Warner Wilder’s retirement marks the end of an era for King’s College. Fellow-chaplain until recently, Gareth Walters, wrote this to commemorate his remarkable ministry.
Rev Warner Wilder has served as the Chaplain of King’s College since 1989. Rev Wilder spent much of his early life on the family sheep farm in the Hawkes’ Bay, before attending Christ’s College in Canterbury as a boarder, and as deputy head boy in his final year. In his youth, Rev Wilder played representative cricket, polo and rugby, enjoying the great outdoors as a keen sportsman.
After an early career in sheep-farming, Warner went on to be ordained into the Anglican Church and spent four years as Vicar of his local country parish of Porongahau, in the Hawkes’ Bay. It was at this time, the then Headmaster of King’s, Mr. John Taylor, invited Warner to come and visit the College. Mr. John Taylor had been housemaster to Warner at Christ’s College, and thought the popular farmer and sporting personality turned minister might be able to apply his valuable experience to shepherding a different kind of flock.
As Rev Wilder announces his retirement after twenty-nine years from the College, he has certainly served ‘above and beyond the call of duty’ to the College. Warner has given faithful service to the College as pastoral shepherd to the students and to the wider College community during his time. Much of the focus of his ministry has been offering the students an opportunity to experience Christian life and faith, with a special emphasis on giving students the chance to explore their own faith through the Voyager programme and putting it into practice through Community Service. The Community Service programme is regarded widely as Warner’s most enduring legacy. It started as a fledgling opportunity for senior students to engage in things like reading in schools and visiting the local Mangere refugee centre with a handful of students. It has become so successful, however, it now is a key part of every student’s experience at King’s, spanning an array of different types of community engagement from Otahuhu Fun Days, to socials for members of the IHC community.
Warner’s tireless work in helping King’s students understand their role in caring for those in the wider community, has been very significant. Rev Wilder, his wife Mervis and their four young children, Nicholas, Taonga, Johann and Yamiko look forward to new opportunities and new pastures in this next season of life.