Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

New Year Honours: John Morris ONZM

John Morris - making a difference. Photo / Brett Phibbs
John Morris - making a difference. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Officer of the NZ Order of Merit, for services to education.

A former headmaster honoured for his services to education says he is humbled by the award, but concerned wider recognition is lacking for New Zealand's teachers.

John Morris, the former headmaster of Auckland Grammar School, is today made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Mr Morris, who took up the role at Grammar in 1993, retired in September.

He told the Herald he was humbled by today's honour, but greatly concerned that wider recognition was lacking for the teaching profession.

"The status of teaching at the present time is probably at an all-time low in New Zealand. And that's not the case overseas," he said.

"Other professions like law, accounting ... the rewards are far greater and the status is far greater. And it's a great sadness, for me particularly, that teaching is not in the same category."

The official citation says Mr Morris led several initiatives which placed his respected decile-10 school at the forefront of state secondary education.

These included introducing Cambridge International Exams and establishing the Association of Cambridge Schools New Zealand, which he chaired from 2002 until his retirement.

Mr Morris said that while favouring Cambridge exams over NCEA had caused some controversy, it was the best thing for his students.

"There was a really good, solid academic reason for doing that, which still remains.

"As far as I'm concerned there's no national standard in New Zealand at the moment for secondary school students."

He is also proud of creating an Academic Endowment Fund, with proceeds going towards recruiting, retaining and rewarding high-performing teachers.

But the most rewarding memory is of the progress of the thousands of young men under his watch at Auckland Grammar.

"That's always the bottom line ... You meet students that you have taught or had contact with, andto see them in such fantastic positions or achieving great things is phenomenal.

"And that's the great beauty of teaching - that you can make a difference. And if only that was more recognised by the community."

- NZ Herald

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