Tena koutou katoa. Nga mihi atawhai nui.
Stories – we are the keepers of the stories and we need to tell them and keep telling them. Megan McKenna said ‘we live inside the story’ – so here is my Carmel story.
It’s nearly 50 years since I first started at Carmel – in 1973, as a Year 9 student, recently arrived from Rotorua. That was my first ‘stint’ here. I left after 4 years, at the end of Year 12 to go to the US as Carmel’s first Rotary exchange student. I returned again, at Dame Sister Pauline’s invitation, to be an English teacher. I stayed 12 years this time, teaching English, deaning, running the IT network and becoming HOD English.
I left to get further SLT experience so I could come back some day as Principal. In 2014, I started another 7½ years at Carmel, as Principal. It’s great when a plan comes together. And, now, after 25 years of being at Carmel over a 50 year span, my story moves on to another chapter – not quite written yet, but there is a draft.
And, during those years, I hope I have made a positive contribution to the Carmel story as a student, a teacher, a parent and a Principal.
But Carmel has very much enriched my story. Forming me as a student to become a Mercy woman; giving me career opportunities and being able to share my knowledge with such wonderful young women in my classrooms – now teaching many of their daughters; and, in my current role, amazing opportunities and, by far and away, the biggest highlight – spending a week at the Mercy International house in Baggot Street in Dublin and deeply enriching my understanding of the Mercy charism.
But the biggest contributor to my story has been the people.
“He aha te mea nui
Te mea nui o teenei ao?
Maku e kī atu kia koe
he tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata…”
If I was asked what was the most important thing in the world I would be compelled to reply, it is people, it is people, it is people.
Through a Māori lens, this whakatauki is referring to WHAKAPAPA as the most important thing – the people to whom we are connected – not only those who have come before us but also those who come after us – and the idea that we are people through other people, and all that they represent in terms of knowledge and experience.
There are so many of you people to thank and acknowledge who have contributed to my story here at Carmel –my whānau, and the many, many people who I have had the pleasure and privilege of working alongside – being people through other people.
There are so many stories I could tell you about all of these people – but there is one person who I would like to acknowledge who has had the most influence over my professional career. Dame Sister Pauline. She taught me History as a student. She offered me my first teaching job here at Carmel. And so my teaching career began.
We kept in touch and, as I was leaving to be Principal at Sacred Heart in Hamilton, she gave me her Mercy cross to remind me that I was a Mercy girl.
We all live inside the story of Carmel, of Catholic education, in the tradition of Mercy.
It is a story to enter; a language to speak; a group to which to belong; a way to pray; a work to undertake; a face of God to see.
And, as all good stories end with a flourish, you are now the keepers and tellers of the story and I wish you all come true. It has been a true honour to be a part of this wonderful learning community. You will live forever in my heart.