by ZITA SMITH
WELLINGTON — The first NZ Catholic Primary Principals’ Conference in almost 20 years
was held in Wellington in June.
One hundred Catholic primary school principals gathered from June 26-27 for a conference
called “Igniting the Spirit of Catholic Leadership”.

Principals learning dance moves.

The conference was the brainchild of outgoing NZ Catholic Primary Principals’ Association president Craig McKernan from St Francis Xavier Catholic School in Whangarei.
Executive members who represent Catholic principals in each of the six dioceses proposed
the idea to their regional groups. When it was well received, they went ahead.
Speakers included Fr Mark Field, Vicar for Education in Hamilton diocese, Professor
Chris Branson from Waikato University, the Secretary for Education, Peter Hughes, and
Br Pat Lynch, CEO of the NZ Catholic Education Office. All speakers stressed the treasure
that is Catholic education.
Archbishop John Dew gave the final address with a talk about the human and spiritual
aspects of authentic leadership.
He said that we teach, preach and witness who we are and we also lead and serve who we are. We need to be people of prayer and people of hope, and that what makes us more human makes us more Christlike.
Principals also visited the Sisters of Compassion in Island Bay. They prayed in the
church and spent time at the new visitor centre and around the grounds where Mother
Mary Aubert is buried.
An evaluation survey will give formal feedback, but given the positive comments of principals, it is expected the conference will become a regular event.
• Zita Smith is principal of St Theresa’s Catholic School, Plimmerton.

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