Pride in Belonging

20 February 2023

Greetings to all our Old Boy members,

I had intended in this first Gravel of 2023 to reflect on the familiar family names of prize-winners at the Rathkeale Prize Giving that I attended at the end of last year (and even the likeness in looks to their fathers, in some cases). I was also going to relate the surprising number of Old Boys I met while sailing over the holidays (not a pastime traditionally associated with Rathkeale). However, the January floods in Auckland and Northland, and now, with even more devastation, Cyclone Gabrielle, means this Gravel is focused on the well-being of our members who are affected.

As I write this, the news is still emerging of the devastation caused by Gabrielle in Hawkes Bay and Tairawhiti. Some communities are still isolated. Homes and infrastructure alike have been wrecked and most poignantly, the death toll is still rising. A staggering number of people have been displaced. Like many of us who are not there, I have been shocked by the photographs of the damage, especially in the Esk Valley. The sheer volume of water, silt and debris carried with it is hard to comprehend. The reality for those who are affected, and those on the ground, must be daunting. Many of us will have heard stories from those we know of desperate rescues and terrifying escapes. Some of us may know the families who have lost loved ones or who are still searching for them. Many friends will have had properties, orchards, farms, and businesses wrecked.

As an organisation, the Old Boys have obvious links to the people that have suffered damage this summer. Gisborne and Hawkes Bay sent many of their sons to Rathkeale - in the 1980s they made long trips to and fro in dusty Ford Falcon station wagons. Exeats were often too short to make the trip and either parents came down for matches or boys stayed in the Wairarapa with friends. After their school days, many Old Boys returned, sooner or later, to Hawkes Bay especially, and some will have been directly affected by the flooding there. There is a photo of our December 2022 Hawkes Bay Dinner below, and I wonder how many of those attending are now dealing with flood damage. Of course, others in Gisborne and Northland may also have been affected (we have addresses for over 20 Old Boys in Northland on our database). There are hundreds of ROBA members in Auckland and I know at least one of my good friends from school has suffered flooding damage on the North Shore.

With so many connections to those affected by these weather events, and the scale of the damage, especially in Hawkes Bay, a question on many people's minds is how they can help those who have been harmed? Common answers are to donate to recognised charities such as Red Cross and Rural Support Trust. Some people are directly in touch with those who need help and are delivering directly to them (where they can get access). Anecdotally, over the weekend there were apparently utes and trailers heading north, loaded with household goods that will doubtless be gratefully received. Farmers have apparently been donating stock feed and transport operators have been carting it to where it is needed. However, for those who want to help, but have neither needed goods, nor a specific recipient in mind, the consensus seems to be that donating money to the targeted relief funds of the major charities is the best thing to do.

Another meaningful way you can help support those of our members that have been affected is to just get in contact with them. If there is an Old Boy you know whose farm has been trashed, whose business has been flooded or has mud up the wall at home, give them a call. They will have had a rough week and a few words of encouragement and support might be well received. You can find members' contact details on our web page here (login to the Directory then search by region or surname). Likewise, if you are unsure whether an old school friend has been affected by the recent events, wherever they are in the country, now would be a good time to look them up. Assuming they have power and/or Internet, they are bound to appreciate a call or an email.

To all our members who have been affected by these weather events, I hope you receive the support (material and non-material) to get you through these tough times. To all our members who are not affected, but can do something to help those that are, I encourage you to do so.


Ed Cox
Rathkeale Old Boys' Association

Click here to update your email preferences.

MoST Content Management V3.0.8886