Principal’s Prizegiving Presentation 2022

04 Nov Principal’s Prizegiving Presentation 2022

Tuia te rangi me te whenua,
(Weaving together Ranginui (heavens/Sky father) and Papatuanuku (Earth Mother/the ground we stand on))
Tuia te ngākau o te tangata,
(Weaving together the heart of Mankind)
Ko te mea nui ko te aroha,
(The greatest thing is love)
Tihei Mauriora.

Ko Ō-hui-a rangi te maunga
Ko Tāmaki te Awa
Ko Ngai-Tai te mana Whenua
Ko Pakuranga Kareti te Kura
E mihi nei ki-a koutou
Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa
Ko tenei  te mihi ki nga tini aitua
kua mene ki te po, Haere, haere, haere
E  nga iwi  E  nga Matua E nga Whaea
Nau mai Haere mai
Tena koutou katoa.

Welcome to our guests, Mr Simeon Brown MP for Pakuranga, Sharon Stewart from Auckland Council, Bruce Kendall and Damian Light from the Howick Local Board, principals from our contributing schools Tamara Jones from Farm Cove Intermediate, Sara Pickering from Howick intermediate, Caroline von Sierakowski from Wakaaranga Primary School and Justine Driver from Sunnyhills School.

Tonight we also have with us Max Murray from Auckland University and Tuila Aiolupotea from AUT. We also welcome Graeme Easte and Peter Bailey former students who have donated scholarships,

A special welcome to Former Principal Pam Stone and our Pakuranga College Board members, staff, students and parents. Thank you for joining us this evening as we celebrate the achievements of our senior students.

Tonight is a chance to reflect on the year, to acknowledge the work that everyone has done, to congratulate those who have achieved success, and importantly to acknowledge and thank those who have made that success possible.

It doesn’t matter how many years I do this job, every year when I start reviewing the year, our students’ achievements amaze me. They find success in whatever they turn their hand to.

Academically we continue to achieve very good results in NCEA, Scholarship and for a few student, stage one university papers. Lat year we also had another Top Scholar from the Scholarship exams. When you put this in the context of the challenges you have all faced this is quite outstanding.  And, yes, the government gave some learning recognition credits to compensate for the challenges, but it hasn’t been those credits that got students across the line it has been the students’ hard work.

As you know, for me, academic results are important but that alone is not enough. It’s about applying that learning in different contexts and stretching ourselves in areas that can’t be measured with exams and assessments. That’s why we encourage our students to involve themselves in an increasingly vast array of academic activities, and sure enough they achieve great results.

I would really love to stand here and acknowledge all the success but I’d be here for a while and there are so many I might miss someone out. But I will try and give an overview of the breadth of student activities and success.

That success stretches from speech competitions and the Ngā Manu Kōrero competition, debating, game design, EPro8 challenge – three teams through to the finals, the Robcup competition, Music –  great results in KBB and outstanding success in Stand Up, Stand Out,  Food Technology – the Australasian Tapas Competition (an open competition against professional chefs – and it got Varick an internship in Spain), Science and Mathematics competitions, Young Enterprise – three awards at the regional finals last night, Art – two top Pat Hanley Creativity awards, the Focus Art Competition, a top 10 finalist in the National Wearable Arts competition, in Dance – Tate Miller competing in the World Hip Hop Champs.  The list just goes on.

In culture and The Arts and culture we had another busy year. Dance Showcase, Drama performances, Music evenings, KBB and the Cultural Night which has got so big we have had to extend it to two nights, all great successes and again highlighted the amazing talents of our students.

A special mention of our Kapa Haka group Te Tai o Pakuranga who have achieved amazing things this year. Earlier this year they made the decision that they wanted to compete in the Ahurea competition – a prestigious Auckland schools Kapa Haka competition. This was always going to be a big step up, but they all put in a huge amount of work including being here every day of the September holidays practicing. The competition was on Saturday and they were fantastic and took away two awards, Best Dressed and Best Attitude. More importantly they made a real statement and I cannot be prouder of them.

Having a more stable year meant that our student councils could really make their presence felt in the school community. Every week they had things happening around the school for us.

