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Julia Davidson
Photo by WGC

Message from the Principal

Julia Davidson —

Kia ora, e te whānau

I was in a meeting recently and, as I tried to explain to someone why something hadn’t happened as they had expected, they looked at me, online, from their very safe and distant home office in a remote part of the South Island and said ‘Covid isn’t an excuse Julia’. A colleague I was with put her hand on my arm to stop me eye rolling or saying something unprofessional - it was a close run thing.

It really has been an incredibly challenging year. And no, Covid isn’t an excuse, but it has been a priority we’ve had to deal with. And then we need to add to the mix the protestors and the demolition/building site we have lived in all year. For most of 2022, we have been in survival mode, as we dealt with who was sick, who was working online, who needed extensions to assessments, which staff we had available, who we could get as a reliever and once we knew all of that we thought about how we got to various rooms, which toilets we could use and which rooms we could move to when building work became unbearable.

The year has had an impact on everyone. Yr 9s had only been at school one day before the protestors moved in - the first month of their college life was affected by days at home, adults directing where to go on the way to and from the station and then the astounding day we had the helicopter overhead and Police everywhere as Parliament grounds were cleared. They must have wondered what on earth they had come to.

For everyone else, the lockdown experience was, in retrospect, so much easier than this year. The one thing we all like is certainty - and we had none of that in 2022.

I particularly feel for the Yr 13s, whose final three years at college have been so different from any years before that. And that’s what we’ve been told by lots of students - they have missed all the extras that used to make up our school culture in such a significant and positive way. By the time we factored in wearing masks, not being able to gather in large groups and not having a Hall, life in 2022 has been very very different from the norm pre 2020.

At the same time the staff will continue to grapple with the huge and significant curriculum and assessment changes heading our way - NCEA, the implementation of Aotearoa histories, the inclusion of matauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) and Mana oreti (Māori ways of learning) and a whole new curriculum as well. This is huge and significant work and we want to do it well, so we are also working at building our relationship with iwi as we grow our own understanding of the land the school is built on and the history of this area.

2022 wasn’t easy, and it hasn’t worked for everyone, but we got there and I look forward to things being better in the future! I am the eternal optimist and I know we have the staff, students and community to make positive changes which will benefit everyone in the school for generations to come.

Ngā manaakitanga

Julia Davidson