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School a family affair for new Solway head

Mark Bridges and his wife Juliet with their three young daughters. PHOTO/SUPPLIED


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It will be a real family affair when Mark Bridges starts his work as principal of Solway Primary School from the start of next year.

Mr Bridges will not be alone.

He will be going to school with his three daughters — Hannah, Katherine and Laura – who have all enrolled.

Mr Bridges and his wife, Juliet, will be moving their young family from Auckland to Wairarapa to take up his new position.

He described Masterton as “a good place to raise a family”.

The move will be an exciting “adventure” for the family who are looking for a better mix of urban and rural lifestyles.

“The discussions at the table are all about chickens and sheep, and whether we actually need an alpaca.”

Mr Bridges said he was hoping to spend more time fly fishing and a few other things “you just can’t do in Auckland”.

He has spent 21 years teaching all over the world, including two years in some of Britain’s toughest schools and a seven-year stint in the Falkland Islands.

It was in the Falkland Islands that he learned what an important a role schools played in bringing communities together, he said.

In a more senior role, he had been assistant principal, and head of literacy, at Glen Eden Intermediate which is one of the largest immediate schools in the country.

Before that, he managed to get a principalship under his belt at a small school in West Auckland.

Mr Bridges said he had had his eye on Masterton for some time before the job popped up.

“I know the region reasonably well,” he said.

The Golden Shears was a “big deal” when he was working in the Falkland Islands.

“I have a number of friends who come from all over the world to compete,” he said.

They would certainly have a place to stay when the competition rolled around next year, he said.

He was looking forward to joining Solway Primary School, saying that it was a privilege to do so in a centenary year.

“I am really looking forward to leading it into that new century.”

Mr Bridges said he was keen to get stuck in helping the school’s sports teams.

“Outdoor education is something I really love,” he said.

“I’ll be going out of my way to take sports teams and different things.”

Teaching is in the blood for Mr Bridges, who is a fourth-generation teacher.

“It’s really about changing lives,” he said.

“It’s one of the few jobs you can have where you can really influence not only the lives of young people, but potentially the direction of the country.”

That was what had kept him teaching, he said.

“There’s not a single day that you can be bored in teaching — every day is different.”

Solway Primary Board of Trustees chairperson Claire Shaw said Mr Bridges had delivered great results as a teacher and leader.

“We know that Mark’s experience, energy and enthusiasm will bring great benefits to all our children at Solway and we’re really looking forward to welcoming Mark and his family into our community.”




  1. I have known mark for decades, and his amazing wife Juliet for about 8 years. They are are just about the best people that I have ever met, are much loved, and will only add to your beautiful neck of the woods.
    Paul Hames.

  2. Great Guy Mark Bridges and his family too, he will add a lot of value to the Solway Primary who are lucky to have Mark as their new principal. Well done Mark and all the very best to you, Juliet and the kids.

  3. Mark will do an awesome job. He will turn this school around, with his enthusiasm for life, being an awesome Dad and husband. This school is getting a COUPLE, and a family, not just a SINGLE person.
    What an awesome combination.
    God bless this new move.

    • What is it about Solway Primary school that needs to be turned around? Solway Primary has a well established identity already. I have no doubt that Mark will build on what is already a fantastic school.

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