From rowing to Swan Lake
Nathan Villars, 48, is the principal of Henderson’s ACG Sunderland campus.
Any memorable teaching experiences?
When I was teaching at Takapuna Grammar School, a year 13 girl was caring for her sick parent with little support, but was a great student. Life was incredibly tough for her. With education you can change situations. And teachers don’t realise how influential a few words of support, or giving a student a break can do. We agreed that she didn’t have to do homework. As a young teacher it made quite an impact on me.
What’s something unexpected about you?
I like the ballet a lot. It’s quite an excuse that my daughter does ballet to go and watch it. I like the athleticism, grace and effort that goes into costumes and the physical aspect of it. We recently went to Giselle but normally would see several Royal New Zealand Ballets each year. Probably my favourite is Swan Lake. It’s a great story and they interpret it well in ballet. I’m no connoisseur so I can understand it quite well.
Where did you grow up?
‘‘I like the ballet a lot. It's quite an excuse that my daughter does ballet to go and watch it. ’’ Nathan Villars
I’m originally from Wellington and my family moved to the North Shore around the mid-70s after university and I got my first teaching job at Takapuna Grammar School. I met my wife 30 years ago. I had graduated and she was still studying fashion design in Wellington, after that we shot off overseas.
Where did you travel?
It was the 90s, I was in my late 20s. I worked at Pangbourne College near Oxford, taught geography and coached rowing and rugby.
What do you do outside your job?
I don’t row anymore but I love cycling. One my favourite places to cycle is in the Waitakeres out towards Bethells, early in the morning. Our family skis and we play tennis, but my wife is much better than me.
How long did you row for?
I rowed at high school from about age 16 to about 28, at Northcote College.
What do you like about geography?
It’s here and now, and I think students appreciate that. While I was finishing off my degree I got a job with the regional council. In the Waitakeres there’s a pipeline that goes through tunnels which were collapsing. My friend and I had to map the inside of the tunnels.
What sort of music do you like?
My boy decided to learn guitar and has dusted off old the Guns N’ Roses and AC/DC albums. So I’m revisiting bands like Nirvana and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. My daughter likes Adele and Lorde. We have variety to listen to in the car. The last concert we went to was Cold Play. The first concert I went to was Eurythmics when I was about 17 at Western Springs.
What books do you like?
Been reading a few books on the Middle East conflict. I saw a Netflix show Fauda which encouraged me. We spent some time travelling through the Gaza Strip and Israel, including Jerusalem. It was the late 90s so it was safe-ish. There’s Jewish history on both sides of the family so there’s an interest. I find it really challenging around religious conflict between families, or the Israeli-Jewish conflict. Both these cultures have been intertwined for thousands of years and yet right now they are desperately unhappy, which I find fascinating.