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The Spike Golden Jubilee Number May 1949

Inauguration of the College

Inauguration of the College

On April 12th, a very large and enthusiastic meeting was held in the Education Board's building to celebrate the opening of the College and to welcome the foundation professors. The Chair was taken by the Mayor, Mr J. R. Blair, as chief citizen. He was also Chairman of the Victoria University College Council and of the boys' and girls' colleges. There were also present the Minister of Education, the Hon. W. C. Walker, M.A.; the Chancellor of the University of New Zealand, Sir James Hector, M.D., F.R.S.; the Registrar of the University, J. W. Joynt; the Bishop of Wellington, Dr Wallis; Archbishop Redwood; Ministers of at least four other religious denominations; members of Parliament and of the Legislative Council; Mr J. P. Firth, Principal of Wellington College and members of his staff. The report of this meeting is well worthy of study at the present day.

Sir James Hector remarked that this might be regarded as the end of the thirty years' war, for the proposal for a University College in Wellington could be traced back to 1868. The Bishop of Wellington stated that Mount Cook (a large area at that time) was the best site in Wellington but referred to the building on it (an enormous prison) as a foul excrescence, which ought to be removed. The Minister of Education also doubted if the building was suitable. Had the early Wellingtonians had vision the Mount Cook site might well have become a great cultural centre. It is some consolation that the Dominion Museum and Art Gallery, the Technical College and the Carillon page 21 are on this site. At the request of his colleagues, Professor Easterfield expressed thanks for the warm welcome which had been given both at this meeting and on their arrival in Wellington. He stated that the University College could expect no permanent success unless it took a firm place in the hearts and affections of the Wellington citizens. His colleagues were enthusiastic, but they needed enthusiastic students who valued education for its own sake; they also needed a first class reference library, not merely text books. Laboratories would also be required. Above all they needed the sympathy of everyone in the city, for with this their other requirements would soon be supplied.