Our Story

Written for the 2017 SPANZ Conference by Hugh Richards (Principal, Papatoetoe High School 1979 – 1996) and member of the 1987 Foundation Steering Committee)

“Quite simply, the time for it had arrived, and so SPANZ was created.  In the 1980s, a subgroup of principals, significant in number and many with long experience, began to meet periodically to share views on trends they could see developing in the administration, management and assessment areas of secondary education. 

Following what was, at times, a rather contentious Principals’ Conference held in Auckland, a small committee was given the task of creating a separate, national Principals’ Association which would have a special focus on the leadership role of Principals and provide an independent base for the expression of viewpoints of school leaders.

Because there was no financial backing to meet the expenses of travel, the small group was composed mostly of Aucklanders with some Northland involvement.  Regular meetings saw a concept turned into a firm plan.   A constitution was developed, setting out objectives for the proposed Association and an organisational structure.   That was presented to a first conference in Palmerston North in 1988 and SPANZ became a reality.

Initially, there were those with doubts about the need for a separate Principals’ Association even though they were common in other countries.  It was important, however that the new Association was not seen as an Auckland-controlled body and numerous members of the planning committee did not put themselves forward for the first SPANZ Executive elections.

So, a new leadership body was born with a principal from the Far North as its first President.  The growth and influence of SPANZ in the thirty years since, has justified its creation”