Richard Dykes says he has no preconceived ideas about what he wants to do at the school. Photo: Charles Anderson.

New College headmaster to build on legacy

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When Richard Dykes was shoulder-tapped to apply for the role of Nelson College’s new headmaster, he wasn’t actively looking for a new job.

But Richard knew that he didn’t want to stay in Auckland forever.

For the past five years he had been the principal of Glendowie College, as well as being the president of the Auckland Principals Association.

“But we also had the insider’s knowledge that Nelson is a slice of paradise,” he says.

He also lived in the region while he taught at Waimea College from 1998 to 2005. So, when the opportunity came up he jumped at it. “I love a challenge.”

Richard is only a week into the role but says he likes what he sees.

“There is already a lot of good stuff going on, and I want to harness that and run with it.”

He says that he wants to “build a legacy and a future”.

“Your sense of identity comes from where you are but also your history … your whakapapa is as important as your whenua.”

In his five years as principal of Glendowie College, Richard strengthened the school’s academic results, instigated a plan for new buildings, remodeled the junior curriculum, and developed a leading mental health and wellbeing framework.

Richard says that he is excited about working in an all-boys’ school and says there is definitely a place for single sex schools in today’s New Zealand.

“I’m confident I will put a mark on the school, but you have to get the lie of the land. Each school has a unique landscape and you have to adapt to that. I don’t have any fixed ideas.”

Richard takes over from Gary O’Shea who stepped down from the role at the end of last year after 13 years.

Richard says he has a strong focus on academic results and scholarships.

“That is the fundamental job of a school.”

Nelson College board of trustees chair Dennis Christian says the board knows Richard will bring a fresh perspective to the college balanced with an understanding and appreciation for its culture and heritage.