02 July 2021

Farewelling John and Ann Hitchen

Former colleagues, Board members, students and friends of John and Ann Hitchen gathered on Saturday 19 June at the Henderson campus to sing waiata, pray, and pay tribute to this couple before they move to live with family in Alice Springs, Australia. 

John’s association with the College goes back sixty years. In 1961 John was in the first intake of students into the newly built Henderson campus. In his second year he served as Student President. He helped establish the Christian Leaders’ Training College in Papua New Guinea and served, with wife Ann, as Dean (1965-1975) and then Principal until 1979. John and Ann then travelled to Aberdeen, Scotland to commence his PhD, focussing on 19th century Christian mission in the Pacific. They returned to Christchurch in 1984, where they heard the heart-breaking news that they should not return to PNG due to Ann’s health. John then worked for his home assembly, Rutland Street Chapel, before being appointed Dean of the Christchurch branch of Bible College of New Zealand and then Principal of BCNZ, 1990-1998. In more recent years he has been involved in research and supervision of postgraduate students, both at Laidlaw and CLTC. In 2019 John was appointed Principal Emeritus in honour of his lifetime of service. 

Those present at the farewell were reminded that it was during John’s tenure as Principal that the College received accreditation by the NZ Qualifications Authority to offer its own awards – the first private training establishment in NZ to do so. The enormous effort John put into that process was acknowledged by a number of speakers, and others who sent messages of tribute. John was also instrumental in promoting the establishment of a Māori advisory board, the Rūnanga, while Principal. 

Speakers at the event included long-time friend and colleague, Garth Morgan, former Rūnanga member, Martha Ngawaka, on-campus neighbour and colleague, Stuart Lange, former student Mata Tumu-Makara, and current Principal Roshan Allpress. All spoke with much appreciation of the contribution John and Ann have made to them personally, and to this College – a little too effusively for John’s liking, who noted, “I’d like to meet this fellow you’ve been talking about” when he got up to reply!

As a mark of appreciation of these two taonga (treasures), John and Ann were presented with a set of korowai by the College.

As John’s former PA noted, the Hitchens have touched our lives in many ways, and now the Aussies will enjoy that privilege. We hope they appreciate it as much as we have!