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Stand-in boss gone fishin’

Wairarapa College acting principal Peter Gould heads back to retirement this week after playing a key role in reshaping the school, which now has more than 1000 students on its roll.

By Geoff Vause
[email protected]
Peter Gould may have felt he needed his waders when he took over Wairarapa College last year.
The stand-in principal was enjoying his passion for fishing when he was asked to take the helm of the financially troubled college after the resignation of Mike Schwass.
The school had been put into management by the Ministry of Education owing $1.86 million largely as a result of overstaffing, and a falling roll.
On Mr Gould’s watch the roll has risen from 980 to 1020 and the budget is $250,000 in the black.
It was important to Mr Gould to protect and enhance student achievement and their campus opportunities.
His management from the principal’s office saw the loss of only 5.33 teaching positions to about 66 teachers today.
“All the money is now flowing into the operations budget and curriculum funding and providing opportunities for students. Things are in balance and able to go forward,”
Mr Gould said the turnaround came through the “resilience, goodwill and support of staff and students”.
He makes his way back to retirement and fishing this week, with new principal Shelley Power to be welcomed at a powhiri next Monday.
“I’ve found this school to be a remarkable place,” he said.
“I’ve been part of the rebuild and reshaping, keeping the school performing as well as it can every day. I’ve done that with the goodwill and support of the staff.
“The students may have noticed people talking in the community [about the school’s problems] and they may have felt a bit funny coming to their school, but normal business has not changed.
“Our students and our staff have been fantastically resilient and just on with the business of making the culture of the school great every day.”
The large and skilled teaching and support staff drive the academic and extra-curricular life of the school with many well supported activities.
“No other school in the district offers anywhere near this capacity,” he said.
“It is amazing. I think on average the quality of the students at this school is as good as those anywhere. A remarkable resource of Wairarapa youth choose to come here.
“They are lovely students and I say that from wide experience. I’ve been principal of four schools.”
He said students even took part in the selection process for the new principal.
“When we were going through the process to appoint a new principal we had a lot of interest.
“Prospective principals wanted to come and have a look and meet the staff and students.
“I’d give the students a briefing and leave it to them to take them around and give them their view of the school.
“They would form their own idea of the applicants. They have a chance to influence the appointment.”
Mr Gould said the school was now financially stable and statutory management would cease with the election of a new board and as the principal settled in.
The staged rebuilding programme now underway was expected to enhance a school now set on a path to success.
Mr Gould’s wife was a Wairarapa College student in the late 1960s under her maiden name Judith Ritchie.
He said it had been easy to convince her to return to the area for his temporary role in the turnaround.
The pair now plan to continue retirement with grandchildren, travel, and for Mr Gould at least, a lot of trout fishing.


  1. Great news, especially about a school that gave me so many opportunities for growth in the 5 years (1966-1970) I was a student there
    Best Wishes
    John Laurenson

  2. Wow what a fantastic article this is. So pleased to read some really inspiring and positive words about Wairarapa College and its positive move in to the future. A great school with some amazing hard working teaching staff. All the very best going forward.

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