Christ’s College pays tribute to Garth Wynne

08 Jul 2024

Christ’s College Executive Principal Garth Wynne has taken his final walk around the Quad, flanked by a guard of honour of students and staff, culminating in an emotional Chapel service and a powerful school haka.

Concluding an eight-and-a-half-year tenure, Garth has led all the boys into the Chapel for his last service. During the moving occasion, a specially commissioned piece, The Parable of the Good Samaritan – written by David Hamilton and based on Luke 10: 29–37 – has been sung by the Chapel Choir for the first time.

The work has been commissioned by the Chapel Choir for Garth, “in recognition of his support to the choral and Chapel programme and his unwavering commitment to the College Virtues”. For the Chapel Choir, Garth’s “legacy to College is best summarised in this setting and biblically reflects his influence on wellbeing, young men of good character, and the IDEALS of the Round Square movement”.

The Chaplain, the Rev. Canon Cameron Pickering, has told the boys that along with Garth Wynne the principal, and Garth Brooks, the top-selling solo artist in music history, another ‘garth’ can be found at College – an old term for an enclosed quadrangle or sacred space, surrounded by a cloister.

Both Garth and Head of Teaching & Learning Nicole Billante have been farewelled, concluding with a special blessing composed by Director of Music Robert Aburn.

Following the service, the boys have captured the emotion of the day in a final stunning haka, following Garth to the school gates to bid farewell as he returns to his homeland, Australia, and a new role with Round Square.

Earlier, the ‘Wynne Years’ were celebrated with a haka, music, and a heartfelt speech from student leaders at Assembly.

As the sound of the conch shells echoed across the Assembly Hall, Garth and his wife, Annie, were welcomed by all the boys. Along with the students’ haka and speeches, Year 10 soloist Cole Moffatt performed Fleetwood Mac’s Don't Stop, one’s of the retiring Executive Principal’s favourite songs.

Head Prefect Zinzan Bondarenko-Leatua and Head of Boarding Franklin Barry have praised the departing school leader for his kindness and commitment to an inclusive school culture that aims to benefit and support each boy.

“An incredibly compassionate and humble leader, Mr Wynne has strived to make sure that College respects the traditions it is built on, while still keeping up with the modernity of the society that surrounds our school,” they have told the school community. “He has also encouraged and built a multi-faceted student programme, whether it has been through including a compulsory Year 9 Te Reo Māori class, or promoting and integrating the wellbeing aspect in our culture at Christ’s College.

“In doing so, every boy who leaves in Year 13 has a wide range of different assets and experiences in their mental toolboxes, meaning they are well prepared to become excellent, well-rounded young men as they go into their lives beyond the school gates.”

Franklin and Zinzan have also acknowledged the way Garth “knows that every moment is a learning opportunity, and that everyone, no matter who they are, deserves a second chance, with his supportiveness enabling everyone to have the possibility to grow”.

“Mr Wynne’s kindness is also shown in his inclusivity, which can be seen now in how we celebrate and embrace diversity at College. Highly respected among the boys as well as staff, and admired by the parents, this is an indication of exactly how strong a leader Mr Wynne has been.”

His presence on the sidelines and at numerous school events has also been appreciated, with his support “widespread and not dependent on the level of the team or the quality of the music or acting”.

“It’s a perfect example of how much he cares for us, and is a visual sign of his extraordinary character,” the student leaders say. “The contribution and the positive impact you have had on College will remain forever. You leave behind a great legacy. We thank you for the strong position Christ's College is in, and the positive impact you have left on all of us, allowing each boy to be at his best.”