Before I discuss what Bledisloe means to me, I better quickly talk about what I’m supposed to be doing. 2018 was another typical year for Bledisloe. Starting the year off with 5th place at both swimming sports and athletics, it is safe to say that disappointment did begin to pull down our spirits. Touch offered little hope when we tied for 4th place with Hobson, yet Basketball did provide us some motivation shortly after with a 2nd place finish. However, subsequent placings of 5th, 4th, 5th, and 4th in cross country, the quiz, badminton, and speeches really hit home for the boys. That is until THE BOYS CAME THROUGH WITH A WIN BABY! Volleyball saw us finally take victory for the year. “Could this be a turning point?” I questioned myself. Well, no. Another 4th place at the annual haka chopped down this idea rather quickly. At football, we took home 3rd equal with Hobson, leaving only the academic competition to go. At this point in time, I began to realise that Carruth was in our reach. We might not get last this year! Though, as I am writing this ahead of time, I haven’t yet learned the fate of our place. If we do manage to get 4th overall, well, it’ll sure be better than last.
With all my time at Whangarei Boys’ High, this year I’ve come to think a lot about what Bledisloe is as a whanau. Shakespeare once said that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and this can be applied to Bledisloe in my opinion. Unlike the other whanau, we’re rarely successful in what comes down to an ultimately pointless struggle for points. The annual attempt of whanau captains to lead their boys and emerge as the “top whanau of the year”, continues to elude Bledisloe. Come on though, who are we kidding, this isn’t Hogwarts where they have an overnight celebration in the great hall over Gryffindor inevitably winning, followed by a rousing speech from Dumbledore.
Bledisloe is not just a whanau. It is somewhat of a social experiment. Since I first came here in 2014, it seems that the big, intimidating boys are always put into Carruth, the boys who try too hard get into Grey, the wealthy boys into Hobson, the middle-class white boys into Marsden, and then leftovers into Bledisloe. In short, Bledisloe is where the divergent end up. The result of this experiment has been endless, unfair discrimination of my boys, with Bledisloe being constantly compared to other whanau groups, in a competition seemingly rigged against us. When people walk through the school’s prestigious hall, they notice the inter-whanau scoreboard and comment on the state of the competition. It usually goes something like; “Carruth’s doing well at 21, Grey close behind at 20.5, Hobson’s doing not bad at 19 and overall a tight race with Marsden coming in fourth with 18.5. Oh, and there’s Bledisloe”. You see, there is a clever maths trick you can normally do to calculate Bledisloe’s points at any moment in time, which is simply grabbing the points of the Whanau in fourth place, halving them and then subtracting 2 for good measure. Though it was closer this year, it’s a good general rule to follow. There’s always gonna be outliers, this year and 2016 included.
The point of all this not to degrade my whanau or the boys, but to instead remark on and commend the incredible resilience this collective I have been proud to lead continues to be. Regularly not winning the whanau competition would break lesser men, but the Bledisloe boys have shown outstanding spirit in never letting it get to them. Those lucky to be in Bledisloe are smart, realising that high school consists of more than just chasing points that continue to evade us. Instead, it is about making meaningful connections with those that we surround ourselves with. It is said that every time you clap a child in Africa dies, which is truly sobering to think about. Life is a fragile thing, and can be stripped from us without a moment’s’ warning – and in Bledisloe, the boys’ make the most of every moment.
I have been proud to lead Bledisloe. Yeah, trophies aren’t our thing, and we clearly are not big on scoreboards either. But, if there is one thing that is; it’s the camaraderie we have in each other. So I say this – if you are ever lucky enough to be put into Bledisloe as a Year 9: don’t moan, don’t complain, you have just been joined a brotherhood that you will remember for the rest of your days.
Thank you Aby, Adrian, Carrell, Corto, Koby, Kurt, Nik, Ollie, and even Jared. This would’ve been a lot harder without you lads by my side.
Bledisloe Whanau Captain