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Message from the Headmaster – February 2023

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Welcome to the 2023 academic year. We once again extend a special welcome to Form 3 students, new students at all levels and parents new to Grammar.

I do acknowledge our young men for their preparedness to return to School on Tuesday 24 January, meeting or exceeding our expectations. In amongst considerable uncertainty with the flooding at the end of the first week, the way they have responded has helped set the tone for 2023. We have been on full timetable since Thursday 26 January, which has meant we have now completed 10 full days of teaching (including two days of online learning) and this week marks our first full week of lessons.

Over these first few weeks of the term I have referenced Owen Eastwood’s book, Belonging, in assembly, specifically discussing organisations, groups and teams that work above the line. Eastwood said, “In any group with strong standards and lived values, the line is high. Together we take great pride in living above it.  When someone falls below the line it is acknowledged and remedied. We know that living above the line will bring success for the group and meaning for individuals. In teams with poor standards and weak values the line is low. It is a place of existing, not thriving. We know we are not the best version of ourselves here. Our motivation, confidence and energy are low, like the line.”

I have reminded your sons that the line is high at Grammar, and the standards and values are clear for good reason.  The line is where it is to help create an environment that supports their learning, allows them to be challenged and to grow as individuals, while building a sense of social responsibility and of belonging to something bigger than themselves.


As we started the academic year, we welcomed eight new teachers to Grammar.  All have been employed for their specialist knowledge across a range of subjects. They include teachers with extensive knowledge of the Cambridge and NCEA qualification pathways. We look forward to their contributions throughout the year.


Our first congratulations of the year were offered to Head Prefect, Quinlan Te Tamaki, and Deputy Head Prefect, Jamie Mora. As is tradition, Quinlan was the first student of the year to cross the stage, closely followed by Jamie and Senior Prefects Angus Baker, Preston Morunga, Monty Parkinson and Robson Reidy.

Along with the full Prefect Team named at the end of the first week of term, we look forward to their leadership and the contributions they will make to Grammar life this year. More details on the 2023 Prefects can be found here.

External Examination Results

The 2022 external examination results met, and in many cases, exceeded our annual targets and we have congratulated those young men who met their potential last year. A full report on academic results will be provided in next month’s Bulletin.  In the interim we acknowledge the success experienced in Cambridge Examinations and NZQA Scholarship Examinations.

Our young men earned 27 awards in the Outstanding Cambridge Learner Awards, which included:

  • Seven High Achievement awards (for top in New Zealand for a subject with limited entries), 12 Top in New Zealand and seven Top in the World Awards
  • 2022 Dux Ryaan Sidhu earned the top award in A Levels in the country – Best Across 3 A Level subjects

In NZQA Scholarship examinations our young men earned 152 scholarships, 26 of which were graded as outstanding scholarships. Specific congratulations to:

  • Daniel Johnston, Ryaan Sidhu and Michael Yao who have each been named as one of 11 NZQA Premier Scholars
  • Ethan Lee (Chemistry), Daniel Johnston (Economics), Michael Yao (Health and Physical Education and History) were named NZQA Top in Subject Scholarship Award winners

Finally, in our first full School assembly of the year, I reminded our young men that with commitment each of them can achieve their potential as contributing members of Auckland Grammar School. Owen Eastwood said it like this, “Belonging is never a state that is permanently achieved. Consistency in environment and the behaviour of those around us are key. Ambiguity or mixed signalling seriously elevate anxiety.

Performing at something that is important to us involves stress. The question is whether we ensure it is enabling motivation, engagement or focus or allowing it to disable us through distraction, wasted energy and disconnection from others.”

When your sons follow the School’s clear direction, the guidance of teachers and treat others as they want to be treated, then they help build a positive culture and a consistent environment. There are no mixed signals at Grammar because the standards are shared, repeated, applied and the same for all. 

Those who contribute to such a culture, belong. In belonging, they can begin to perform to their potential and the stress that naturally comes with competition and life can be used to help focus and motivate them.

Per Angusta Ad Augusta

Tim O’Connor