Making friends for life at Weir House
My first year living in Weir House was a great time. I made friends for life in that place and can still remember throwing open my sash window to talk across the courtyard.
Inspired to teach English
Caroline (Shuhui) Du
I would like to say that I have met lots of intelligent and nice people including teachers and schoolmates here. I completed a Graduate Diploma and MA in TESOL here. During these courses, I learned a lot from my teachers and classmates. Their thoughts keep inspiring me on my English teaching career.
Most importantly, I would like to thank our course coordinator, Jonathan Newton, who is in charge of the MA programme in TESOL and Applied Linguistics. He is an excellent teacher and intelligent linguistic expert. I not only learned professional knowledge and teaching skills from his class, but also the way he organises and engages students with learning activities.
Welcome to windy Wellington
When I stepped out of the plane at Wellington airport in February 1973, I was greeted by a cold wind, my first taste of Windy Wellington. Inside the airport terminal, I was greeted by Susan, the overseas student coordinator. She made me feel most welcome on my first day there.
Over the course of the next 4 years at Victoria University, I remember with great fondness and nostalgia the fellow Kiwi students that I travelled with to Mt Ruapehu for our ski trip in after a 3-month training course at the Uni Gym. I will never forget Alan and Bob, our Gym instructors, Alice, Brian and everyone who helped me when I fractured my left ankle on the last day.
Looking at the harbour from the library
Karamjit Singh (Gurusham)
I really have very good memories of New Zealand, such a beautiful country. I still tell friends "if one really want to see heaven on earth, visit New Zealand". Wellington is such a beautiful city. Like taking the cable car from Lambton Quay to Weir House where I stayed in my first year. Second year, I went flatting. I used to rent a flat on The Terrace opposite Stuart Williamson house, which was a student hostel. My girlfriend was from Cambridge in the Waikato, and she was doing a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Psychology. The University of Waikato did not exist at that time.
Watching the harbour while studying at the library, what a sight. I have very fond memories of my first summertime job working as a steward on the ferries from Wellington to Picton. The pay was really good. You worked for one week and got paid for two weeks.
Meeting friends from every corner of the world
I would like to share my great time studying at Victoria, my fondness of living in Wellington with its beautiful landscape and people, meeting with friends from every corner of the world.
This picture is of NZ ASEAN Scholarship students taken during the inception week in 2013.
Capping Week toilets stunt
As a stunt for Capping Week (I think it was, or Fresher's Week), a small group of us created and posted official-looking notices around the library and on all the noticeboards advising that, with immediate effect, all toilets had been de-segregated.
Our prank caught the eye of the dear old Evening Post and elicited public comment and condemnation from a number of luminaries, including the then-head of a well-known local private boys school.
Volunteer work recognised by the Governor-General
Hyginus Lester Junior Lee
This picture was taken in April 2006 with the Governor-General of New Zealand, the Honorable Dame Silvia Cartwright, at the Government House, Wellington.
It was a reception for volunteers—I was a volunteer at the Presbyterian Charity Shop when I was an undergraduate at Vic. I also had a job as Vic Crew (Victoria International Meeting Representative).
Being helped by the International Student Office
VUW's international student office was of great help for international students like me and many others. Adjusting to a new environment with our own upbringing and "baggage" was/is never easy. As for me, as a single mother with 3 very young children who also joined me in Wellington, such support has been greatly appreciated. The Office was super supportive in helping us finding ways to address every hurdle.
I am the one in blue with a headscarf. The other two ladies are also VUW Alumni from Indonesia, who also received scholarships from NZAID. The three cute girls are all mine!
Staying warm in the old library
The afternoon sun coming through the colourful stained glass windows of the Library when it was in the Hunter Building. It was the warmest place to be on cold winter days. I was completing my Chartered Accountancy qualifications with BCom units.
Summer Shakespeare in the Quad
Maryanne Cathro (Hughes)
Before I was even a student, I got involved in the Summer Shakespeare and in 1983 ended up costuming and being a witch in Macbeth. In those days the Quad was still open to the sky and made a most dramatic setting.
