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October 13, 2020

Returning home to Oamaru feels "momentous and incredible", new Waitaki Girls’ High School principal Liz Koni says.

Mrs Koni, the former deputy principal of Queen’s High School in Dunedin, was officially welcomed to the school yesterday morning, and was joined by her parents, three sisters and four daughters.Pupils and staff from Queen’s High School and Waitaki Girls’ performed waiata to symbolise the transition between the schools.

It was a "heartwarming" experience, she said.

"It was really special having Queen’s hand me over.

"They played a big part in getting me to where I am and I will always hold them close to my heart."

Liz Koni was inducted into her new role as Waitaki Girls’ High School principal yesterday. PHOTO:...
Liz Koni was inducted into her new role as Waitaki Girls’ High School principal yesterday. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

Mrs Koni (nee Laming), who grew up in Oamaru and went to St Kevin’s College, replaces Tracy Walker, who left Waitaki Girls’ after seven years to take the reins at Palmerston North Girls’ High School. Margaret Williams was acting principal for the first three terms of the school year.

Mrs Koni said the way the school community had embraced her already made her feel content about the job.

"My journey has seen me leave [Oamaru] for a number of years, and to return now feels momentous and incredible, really."

Her passion lay with single-sex education and value-based learning — and both were embedded in Waitaki Girls’, she said.

"One of the drawcards was that it was focused on value-based learning, and values that are encaptured in the Waitaki way — of resilience, respect and responsibility.

"[They] are values that I believe are paramount for young women to have, if they want to be successful at school and after school."

Queen’s High School principal Barbara Agnew said it was with a "touch of sadness, but also a sense of pride" that the school farewelled Mrs Koni.

She had been at Queen’s since 2013, and had been a hard worker who always had pupils’ needs at the forefront of her mind, Mrs Agnew said.