Prin­ci­pal ex­hib­ited lead­er­ship early on

OBIT­U­ARY

Central Leader - - NEWS -

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.

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