By Nick McIvor | Posted: Saturday March 16, 2019
H.L. Mencken wrote: "A home is not a mere transient shelter: its essence lies in the personalities of the people who live in it."(1) The design features of a house don't make it a home, the people who occupy it do. A big new home for 36 senior boys was proudly opened last Friday at Thomas House.
While undeniably a special addition to the hostel and history of the school, the real significance of the Peter Lewis Wing will lie in the personality it gains from the boys who will soon move in to make it their ‘home away from home’. The true nature and appeal of the wing will come from those who live in it. Based on how the boys were when entering it on Friday, a fair amount of excitement will probably be there for quite a while! In the formalities, the shifting of the project from paper to completion was recounted by Colin Murdoch on behalf of the Thomas House Redevelopment Committee. The building was then blessed by our kaumatua, Te Wera King. Then the wing’s importance to the late Peter Lewis (principal project donor) and Lewis family was conveyed by Peter’s wife Jean. She gave us a moving speech about Peter’s huge soft spot for his old friends and school, and determination to help future generations to live at Thomas House and go to Timaru Boys’.
We’re extremely grateful to everyone who donated to the project (see the article on the Thomas House Peter Lewis Wing opening for a donor list) and the 100 or more guests who were able to attend this auspicious occasion. Alongside Peter Lewis, two guests, former House staff, and longstanding Thomas House supporters, Betty Manning and Bruce Leadley, were honoured in the proceedings for their unwavering commitment to not only this project but to our boarding since the 1950s.
The Peter Lewis Wing is a versatile, self-contained building that will stand the test of time and be an integral part of our boarding for decades to come. It was, from earliest discussions to final tile, 7 years in the making. It will give some families a means to continue their long association with Thomas House and the school, and other families new to us, access to the advantages of Timaru Boys’ for the first time, and perhaps the start of a new legacy. Incidentally, this is the complete comment I made to the Herald last week but half seemed strangely absent when it went online; among some other unexpected things in the article (I can assure you, for example, that the Year 13s are not ‘living in flats across the road’!)
Thinking more about what a house can be, it was suggested by K. Gibran that: “Your house shall be not an anchor but a mast…” In this sense we hope those living in The Peter Lewis Wing find that it directs and guides them to personal growth through boarding. If it gives them anchorage or a sound base for living in Timaru that won’t be a bad thing either.