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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 17, No. 7. April 29, 1953

The Late Sir Thomas Hunter

The Late Sir Thomas Hunter

Sir Thomas Hunter

On the occasion of the retirement of the late Sir Thomas Hunter from the position of Principal of this college. Dr. J. C Beaglehole wrote these words in "Salient." The tribute is greater than this pen could hope to achieve, one may be forgiven for quoting them here:

"In the widest sense one realises. Hunter has been one of the main driving forces behind education in our country in our time; he has not been merely a mechanic tinkering away with the insides of the University of New Zealand, swearing at times moderately. His capacity has been enormous.

Hunter could have run Cambridge or Harvard or London; and yet we need, we must have, men of his calibre in New Zealand or we become quite futiulle. He has been one of our main bulwarks against futility. Bulwarks?—no that's not the right metaphor, there is too much of passive solidarity about it, and Hunter has been anything but passive. We may have taken shelter behind him, but that was because he was in front, very dexterous with a sword, very agile on his feet—beautiful footwork indeed—very much the leader to battle and the in-fighter too. Yet it would be wrong to think of him as the swordsman "merely, a sort of reckless D'Arlagnan taking on the multitudes, and his struggle has never been a subaltern's war; he has had generalship, not merely a clever wrist, strategy as well as tactics. To watch the transaction by which a somewhat dubious idea has beneath Hunter' fostering care, become triumph fact has always been rewarding for the spectator; Indeed if you know what is happening, It is both rewarding and entertaining. The history of the college, and of the university, is studded with memorials of Hunter erected in this way. Few of them, however, bear his name. There are some people, of course, whom the strategy of direct approach has tended to exasperate . . . We have not outgrown the utility of minds like Hunter; we never shall."

As an ardent follower of the Rugby Club, of whose first fifteen he was once captain, as an leader of the college, as a progressive and far sighted administrator, as a personality, as an individual with whom the students' executive sometimes came into conflict, as all these things, he was known and respected both within the college, and outside of It. He was essentially wrapped up in Victoria. It would be hard to find one so typical as he of a person devoted to a college and a cause.

To the younger student Sir Thomas is only a name; to the older student he is a memory: to both he can be an ideal. He is part of our heritage.