St. Hilda's Collegiate School was founded in 1896 by Sisters Etheleen and Geraldine of the Sisters of the Church who had been brought to Dunedin by Bishop Neville for precisely this purpose. Today's Hikoi within a Hikoi was a walk through the city to connect with some of the school's heritage. The event had been meticulously planned by Benjamin Brock Smith who has done most of the organising for The Hikoi of Joyful News and Gillian Townsley, the chaplain at St. Hilda's.
A busload of us: students, staff, the Principal, old girls, visiting Kenyan missionaries and pilgrims on Te Harinui began at the Dunedin wharf and moved by stages around various places connected to the school. We went to Toitu Museum and in the replica of a pioneer ship's cabin were reminded of the huge sacrifice these genteel and holy nuns had made in voyaging to late 19th Century New Zealand. We went to 177 Leith St, now a taxi company but once the site of the school. We visited the Tolcarne boarding house and the current school campus. We went to All Saints Church which has strong connections with St. Hilda's and finished at Sister Geraldine's grave in the Northern Cemetery.
At every place a student read some of the history of the particular site and we paused for prayer. We lunched at Tolcarne where I also spoke briefly to the girls. Wearing the brightly coloured caps designed by Benjamin we wended our way through Dunedin Streets, covering a total of around 7 km: a pretty good effort for our young pilgrims. I was pretty impressed by the way the girls conducted themselves during the day. They participated fully and spoke confidently to the adults along for the trip.. There was not even the suggestion of any untoward behaviour. The 21st Century students in their day-glo lemon caps seemed, in other words, to embody the values which the founding sisters worked so hard to instill.Today was yet another highlight in a journey which is becoming a constant succession of extraordinary moments.