St Paul’s Col­lege farewells prin­ci­pal

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Carly Tawhiao

Af­ter 30 years at St Paul’s Col­lege, prin­ci­pal Denys Marra is step­ping down.

He was of­fi­cially farewelled at a ser­vice last week and al­though he’s looking for­ward to hav­ing time to play touch rugby with his 12 grand­chil­dren, he says he’ll miss the stu­dents.

“Mul­ti­cul­tural teenage boys – they’re so chal­leng­ing, in­spir­ing, en­thu­si­as­tic and trust­ing.”

Af­ter stints in farm­ing, re­tail man­age­ment, mil­i­tary train­ing and Marist train­ing with the Catholic church, the 67-year-old was prin­ci­pal of the Pon­sonby school for 18 years.

“I came to St Paul’s as deputy prin­ci­pal in my fourth year of teach­ing. From that point I didn’t need to make any more ca­reer changes.

“In­stead, Pon­sonby and the school’s hugely vi­brant com­mu­nity changed ev­ery two years around me.”

Mr Marra says his suc­ces­sor Mark Rice has the right feel­ing for the school and was an ob­vi­ous choice for the highly sought-af­ter po­si­tion.

“He’s creative and has a very sup­port­ive fam­ily. I wish him ev­ery suc­cess.”

Mr Rice has taught at the school and man­aged its suc­cess­ful sports teams for 15 years and is the first “old boy” to be­come the school’s prin­ci­pal.

“I was looking for a new chal­lenge. Now I’ve got many hats to wear and balls to jug­gle.

“We’re mov­ing for­ward quickly and con­nect­ing the school more to the lo­cal com­mu­nity and the sur­round­ing feeder schools,” he says.

Board of trustees chair­man Paul Pa’u says he was pleased to see at least 20 school prin­ci­pals at Mr Marra’s ser­vice.

“The thanks­giv­ing mass was phe­nom­e­nal. We were priv­i­leged to have Bishop of Auck­land Pa­trick Dunn as the cel­e­brant, as well as the mayor of Auck­land.

“John Banks gave a re­ally in­spir­ing speech to the boys about his per­sonal his­tory of hard­ship and the im­por­tance of faith.”

Mr Pa’u says chal­lenges fac­ing the school, in­clud­ing a fall­ing roll and a per­cep­tion that it is solely a sport­ing school, mean huge changes must hap­pen.

“We want to make St Paul’s a school of first choice in the area and a top Ro­man Catholic school in New Zealand and we’re looking for­ward to a re­ally bright fu­ture for the school un­der Mark Rice.”

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

New chal­lenges: New prin­ci­pal Mark Rice steps up to lead St Paul’s Col­lege through its planned changes and de­vel­op­ments.

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