Principal exhibited leadership early on
Secondary school principal and former World Vision chief executive Colin Prentice died on June 12, aged 70, after a battle with leukaemia.
His childhood home was in Rockfield Rd and he attended Oranga Primary School, Remuera Intermediate and Mt Roskill Grammar.
His leadership skills were evident early on and he was Mt Roskill’s head boy in 1961.
Law school seemed a good career path but after one term at university and a holiday placement in an Auckland law firm, Prentice realised it wasn’t for him. He changed to a Bachelor of Arts and took a studentship with the Department of Education.
He taught at Lynfield College, Huntly College, Rangitoto College and then became deputy head at Takapuna Grammar in 1978.
At age 35 he was appointed the foundation principal of Macleans College and under his leadership the school became known as one of the best in the country.
Principal Byron Bentley says the whanau house system seemed ‘‘unorthodox’’ at the time but the innovation proved to be a real advantage.
In his book, When People Matter Most – Vision driven leadership, written with Ian Hunter and published in 2006, Prentice says:
‘‘I was determined that the name of our school would be so highly regarded that the value of their properties would rise because they were in the Macleans College zone.’’
Bentley says the school was founded on Prentice’s values and high standards. It was important to him that students represented the school well in the community.
Macleans’ deputy principal Simon Peek says Prentice’s passion for people was genuine.
‘‘He’d take a personal interest in everyone if he got the opportunity.’’
In 1989 Prentice went back to his old school, Mt Roskill Grammar, as principal and set about making it the best multicultural school in New Zealand.
In his book there is a letter a Mt Roskill student wrote to him:
‘‘You made the world of difference – just knowing that someone cared enough to ask, cared enough to stop and listen, made me feel like a new person. Thank you eternally.’’
In 1993, Prentice felt in need of a change and phoned World Vision, thinking he might offer himself as a volunteer.
That call lead to him becoming the organisation’s chief executive from 1994 to 2000. His work took him to Rwanda, Cambodia, Mongolia, Malawi and Kosovo, among many other places.
The move from education to a not-for-profit was hugely challenging, but he embraced the chance to learn new leadership skills.
‘‘Much that I had learned in life was proving invaluable, but I was now reminded that learning never ceases,’’ he says in his book.
In 2000 he moved back into the education sphere, becoming Director of the Schools Partnership Office at the University of Auckland, a new role designed to bring the university and secondary schools closer together.
He remained in this role until 2006 and was ‘‘very effective’’, Bentley says.
Mt Roskill Grammar School principal Greg Watson says Prentice loved the school with a passion.
‘‘He kept in close touch with the school community gently offering support and advice.’’
Colin Prentice is survived by his wife Margaret, their four children and six grandchildren. His funeral was held today at St Columba Church in Botany Downs.
Fond farewell: Colin Prentice was principal of Mt Roskill Grammar from 1989 to 1994.