“Disco Pete” taught under six headmasters and had a positive influence on thousands of students in a remarkable 40-years at St Paul’s.
Network recently caught up with the former PE teacher to find out how he’s doing in retirement.
“I’m really enjoying it. We are now living in Cambridge while we develop our retirement home in Whangamata having sold our Tamahere home 24-hours before the lockdown.”
Peter and his wife Gay have been enjoying getting out and about, as well as having the company of extended family during the lockdown.
“We have discovered heaps of walking and biking tracks around us so have been exploring them every day.”
He is looking forward to doing more surfing – a lifelong passion – as well as paddle-boarding, golf and tennis when they move to Whangamata.
Peter was fully involved in all areas of school life – making his mark as a PE head of department, teacher and school manager, as well as in sport, music and pastoral care.
A talented guitar player and music lover, he also organised, produced, and run auditions for the school’s famed Celebration of Music events, originally known as the Musical Extravaganza.
“The beautiful thing is you get to see kids out of the classroom, and they get to see you outside the classroom and I just loved that.”
In the 1990s, he was seconded by the Education Ministry to establish physical education as an academic subject in the national curriculum.
As first XV rugby coach from 1980-1984, a win over Auckland’s King’s College, to lift the school’s status as a rugby playing school, were highlights.
While filling in as a music teacher, he thought learning about the inner workings of the school organ was too boring, so instead, he taught ukulele for the term.
He was the founding Housemaster of Fitchett House in 1999 and held many roles at the school including Assistant Headmaster, a post he held until the end. “I guess the reason I have been here so long is that I have had the opportunity to reinvent myself. All those reinventions along the way have been a lot of fun.”
While his service may have been short in years, Peter Hampton’s legacy as the driving force behind the school’s acclaimed Agribusiness programme, means his legacy lives on.
“It is the most amazing thing that Grant (Headmaster Grant Lander) and I have ever done in education. It is very exciting that we have now got 100 schools in New Zealand teaching Agribusiness at NCEA Levels 2 and 3.
In 2013, when the school hosted the Young Farmer’s regional finals, a parent commented, ‘why don’t we teach agribusiness as a subject?’
“From there, we decided it would be worth exploring setting up Agribusiness as a New Zealand subject and we were going to drive it from within the sector.” The rest is history.
He credits a conversation with the late Michael Spaans, former Fonterra director and chair of DairyNZ.
“What he gave me in that one hour would form the basis of what, over the next 5 years, would become the New Zealand curriculum.”
The school surveyed a huge number of parents as well as boards and CEOs and got fantastic support from the agribusiness community.
After countless meetings with politicians, government departments and industry leaders the school “finally succeeded’ in getting a new agri-business NCEA curriculum in 2015.
It was all funded from the private sector, which made it unusual.
“We pushed the message, that the New Zealand economy needs workers in agribuisness and there are thousands of jobs available in this sector. It is an economic driver.”
Peter, who spent most of his teaching career as a science teacher, is as enthusiastic now about the programme, as he was in the beginning.
“There are a number of career options in Agribusiness right across the value chain. It is cutting edge, it is real, it is relevant.”
Peter and his wife moved to Raglan four years ago where they run an AirBnb. There will be more time for that in retirement, as well as developing his winemaking hobby. He also plans some teaching consultancy work.
Many Collegians would have enduring memories of geography field trips with Craig Morton, who also left the school at the end of 2019.
The volcanic landscape at Tongariro offered up the opportunity for quadrant and river studies as part of the geography syllabus. He has counted 20 field trips to the National Park over the years.
He always tried to make the trip as fun, rewarding and interesting as possible, especially for those who had ‘stayed loyal to geography right until their final year’.
“The Year 13s used to always write in their course evaluations how much they enjoyed the opportunity to go down there and do some pretty interesting things in the field.”
Like the others, it is technology which he observes as being among the biggest changes he has seen.
“When I first came to St Paul’s, I think we were still on blackboards, so it was ‘chalk and talk’ and then we had a major progression to the white boards. Things have gone from paper and hard copy to Google Classroom and electronic, which is a massive transformation in education and teaching.”
Craig says the school champions the idea of developing the entire student, “and I think it does that very well.”
“There are huge number of opportunities for students at this school and the key is to embrace those opportunities.”
The 25 years at St Paul’s have been most enjoyable, Craig says, and he is looking forward to getting ‘off the rollercoaster,’ to enjoy retirement at a slower place.