was a ‘necessary adjunct’ to every university, it was felt; a committee of the Students' Society had rules and standing orders ready for the inaugural meeting of 3 June 1899; Mackenzie was elected President and Maclaurin Vice-President and Chairman; Maclaurin took the chir, and Mr Fitzherbert moved ‘That any system of control of the drink traffic is inimical to the highest development of civilization’. The motion was opposed by Mr Thomson: it was lost. Debates followed in great quantity; the committee was pleased to note that they were interesting and of a spirited nature, and that the attendance was large. The Lady Principal of the Dunedin Girls' High school read a paper o Jane Austen; the next year Brown lectured on mediaeval universities and there was a mock election; then a Literary Prize and a Rhetorical Competition were instituted; the Wesleyan Literary and Debating Society was engaged in battle (Was the Anglo-Japanese Alliance detrimental to the best interests of the Empire?) and the Wesleyans won. By 1902 the Society could begin to look back; it could reflect that the services rendered by Professor Maclaurin could not be over-estimated; it could note with pleasure that the ladies were taking a far more prominent part in the debates than they had done hitherto. The only thing over which it was prepared to grieve was the fact that so few ‘outsiders’ had become members of the Society, though the rules admitted members of the University Senate and the college Council, as well as professors, lecturers and graduates of the University of New Zealand. But it seems page 67 that the citizenry were coming to debates, as audience and judges—the students were being brought ‘into closer relationship with the leading celebrities of this city and Colony’. And on went the process of argument: Was Commerce antagonistic to Art? Had any event in the history of the Colony had a more injurious effect than the dispatching of Contingents to South Africa? Would Collectivism do away with the present dispute between Capital and Labour? Was the promiscuous reading of magazines having a baneful influence on the literary taste of the day? Was the advance of the Empire due rather to the Individual or to the Nation? Should Cremation be supported or opposed? Sometimes there was a parliamentary evening, sometimes a presidential address; the Society joined the Wellington Literary and Debating Societies' Union and earned the plaudits of Sir Robert Stout; one way and another, oratory did not cease to flow.

The Christian Union, it may be claimed, was not so controversial a body, but no less fervent, It got in early. It was formed, in fact, among intending students even before the inauguration of the college, through the efforts of a Travelling Secretary. But alas! That brilliant start and those first Friday evening Bible studies did not survive the loss of the energetic first president; and it was not till the college's second session that a small number took up the task again, deciding that ‘aggressive work’ was out of the question, and that it would be better to study the life of St Paul. From then on the Christian Union continued to exist, strong in intent and in prayer, studying St Paul; calling on professors not notably Christian, except in their long-suffering, for addresses on Religious Indifference and Martin Luther; contributing to Summer Schools; and stimulated from time to time by traveling secretaries and general secretaries. The great John R. Mott had his effect; he it was who urged the Union to be broad: to be broad enough to include as associate members all right- page 68 minded students whatever their creed or beliefs, and to cultivate energetically the society of non-members; he it was who addressed the men of the College on ‘Temptations of Students in all Lands’, called on a Missionary Conference to consider the problem of Evangelization, and gave an address which would always live in the memory of those who heard it, on Why an Increasing Proportion of Students throughout the World are Becoming Christians. The Missionary Problem got more and more attention; by 1903 a volunteer band of six had been formed and had made the declaration, ‘It is my purpose, if God permit, to become a foreign missionary’. In time indeed the missionaries departed; and Victoria College arrived in China.

Corpus sanum no sit absens, sang Brown, Nor was it; September 1899 saw the Student's Society active again, appointing another committee, this time to wait on Mr Hogg, M.H.R., ‘and to obtain through him an introduction to the Government, to obtain permission to use the Parliamentary Tennis Courts’, Mr Hogg was waited upon, the Speakers of the General Assembly were interviewed, and the use of the parliamentary tennis courts was granted. The committee of the Students' Society then set up a tennis committee, and fixed the subscription of the Tennis Club at 5s per annum. The college, in borrowed corridor and open street, burst into its first wild fit of constitutional controversy. Was the Tennis Club, this first-born among the college's athletic children, to be autonomous, or was it the mere creature of a totalitarian parent, the Students' Society? Who had the power of taxation, who was to fix the subscription? The tennis committee had its own first meeting, and ‘a spirit of revolt… was at once manifest’. The committee itself drew up rules and fixed the subscription at 5s, and referred the constitution to a general meeting at the beginning of the following session. By that time the spirit of accommodation was more manifest; the Students' Society at its page 69 annual general meeting resolved that the Tennis Club should be constituted a separate body; the club agreed once more on its annual subscription and its constitution; and everybody was at last satisfied that the Tennis Club had indeed taken over those rights and privileges which had been granted by the Speakers of the General Assembly. Not quite ‘at last; the argument flared up once again, and someone lost the constitution’; but after all, the important thing was to play tennis. College clubs were to be ‘affiliated’ to the Students' Society, and to make their own arrangements. The days of a vast financial organization and a centrally held purse were not yet. There was enthusiasm; ‘the players existed through the week that they might live on Saturday’–even if Saturday was wet; they played matches with all the other clubs and won a great many of them; at the first Easter Tournament ‘the lady members particularly distinguished themselves’ (the gentlemen members were rather handicapped by having to play Mr Anthony Wilding, the champion of Canterbury).

