G rant started as Headmaster at St Paul’s in the first term of 2010 when the school was in a time of unrest, the roll was declining, and the school’s facilities were tired. His priority was to improve the level of behaviour of the current students and lift the standard of facilities.
Many of the school buildings were run down and needed attention and while Grant says, at times the management of these upgrades took him away from his role as Headmaster, he’s unapologetic about this. He has seen the effect these developments have had on staff and students through the sense of pride they show for their school.
“I have enjoyed every moment of these builds,” says Grant.
His building projects have included the extension and upgrade of; the Collegians Pavilion, the dining room, boarding houses, Mary Hornsby Music Centre, Drama and Dance Studio and the mathematics block. New builds have included Hula houses, Tihoi houses, tutor accommodation, the Gallagher Agribusiness Centre of Excellence and the Learning Hub.
Big in stature, persona and voice, Grant was determined to give St Paul’s students a greater understanding of tikanga Maaori. He started with the introduction of the school haka, written by former Head Boy, Dr Te Aro Moxon (School, Hall 1998-2002) which tells the story of St Paul. This haka is now very much a tradition at St Paul’s and is performed passionately by students at House Haka competition time and on special occasions.
Grant has achieved much in his time at St Paul’s but one of his legacies will be the introduction of Agribusiness as a subject for senior students.
“This would have to be one of the most exciting projects I have worked on in all my teaching career. I have enjoyed meeting with cabinet ministers and primary sector leaders to bring this subject to life and to get it recognised as an NCEA subject, something that often takes years to achieve.”
Another highlight has been the growth of music within the school. “When I first arrived at St Paul’s we had no bands and a small choir. We now have an amazing kapa haka group, various bands and an outstanding choir,” says Grant.
There have also been memorable sporting moments during Grant’s tenure as Headmaster including the Maadi Cup challenges – particularly when the girls won the Dawn Cup in 2017. Other highlights were the first XV rugby team winning their CNI competitions, the netball girls qualifying for the national finals, the first XI cricket team qualifying for the national Gillette Cup finals and the first XI hockey boys winning the Rankin Cup in 2016.
Grant has felt privileged to lead St Paul’s for the past 11 years, a job he has absolutely loved. “There has never been a time in those 11 years where I haven’t wanted to come to work.”
“The opportunity to work with young people and have an influence over their lives has been the defining reason I have followed this pathway,” he says.
At his final assembly, Grant told the students he reluctantly accepted that this was his final day as Headmaster.
"It’s the people in your life that really make a difference in the quality of your experience," he said to them.
He thanked them for giving him the energy to lead the school.
“It didn’t matter how I felt every morning when I left home, I knew when I met one of you on my way to the office you would energise me. What energised me was your smile, your ‘hello’ or the wave your mum or dad gave me when dropping you at school. You have accepted me for who I am and I thank you.”
Grant left his final assembly by removing his dress shoes and replacing them with yellow and black slides, the very shoes he banned students from wearing on campus. This was received with cheers from the students and the applauding continued as the school’s 10th Headmaster was given a standing ovation when he and his family exited the Chapel.
After a four-week tour of the South Island, Grant and wife Judith plan to retire in Devonport, where fishing, home renovating and spending time with their grandchildren are now their priorities.