Onehunga High School logo

Posted in General Ms Shea's Senior Award Ceremony Address

Date: 14 November 2022



Ms  Shea's Senior Award Ceremony Address

Tēnā koutou katoa

Tālofa lava

Mālō e lelei

Kia orāna

Fakaalofa lahi atu


Nῐmen hӑo

Ni sa bula

Mālo ni

 Nau mai, haere mai. Welcome to our Senior Awards Ceremony for 2022.

 The last three years have been challenging for us all, and some more than others, dealing with situations that have been created, or made tougher, by the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year I referred to Martin Luther King junior’s words, and Faaiuga quoted these at our Services Academy march out: If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward. It is right to again acknowledge the loyalty each of you has shown to yourself, your family and our school, to keep supporting each other, and the courage you have shown to keep moving forward. You continue to demonstrate loyalty and courage.

 Change is here to stay. It is how life is now. And together, we can do it. We are doing it. Together we have worked through the demolition of half of our school and the constant redevelopment of our campus over the past three years. In particular, I want to acknowledge all of our Year 13 students. In your final year at school you have seen the major part of our redevelopment completed, and you have learned and managed your lives through a global pandemic for each of your senior years at secondary school. You are inspirational young people and leaders.

 With work ongoing, but with the major part of our rebuild completed, it is timely to again thank our architects Ignite, project managers BECA, the Ministry of Education, construction company Naylor Love and Associate Principal Gareth Leadbeater, our absolutely amazing Project Lead, who all continue to deliver us a superb campus that matches the quality of teaching and learning that goes on in our school.

 This is my final senior awards ceremony as principal, and I want to acknowledge the very special farewell assembly that students gifted me earlier. Thank you again so much to everyone involved, you have left an indelible print on my heart.

I also want to take a moment to share one of the many learnings from my 16 wonderful years in this role and my 30 amazing years at Onehunga High School that I hope will resonate with you. Some years ago when I was asked to speak about some of my learnings as principal, I shared these ideas with a group who were studying leadership. My message is simple: Be yourself and back yourself, but not by yourself.

 1.      Be yourself

Be your authentic self – don’t try to be others, the gift you have to offer the world is the gift of you. Be confident in who you are and what you have to offer. In your way. This has been the biggest lesson for me since becoming principal. Do things the way that is in accord with your style – it is not better or worse than anyone else, it is being you. It is a joy that we are all different and bring different perspectives to our lives. Embrace diversity, embrace your uniqueness and be open to learning from each other. Know that being you is special. That famous line - be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

 2.      Back yourself

Your bottom line is always to do what is right. Keep your integrity, keep your optimism and positive approach, keep being respectful of everyone, keep listening more than you talk (we have 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason). Trust your gut and back yourself. Listen to that voice that is telling you what you should do, even when you are not quite sure why.

 3.        But not by yourself

We all know there is no “I” in “team”. And that is what I want to particularly acknowledge today, this fantastic community. You are simply wonderful, our community has always been inclusive, warm and supportive. May it always be so. Because it is always about the people.

He aha te mea nui o te ao

He tangata, he tangata, he tangata

So be yourself, back yourself and connect with others so that you are not working in isolation! Thank you all for the joy and fulfillment that have been with me throughout my years in this community.

 Talking about community segues perfectly into acknowledging Linda Melrose, our Adult and Community Education Co-ordinator and International Student Director, who is leaving us this year after having been here for 35 years. Linda is our longest serving staff member, having begun at Onehunga High as an economics teacher in 1988. Linda leaves an incredible legacy of achievements. As many of you know, our government funded Adult and Community Education programme is the biggest of any school in New Zealand, and Linda has made it this way. She leads programmes that deliver to people in central and south Auckland and she is committed to quality lifelong learning. My biggest learning from Linda over the years has been her positive, proactive attitude. She says yes to all creative opportunities and then figures out how to do it!

The other person I would like to especially acknowledge is Christine Hallett who has taught music at Onehunga High School for 27 years, to individual students as well as choirs. Christine is one of our itinerant Music teachers. She has taught many young people across Auckland throughout her career, including people who simply want to enjoy learning and singing for pleasure as well as those for whom music and singing is their career. Thank you, Christine, for the positive difference you have made to everyone you have taught and those of us who have had the privilege of listening.

 Thank you also, to all whānau, teachers, friends, former students, former parents, and community supporters. Your support of and care for our students, matters. We value our partnership with you, and we are very grateful to you.

 As always, thank you to our students for your wonderful contribution. Work hard and continue to develop your gifts and talents. Follow your dreams. Be yourself and back yourself but not by yourself.

 We will plant beautiful roses in our garden, in acknowledgement of Year 13 students of 2022. The dark red rose is named “Courage” and the orange rose is called “Aotearoa”. We chose them because of the significance of their names and because they are beautiful. We invite you to come back and check them out, it is lovely to acknowledge you in this way, as you move on to the next stage of your life journey. We wish you joy and fulfillment in your lives ahead.


Website by 72DPI