School days: Villa Maria College 1958 – 66

Posted on November 22nd, 2014 by Chris.

This year I was contacted by the staff of Villa Maria College. I attended Villa from Standard 3 in 1958 – 1966.They asked me to write about my thoughts and memories; about the impressions which have remained throughout my life. The article is now presented in the October VMail / magazine and I include the script as a part of this blog.

Christine Smith 1958 – 66:

Two images represent the memories I hold of Villa Maria. The first is of a figure bent double in the fields to the right as we entered the school grounds from Peer Street. Mr Chin tended the practical nourishment of Villa’s requirements for the staff and boarders. Daily, he would tend and each season he would reap.

The other is the beautiful Magnolia Tree which stood at the corner of the boarding school and along from the music room. It’s tender yet pithy petals on display signified the Spring of our lives. It bloomed as exams approached. These annual events, like Mr Chin’s sowing and reaping, taught me to grasp the concept of finding balance, of giving and taking, of tending and nourishing and of recognising the right context in which to flourish.
I entered standard three in 1958. Our classrooms were flanked by the typing corridor, the old school hall and the laundry. On winter mornings we sat on the steps outside our rooms and drank steaming Milo from mugs which we brought from home. Eventually, the laundry buildings were demolished to make way for our new school hall built by donations, the proceeds from the annual school fete and the usual funding from the Church and the State.
The Hall had great acoustics and it was here I continued to develop my innate understanding of resonance and vibrations: silence and sound.  My love of music was something I could share with the students and I formed a Folk Music Club with the greatest membership the school had seen with approximately 150 members. We met weekly and spent hours engaged in the pursuit of group participation, new repertoire and inviting guests to perform for and with us. My public career  conflicted with my school  prefecture but this was eventually resolved and I was permitted to continue both.
After leaving Villa Maria in 1966 I continued my career in Television, Concert Performance, Radio and Recording throughout NZ and Australia.
Life has seasons and the next became a time of personal growth and marriage with the birth of my three children. We moved to Brisbane, Australia and as the children grew I began to share with them and with their schools my love of music. Eventually, I became employed by both State and Catholic Education Departments, where for nearly a decade I became a music specialist in primary and secondary schools. Jacarandas bloomed during their exams.
We returned to Christchurch in 1993 and in 1996 I commenced a life of studentship and as a mature-age student completed a double major in Political Science and Sociology, a Grad. dip. Teaching and Learning at the Chch College of Education the Cambridge University’s CELTA and Cert TESOL at CPIT. I taught at Canterbury University and at CPIT on Graduation.
When my children traveled overseas I decided to use my transportable skills in education and accepted a posting first in the Oil and Gas Industry and subsequently in The Aeronautical Industry in Qatar where I remained for seven years until 2013.
I am currently enjoying time to review life in Melbourne, Australia and like Mr Chin I continue to tend and reap the bounty with which I have been blessed.  This is the winter of my life and soon the Magnolia and Jacaranda will blossom as I examine what I still have to share.
This photograph was taken by my son, Daniel Batkin-Smith. He resides in London and you can view his work through
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