In the first few years of the college it was hockey, probably, that was the major winter sport; at any rate it bulked larger in life than it has done since. An exclusive spotlight was not yet trained on football, basketball had not begun its almost all-conquering advance among women, and hockey was a game that might be played with bruises but satisfaction by either sex. Fuste pilam trudere, sang Brown (or von Zedlitz?). not really faced with the problem of reducing to classic brevity of statement the activities of those other muddied oafs at the goal. The origins of the Hockey Club are so nicely traced in the first number of Spike, the brief paragraphs are so perfectly of their time, that the historian has no alternative to quoting them as a whole.

‘Early last year [i.e., 1901] G. F. Dixon called a meeting of those interested in the formation of a Hockey Club, at which two or three students put in a casual appearance. After about page 70 a fortnight's hard work the promoters managed to gather 10 players together, and so challenged the Karori Hockey Club, trusting to luck, or to Hermes, the father of hockey, for an eleventh player to turn up on the ground. The challenge was accepted, and, on 18th May, those pioneers of the now flourishing Hockey Club wended their way over the hills to Karori, some walking some cycling, while others, less energetic, took the coach.’

‘Before the match a meeting was held to elect officers, which resulted as follows; Patron, His Excellency the Governor; President, Hon. Sir R. Stout, K.C.M.G.; Vice-Presidents, Professors Brown, Easterfield, Maclaurin and Mackenzie, Messrs, J. P. Firth, F. J. McDonald and D. Sladden; Capt., R. St. J. Beere; vice-Capt., H.P. Richmond; Hon, Sec. and Treas., George F. Dixon, F. A. de la Mare took the chair at this meeting, or rather sat on a hockey stick; he was the looked-for eleventh player.’

‘After this game about five of the players said they would have to give it up, as their knees, or their hearts, were not strong enough, but after two or three days' rest they recovered sufficiently to be commandeered for the next performance.’

Starting in this casual way the club, even with its officers elected so much in the grand style, started off by losing a good many matches. But it won some, it practiced on moonlight nights or frosty mornings in vacant sections or on the old Thorndon reclamation (putting the ball one night through a police inspector's window), it went on to field a junior as well as a senior team, it added other teams to these; it provided, in due course, coaches for the Ladies' Hockey Club. The Ladies'8 Hockey Club was founded in 1904, and never page 71 was there a more popular institution. The Ladies (to use their own words) demanded not only wealth of intellect, but wealth of spirit, and where could better education of the spirit come than from hockey? The Tennis Club could be respected, one could feel proud of its achievements—but after all, a tennis club, where aggregate of individualists. Not so a hockey club, where each served all, where ‘the practice of self-control and self-effacement. The generous unjealous service of another's fortune, becomes a growing part of every soul that entertains them, and strengthens with the years’. Did not their brethren, who refereed and coached, exhibit such virtue to a marked degree, while the ladies ploughed through mud and rules alike, with mutual interposition of sticks and shins? The Ladies kept on, in their large hats, large blouses, large ties, and large skirts—an animated, a devoted sisterhood with the beating of the Kiwi Club the distant goal that beckoned them on.

The clubs were catholic in their enjoyments. The students' Society might run euchre parties, but it was the Hockey Club that arranged the first ping-pong tournament (the students beat the professors), and anybody might arrange a dance, or combine in the arrangements. The captain of the Hockey Club was a notable M.C. Any function might turn into a dance, whether in the Sydney Street Schoolroom or in the Hall at the Girls' High School. Dancing was dancing, it was exercise, it was waltz and polka and schottische and lancers; beneath the lycopodium and streamers it moved with tune and vigour and high endurance. There were generally professors present. In the reciest of reminiscence the most genial of hockey-players (who never, it is true, took a degree) indicates certain amiable and not unsatisfactory irregularities; ‘You may wonder’ he writes, ‘that I say little of the dear old Profs.–I knew most of them by sight, of course, but our ways seemed to lie apart, doubtless to their lasting regret. We col- page 72 laborated occasionally none the less. One of them once asked me to fix all the lights so that none could be turned out during the progress of the winter balls. I cannot say why—those were quiet, old-fashioned times when all the Bolsheviks were still in Russia and there were on debates as to the wisdom of creating the Universe.’9


