Founders’ Day 2024

March 21, 2024

“I hope everyone can see the power of Dilworth
as they help us chase our dreams and hopes”.

Paulo Aquino.

Founders’ Day holds a special place in the Dilworth calendar, bringing students, staff, whānau and Old Boys together to pay tribute to Founders, James and Isabella Dilworth. Last Friday, 15th March, the Dilworth community celebrated with over 70 special guests including Hon David Seymour, MP for Epsom.

The afternoon was opened by a Haka Pōwhiri and then Headmaster Dan Reddiex started by paying tribute to James and Isabella Dilworth, pointing out their contribution, not only to Dilworth but to New Zealand’s educational landscape.

“They were in equal part visionaries, entrepreneurs and philanthropists.  Their generosity of spirit and heart is unrivalled on the New Zealand educational landscape in terms of its scope, impact and longevity”. 

Mr Reddiex noted the progress he saw being made by Dilworth students. He said that as his first five years at Dilworth wind to a conclusion, “I am encouraged by the actions that are weaving themselves into the fabric and DNA of our school and its culture”. He talked of his pride in seeing many students “claiming the gift that has been bestowed upon you and purposefully and intentionally making the most of the Dilworth scholarship”.

Service to others was a clear theme across the afternoon’s speakers.

Board Chairman Aaron Snodgrass addressed the audience talking about the selfless acts of service given by the school’s founders.

“Our Founders’ service to others has opened doors for countless individuals, both past and present, allowing them to realise their full potential and contribute in so many ways”.

He said it is good to be reminded of their great acts of service to future generations – to all of us. He went on to describe the actions of several other notable people who are shining examples of those who give or have given, selflessly to others. He concluded by mentioning a simple phrase from a plaque on the wall in Dilworth’s foyer.

Quoting from James Dilworth’s will it simply says  “The wealth you give away is the only wealth you will always possess”.

Striking performances from the school’s Kapa Haka and Ma’ulu’ulu–Tala o Lo’au, Tongan group were key features of the afternoon and it was a wonderful sight to see many women - mothers, sisters, aunts, and caregivers - join Dilworth students to enthusiastically contribute to the singing.

This year’s guest speaker, Dilworth Old Boy Thomas Swinburn had everyone captivated by his depth of achievement at such a young age along with his enormous contribution to society already.  Thomas was introduced by Mr Reddiex who talked about his journey from a promising student to a distinguished medical professional with an unwavering commitment and passion for healthcare.

Thomas’ speech was characterised by humility and honesty. He talked to students about his road to accomplishment, talking to them on a very personal level about the lack of confidence he used to feel and still does.

 “ Even today, eight years out of school, I am still breaking down the barriers to my confidence”.

He told students that “everyone has something that weighs on your self-confidence, there is no quick fix but to get and know and embrace who you are – your place to stand in the world”.

Thomas presented the first set of awards for the day to the nine recipients of the Ella Burford Awards for 2024. Mr Reddiex noted that the Ella Burford Charitable Trust (managed by Public Trust) was established by Earline Lynette Wright to assist former students of Dilworth School with their tertiary education and their advancement in life generally. 

The final awards of the day, the David Beattie Awards for 2024, were awarded by Aaron Snodgrass, Chairman of the Dilworth Trust Board.

These awards go back to 1981, when to celebrate the School’s 75th Jubilee and to mark the appointment of Old Boy Sir David Beattie as Governor General of New Zealand, the Trust Board established a fund to produce income to assist Old Boys in furthering their education.

Ella Burford Award recipient, Paolo Aquino, made a heartfelt speech on behalf of all award recipients. Echoing Thomas, he also gave a true insight into his challenges. He talked about Dilworth “as the place that taught me the power of psychology and ways to be a better version of myself”. He paid tribute to (past) school counsellor Sandra Griffin (Sas) who he said made a profound impact on his young self. Paulo also talked of his drive to give back and reflect on his community and culture as he examines the ‘lived experience’ of his own Filipino Community.

As the afternoon came to a close, it was a poignant and very special moment to see Dilworth Old Boys, some from as far back as the 1930s, standing up and together for the annual roll call.

2024 Founder’s Day Award Recipients

Sir David Beattie

Harrison Dudley-Rode
‘Ahotau Tohi

Ella Burford

Vincent Abellera
Max Falepeau
Rogan McPherson
Paolo Aquino
Adrian Mahoni
Matthew Tao
Kaden Anderton
Ethan Hamilton
Osian Holloway-Jones