The post-apocalyptic-meets-1980s fashion aesthetic meant that my waist-length hair was teased and sprayed into a massive knotty mess, including little plaits with bones and feathers attached. It was my job, among others, to swing a real flaming torch around in the air dramatically before running off the stage with it. I think it is a miracle that a spark never set my hair on fire!
Remembering the late Piri Sciascia
I was moved to be welcomed to Victoria in my language, Italian, by the late Piri Sciascia, a distinguished Māori of Italian descent. I subsequently helped him bring together his Sciascia whanau. The last message I received from him was via Messenger the day before he passed away. I have learned a great deal from him and I miss him dearly. Every year on Facebook I livestreamed a birthday message – he enjoyed receiving it.
Interesting and enlightening discussions
Even after more than 10 years since my graduation, I still miss the happy and supportive atmosphere at Pipitea Campus, the interesting and enlightening discussions with my lecturers, my fellow students and the Kiwi lifestyle...
Meeting my wife in the Extravaganza chorus line
Edward (Ted) Woodfield
Extravaganza – in which I participated in the male ballet (1954); chorus (1955); in a minor role (1956); and as Controller (1957) – all three-act satirical productions drawing on the themes and music of the latest Broadway shows.
The highly talented producers were Bill Sheat and Ian Rich, with support from Huddy Williamson (Stage Manager) and Garth Young (Musical Director). We played to full houses for a week at the Wellington Opera House and on tour in Palmerston North and Hastings, with profits going to local charities.
Memorable for the content, the wide acknowledgement of the high standard of the performances, and the friendships established, the most significant for me being meeting in the chorus line in 1955, Janet Court (graduated BSc in 1959) – my wife now for 62 years.
Plays in French and Italian
The frequent lunches organised by romance language students (studying French and/or Italian) on the fifth floor of the Von Zedlitz building, which many of the teachers also attended, were a pleasant moment to get together and also practice our foreign language(s).
Likewise, the several plays put on by the French society students in the university theatre (I remember in particular the Malade Imaginaire by Molière) were great moments. The Italian lecturer David Groves also directed some plays in Italian which I took part in (the Grande Pantomima by Dario Fo was a great production - I can still remember some of my lines!).
All in all a great atmosphere in those two departments and excellent relations between the teachers and students.
Wellington under water in fossil finds
- Geology field school in the Wairarapa: seeing fossils, in situ, that made me realise that, not so long ago, the Wellington area was under the sea, whose waters were warmer than those today.
- Geology field trip to Red Rocks: Prof Lauder demonstrating that basaltic lava once flowed on the Makara coast.
- Geology III class: Professor Wellman assuring us that the world would soon learn that continents moved.
- Geology I class: Professor Clark recounting his descent onto Whaka'ari by parachute.
Best time of my life
I was in ELTO intake 47 in the theme of Good Governance. During my time at VUW it was amazing and memorable. I love the construction of the building and histories of them.
Lecturers are kind and helpful. Additionally, intercultural communication was not a barrier for those of us from ASEAN countries because the university and government of NZ made good arrangements.
The picture of the library there is still stored in my head with the variety of books, documents and other materials. It was the best time ever in my life. I hope I can go back one day. Happy 125 years.
This picture is from when we had lunch outdoors due to it being a lovely sunny day.
Pre-restoration Hunter building
The Hunter building – before the restoration! It was a great echoing and fascinating space place.
I was a grad student in the Physics department. I had an office on the top floor. The window wouldn't shut because there was a branch of a rata tree growing into the frame. There was a tame mouse that would occasionally come out for a stroll across the carpet. There was a huge copy of a James Thurber cartoon ("What do you mean you heard a seal bark?") drawn on the wall by some previous incumbent.
You could hear music drifting down the corridors because the Music department was the only other one in the building. A colleague's girlfriend was offering haircuts in an empty office for a while, and we had a table tennis table in the old law library. I'll bet it's not as much fun now!
Classmates from around the world
Son Thai (Thai Ngoc Son)
I enjoyed studying with my global mates.
This photo shows me, my lecturer, and my classmates.
Falling in love with Aotearoa New Zealand
Nurain Farhana Sairin
Being an RA in Stafford Halls. One of my best memories, as it was uncommon for a Malaysian like me to acquire such position as it would force me out of my comfort zone. I learned so much, of the culture, of the people, and I fell immensely in love with Aotearoa. Will be back one day!