Easter 1902 saw the first Inter-University College Tournament. Our men and women were not going to be parochial in their outlook. The infant college would strive with its elders; more, it would egg them on. In 1900 the Tennis Club played a match with Canterbury College. H. P. Richmond of Victoria had the idea and passed it on to his hosts. The Canterbury students were interested, and formally proposed a tournament in athletics, tennis, and debating, to be held at Christchurch at Easter 1901. But there was no immediate enthusiasm among students anywhere, and nothing happened. Then came G. F. Dixon, of Victoria, in whom the idea blossomed with the force of revelation. Dixon was Vice-President of the Students' Society, and on the way to being President; he was a man undoubtedly to whom fellowship was life, and as he brooded a tournament came to seem for him life abounding. Yet he and his friends were tactful: they sent an unofficial and persuasive note to Canterbury, the Canterbury Athletic Club took fire again, and in August 1901 invited Victoria and Otago to Christchurch for 1902 Auckland seemed too far away—but not for Victoria; Victoria brought in Auckland, and Victoria settled down with a Training Committee during the long vacation to see what could be made of her page 73 chances, Dixon became a trainer, and made his men race him up Makara hill on Sundays, hell and toe; Dixon became Manager, Dixon became Tournament Delegate. It was apparent that Dixon, his friends noted, had found his role in life—after that first experience the Tournament became almost his, ‘Clad in a new Norfolk suit each year, with increasing badges and presentation walking-sticks and a tremendous air of here-comes-my-team-don't-shoe-any-of-'em-a-bun-till-Tuesday, the man was an institution in four cities.’10 But this was only the outset. Easterfield, the Cambridge miler, took a hand with the training, paced the team round the Basin Reserve, and coached them on the Wellington College playing field. Easterfield's influence kept the desire for gold medals in leash– if a crown of bay or wild olive was good enough for Greece, bronze would suffice for New Zealand. When the team at last went to Christchurch, three professors and two lecturers went with it, to astonish the students of the south—here was a staff who showed an interest in college life!

The leaders of the other colleges worked hard, and the tournament was a great success. The weather was good, Victoria had managed to provide competitors in every event, it ran Otago close for second Place in athletics (a contest won by the hosts); its women put it second for the tennis championship; it tied with Auckland in its part of the debating contest, though Otago carried off the verdict of the judges. Vicroria's A.S. Henderson had to put up a record for the half-mile, 2 mins. 3⅕ secs., which was to stand for nineteen years. There was a ball–‘the magnificent hall at Canterbury College’ (ah! the Sydney Street Schoolroom, those borrowed walls!) ‘was filled with youth and beauty, and the fleeting hours were all too quickly gone.’ The organizers were highly satisfied. They decided to buy a shield for athletics, a cup for tennis, and a ‘scroll shield’ for debating (here the University registrar stepped in and the Joynt Scroll began its peregrinations over New Zealand); and to go to Auckland in 1903. They were idealists. page 74 They had brought the colleges together; they had struck a blow against provincialism, they had struck a blow against professionalism in sport. In Wellington, those were delighted who saw in their fellows a too obsequious regard for examinations. There had been a quickening influence' on college life. ‘There was more real activity displayed by the students on this than on any previous occasion… in every way our students began to know one another better… Throughout the University of New Zealand,’ spike went no to say, gazing with youthful enthusiasm into the future, ‘there is now a bond of friendship and respect, which will tighten as years go by, and which will stand as long as the Tournament lasts, a safeguard against a system of mere University cram.’ One would not have thought, from the extant records, that Victoria College was in serious bondage to the system of ‘mere cram’. But its students continued to assail that erroneous ideal. Among them was the poet who crowned the tournament with numbers:

My Lord, I did attend the Olympic games–
Maid Modesty forfend I tell my deeds–
But such a goodly show of fellowship,
Such turn for speed, such thews, such sleight of hand,
Such honeyed tongues for golden oratory–
I trust I may bear witness to again.


