In 1974, the last year of high school, in the seventh form (year 12 in Australia), I went from the most liberal government high school on the planet in the 1970s, Onslow College in Wellington, New Zealand, to the most repressive government high school on the planet in the 1970s, Rutherford College in Te Atatu North, Auckland, New Zealand.

My father, a leading New Zealand Presbyterian clergy, relocated the family so he could take up a Professorship at New Zealand Bible College in Henderson, Auckland, two suburbs from Te Atatu North.

Last week, a class-mate from Rutherford, who I hadn’t seen for 40 years, contacted me on Facebook, which was nice.

His name is Dougie Manu and is seated bottom left in the above Rutherford High School 1st XV photograph.

I have no school or university photographs or anything from my childhood or youth, except my Rutherford High School letter from the principal and a few other things. I kept my Rutherford High School letter from the principal Mr Clark, because it was the nastiest letter I’d ever received, apart from when I broke off with a girlfriend aged 14.

My mother tossed out cartons of gear of mine stored at my parents home including all the stuff I’d left in New Zealand.

I replied to Doug Manu’s friend request and made a few comments on FB posts.

I have a love-hate relationship with FB and I’m sure one day I’ll ditch it altogether. To me it’s symptomatic of the malaise, social disconnection, superficiality and loneliness in modern society.

Another old Rutherford High School class-mate Robert Pendergrast, showed interest in me and expressed joy to hear I was alive after 44 years.

I’d actually forgotten I went to Rutherford High School. I’m not sure if this was a psychological defence mechanism suppression of a bad event in my life or because Rutherford High School was such a non-event in my life.

I didn’t like anything about Rutherford High School.

Starting at the top- the principal Mr Eric Clark was a rude, gruff and arrogant little man.

Mr Eric Clark was having an adulterous affair with a much younger Maori teacher- the union of a bull-dog with a spoodle.

I lived near the school and used to see them “preparing lessons” at the school in the weekend.

It was common knowledge there was hanky-panky going on and I peered through the administrative sector windows but the lovebirds were ensconced deep within a dark inner room, doing what love-birds do.

Mr Eric Clarke features on the Rutherford College (former Rutherford High School) website with the following modest entry:

“2002 – Rutherford mourns Foundation Principal Mr A.E.E. (Eric) Clark

Sadly Mr Clark passed away on February 26 2002.  A great visionary.”

I never once spoke to Mr Eric Clarke, so I don’t know how he could write such a nasty school reference letter. It was a letter that would guarantee no employment anywhere in the world if a prospective employer was to catch sight of it.

The letter was no doubt an accurate missive of Rutherford High School’s perception of Donald Elley.

This blog article is an accurate perception of Donald Elley’s view of Rutherford High School and it’s 1974 Principal Mr A.E.E (Eric) Clark.

My old class-mate, Robert Pendergrass, who I couldn’t recall, asked me to be his FB friend. I replied in the affirmative.

To my readers: Please don’t message me to be your FB friend- a lot more gets published on this, my personal blog-site, than will ever be published on FB or anywhere else.

On FB I can’t speak with freedom as there are relatives on FB who are my “friends”.

I was thinking Rob Pendergrass was Robert Guest, another Rutherford classmate- a Donald Trump-ese character who I remember boasting about everything and nothing, and annoying everyone greatly.

I asked Robert Pendergrast about Andrew Guest and Rob Pendergrass informed he is an Auckland lawyer and property developer- a bad combination of spurious occupations. O Andrew Guest- a modern Narcissus gazing lovingly at the millpond of lostness and fantasies.

Rob Pendergrass was excited to have contact with me after 44 years and I was racking my brains trying to remember him.

I wrote, “I’m having trouble remembering you”.

So Rob Pendergrass kindly provided the above photograph of the 1974 Rutherford High School rugby First XV, a motley crew if there ever was one. There we have Dougie Manu, captain Brian Annan, who looks like a young Brian Lochore, a New Zealand All Black no 8 from the 1960s, and flanker Donald Elley. I remember David Wyness and Wayne Flintoff but no one else. Strange how memory works when you were in a place only for a short time.

And Robert Pendergrass enthusiastically joined me up with a Rutherford ex-pupil Facebook group.

I clicked on the link to this ex-Rutherford College Facebook page and wrote these immortal words:


The next day Robert Pendergrast ended my shortest friendship on Facebook.

I’m still trying to remember him.