A bright future ahead for school leaders

27 May 2024

Christ’s College Head of Boarding Franklin Barry reflects on an informative, inspirational, and entertaining Head Boys conference hosted by College.

Thirty-six Head Boys from around New Zealand have come to Christ’s College to learn more about leadership and personal growth, along with taking the opportunity to connect with like-minded young men.

“Every boy was incredibly impressed with the workshops and speakers at the conference. I enjoyed welcoming the boys to College, who all remarked on the campus, facilities, enthusiastic teachers, and well-rounded boys, along with the overall good vibe.”

Overseen by the Association of Boys’ Schools in New Zealand, the conference has been a huge success. Over three days, students have undertaken eight workshops, heard from amazing guest speakers, gathered together for meals, united for a special Chapel service, and watched the College production of Anything Goes.

Led by College Head of Character & Leadership, and Service Matt Cortesi, the days have been “very well organised”. Along with Mr Cortesi, the workshop leaders and speakers have included leadership specialist Jade Beaman, College Head of English Chris Waugh, Eco-Action Nursery Trust co-founder David Newton, former Head Boy and Crusaders player Zach Gallagher, former Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock, and Olympic rowing coach, and College Immerse & Inspire programme leader Tony O’Connor.

Ned Clarke, from Gisborne Boys’ High School, has appreciated being able to “attend multiple workshops from a diverse group of speakers” but adds that “one speaker really stood out to me and that was Tony O'Connor talking about high-pressure leadership”.

“He shared his journey with the New Zealand eight to Olympic gold,” Ned says. “Being a rower myself, I thoroughly enjoyed his talk. This allowed me to think about how I can utilise some of his skills and implement them in my role as Head Boy. I felt extremely privileged to be a part of the experience, forming connections with, and learning from, an incredible bunch of people.”

For St Bede’s College Head Prefect Simon Boyle-Curnow, the conference has been “an eye-opening experience”.

“While we were all there to learn from the workshop guest speakers to better our schools and ourselves as leaders, it's safe to say we learnt enormously from one another as well.”

James Church, from Rathkeale College, describes the conference as “enlightening, comforting, and inspiring”.

While all the speakers left a “lasting impression on all of us”, the “most memorable workshop” was with Mr Waugh.

“He challenged our way of thinking and our understanding of what it means to be a head prefect,” James says. “We must embrace our strengths to enhance our future.”

Rongotai College Head Prefect Nysi Soulis has also appreciated meeting “so many unreal boys from across the country”.

“The future is bright for them all and I am so excited to see all the great legacies that they will leave in their schools.”

Fergus Oberlin-Brown, from Otago Boys’ High School, has learnt about “turning our leadership talents into strengths and using those strengths to become better leaders” while Michael van Lieshout, from Tauranga Boys’ College, has had a “wicked time at Christ’s College”, exploring the principles of leadership and “spending a few days with an unreal group of lads”.

For Dunedin’s Ted Menzies, from King’s High School, the “conference was an extraordinary experience” and “my biggest takeaway was simply ‘don't mould yourself to the role of Head Boy, mould the role of Head Boy to you”.

“We can all leave our own impact on our schools, in our own way, with our own strengths.”

Lindisfarne College’s Fergus Morunga adds it has been a “life-changing experience that I will remember forever”.