The St. John’s College Flag and Coat-of-Arms

With the current debate over the New Zealand flag, we thought we would shine some light on a flag designed for St John’s College that we hold in our archives here at the John Kinder Theological Library.

SJC_10_12_37 St Johns College flag

St John’s College flag [SJC 10/12/37]

SJC_10_12_37 St Johns College flagThis flag dates back to St John’s College in the 1930’s and evidence suggests it was designed by a college student, Francis Graham Harvie or at least based on his designs for the College coat-of-arms and colours (“blue, gold and silver”). Archival material held in the collections relate to F. G. Harvie’s design of the coat-of-arms for the college and a letter to Archdeacon Simkin, then Secretary to the St John’s College Trust Board, with his suggestions.

However, the coat-of-arms and in particular the symbol of St John’s eagle wasn’t very well liked by some at the College, notoriously being referred to as a “plucked chicken” in student literature. In the Diocese of Auckland Yearbook for 1950, College Warden R. E. Sutton elaborates that it has been described as the “frightened mutton-bird” or “dying hawk” and this version of the coat-of-arms “had its origin in the fertile imagination of a former warden.” The colouring on the poor bird does bring to mind a cooked chicken!

This flag has been raised periodically, having been last flown on Tuesday 11th April, 1978 where someone has added the following implicit instructions for this unfortunate flag; “never to be flown.”

‘Suggested colours for St John’s College’ F. G. Harvie [SJC 10-12-1]

‘Suggested Arms for St. John’s College’ F. G. Harvie [SJC 10-12-1]

Harvie to Archdeacon, Secretary of SJC Trust Board, p1 [SJC 10-12-1]

Harvie to Archdeacon Simkin, Secretary of SJC Trust Board, p2 [SJC 10-12-1]

William Vernon Evans

Some “strays” from what seems to have been a collection of Selwyn related books, have come our way in recent months. Amongst them, this tiny leather bound Greek Testament thought  to have belonged to William Evans, a colleague of Selwyn at Eton, who accompanied the Bishop to New Zealand in 1841.

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Inscribed To W. Evans, with the Xtian regards and best wishes of “T.P.”  Hay, October 2nd, 1846.

Evans was to be a candidate for ordination in the fledgling New Zealand Church.  Evans’ service was sadly short: the Bishop nursed him through typhoid fever, which proved to be terminal. He died and was buried in Wellington in early October 1842.  Which date leads to a puzzle over ownership.  Did the book belong to another W Evans, and if so, how did the book come to be in this collection?  Was the volume sent to New Zealand, the donor not knowing that Evans had died?

Book of Hours

The John Kinder Theological Library rare books collection holds a Book of Hours, on behalf of the Methodist Trinity College. This was originally donated to the college by the New Zealand publisher, A. H. Reed.

This beautiful item was exhibited at the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne in 2008 for an exhibition on illuminated manuscripts titled ‘The Medieval Imagination: Illuminated Manuscripts from Cambridge, Australia and New Zealand’. It is believed to have been created for a member of a monastery in Cologne from where it originates and is dated from between 1485 to 1490.

70th Anniversary of the Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that killed over 200,000 people and the only time in human history nuclear weapons have been used in warfare. Subsequently, on the 15th of August, Japan announced its surrender to the allied forces and on the 2nd of September the instrument of surrender was signed, marking the end of World War Two.

The September issue of the Church Gazette in 1945 marked this event by dedicating the issue to peace. They printed a sermon taken by the Rev. D. Stewart Miller at St. Thomas’ Church in Auckland on the 12th of August, a few days after the bombings. The sermon, titled ‘National Self-righteousness and the Atomic Bomb’, is a scathing critique on the use of atomic weapons against Japan and ponders what this means for humanity.

Interestingly, Rev. D. Stewart Miller mentions Toyohiko Kagawa, an outspoken critic of the bombings who was a Christian pacifist as well as a peace and labour activist. He is commemorated by the Episcopal Church of the United States of America on April 23rd in their Calendar of Saints.

The September 1945 issue of the Church Gazette is available to view at Church Papers Online.

1981 Springbok Tour Cross on display at Te Papa


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In 2010 we wrote about the simple wooden cross carried by St John’s College students during the 1981 Springbok Tour protests that was rediscovered here at the College amongst some discarded timber. Students from the College traveled from Auckland to the test match between the All Blacks and South Africa at Rugby Park in Hamilton on the 25th of July, 1981.

The cross was loaned to Te Papa by request and this loan agreement has just been renewed. The cross is on display in the ‘Slice of Heaven’ exhibition on New Zealand’s social history in the Twentieth Century, under the section titled ‘Diversity and Civil Rights’.

In our collections we also hold various archives that relate to the Springbok Tour:

  • Sir Paul Reeves  provincial papers. [ANG 95/1/33]
  • Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa records. Bishop’s files – Whakahuihui Vercoe [ANG 141/1/124]
  • Anglican Communications Office. Records of the Director, Peter W. Davis [ANG 161/2/8]
  • St John’s College. Dean’s Office records. Papers of Raymond Pelly, Warden, 1977-1985 [SJC 12/2/6]

The protest by the College was controversial and a statement was made during the President’s Address at the 1982 General Synod. It was printed in the official proceedings and is available at Church Papers Online here:


Remembering the ANZACs from St John’s College: Neale Fitzgerald Eager

To mark the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli an exhibition was held at the John Kinder Theological Library displaying books and archives, as well as biographies of the St John’s College students who served and were killed during World War One.  

These biographies will be posted on this blog over the next week including some significant discoveries we have made while researching these students.

Neale Fitzgerald Eager

St John’s College class photograph 1913. JKTL Archives [SJC 28-4-1]

Born: 6th November 1887.
Died: 1920 in Suez, Egypt. Died of exposure, aged 32.
Buried: Unknown.

Originally, very little was known about Neale (spelt ‘Neil’ on the memorial in the college chapel) Fitzgerald Eager, even being noted as ‘missing’ by the St. John’s College Trust Board. We know he was enrolled as a student here at St John’s College between 1911 and 1913 and that he embarked on the troop ship Star of India on October 16th, 1916.

However, recently digitised service records shows that he actually survived the war. The occupation listed on his form was ‘Divinity Student’ and was then changed to ‘Chemist’. He was discharged from the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and commissioned into the Royal Flying Corps in 1917. He died of exposure while stationed in Suez, Egypt in 1920.

Neale Fitzgerald Eager’s digitised World War One military record.

Remembering the ANZACs from St John’s College: Paul Graham Clark

To mark the 100th anniversary of ANZACs landing at Gallipoli there is currently an exhibition at the John Kinder Theological Library displaying appropriate books and archives, as well as biographies of the St John’s College students who served and were killed during World War One.  

These biographies will be posted on this blog over the next week including some significant discoveries we have made while researching these students.

Paul Graham Clark

Auckland War Memorial Museum

Auckland War Memorial Museum

Born:      9th February 1897 in Leicester, England.

Died:      26th August 1918 in Bapaume, France. Killed in action, aged 21.

Buried:   Archiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension, Pas-de-Calais, France.

Paul Graham Clark was an Auckland University College studying medicine who was also enrolled at St John’s in 1915.  He applied and was accepted for a Maria Blackett Scholarship the same year when he had to take leave of absence to enlist in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. He was initially rejected as underage and wasn’t accepted into the force until 1918. He attained the rank of Second Lieutenant.

The archives at the John Kinder Theological Library hold correspondence from Clark to the St John’s College Trust Board asking for leave from the college and whether they can hold his scholarship for him until he returns from the war. He was killed while fighting in Bapaume, France.


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