When describing how he felt about becoming a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, Graham Young tried - and failed - to avoid cliches.

"Anything I can say ends up being a cliche. It is a real honour. I feel really grateful.

"It's not just an honour for me, but for my family and for the people I've worked with. That's a cliche as well, but it's true. Nothing I've ever done in education I've done on my own."

Mr Young's love of learning was nurtured from a young age by his father, who was a freezing worker. The children of the family would gather at the kitchen table every night to do homework, aided by their dad.


"It's probably because of that I went into education."

He started out at James Cook College and when his wife was expecting their first child, they moved up to the more affordable Kaitaia. From there, it was off to Tauranga where Mr Young had been appointed head of maths at Tauranga Boys' College, and in Tauranga he has remained.

"My wife was born here and so was her father. I think she had a plan that I never knew about," he joked.

He has now been in Tauranga more than half his life.

Mr Young was made principal of Boys' College in 1985 and stayed in that role until 2008.

Of all the things Mr Young has achieved, he has three he thought were the most important. "I've had three very important roles in my adult life - one has been to be a good husband, one to be a good father and the other is to be a good principal. I'm proud of all three of those things."

The facts:

- Principal of Tauranga Boys' College from 1985 to 2008.


- Introduced a number of new concepts to the school, including having advanced students take university courses while still at school.

- Past president of Secondary Principals' Association New Zealand.

- Current secondary director of National Aspiring Principals Programme.

- Bay of Plenty Polytechnic council member.

- Ministerial appointment for board of NZQA during its formative years.