Weeping over James K. Baxter
I took a ridiculous number of literature credits in my English Language and Literature Bachelor's degree. So many of the English Department faculty stick in my memory. I recall how Fr. Frank McKay, lecturer in NZ Literature and biographer of James K. Baxter, would weep when talking about New Zealand's great poet.
Debating censorship with Patricia Bartlett
I debated with Patricia Bartlett in the Student Union building. The topic was censorship. The debate took place on Wednesday 13 March, 1985. Patricia was speaking on behalf of the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards (she was the secretary). I was the anti-censorship spokesman. We had a great debate!
Relying on a rat’s sense of direction to pass Psychology stage 3
My fondest student memory is when my not-so-smart lab rat finally ran through the maze. I had despaired that this Psychology stage 3 experiment would never be completed. Also, I’d be a perpetual student due to that rat having directionality issues! At long last, that rat and I successfully completed that experimental maze and I felt we’d both passed Psychology stage 3!
The women’s common room
Annette O’Sullivan (née Daniel)
My most vivid memories from attending lectures in the late 1950s are of studying in the old library with its beautiful window and secondly the separate woman’s common room. (A strange concept for today’s students who would wonder why the need to have a separate room!) The much smaller (in proportion) number of women shared a tiny room in the old building. Very cramped!
My fondest memories are of the lecturers: Munz, Gordon, Bailey, Campbell, Bertram, and many others.
The silence of the old Hunter Building library
Studying in the old Hunter Building library! Walking up the hallway surrounded by all that mellow, golden brown panelling into the equally mellow, wooden library! The long wooden table down the centre of that long room lined on both sides with silent students, heads down, studying—the silence. Painfully, slowly pulling out a chair, terrified of making it squeak on the floor, and incurring the ‘shushes’ of fellow students.
No knitting in Political Science tutorials
Rosalie Barry (née Erikson)
Being in a Political Science tutorial. Our group was mainly males (including a future Prime Minister). The Professor commenced by telling the few women in the class that he did not expect them to bring their knitting! Despite this comment he was an amazing lecturer and when he died quite unexpectedly early in the year, we were all very saddened and a huge crowd attended his funeral service.
The best commerce degree in New Zealand
Perhaps not my ‘fondest’ memory, but I always was proud that Vic changed commerce degrees in New Zealand in the late 60’s by moving from the BCom to the BCA, with QA [Quantitative Analysis] as a key filter to make sure students had a good maths base.
Roy Sidebotham, Geoff Schmit, and Graham Folgaberg with Don Trow combined innovation, academic excellence and commercial experience to give us who graduated the best commerce degree in New Zealand. Well done Victoria Uni.
Artificial ski slope in the gym
A quirky memory is the artificial ski slope in the gym. It wasn’t very long and had a surface like giant toothbrush bristles (early 1970s).
Support for Pasifika education
- First university in New Zealand to accept Samoan language to be taught in its programme.
- One of the first Pacific Island students to have graduated in the 21st century.
- Tremendous support—financially and academically—I received from Victoria Uni during my studies (1995–1999). Thank you for that support.
Rushing to get the cable car
I was studying at Vic to attain my Master’s in Palliative Care with nurses from all over New Zealand. Our challenge was always the last-minute rush to get on the cable car to be on time for lectures. We usually made it!! Was a great time in my career.
Inspirational lecturers inspired a lifelong love of learning
1977…a young mum (baby in the VUW creche), left school at 13, nervously made my way to an Education 101 lecture. Lucky enough to have Jack Shallcrass as a lecturer. No notes, no PowerPoint…just an inspirational, compassionate and knowledgeable man talking about a subject he was passionate about. He opened my mind and inspired a lifelong love of learning. Similar experience the year before learning Hebrew at night classes with Lloyd Geering. So lucky!
Refusing to teach women in trousers
This is an indication of how society—and expectations of woman—have changed since the 1960s.
In an English lecture in my second year, the lecturer—a somewhat stern character (from England I think)—said at the beginning of class: “I am not prepared to teach this session while there is a girl here wearing trousers.” I think the poor girl left—needless to say that although the rest of us were wearing skirts we were aghast at his attitude!!
