Sunday, 27 September 2020


Malaysian adventure awaits as Tairua school principal says farewell

Tairua school principal, Brendan Finn, formally farewelled students, colleagues and the wider community during a special ceremony last Friday afternoon.

After 12 years at the helm of Tairua School and four years as lead principal for the Coromandel Community of Learning, Brendan, wife Ann and children Ciara and Seamus, are relocating to Malaysia where Brendan has secured a position as primary principal at the Uplands International School in Penang. Principals from across the Coromandel, and representatives from Ngāti Hei and the Ministry of Education were among those who attended the powhiri and presentations held under sunny skies in the school grounds.

Former students, Sarah Ellis and Hunter Crowe, paid tribute to Brendan, highlighting in particular the confidence he instilled in the students and his generosity with his time, organising things like the school’s surf academy and Paddle for Humanity, and spending lunchtimes out on the field playing and refereeing sports. “Your passion for your students is inspiring,” Hunter said. “We wish you and your family all the best on your new adventure. The kids in Malaysia have no idea what’s coming their way.”

Principal of Whangamata Area School, Alistair Luke, who takes over as lead principal for the Community of Learning, thanked Brendan for his courage, compassion and commitment. “Tairua School, and by extension the Tairua community, has flourished under your leadership,” he said.

Reflecting on his time in Tairua, Brendan said he had come to the school when the roll consisted of 74 students and four teaching staff. “Today we have a role of 150 and team of 20 full and part-time staff,” he said.

Among the highlights of his time, Brendan listed the completion of the new three classroom block in 2018, the formation and growth of the Coromandel Community of Learning, the development of the school’s outdoor education programme and being part of last year’s Tuia 250 commemorations at Wharekaho. “That experience will be burnt into my memory forever,” he said. “You couldn’t help but feel you were part of something much larger than just what you were seeing.

“My plan was to be here for three years. Three years to learn and then take that forward to the next stage in my career. The office lady at the time, Louise Elliott, warned me that I would fall in love with this place and never want to leave. Here I am 12 years later and I am having to force myself.” Brendan paid tribute to all the Board of Trustee members, the Tairua School Food and Wine festival coordinators, the staff, parents and students who had been part of his time at the school.

“You arrive here and you get to know people, they become acquaintances, acquaintances become friends and then friends become family,” he said. “We feel like we have become part of a massive family.”

Stephanie Kneebone thanked Brendan on behalf of all the staff commending the enthusiasm and positivity he brings not just to school, but to life. “He selflessly puts others needs before his own, he’s always first to arrive and last to leave, speaking positive words of appreciation even for the small things we are doing,” she said.

Brendan said as he moves on it is important to remember that as a principal you are just a steward. “At the end of the day it is a privilege to have this job,” he said. “There are those who came before and those who will follow. You need to take care of this place as best you can during your tenure knowing your job is to then hand it on for the next person to make their mark and I am excited to see what the future will hold for Tairua School.”

Brendan’s final words were saved for his students. “You amaze me every day,” he said. “Your willingness to take risks and push yourselves. You are the authors of your own lives. I have been so proud to be your principal.”

Pictured: Tairua School principal, Brendan Finn, pictured with teacher Chris Hogarth and the students of Room 6.


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