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Education: Rosmini College

Rosmini Principal To Retire

 Rosmini College’s principal, Tom Gerrard will be retiring at the end of this year. He has been the Principal of Rosmini College for 38 years and he is the first lay principal of a Catholic boys’ secondary school. He has also played a full part in wider education circles, with a long stint on the Executive of the Auckland Secondary Schools’ Heads’ Association. In 1999 he was awarded a Woolf Fisher Fellowship and he travelled to Rome, Ireland and Wales, where he visited a number of different schools (including Eton) and universities.

Mr Gerrard appeared on TV3’s Sunrise in 2008, as their reporter, Ali Ikram wanted to interview New Zealand’s longest-serving secondary school principal. Mr Gerrard noted in his television interview that some of the changes from his time as principal were: fewer male teachers, the introduction of NCEA and abolishment of corporal punishment. 

Mr Gerrard says in order to achieve, “Boys need discipline and the opportunity to be leaders in the school.” He also says that, “teaching needs to be content-based and that a school is only as good as its teachers.”  In 2012 he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, for his services to education. Mr Gerrard was also honoured at the 25th Jubilee of the Secondary Principals’ Association of New Zealand (SPANZ) with a SPANZ pin for his contribution to secondary education and principalship. 

Mr Gerrard was born in Cavan, Ireland and came to New Zealand at the age of nine. He has a B.A. in English and an M.A in Philosophy. Mr Gerrard says he, “always wanted to be a teacher at Rosmini.” He arrived at Rosmini College in 1966 where he taught for four years. Mr Gerrard then went to Levuka, Fiji, where he was an Assistant Principal for three years. He came back to New Zealand in 1974 and became the Head of English at Ruawai College near Dargaville. In 1975 he returned, as Deputy Principal, to Rosmini. In 1976 Tom Gerrard became the Principal of Rosmini College. 

Former Head Boy, George Muir (2011) says: “It was a privilege to be the Head Boy of a school I hold in such high regard and to work with such an inspirational leadership team headed by Mr Gerrard.” Chairperson of the Rosmini Board of Trustees, Mike Taylor concludes, “They say the performance of any organisation is a reflection of its leadership, and perhaps the excellent performance of Rosmini today and over the past 38 plus years is the best summary of Tom’s contribution. I could write volumes about the school’s academic, sporting, cultural, community and spiritual successes, but to quote a small portion of our recently released (and excellent) Education Review Office Report: “The principal strongly articulates a philosophy of educating the whole person, which is woven into the college charter. He is well supported by the senior leadership team. Wellbeing is seen as a strength of the college. Young men at Rosmini College strive for personal excellence and have pride in themselves and their college.” Tom’s retirement will take effect from the end of the current school year so there will be ample opportunity to both formally and informally farewell him. A recruitment process for a new principal has commenced, with the new appointment to commence at the beginning of 2015. Despite the rather daunting thought of replacing somebody of Tom’s calibre and longevity we are sure this will be a well sought after role with many high calibre applicants. I know I speak for all of my Board colleagues, school staff, boys and Rosmini community in thanking Tom for his massive contribution to our school and wishing him well in his retirement.”


Recent Rosmini College Old Boy, Tohiraukura (Tohi) Smith-Milner has won a scholarship to study and play basketball at the University of New Mexico. He will join the Albuquerque College’s Lobos basketball team whose head coach is Craig Neal. Tohi was the Captain of the 2013 Rosmini Premiers coached by Dillon Boucher. This team won the Auckland Premier Grade for the first time in school history and the Zone 1 Regional Tournament for the second time. Unfortunately the team were unable to retain their National title; however, they finished a respectable third in the country. Tohi and fellow team mate, Steven Robertson, are the only players at Rosmini College to play 100 games for the senior squad and also individually. The 6 foot 9 power forward is the school’s all-time leader in points, rebounds and blocks. Tohi has played in New Zealand’s U20 and U18 teams and he will attend the trials for the Tall Blacks team ahead of their World Cup campaign in August and September. 


Mr Sean McDonnell is a Rosmini College Old Boy who has returned to Rosmini this year to teach Art. After leaving Rosmini in 1996, Sean spent four years at Auckland University studying Art and Art History. He has taught at Dargaville High School, Orewa College and Glenfield College. He says it is wonderful to be, “once again walking the corridors at Rosmini College” especially as there are, “many friendly familiar faces at the school.” On the 6th – 28th August Sean, together with fellow artists – Guy Howard Smith, Andrew Rankin, Michael Mitchell and Natalie Tozer, took part in an exhibition called, Through Different Eyes at Ponsonby’s Studio One. 

by Channel Magazine