Breaking the rules at Weir House
I very much enjoyed my year at Weir House, especially spiriting my girlfriend into our bedroom against the rules and also maintaining an illegal liquor supply in our bedroom. Academic pursuits were not high on the agenda until the latter stages of my law degree and studying for LLM.
Getting a second chance at education
As a very mature student I have great memories of mixing (both within classes and socially) with the ‘young brigade’. For a few years I was able to live a life that I had missed out on as a 20-year-old. I also cherish the period as one of getting a second chance at education.
Not always paying attention in class
- Students throwing paper darts at lecturers during classes and talking.
- Reading newspapers while lecturer teaching classes; booing the lecturers.
- Being penalised for not speaking up at tutorials or keeping quiet.
- The understanding and knowledge of different cultures and races and language and schooling systems by staff and New Zealanders in general.
Struggling to stay awake in evening classes
In the early 1960s, BCom lectures were at night. We were expected to work during the day and learn and study at night. I remember especially ‘Trustee Law’ lectures were 5-7 pm on a Friday night!! Very hard to keep awake!
Three women in the whole lecture theatre
There were very few women studying for a BCom in 1960s. I remember studying in the brand new Easterfield big lecture room. The three women in the class sat in the front row surrounded by our male friends.
After bringing up a family I went back to Vic and when studying for the new BCA degree (which I finished in 1980) over a quarter of the class were female. Big change!
No women’s toilets in Hunter building
Did you know that in 1972 there was no female toilets in the Hunter building? When I queried it, I was told that there were so few female students when the Hunter building was built that it wasn’t considered necessary!
Classics, cricket, rugby and a Rhodes scholarship
The small (four academic staff) Classics department was a compact and supportive community. Not flashy but very sound scholarship; it took me to a Rhodes Scholarship and a first-class degree at Oxford. The library was a magnificent setting in which arts students could study together. Cricket and rugby practice on Kelburn Park; my 3rd grade coach was the university registrar.
Studying abroad to learn about history and culture
Having the opportunity to go on exchange and study abroad was the best! I even met up with one of my lecturers in my exchange city and he was able to teach me more about the history and culture of the country, and recommend places to visit. It was such a fun experience and VUW made the experience and transferring credits super easy. I especially loved my final undergraduate year and getting the chance to take more specialised papers with like-minded peers.
Graduation as a distance student
My fondest memory of my studies at the postgraduate School of Nursing and Midwifery at Victoria University of Wellington was my graduation. In particular, the capping ceremony at the Michael Fowler Centre. As a distance education student, this was my most poignant memory.
Learning to ski on the dry ski slope
Learning to ski on the dry ski slope with friends cheering when I eventually reached the bottom and was still upright.
What being at university is all about
I remember dancing out of an English Shakespearean lecture given by Professor McKenzie in 1979. I thought: ‘This intellectual stimulation is what being at university is all about.’
I’ve never forgotten that upwelling joy. Back then about 3 percent of the population ended up at university, now it’s more than 33 percent.
First university student in my family
I have so many fond memories of my study at VUW. As a mature student and first in family, I thoroughly enjoyed my time studying at Vic. Many of my sociology and criminology lectures were essential for developing my critical thinking, and for giving me the tools to carry on—I was a single parent at the time. I loved the Hunter building and thoroughly enjoyed graduation! Thank you Te Herenga Waka!
Fortunate to graduate
I feel fortunate that I graduated at all even though I was usually a reasonable enough student. I just got one A pass, at stage 1 level. My BSc hinged on getting absolute borderline passes in two closely related subjects at stage III. I withdrew from BSc(Hons) the next year. My MSc in an entirely different and favourite subject was obtained by aegrotat pass (class of 1964) so I did not sit the final exam for it. Then in 1965 as a part-time student I withdrew from an evening-course subject at the university. Was glad that I didn’t have to find out too much that failing hurts.
First lecture in Easterfield building
1960, the first English lecture. The first lecture in 006 in the new Easterfield block. Lovely Professor Tom Gordon who said the same thing in three ways so the dreaded note writing was easy. I was in the front row on his left so figured in the photo that appeared in the Evening Post. Probably the same theatre as the one on the other side.