And The spike was born, the Muses' darling, whence to quote is so tempting, so fatally easy. There was an idiom, circa 1902, ‘to have the spike’; that man who had the spike was dissatisfied with life of his fellows to the point of disgust. But The Spike was not like this. The name was taken because it was short, it was currently on many lips and would stick in the mind, and it carried an agreeable suggestion of having a point—the point perhaps of satire, a point which might prick pretensions, or goad sinful men into well-doing; for this page 75 magazine was to be run ‘as a free lance, dealing out to each and all their just meed of blame or praise without fear, prejudice, or favour’. Houstile critics said the name was unworthy of a university. Certainly the sub-title, the Victoria College review, was less intimidating.

The first number, for June 1902 (it was to be published twice in the session) was, it appears, financed largely on the proceeds of advertising space sold one afternoon to a variety of benevolent firms, from booksellers to haberdasher, by H. H. Ostler, the editor, and F.A. de la Mare. His sub. What a period piece is that first spike, in typography, advertisements and art; in its prose an verse, in its humour and its good intentions! Does it seem naive to a later generation, nurtured on the literature of so different a world? But if it was sentimental, it was honest, it made no bones about its good intentions.

‘We be wayfarers together, O Students,’ were its opening words, ‘treading the same thorny path of Studentdom, laughing at the same professorial jokes, grieving in common over the same unpalatable “swot”, playing the same games, reading the same indigestible books.… Our aims are threefold. Firstly, to make The spike and official record of the doings of the College, and of all clubs and institutions in connection with it. Secondly, to bring out the dormant talent, perhaps even genius, in both art and literature, that cannot help but exist, and too often lie hidden, amongst two hundred University students. In so doing, it is out ambition to as high a standard of literary excellence as possible. Thirdly, and perhaps our chiefest ideal, to strengthen the bonds of union and goodfellowship amongst us, to help us to take more interest in the social life of the college and our fellow-students, to foster that brotherly comradeship which, to out mind, is the chief charm of studentdom. In doing this we humbly advance the suggestion that the presence of The Spike will. page 76 in some measure, compensate for the absence of a home of our own.’

That ingratiating self-introduction was accompanied by the warning that there would be pricks. Let them not, however, penetrate beneath the skin. The magazine intended to good-humoured, and implored its potential victims to be good-humoured too. It had need to make the fervent prayer; for, by the time the second number appeared, the editors had been told a good deal about ‘journalistic etiquette’ and the law of libel. Indeed The spike was very frank—so frank that its first number had to be reprinted. Its idea of brotherly comradeship was very much a family one, it dealt faithfully with the erring—with committee members, with hockey-players who did come out to play or who played for the wrong club, with those the talked greatly in a cause but served not, with the foibles and shortcomings of professors, with the devotees of ‘mere cram’, with the New Zealand Times, and with the chairman of the college Council. More than one chairman of the college Council, as time went on, might well have taken thought before uttering words which brought upon him not so much a pinprick as a bludgeon. To be wayfarers together was a serious enterprise. Dormant talent began to awake, to be sure, mainly in terms of the humour that is so compelling for contemporaries and so impenetrable for later generations–‘Students we Have Met’, annotations on Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet, ‘In Lighter Vein’, fictitious ‘Answers to Correspondents’–and the poetry was, in the main only moderately comic; but a flowering was not far off, and Spike, while upholding the categorical imperatives of duty to the college and brotherly comradeship, was to provide the setting for some verse, at least, that was of serious value, as well as for another sort whose lasting quailties have been, on the whole, better—the verse of wit.

The advertisers, on whose generous trust so much depend- page 77 ed, display in their intimations an almost Arcadian simplicity, a tone as of some never-to-be-repeated golden age. S. & W. Mackay (praeclarum et venerabile nomen) Booksellers, offer set books for 1903 in September 1902, and a variety of standard academic literature rising in price from 3s 6d to nothing higher than 14s (theirs was the famous typographical error, ‘Comic Sections, by George Salmon’) ‘The Kash’, Willis Street, in an announcement Important to Gentlemen, proclaim The Newest in Ties, The Best Makes of Underclothing. The Very Latest in Collars, The Most Reliable Things in Gleves; Messrs Warnock & Adkins will sell suits to order (Guaranteed fit, Guaranteed Work)for £2 17s 6d and £3 3s, and costumes to order (Best Materials, Best Work) at from 50s to 65s. A student could be well-dressed. The photographs in Spike depict well-dressed students. The collars are superb.

