Hero photograph
Photo by Emily Westacott

Year 13 Prize Giving speech, by Principal Samantha Mortimer

Mrs Samantha Mortimer —

Tēnā koutou katoa

Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou

Well 2021 - that was a whirlwind! I have loved my first year as Principal here at Grey High and cannot thank the whole community enough for making me feel so welcome on the coast. I am sad that our whānau can’t be with us in person today but hopefully technology will enable you to feel a little bit like you are!


Firstly, I need to talk about you, our amazing rangatahi. You have blown me away with your kindness, respect and the ability to get on with things. Demonstrating our ARCH values of



Community and


And this is something that we should all strive to do.

Do we all get everything right? No, but I am very proud of how you have all developed and grown this year even when things were tough. I’ve not only loved seeing you around school but also in the sporting arena, on the stage and at various school events. I honestly wish I could have got to know you better.

Student leaders Y13

I especially like to thank our student leaders who have done a fantastic job this year even when we had to make so many changes. Your resilience has done you and your whānau proud.


Ever since I joined Greymouth High School I have been so impressed with our staff. Our kaiako truly want the best for all of our rangatahi and I see it every day. And I especially have to thank our Senior Leadership Team of Jayne, Rowan, Ian and Raewyn who have put up with me asking lots of questions, forgetting many answers and asking again! Their dedication, hard work and ability to pivot in a number of challenging situations can only be commended.

Our teacher aides are so supportive and really look after our students who need that little bit extra. I thoroughly enjoy going over to Supported Learning for a quick chat and maybe some home baking. Our office staff, who are mostly behind the scenes, are a force to be reckoned with! I remember when the buses were cancelled and they just jumped into action. It made a difficult situation actually pretty easy. Our other support staff, cleaners and our ground staff are also unsung heroes who make our school so great.


We are so lucky to have such a supportive Board. It is an absolute privilege to work with these kind, caring and good hearted people. Our meetings are productive, focusing on the best for all of our GHS community. And it’s true, I go away in such a good mood after meeting with them even when Shannon and the rest ask me tricky questions!


Our PTA does an amazing job and I really want to thank them. They care about providing those extras that make all of our lives better. I especially loved how they supported the ball and made that an extra special night. Just a plug for those watching online - any parents out there who are interested in joining please let yourselves known.


I have to talk about FAME! What an amazing show it was and we were so lucky to hold our production right before we went into lockdown! The ARTS give our young people the opportunity to demonstrate all of our ARCH values which is great! I’m already excited to see what they are doing next year. Thank you to our community band and everyone involved. I had a brilliant time watching the show and constantly singing the songs in my office and while walking about!


I also loved going to watch as many of our school teams as possible throughout the year and am keen to see more next year. Sports also gives our young people the opportunity to demonstrate our ARCH values. Although we had the absolute disappointment of not being able to go to Tournament week for the second year in a row, our young people represented us so well in all of the other games. Thank you to all of our coaches, managers and referees. Also, a massive thank you to Maddison Crawford, our amazing Sports Co-ordinator, who goes above and beyond.

Ngāti Waewae

A Special thanks goes to the komiti matauranga of Ngāti Waewae who have been so supportive of us at Grey High. Joe Mason is one of our Kaiako Māori and it is an absolute pleasure to work with him and the other members of the komiti who have offered their time to us to increase our understanding of Māwhera.

We also have very positive relationships with other organisations and I’ve probably left some out by accident however, I am going to continue! including:

  • Māwhera Kahui Ako - It’s great to work closely with our primary schools

  • Toki Pounamu - amazing opportunity for everyone to have a Chromebook plus all of the other pedagogical support

  • West Coast Trades Academy - just wow - thanks to Tania Washer and her team - it is a massive undertaking and I really appreciate it!

  • Tai Poutini Polytechnic - we have done some very cool things for our students working in conjunction with TPP and I hope that these continue!

  • Youth Enterprise Scheme - thank you for inviting me to the pitches to see our entrepreneurial students in action

  • West Coast Development - we’re looking forward to working more closely with them next year

  • Rotary - we thank them for their extra fundraising with our trees for Māwhera project

  • And thank you to all of our supporters in the community, especially our whānau, we really appreciate everything you do to support us.

My last thanks is to Kiri, Carla and Ian, our Grey High wizards who have magicked up many different incarnations of prize giving as the rules literally change around us as we plan. Thank you so much!

Now back to our year 13s

Finally, remember you can make next year anything you want it to be! If you want to make some changes or try some new things I challenge you to do so.

But I thought I'd conclude though with a couple of key values that I hold close in my life.

The first one is a quote from Michael Jordan who is arguably, and you can argue with me later if you care about these things, the best basketball player ever - I’m sorry if sport isn’t your thing but the message is good

“I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

― Michael Jordan

The reason why I come back to this quote is that it is about keeping on going, picking yourself up when things get tough and working hard for your dreams and it is something I try and do in my own life.

Another key premise in how I live my life is that I try (and to be honest, I’m not always that good at it but I try) to treat other people and myself with kindness and respect. Now of course I want you all to “Whāea te iti kahurangi - strive for success". I want you all to do well at school, on the sporting field, on the stage and the myriad of other places that you all shine. Of course I want you to be successful in your future careers and have brilliant lives and I’m sure you all will. But to me the most important thing is who you are as a person and how you treat other people.

So I’d like you to reflect on these questions for a couple of moments: Are you someone who is kind and respectful to your whānau (even when they are annoying), are you kind and respectful to your friends, are you kind and respectful to the people who are not your friends and are you kind and respectful to yourself? How you treat yourself and others, to me, is the mark of a truly successful person and I challenge you all, and myself, to work harder on this. Remember “He Aroha whakato, he aroha puta mai. If kindness is sown then kindness you shall receive”.

Anyway, after this hopefully not too long a speech, on behalf of all of our staff we hope that you have enjoyed your time at Grey High, and have learnt some good things along the way. Let me finish with the following: have lots of fun tomorrow, good luck with your exams and we are looking forward to keeping up to date with your exciting futures.

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