Whānau Tutor finished the big mural we have up on the wall on Rae Block. The mural uses Kupe’s journey to discover Aoteraroa to represent the students’ journey of discovery through school. The students named the mural Ka puta ki te whaiao ki  Te Ao Mārama, which translates into English as “coming from dark into the light”.

On the sporting front it was great to see our students back involved and able to enjoy a full season and getting to go to tournaments. While many schools struggled to get their sports programmes going, we have been fortunate in that we bounced back really well, numbers down a bit from pre-Covid times but really positive signs for next year and some really good results.

The highlight for me continues to be the number of Senior Students and former students coming back to coach and manage teams. This really is one of the strengths of our programme and comes back to the culture we have within the college. Without them we could not provide the opportunities we offer.

At the Sports Awards evening last week it was a pleasure to be able to acknowledge so many students achieving outstanding success.

While all of these successes in the Arts, sport and academically are great, and as important as it is that we celebrate them, it’s the foundation they are built on that is the real highlight. That foundation is the amazing student-centered, learning-focused and caring culture within the school that is bought to life and sustained by the talented and hardworking staff that we are so fortunate to have. It is this foundation that has enabled us as a school community to adapt and thrive through the challenges that have been thrown at us over the last three years.

During Term 2, I was fortunate to be awarded a sabbatical which enabled me to spend the term visiting schools and doing some research. I visited a lot of schools around the country and while I saw some really good ideas, the most significant thing was that across the board our staff are doing an amazing job, yes areas we can improve and ideas we can use but when I compared what our staff are doing to what I saw, I know our staff are some of the best.

I promised myself that this year I would keep my speech short and not get onto one of my soap boxes. But there are a few things that I would like to share.

Firstly, an exciting new venture we announced a few weeks ago: next year we are offering teacher training here onsite at the college in partnership with the University of Waikato. The initiative is designed to make it easy for graduates to train,  the university fees are covered,  participants will get a $12,500 stipend  to help with living expenses and we will have a small amount of paid work available to further support them.  All you need is a degree and a desire to make a real difference in the lives of young people.  Put the word out there we need people to join the best profession, the one that makes a real difference.

I know you are always interested in the physical developments at the college.  This year was a quiet one by our standards, but it was good to formally open and name the Haque Building, this continued tradition in the college of acknowledging the contribution our leaders have made to the development of the college:

  • The Rae Block, named after Ken Rae foundation Principal from 1960 until 1966
  • The Rive Block, named after Earnest Rive was Principal from 1967 until 1977
  • The Segar Block, named after Stan Segar Principal from until  1978 until 1986
  • The Pam Stone Building, named after Pam Stone Principal from 1987 until 2003
  • The Jill Sweeny Building named after a long-serving Head of Science

Now we have the Haque Building, after Bali Haque, our Principal  from 2003 until 2006.

We used the naming event to also acknowledge the contribution of Heather McRae, Principal from 2006 until 2009 and named the Library the McRae Library, to acknowledge her contribution

Finally, we acknowledge the contribution of Mr Bryan Dowdle. While not having aspirations to sit in the Principal’s chair, Bryan Dowdle was an incredibly influential leader within the college serving as Deputy Principal under four Principals: Pam Stone, Bali Haque, Heather McRae and myself. To acknowledge Bryan’s legacy we have renamed the original gym the Dowdle Gym.

While we have named the buildings to honour our education journey one of my next project is to have dual names for the buildings, the other names will honour the significant leaders from mana whenua. I am hoping to work with Ngai Tai to revitalise the stories and legends of this area, to honor the significant leaders and the values they exemplified. To revitalise the whakatauki that capture those values so that they become part of our day to day work. This will also lead us to revising the school emblem paralleling the story from Greek mythology that gave us the Latin motto Caelum Certe Patet, translated as “to reach for the sky”,  with one from Maori mythology that has the same message for us.

Our next building projects will be the development of the big courtyard we have created in front of the Haque Building and to replace the astro turf.  We will also be starting a project to modernise the Rae and Rive blocks – while we can’t do any structural work we are going to replace all the old wooden joinery and will then start refurbishment of the rooms.