Hockey-playing, dancing, engaging in tournament, merely mixing with ordinary unfortunate non-collegiate citizens, for purposes of identification and decoration students needed Colours. Jerseys must be coloured; ties must be coloured; Hats—the ‘straw boaters’ so dashingly worn by either sex– had hat-bands and they must be coloured. The committee of the Students Society in its first year chose a combination referred to variously as chocolate and gold, and brown and mustard-colour. But the hat-band had a large V.C. woven into the front, and the daring ones who wore it were mocked by small boys in the streets. When the Hockey Club began to sally out therefore the matter was reconsidered, and in 1901 a general meeting accepted maroon and light blue. The hockey-players were satisfied; but could a dark maroon and light blue hat-band be tolerated with the generality of female complexions? Could lady hockey-players possibly wear that insulting combination? The gallant George Prouse, who proudly wore it himself in the senior Eleven, and belonged page 78 to a musical family, consulted one of that family's friends. It was the celebrated diva Antonia Dolores. Madame agreed with the ladies. More, she swept her hand towards the gorse-clad Tinakori hills: ‘One cannot improve on Nature,’ she said Prouse went to annual general meeting of 1903 with enthusiasm, there was vast excitement, Nature and Madame triumphed.

Oh, have you heard the very latest colours of our choice?
How Johnstone tried to stem the tide and Prouse raised up his voice?
How the ladies and the Murphys in solid rank were seen?
How they waved aloft their banner of gold and olive green?11

Then, somehow to obtain the stamp of permanence, the decision was referred to the Professorial Board for its agreement, the Board referred it back for proof of irrevocable desire, the 1904 general meeting re-affirmed, colour-specimens were sent to the council, and the Council, ratifying, pasted them down in its minute-book. Olive green and old gold, however unsuccessful the attempts to render them in current fabrics may be, had survival value: there were no further attempts at change.


But the College as yet had no habitation of its own, and granted that a university is built of men, need somewhere to live if they are to live corporately. The Council had that painful problem continuously before it. In July 1899 a Mr Travers, taking a line of his of his own, favoured it with a copy of a petition he had sent to parliament, stating that as Wellington College had ceased to be affiliated to the University, its lands (which, so the argument ran, had in time past been reserved for ‘higher’ education) should be handed over to page 79 Victoria College—which petition was followed up by a bill to transfer ten of the controversial acres. The Wellington College Governors were scandalized, and the Council could raise no enthusiasm. In July 1900, while this abortive bill was pending, it received a deputation of citizen, led by the mayor, pleading on behalf of the Mount Cook site—true, the surrounding were objected to by many, but they would soon improve; the site was central, and the mayor would do all in his power. What was a mayor against Seddon? Enterprising agents began to come forward with pieces of land, at Vogeltown, Evans Bay, on Adelaide Road—none of them, obviously, of much use. And then there was a letter, a letter of such importance that it may be given in full.

1 The Development of Science at Victoria College’, in The Spike, Silver Jubilee Number, Easter 1924, pp. 44–7.

2 ‘Blair was so certain that the government would refuse that Easterfield went and saw the Minister of Education himself.

3 The reader will note that G. A. Cotton, of Victoria University College, had not yet written his Geomorphology of New Zealand.

4 There is a short, but charming, article on Kirk by Dr H. B. Fell in the New Zealand Science Review, Vol. 6, No, 2 (August 1984), pp. 43–4. Dr Fell remarks, Amid the changing panorama of new methods and new theories which had to be adopted over so long a teaching span, curious archaic survivals would remain. Thus who can forget the delight he took in an extraordinary system of rocking aquaria, whose mysterious waters were kept in constant and erratic agitation by a series of pulleys, siphons, taps and rubber tubes that he alone understood. It was the bane of all lab-boys Ever so often during dissection the class would be startled by a cacophony of gurgles, clanking glassware and shuddering cords that marked the relentless operation of that infernal machine. The corridor to the new building now cuts right through the place where this engine stood, but its lurking ghost still has possession.'

5 Or was it 10s? The records differ.

6 In 1903. ‘The Arms are vert on a fesse engrailed between three crowns or, a canton azure charged with four estoilles argent (in the from of the Southern Cross).’ They seem never to have been the subject of a formal grant by the College of Heralds. The amateurish version which lasted for forty year was redrawn for various purposes by Sam Williams (1941 and 1943) and E. Mervyn Taylor (1946).

7 The name was altered to Students' Association in 1903.

8 ‘Ladies’ or Women's? They were generally referred to as Ladies, though one stern early editor of spike insisted that they were Women. The controversial point is elsewhere referred to.

9 A, H. Bogle, ‘Some Memoirs’, in The Spike, Silver Jubilee Number, (1924), PP. 40–1.

10 Bogle again, ibid., p, 40.

11 11Capping song, 1902, Quot anni tot colores.A. H. Johnstone, a fervent hockey-player, denounced ‘the Irish compromise’, the combination of green and orange.