Hero photograph
JBL 2019
Photo by SBHS

Headmasters Message

John Laurenson —

Dear Parents and Caregivers

Greetings, tena koutou katoa, talofa lava and since this is my last newsletter to you…

                                             Ave atque vale

I started at Shirley in 1996.  Most of the people who read this will have been young then, and certainly none of our current family of students were even born!

When I first walked through the gates at 77 North Parade, I was young and energetic.  While I am no longer able to describe myself as young, I can still say that my levels of energy are undiminished. Twenty-three years as Headmaster seem to have passed in an instant and it is with very odd feelings that I close in on the time to exit Shirley Boys’,  now at 209 Travis Road, for the last time.

Why have I stayed so long?  Simply put, I fell in love with the place.  In my mind Shirley is family, a place that became my home, its people, my extended family.  Its desires became my desires and my imperatives.

When I arrived, I concentrated on developing the relationship between the students of the school and the staff. The words of my predecessor, Denis Cocks, resonating strongly- just as they still do. Fads and trends may come and go, but one thing remains constant, the quality of a school is determined by the strength of the relationships between teachers and their students . No matter what governments do to schools or to curriculum to be delivered, that principle was, is and will ever be, set in stone!

In 2011/12 I made two promises to the Shirley community.

The first was my wife Ann and I would be the last to leave what is now called “the red zone”, where we lived in our earthquake-damaged home.  That zone housed so many current and past students of Shirley.  We moved out in February 2014.

The second promise , was to get Shirley rebuilt. The move to Ōrua Paeroa in April  this year saw that promise also achieved.  “Alea iacta est” (The die is cast) it is time to bring my time at Shirley to a close.

I leave this school in 2019 a bit better than I found it in 1996.  That in no way implies criticism of what preceded me. The principle of BTB, “Better than Before” is strong here.  I fully expect my successor, Tim Grocott, when the time comes to hand the reins of leadership over to his successor, (somewhere in the region of 2043?)  to also be able to say that Shirley is BTB.

May I thank everyone for their work on behalf of Shirley Boys’ High School, but in particular I wish to acknowledge my Senior Staff.  In the immediate past Tony Ambrose and Sue Nesbit, Damian Watson and Neil Haywood.  Right now, Tim Grocott, Rob Wilson-Pyne, Craig Croft, Maria Lemalie and Dan Gilmore.  I also acknowledge the work and support of all of my Board of Trustee members over the last 23 years, especially Neil Falconer, QSM,  and Tony Deavoll MNZM who were on the Board that appointed me and were still by my side in my final year at Shirley.  Both men have been honoured with New Zealand service medals and Tony Deavoll has been Board Chairperson this past twenty years. Truthfully, I have stood on the shoulders of giants.

I leave still able to do the job of leadership.  That is the best time to depart, but I leave with a heavy heart, the last words therefore belong to Catullus:

                        “odi et amo excrucior”  (I hate and I love)

With my best wishes

John Laurenson