Nayland College principal Rex Smith is leaving the school at the end of this year to move to Wellington. A new principal has already been appointed. Photo: Andrew Board.

Nayland principal farewells college


After five and a half years as principal of Nayland College, Rex Smith is leaving at the end of this year to take up a job in Wellington – but he promises to be back.

Rex moved to the top of the south 14 years ago when he took the job as principal of Motueka High School. He was there for eight years before moving to Nayland.

He says he’s leaving the job because he wife secured a role with NZQA in Wellington and, after following him “around the country for my career,” it was time to repay the favour. Rex has since secured a job with the New Zealand Teachers Council in Wellington.

But the move to the capital won’t be for long, he says, with the plan to come back to Nelson to live.

“We see our move to Wellington as a short-term change, we will keep property here with the view of coming back. Where else would you want to live?”

Chair of the Nayland College board of trustees, Tracey East, says the school is in good hands with a replacement already announced, Daniel Wilson, an associate principal at Manurewa High School in Auckland. “Over the two day interview process, Daniel impressed us. He is vibrant, passionate, and enthusiastic. He will continue to drive the college forward.”

Last week, Rex gave his farewell speech at the school’s senior prize-giving, described as the “toughest speech of my life”.

He says working at Nayland has been an “awesome” experience and his greatest pride was watching the students perform at the highest levels, whether it was in academics or on the sports field.

“Highlights are always about what happens around the kids. So for me it’s the scholarship results, students performing really well academically and on the sports field. And it’s not just the top teams but seeing other kids out there doing it.”

The biggest challenges included a dip in the school’s role last year, something Rex says was a “readjustment”. “It was a challenge and I learnt a lot out of it, but that’s behind us now. We are quite steady at the moment with around 1000 students on the roll.”

Rex will leave the school before Christmas.