Mark Robinson starts his new role as Paraparaumu College principal in late April. Photo / David Haxton
There won’t be a long commute when Mark Robinson starts as Paraparaumu College’s new principal in term two.
Robinson estimates he will be able to walk to school from his home in about five minutes “on a good day”.
The 56-year-old starts his “dream job” on Monday, April 29, taking over the reins from Craig Steed, who was one of several people he chatted to before applying.
“We had a conversation about the college, what he loves about the role, and his enthusiasm was part of the reason why I chose to apply.”
Robinson’s passion for helping others started not long after his parents bought him an electronic organ when he was growing up in Birmingham, England.
He discovered he had some skill as a musician and, as time went by, he enjoyed “the ability to teach and share my knowledge”.
Because of his musical skills on the organ, he studied at the Colchester Institute of Music with a focus on Christian liturgical music and did a postgraduate certificate in education too.
He was 21 when he got his first teaching role, at Cockshut Hill School in Birmingham, before going on to other English schools as head of music, assistant head teacher and deputy head teacher.
But when his wife’s sister met a Kiwi and settled in New Zealand, thoughts of a new life abroad were seeded.
Robinson, wife Jo and their two children Matthew and Bee visited New Zealand in 2007 and “fell in love with the country”.
“We decided to be brave and give it a go, and immigrated a year later.”
Robinson became head of music at Rathkeale College, before becoming deputy principal at Naenae College, and then principal at Waiopehu College.
During his time at Waiopehu, the Covid-19 pandemic caused a lot of disruption, especially in 2020 and 2021.
He was impressed with how the Ministry of Education supported schools and enjoyed meeting many people in the education system online.
He became keen to be part of the ministry’s newly formed Te Mahau, which provided guidance and support to schools and students, and felt he could “have a wider impact across a wider range of education”.
“As a principal you know quite a lot about your school, community and education but, when it comes to the Ministry of Education, there’s so much more to know and understand.”
Robinson has enjoyed being the integrated services manager for the Kāpiti-Horowhenua districts at Te Mahau, and broadening his knowledge of the sector, but being offered the principal’s role at Paraparaumu was “too good an opportunity to turn down”.
“I feel like I’ve got my dream job.
“It’s in a community that I love and we’ve really settled in, and the college is going great guns with an amazing reputation.
“It’s going to be an absolute privilege to lead it.”
His motivation had always been to help young people and “to know that you’re doing something that might positively influence their outcomes.
“That’s why you do it.
“I also enjoy working with other people who are passionate about education, and connecting deeply with the community which almost no other role enables you to do.”