Kerikeri High School principal Elizabeth Forgie retires after 30 years

Kerikeri High School principal Elizabeth Forgie is proud of her many achievements over the last 30 years. Photo / Supplied

Forging strong connections between Kerikeri High School, the community and local hapū and creating a thriving international student department are just some of the career highlights of outgoing principal Elizabeth Forgie.

Forgie, who is retiring after nearly 30 years as principal of the school, said providing a launching pad for young people embarking on their careers also rates among her biggest achievements.

“We have built a strong, bicultural school, and strong connections with the community and Ngāti Rēhia,” she said.

“Being able to better maintain and develop a strong school foundation to launch so many young lives is what I’m most proud about.”

Forgie’s official last day will be January 27, when associate principal Mike Clent will take over the role.

However, Forgie will still retain connections with the school.

“Due to my long experience building the international department, and post-Covid, it’s valuable experience, so I’ll be giving support to that department.

“And I will be staying on as nan for the kapa haka group.”

As for the rest of her time, Forgie said: “I haven’t thought that far ahead.”

“I’m looking forward to getting fit again, because the job and the hours leave little daylight time to get out walking or swimming.”

Clent started at Kerikeri High School in 1996 as a teacher of physical education and history.

He has been deputy principal since 2003 and was promoted to associate principal in 2017.

Clent said he was looking forward to his new role.

“It’s something I’ve aspired to, and I’m ready for the job.

“I’ve been fortunate to have one of the best in the business to be learning from.”

Associate principal Mike Clent takes over the principal role after Elizabeth Forgie retires. Photo / supplied
Associate principal Mike Clent takes over the principal role after Elizabeth Forgie retires. Photo / supplied

Forgie was recognised in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours; she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to education.

She has been elected by her peers to the role of Secondary Principals’ Executive of SPANZ, the Secondary Principals’ Association of New Zealand, every single year since 1995.

She was awarded SPANZ Service to Education Awards in 2006 and 2016, and two years later was made a life member of the organisation, one of only 19 principals to have been awarded the honour.

Forgie was also one of the few people in New Zealand to have been awarded two Woolf Fisher Fellowships.

She has led Te Kotahitanga, a professional development programme helping teachers lift Māori achievement, which has seen Māori achievement in NCEA Level 2 increase from 28.6 percent in 2004 to 88 percent in 2020.

In a speech at the senior prizegiving on November 2, Clent acknowledged the “longevity of her leadership and service.”

“Always at the heart of Elizabeth’s leadership is care and concern for people.

“Elizabeth grows leaders and is she generous in sharing her experience to help guide others, within and beyond our school.”

Forgie also established the Kerikeri High School Sailing Academy, from which the school has enjoyed significant success nationally and internationally, producing several Olympic sailors, medallists and America’s Cup-winning sailors.

Another achievement was the establishment of the Kerikeri High School International Department, which has grown from having a few students to taking nearly a third of all international students coming to Northland.

“This has greatly enriched our school and wider community, and has brought benefits for our own students, building relationships and confidence,” Clent said.

“Elizabeth’s contribution is immense.

“Our local community is so much better off for the contribution you have made over the last 29 years. Thank you, genuinely, for all you have done for all of the young people, parents and whānau, and staff – past and present – of Kerikeri High School.”

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