Assembly Presentation from Old Boy Max Currie
Max Currie attended PNBHS from 1992-1995 and since then has gone on to a successful career as a writer, director and producer. He worked for five years as a full-time staff writer on prime-time network serial drama 'Shortland Street', leaving to write on both seasons of TV2 comedy-drama 'Step Dave'.
Max also directed and co-produced the groundbreaking New Zealand transgender drama, 'Rūrangi' and was able to present at assembly as he was in Palmerston North for a screening at Te Manawa.
As part of the preparation for his visit Max provided us with some promotional material that began with the line “Old Boy Max Currie is a gay writer, director and producer of film and television, best known for writing Shortland Street for over five years”, which we posted on our school Facebook page.
We frequently post stories about the achievements of our Old Boys as we believe it is important that our young men understand the great things that those who literally sat in the same seats as them have gone on to achieve.
While this particular post was generally very positively received, there was, unfortunately, a small number in the wider school community who took umbrage at Max’s decision to describe himself as a "gay writer, director and producer." Prior to his visit, Max had been in contact with our school Guidance team to ensure the messaging in his presentation was going to be helpful to our gay, bi-sexual and transgender students. As sexuality is invisible, it is impossible to provide a supportive message without identifying one's self as gay.
Tū Whakaaute | Respect is one of our school values. Respecting others means accepting them for who they are – accepting the things that are both similar and different to ourselves. It means having empathy – trying to understand a situation from another person’s perspective - because we are all different, have different experiences and consequently perceive things differently. It means having consideration for others. It means treating others as they would like to be treated – perhaps a difficult concept for young people to fully appreciate, but an important one all the same.
Max also had powerful messages about what it means to 'be a man.' He spoke about the importance of using our strength in a positive manner to lift up those around us and the importance of being an upstander - standing up for what is right. We heard a very similar message from Chris Harris, the CEO of the Holocaust Centre New Zealand earlier in the year. Standing up for others in your community is a courageous act and perhaps the ultimate sign of respect.
As he only flew into Palmerston North shortly before his scheduled assembly presentation, Max had prepared a back-up video version of his assembly presentation. This video, along with the trailer for Rūrangi, can be seen below.
A reminder to all students that they are able to access confidential support at school through our Guidance Counsellors, Mr. Dawson and Mr. Greer. Their offices are in C Block and appointments can be made through Mrs. Shorter.
It was great that Max also got to spend time with our Level 3 Media Studies class. These students are about to begin their Film Making unit so the opportunity to hear about the film-making process in a real-life context was invaluable for them. They were also able to gain an insight into some of the opportunities and challenges in the film-making industry in New Zealand. Max left them with a challenge for their film-making projects - to think about the change they want to inspire through their film-making.
While at PNBHS Max was a strong academic and part of the Accelerate Programme, gaining an 'A' bursary in form six. He represented the school in debating and was first in the Central Regions Senior Public Speaking competition, for which he was awarded an Honour's Tie. The following year he was one of two students selected nationally to represent New Zealand at the student version of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, or CHOGM as it is more commonly known. While attending CHOGM he met the Queen and former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela, alongside a number of other dignitaries.
We sincerely thank Max for making the time to fit us into his busy schedule in Palmerston North.