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Message from the Headmaster – February 2024

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Welcome to the 2024 academic year. We once again extend a special welcome to Form 3 students, new students at all levels and parents new to Auckland Grammar School.

I do want to acknowledge our young men for their endorsement of the School’s values and expectations by returning to School on Tuesday 23 January, meeting or exceeding our expectations. With their support and the expertise of teachers, this year’s teaching programme got underway on Thursday 25 January, which has meant we have completed nine full days of teaching and we now look forward to our first full week of teaching on Monday.

Over these first few weeks of the term, I have again referenced Owen Eastwood’s book Belonging with staff and students in assembly, specifically discussing our environment and culture. In particular, I noted that:

  • 70% of human behaviour is determined by the environment you are in
  • 40% of the variation of happiness can be explained by environmental factors
  • We cannot be a high-performance environment if we don’t feel comfortable to ask questions

To me, these are critical factors for any school to carefully consider and discuss. In our case, this involves bringing together 2,700 students and 230 staff members with common aims and purposes. Eastwood suggests in an article published in The Guardian that we need to have two conversations early:

“Firstly, about what we want to achieve together as a team; secondly, why this is good for each individual…I strongly believe you focus on building a healthy environment, and then we fine-tune performance from there.”

I have discussed this article with our staff as we work together to build and maintain a consistent, high quality and safe environment for all students, where they have equal opportunity to learn and grow. You can read the article here.


As we started the academic year, we welcomed 17 new teachers to Grammar. All have been employed for their specialist knowledge across a range of subjects, and include teachers with extensive knowledge of both the Cambridge and NCEA qualification pathways. We look forward to their contributions throughout the year.


Our first congratulations of the year were offered to 2024 Head Prefect T. C. Jones and Deputy Head Prefect H. P. Klouwens. At the same assembly, we also recognised the 2024 Senior Prefects: M. A. G. Galloway, S. H. A. S. Peita and M. T. Upu.

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 2024 Prefects can be found here.

External Examination Results

The 2023 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 the March edition of the Bulletin. In the interim, we acknowledge the success experienced in Cambridge and NZQA Scholarship Examinations.

Our young men earned 15 awards in the Outstanding Cambridge Learner Awards.  These included:

  • Five High Achievement Awards (for top in New Zealand for a subject with limited entries)
  • Eight Top in New Zealand Awards
  • Two Top in the World Awards

In NZQA Scholarship examinations our young men earned 217 scholarships, 37 of which were graded as Outstanding scholarships. Specific congratulations to:

  • Nicholas Clarke, Oliver Gunson and Jayden Kumar who have each been named as one of 10 NZQA Premier Scholars
  • Top in Subject Scholarship Award winners included Oliver Gunson (Accounting and Physics), Alistair Ha (English) and Jayden Kumar (Geography)
  • Outstanding Scholar Awards included Ethan Chuang, Omesh Gupta, Emmanuel Hernandez, Ramanujan Madhusudhan, Cole McCulley, Atharv Shinde, Maxmilian Sobr, Arsh Verma and Samuel Wheeler

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