Last term was the end of an era for Te Kuiti High School with the retirement of Bruce Stephens as Principal. Bruce completed 40 years of Service at Te Kuiti High with the last 15 years as Principal and has contributed immensely to secondary schools sport not only in Te Kuiti but across the region.
In 1970 as young teacher at Ngaruawahia High school he coached the 1st XV including taking to them Fiji. An excellent rugby player himself as representative for NZ University, Waikato and King Country teams in the mid-70’s.
His extensive support of rugby through coaching at Te Kuiti High School spanned the many years from graded teams in early days to the 1st XV until he became principal. His summer passion was supporting a strong local tennis base at school and community as a player, coach and club captain.
He has been an excellent advocate for ensuring recognition and connections for rural sporting students in towns like Te Kuiti, especially when school rolls dropped with loss of government departments and the full hospital facilities in town in the mid 80’s. He was the initiator of integrating King Country school rugby teams into Waikato school competitions and as a recent member of the Waikato Secondary Schools Sport Association Executive he has continued as a voice for rural secondary schools in sport.
During his years of Service at Te Kuiti High School it has continued to deliver the traditional sports. Bruce has also encouraged diversity in recent years for sports of growth or significance for the student population like Badminton, Basketball, Futsal, Ki O Rahi, Waka-Ama, and Touch.
Ki-o-Rahi is an Iwi based sport appealing to all ages, both Maaori and non-Maaori and with a large following in Nehenehenui/North King Country. The inaugural event was hosted by Te Kuiti High School at the end of Term 3. Five teams competed with the two top teams, Te Kuiti High School and Piopio College qualifying for Nationals in early 2019.
As this was the first year of this sort of competition; Te Kuiti High School coaches and sports department consulted with Waikato Secondary Schools Sports Association, Waikato/Tainui Ki-o-Rahi and the National Secondary Schools Ki-o-Rahi body regarding the name and officially making this event as a qualifying tournament from 2018 and beyond.
Ki-o-Rahi is a growing sport right across New Zealand and this is the first step in ensuring rural areas and smaller rural schools are represented at Nationals.
The National tournament will grow in numbers and importance on the secondary school calendar and provide an iwi based sport that appeals to all ages, both Maaori and non-Maaori, as well as other ethnicities.