Nelson College is an innovative boys’ school founded in 1856. The college takes pride in being New Zealand’s oldest state school with a rich heritage of tradition forming a backdrop to modern educational practice.
Headmaster – Richard Dykes
Kia ora tātou. Ngā mihi nui ki ngā tāngata o Whakatū rāua ko ngā mātua o tēnei kura, te kura tamatāne o Whakatu. He kura mīharo.
Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou kātoa.
It’s wonderful to be back in Nelson, especially as the Headmaster of Nelson College – one of the great schools of Aotearoa/New Zealand.
My wife Jane and I started our family here in sunny Nelson. Enjoying swims up the Maitai, the farmers’ market, trolley races down Collingwood Street, climbing off Rocks Road onto a friend’s boat to go water skiing. Just some of our fond memories. Nelson is a slice of heaven.
In between then and now, we’ve lived in Taupō and Auckland and I’ve worked at three schools. The most recent, Glendowie College, as Principal.
Today Jane and I are back in extraordinary circumstances. I start as the twenty-first Headmaster of Nelson College as, together, we gradually walk out of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.
I want to acknowledge the work of people at our College and in our wider community to support each other and keep us all safe. The lockdown has been incredibly challenging and it’s heartening to see people rise to the occasion and support others.
I want to acknowledge the work of Acting Principal, Tim Tucker and the rest of the staff who have managed the start of this year and lockdown extremely well. I’m sure you’ll join me in thanking Tim and the team for their work.
I also want to acknowledge the stories that we now carry as a result of COVID-19, some more extreme than others. It’s been tough for many individuals and families, and will remain so for a while yet.
The college has a tremendous history. It has endured significant tragedies before such as the school fire (1904), the Murchison earthquake (1929) and the polio epidemic (1948). The college and it’s community have rallied together before, and is doing so again to support our young men in their education and wellbeing.
My educational philosophy is simple … to make amazing young people even more amazing. At Nelson College, we have amazing young men whom I’ve enjoyed meeting and talking to this week.
Working with our young people inspires my confidence in our nation’s future. They’re confident, articulate and resilient. My job is to provide our young men with amazing opportunities, support and challenge – by employing and supporting amazing teachers.
This year, circumstances will narrow my focus. My first priority is staff wellbeing. My second is student wellbeing. And my third is students’ academic progress so that they can move on this year – either to their next year of study at the College, or out of school to tertiary study or work.
The academic progress of Year 13 students and other students looking to move on from school, is most important. I’ll be meeting with the senior leadership team and faculty leaders to discuss what’s already in place, and what plans we have for the rest of 2020 to support these students.
Of course, there’s a lot more to school than just academics and I’m pleased that we’re now able to get back to some ‘normal’ such as playing sport this year. We’ll be guided by the Ministry and other agencies on that.
I’m confident that all of our students will succeed and be able to move on in their education. We have great teachers, a sound education system, supportive whānau, and talented young men.
Looking beyond this year, I will be talking with the Board, staff and whānau about our vision for the school. Through its history, Nelson College has often been at the forefront of innovation. It was the first state school in New Zealand with its own act of parliament. It was instrumental in the establishing universities in New Zealand. It held the first organised game of rugby.
Some weeks ago, I spent a couple of hours talking with Gary O’Shea over the phone. He had a great phrase – Nelson College is not a traditional boys’ school, it’s a boys’ school with tradition.
Nelson College is a place where we build a legacy and a future. Academic, sporting, artistic, student leadership and service.
I look forward to working with you to grow great, well rounded young men. Young men that we’d want to employ. Young men who will go on to lead our businesses, organisations and community. Young men with a legacy and a future.
I look forward to meeting you in the weeks and months ahead. Until then, stay safe and stay connected.
Kia kaha me kia āwhina