A chapel in the frame


For 70 years, Waikato’s only Catholic secondary school boys’ college has been without a chapel. Senior writer Mary Anne Gill goes to an art expo which the foundation behind it hopes will have spiritual results.

During the launch of the Art Expo in the old gym at the St John’s College Waikato Art Expo. Photo: Mary Anne Gill.

If walls could talk, the old gymnasium at St John’s College in Hamilton would have hundreds of stories to tell.

Another one was added to the list last month with an art expo fundraiser.

In the Frame, organised by the St John’s College Foundation, ran over three days and featured the work of 56 artists and 148 artworks.

Curator Caroline Peacocke attracted a diverse group of artists and artistic expressions including work from current and past students, a staff member and parent.

Money raised from the expo – about a third of the artwork sold over the three days – goes towards repurposing the old gym into a multi-purpose space with a dedicated sanctuary area.

In the Frame: Principal Shane Tong and Hamilton Diocese Catholic Bishop Richard Laurenson at Waikato Art Expo held in the St John’s College old gymnasium in Hamilton last month. The two were classmates at St John’s several years ago. Photo: Mary Anne Gill.

At a gala opening, principal Shane Tong said the boys-only Catholic school – which opened on its Hillcrest Road site next to Waikato University in 1962 – did not have its own chapel.

“For many years, we’ve dreamt of St John’s College having a chapel onsite which will provide a sacred space for our students and wider community.”

The school could host a fortnightly Mass for its more than 500 students and provide performing art space for up to 100 people.

There would also be a quiet space for prayer and reflection.

Guests, including Bishop Richard Laurenson, at the In the Frame art fundraiser at St John’s College in Hamilton. Photo: Mary Anne Gill.

Foundation chair David Kilbride of Cambridge

Foundation chair David Kilbride of Cambridge, who attended the college from 1981-1985 and has a history in the agricultural industry, said he hoped the expo would bring the wider college community together, build connections and raise funds for the college.

The launch night featured several old boys including new Catholic bishop Richard Laurenson, who attended the school at the same time as Tong, new papal knight Paul Barnett and business leaders from around the Waikato.

The school’s hospitality students prepared canapes and helped with service, other students set the event up, welcomed visitors and answered questions while the St John’s College Jazz combo entertained.

Hospitality students during In the Frame at St John’s College in Hamilton, clockwise from left: Andrew Constantino (Year 12), Joseph Paguio (Year 11), Emmanuel Balag-ey (Year 12), Jiyang Shi (teacher), Yeonjoon Kim (Year 11), Michael Gilman (Year 11), Raphael Ferdinands (Year 13). Photo: Supplied.

Marketing and Communications coordinator Gaby Douglas, who was presented with flowers and a gift for her part in organising the event, said the whole Catholic community came together to help.

The foundation – founded in 1999 – is a charitable trust which receives donations, grants and bequests on behalf of the school and organises fundraisers for projects such as the upgrade of the Number One playing field’s spectator area, the new Marcellin Centre gymnasium, the tennis and hockey centre and various scholarships.

Nathaniel Chong-Linwood (Year 13), William Hernandez (Year 13, obscured), Raphael Ferdinands (Year 13), Paul Norman (Jazz Teacher, obscured), Quinn Mitchell (Year 12), Yeonjoon Kim (Year 11, obscured) and Harper Mills (Year 12).entertains at In the Frame Waikato Art Expo. Photo: Mary Anne Gill.

St John’s College Jazz Band. Photo: Supplied.

Principal Shane Tong with the St John’s College Jazz Band. Photo: Supplied.

In the Frame Waikato Art Expo


In the Frame

In the Frame

In the Frame Waikato Art Expo Ben Vanderschantz. Photo: Mary Anne Gill

In the Frame Waikato Art Expo

In the Frame


St John’s College Hamilton hospitality students, from left Aston Fitzgerald and Ben Vanderschantz with maths teacher and fill in waiter Jackie Shi at In the Frame, an art expo hosted by St John’s College Foundation to raise money for a new chapel at the school. Photo: Mary Anne Gill.



About Author

Mary Anne Gill

Putāruru-born Mary Anne Gill is one of Waikato’s most experienced communications and public relations practitioners. She has won several national writing gongs including three times at the Qantas and twice at the Voyager media awards.