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Jean Annie Jaggers

1949 – 1971 NZBTI Matron (Queen Street Campus, Henderson Campus)

“How rich am I to have shared the lives of 1,250 dedicated young people who today are serving their Risen Lord in all parts of the world” reflected Jean Jaggers at the conclusion of 22 years as Matron of the NZ Bible Training Institute.[1] Previously a secretary at the Institute of Archaeology in Melbourne, she moved to Auckland in December 1949 to take on the role vacated by Miss Kath Tate who was heading for overseas mission service.

The Matron’s role was to ensure the smooth running of the domestic life of the residential Institute. She lived in residence as “mother” to the students and was committed to ensuring that proper mealtime etiquette was taught. Every student had turns at “Matron’s Table” – quite an ordeal for many! It was frowned upon to reach for anything one wanted at the table, nor to ask – others were expected to anticipate your need. Needless to say, some students became quite adept at kicking shins under the table and pointing with eyebrows to indicate whether salt, pepper or butter was needed!

Parsley was her cure-all for any ailment, with that sage advice remembered by students decades later! Indeed, at any reunion of alumni from her era, stories of Miss Jaggers abound – including the tricks played on her by the pranksters among the male students.

Miss Jaggers was an accomplished pianist and organist, playing for the yearly Institute Cantata, and for Graduations – even taking on the Town Hall pipe organ when that venue was used for Graduation ceremonies from 1957. She not only played but helped train the students for these musical events – standing atop the sturdy common room table to conduct the women students as they learnt their pieces. Perhaps the most difficult service she ever played for was the funeral at the Baptist Tabernacle of Principal John Deane, his daughter, and six-year-old grandson after their fatal car crash in December 1959.

During her time at NZBTI Miss Jaggers served under four Principals, helped transition the Institute from its Queen Street campus to the new Henderson campus, and presided over a changing demographic of students as married couples, and then families, began to live on campus.

She was a woman of deep faith and commitment to the Lord, dedicated to the work of the Institute and the welfare of her students. She was a helpful counsellor and friend to the students through the years - maintaining a voluminous correspondence with many of them. The fondness with which she was regarded was demonstrated when some 250 ex-students pooled resources to present her with a generous cheque at her retirement.

Miss Jaggers moved to a small unit not far from the Henderson campus, before later returning to Melbourne. She lived the final years of her life in an aged care facility on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, where she delighted in playing the piano for the weekly church services. She passed away in 1985.

Matrons of NZBTI - from left to right: Kath Tate (1947-1949), Annie Grantham (1924-1946), Jean Jaggers (1949-1971)

[1] “Reminiscences”, The Reaper Vol 50/10 (November 1971), 387

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