Marist Brother Henry Spinks

Farewell Brother Spinks

This story was kindly written by Brother Collin.

At times you wonder where a person like brother Henry Spinks could have originated – a person who in the course of his lifetime came to give leadership to the Marist Brothers in New Zealand and the wider Pacific, as well as providing the management of several Catholic Colleges in this country. 

As a youngster, one of a family of thirteen, he grew up at Hikataia, a small village situated out on the Thames-Piako plain. Apparently he had as his hero, not a robust All Black or boxing champ, but the frugal and fragile Mahatma Gandhi. Henry was old enough to be aware of this resolute leader who was persistent in his non-violent struggle to gain independence for his people from British Rule. Henry was in tears when he heard the news of Gandhi’s assassination in 1948. There were many similarities in brother Henry's life to that of Gandhi, so calm and compassionate, dedicated to the service of education for youth in particular.

It is no surprise then to know that having been Headmaster of Marist colleges at Palmerston North and Masterton, as well as St Paul's college in Auckland, he put up his hand to organise our Marist Alternative Centre for "at risk" students at Glenfield. After twenty-two years this Centre still reaches out to students, providing a second chance for them to value their educational opportunities.

In the course of the burial arrangements for Henry there were many who sent moving messages of condolences to his brothers, for he was renowned for his pastoral and welcoming demeanour. At recent times, as his health was in decline, you could find him in the foyer of the Elizabeth Knox Home in Epsom, ready to engage with the aged and infirm, along with any visitors who arrived, as well as the staff who valued his stable, commanding presence.

A Requiem Mass was celebrated for Henry at the Church of the Good Shepherd on Monday, and he was laid to rest alongside his brother colleagues at Waikaraka Park Cemetery.

Our Headmaster, Mr Keith Simento, and our college prefects were present to participate in Brother Spinks’s farewell.