College – Issue 39

BEQUESTS & LEGACIES Oceans, farms and rhododendrons

Roland Fraser Stead (4711) may be 96 but he is just as clear of mind and beautifully spoken today as he was decades ago when he boarded in Jacobs House.

Roland’s home was in Ilam, the magnificent dwelling which now serves as the University of Canterbury Staff Club amid the stunning Ilam Gardens established by his parents, but he was a boarder at College, from 1937–40 learning early about independence and self-responsibility. He can remember vividly his Headmaster, RJ Richards. Whilst not a strong academic, Roland loved sport and had his heart set on tennis. “However, Richards said that was not a team sport, so I did rowing instead. This was new to Christ’s College at the time. Biking down there to Kerr’s Reach against the easterly. Rowing saved my life! Artie Dunn, the Housemaster of Flower’s was the rowing master and he looked after me, and ensured I passed the subjects I should – and I won the single sculls and was in the rowing four. We went up to Wanganui Collegiate and rowed against them once.” When he left school he sailed on the Ruahine to Glasgow and joined the English Navy “because New Zealand didn’t have one!” He trained on the east coast of England and was posted to ships

in the British navy including the flagship, The Duke of York. With demobilisation, he came back to New Zealand, crossing the Mediterranean and sailing from Egypt to South Africa in a tank landing craft which later sank. Meanwhile, his father, a scientist and ornithologist, had continued a passion for rhododendrons and azaleas – the gardens at the Ilam Homestead bear testimony. “My father was always being approached to subdivide land there, but he refused and said ‘this property is not for division’.” Eight years after his death, the university then approached Roland who adopted the same view. “But I said if you buy Ilam, you buy it as a whole and keep it as a whole – and they’ve honoured it.” Roland then went farming in Rangiora and Amberley for 20 years, enjoying the outdoor life, before returning to live in Clyde Road and now in the Merivale Retirement Village. He’s had many adventures – including being on the Wahine when it sank after striking Barrett Reef at the entrance to Wellington Harbour.

“After all that time on ships during the war, I knew I had to jump, and I was just lucky that I got picked up quite quickly.” Roland has long been generous with his support of multiple worthwhile causes. College has always interested him, and he has frequently given to the annual appeal. He has made a bequest to College, leaving it to the trustees to decide how best to use it. “They will make the decisions. They’re on the spot and they will know what the school needs at the time. If I specify something now, it may be way down the list in the future.”

Christ’s College Canterbury


Made with FlippingBook Ebook Creator