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Continuing his legacy

A scholarship set up in 1988 in memory of Gisborne man Steve Crosby continues to provide a legacy for the wider region. John Jones looks back at the formation of the scholarship and the man who inspired it.

Over three decades after his death, a scholarship started in the memory of Steve Crosby, a local lawyer and outstanding sportsman, continues to benefit Gisborne students.

The scholarship, founded by his friends after his premature death, aged just 46, in 1988, is awarded annually to a student with similar attributes to him. These included application/dedication at school, love of sport, a sense of humour and a “genuine person.”

Steve Crosby was a vigorous and active sportsman from his youth.

At Gisborne Boys' High School he was a member of both the first fifteen and first eleven and captain of the latter.

A halfback or inside back, he played rugby for HSOB. In cricket he was a a forceful opening batsman, playing for United and HSOB. He also represented Poverty Bay. He took up running and completed a marathon.

His energy continued into the administrative side. He was one of the founders of the HSOB Squash Club and instrumental in the establishment of the squash courts at Boys' High School. He was chairman of the Poverty Bay Cricket Association.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Law degree from Victoria University in Wellington, he returned to practice in Gisborne.

At a special High Court sitting in Gisborne following Mr Crosby's death, Mr Justice Thorp praised his dedication to his clients and willingness to work for the good of the community.

While never having or claiming a consuming interest in the philosophy of the law Mr Crosby had courage, tenacity and a determination not to be deflected from the issues he saw to be important, Justice Thorp said.

These qualities made him a worthy champion of his clients' interests, a pleasant companion and a good friend.

The scholarship started in his memory has assisted numerous young students over the years.

One recipient who has returned to Gisborne is Douglas Jones who won the Boys High scholarship in 2001.

He graduated from Victoria as a Bachelor of Arts and Science and was general manager Maori for the Environmental Protection Agency in Wellington before returning to Gisborne to take the position of chief executive of Nga Tamanuhiri Tutu Poroporo Trust. A keen rugby player, he is a member of the NZ Rugby Maori Advisory Board and was a member of the BHS cricket first eleven.

Another scholarship winner is Rita Halley who received it in 1998. She was the deputy head prefect and acting head prefect for some of the year. She was involved in a wide range of activities at school including rowing, cross country and debating. After leaving school, she went on to study through Massey University and travelled widely, including a trip to India at the age of 19.

She lived and worked overseas for five years, before returning to work at Girls' High School where she is the Year 11 Dean and an English teacher.

Rita is extremely grateful to have received the scholarship as it helped considerably with the costs of sports trips and other school related expenses and opened up a wide range of opportunities which otherwise would have been unavailable.

Calibre of applicants consistently high

Maika Akroyd who received the award in 2013 was deputy head prefect at Gisborne Girls High School before going to the US, where she studied and played hockey at Boston University. She came out of one of the top 10 communication schools in the US with a degree in journalism and a minor in psychology. On returning to New Zealand she worked as the Maori news reporter for the Gisborne Herald then joined Trust Tairawhiti as communications adviser, interviewing businesses around the region, writing stories and editing video footage.

Liam Melville, who won the award in 2014, was head prefect at Boys' High and then went to Auckland where after doing first year medicine he switched to a Bachelor of Science degree. He is now doing a masters in training and educational leadership through MindLab and is back at Boys' High.

A member of the hockey first 11 at school, Liam played while in Auckland and last year was in an Auckland Hockey Development Squad which played matches against the national teams of Spain and Korea.

He is grateful for the scholarship and says he would not have been able to go to university without it.

One of the earliest recipients of the scholarship was Bernadette Boyle-Tiatia who was one of the Hinetu Taonga the school placed only this week.

Bernadette was the Lysnar sport captain and head girl at the school. After living in France she joined the police and returned to Gisborne for a leadership role helping the community, whanau and youth. She is now working in Wellington.

On her taonga board she says she will always be grateful for receiving the Steve Crosby Memorial Scholarship as it greatly assisted her ability to continue her education.

Trustee Kay Crosby said her late husband would have been delighted to see the quality of the young people who had been helped by the scholarship that carried his name. They represented the values he held important.

The quality of the young people applying for the scholarship was always high and it was usually very difficult to select which one to choose.

The applicants were interviewed by a panel which included two trustees and a member of the public. They received the scholarship as part of the annual prize giving and break-up ceremony at the two schools.

It was extremely rewarding to be able to help such promising young people. She hoped the scholarships would continue to benefit this sort of young achiever for years to come.

Crosby Scholarship recipients are pictured above with trustee Kay Crosby. From left are: Liam Melville, Rita Halley, Kay Crosby, Douglas Jones, Maika Akroyd.
Steve Crosby
Bernadette Boyle-Tiatia