Hero photograph
Ashlee Turner (Head of House), Ms J Riethmaier, Liv Preston (Head Prefect)
Photo by Ms J Riethmaier

Message from the Acting Principal


Tēnā koutou katoa!

This will be my first and last newsletter message for 2019 and I am looking forward to handing over the baton to our new Principal, Mrs Pauline Duthie. Our Year 13 students have already had the chance to spend an evening with her, when she generously gave up an evening from the start of her own school year to give the after-dinner address at their Leadership Camp. It was lovely to watch how warmly she engaged with the girls, both in her talk and her answers to their questions. In case some of you didn’t see her responses to the Five Questions section in last weekend’s ODT, we have included this in our newsletter, as they reflect the same practical wisdom and sense of humour that our Year 13s enjoyed.

The year has got off to a very good start and teachers have all been impressed at how focused and settled classes have been, despite the warm weather that accompanied the return to school, also giving the students at all year levels the chance to enjoy each other’s company in our beautiful grounds at interval and lunchtime. We were thrilled with the excellent set of results that our students achieved in NCEA last year, and with the number of endorsements gained at each level. Well done to all our senior students, as well as to their teachers and parents and care-givers, who supported them through the challenges of seemingly endless assessment. The Scholarship results (16 to Columba students) were equally pleasing and compare very favourably to those of schools with much larger cohorts of Year 13 students. The results are published elsewhere in this newsletter but I would like to commend Michaela Sutherland and Victoria Williamson, who each achieved a Scholarship grade while still in Year 12, in History and English respectively.

I am pleased to announce that we have appointed a permanent teacher of Mathematics and Statistics for Years 7 – 11, Miss Ashley Wilson, who will also be a Year 7 Form Teacher. We are very grateful to Mr Williams for being willing to postpone retirement to cover these classes, helped by Mrs Angela Bishop, while he was skiing in Japan. We are currently recruiting a new Caretaker, following the resignation of Mr Nick Woolliscroft. We will miss his cheerful presence around the school and his willingness to offer his help, both to teachers and students.

Already our traditional start of year events have been celebrated, all on the scheduled day, again thanks to the balmy weather,  the Commencement Service, which last year had to be postponed because of flooding in Dunedin, the Year 9 Orientation Outing, the Year 8 Camp in Doubtful Sound, the Installation Service for our Prefects and Senior Leaders, and, most recently, the Athletic Sports for Year 7 – 13. Our Parents’ Association is busy planning their major fundraiser, our School Fair on 30 March. The Sports Council is also working on the Mentoring Day for Year 7 – 13 students, and has organised an impressive list of speakers. Both Boards have already held their first meeting for the year, and I would encourage our parent community to consider putting your name forward for the Board of Trustees triennial elections to be held in May this year. There will be an information evening later this term for interested parents. Also coming up in the near future are the Meet the Teacher evenings for Years 7 and 8 and the Junior School (both in Week 5) and for Year 9 (week 6). We are currently hosting three students from Keio High School in Japan and next week we welcome the German partners of our students, who spent their summer holidays in Germany.

Planning is currently underway for all members of our school community to welcome Mrs Duthie at different stages following her start at Columba on 4 March. Meanwhile, I would like to thank all of you, students, staff, parents, care-givers, members of both Boards and our wider community for your support of me and of Columba College. It has been both a challenge and a privilege to lead the school since the start of Term Two last year, but I will be happy to return to my role as Deputy Principal. Columba is a very fine school, as is exemplified in the grace and poise of our Year 13 students, and which all our students grow into as they move up through the year levels. I wish Mrs Duthie fun as she gets to know the school and all within it, and leads it into its next decade.

Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou katoa!

Jenness Riethmaier