The spirit of a courageous young sportsman now welcomes
visitors into the John McGlashan College gymnasium.
The Dion Latta Foyer was unveiled in an emotional lunchtime
dedication at the school yesterday.
The 15-year-old died on January 2 last year, despite a
three-hour rescue operation, after he was trapped under a
waterfall in the Motatapu Gorge, near Wanaka.
Otago-Southland coroner David Crerar later described the
tragedy as ''the most harrowing'' he had read in his career.
Principal Mike Corkery said dedicating the entranceway of the
new $4 million Davies Gymnasium to Dion was the idea of his
schoolmates, who organised work days to finance the memorial.
''They made it clear to me they needed to do something
significant and lasting for Dion. It will stand as a
memorial, as much as an entranceway. It will stand long after
every one of us is forgotten.''
Dion was a multi-talented sportsman who represented Otago at
age-group rugby and coached intellectually handicapped
The 30-minute lunchtime dedication featured readings of his
poetry by schoolmates, a musical tribute and mass haka. Other
former pupils who had their lives cut short were also
Mr Corkery recalled a popular pupil and boarder who was
''cheeky, fun-loving and energetic'' and he reminded the
assembly that ''death is part of life''.
Dion's parents, Logan and Sue Latta, of Nenthorn Valley, near
Palmerston, unveiled the plaque, while his brother, Cody,
thanked the school for the tribute.
The memorial noted Dion's death ''after an heroic struggle in
the Motutapu Gorge''.
''He never yielded,'' Mr Corkery said.
''He fought his last battle against the waterfall and he
lost; which is a tragedy.''
The final line on the plaque is an inscription from
Shakespeare's Macbeth: ''I will not yield.''