But time to bring our focus back to here and now, and the reason we are here tonight – to celebrate the achievements of our students. We congratulate our prize winners, you fully deserve the praise and acknowledgement you receive tonight. We know that the results you have achieved are no accident; to achieve at this level you have continually strived for your best. I acknowledge and applaud your commitment to excellence – you exemplify our motto “Reach for the Skies”. Congratulations to each and every one of you.

I also want to acknowledge our student leaders, the leaders of the various student councils, the House Leaders, Peer Support Leaders, leaders of cultural, dance and music groups and the coaches of numerous sports teams; you have all led your teams well and your leadership has had an extremely positive influence on the Pakuranga College community. We thank you for your work and the influence you have had.

In particular, I want to thank our Head Students, Charlotte, Kayla, Carlos and Daniel.  Being a head student is a challenging role but you can be proud of the job you have done, I have thoroughly enjoyed working with you.

Year 13s, your secondary school journey is coming to an end and your focus is shifting to the next exciting chapter in your life. Each and every one of you has contributed in your own way to the college, we thank you for getting involved, making a difference and for the partnership we have shared over the last five years. We wish you all the best in the next step in your journey. We know that the experiences of the last five years have prepared you to handle whatever the world throws at you.

I think that over the five years of your journey at Pakuranga College we have empowered you to be the best you can be. Your teachers and your experiences have equipped you with the skills, attitudes and values to be successful and I hope we have inspired you to go out there and courageously shape tomorrow’s world.

But don’t forget the partnership doesn’t stop here, we would love to see you back here next year helping the next generation, as tutors, teacher aides, sports coaches and managers. BUT to make that happen we need you to stay connected – so ensure you have registered through the new Alumni site with your personal e-mail (your school one won’t work next year) we can then contact you about events and opportunities. The Alumni site is also where you can get the digital Pegasus magazine.

Year 12, you have achieved a great deal and contributed a significant amount already. As Year 13 students next year you carry a lot of responsibility for setting tone and expectations. I am really looking forward to seeing you take another step up, for many of you it will be the year that defines you.

I would like to take the opportunity to publicly thank our support staff for the many hours they have put into making this year so successful – while their work is usually behind the scenes ensuring everything works smoothly, I want to shine the spotlight on their work and thank them for all that they do for the college and our students.  A special acknowledgement of the work of Mrs Sue Gorman retiring after 24 years’ service, one of her critical roles has been the organisation of prizegiving. Thank you, Sue.

On behalf of all of us I would like to thank Mrs Troughear and the Board members for stepping up to the challenge. And congratulations for being re-elected in the recent Board elections – a strong endorsement of your work. Thank you for the work you do in providing direction and for your support for the staff; we appreciate your commitment to the college.

During my sabbatical in Term 2 everyone stepped up in my absence, special mention of the work done by Mr Billy Merchant as Acting Principal, the college continued like clockwork. The sign of an amazing team (and a lot of hard work). To the Heads of Faculty and the Senior Leadership Team, I would like to acknowledge you  all for the work you have done.  It is your drive and commitment that continues to move this school forward, ensuring that we are at the leading edge of so many initiatives

This brings me to our heroic teaching staff. Thank you for another great year. It has undoubtably been the toughest year of the pandemic, trying to run the school with the revolving door of students and staff as significant numbers were having to isolate. It tested everyone to the limit. Incredibly we were able to keep all the school activities going, students have not missed out on things – you found ways to make it work for them. Your commitment to the students has been phenomenal, and I want to publicly thank you for all the extra work you did this year, I would ask you all to join me in acknowledging their work.

And finally to our parents, thank you for your support, your willingness to be a true partner in your child’s education, to come to meetings and events, for helping with sports teams and cultural groups. We have truly enjoyed our partnership with you. It is through the collective efforts of everyone that we make Pakuranga College such as successful, dynamic learning community. Once again thank you to everyone for your contribution in making Pakuranga College such an exceptional forward-thinking, future-focused learning community.

No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.


Michael Williams

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