Hastings Intermediate School principal Perry Rush is "very" excited to focus a regional lens on national issues as he prepares to start his role as president of the New Zealand Principals' Federation.

"One of the things which suffers the most is a lack of focus on regional issues. It will be exciting to give the federation a regional lens on national issues", Rush said.

At the school since May 2017 and formerly federation vice-president, Rush comfortably beat one other candidate in the biennial elections held on September 19, and became successor to Wellington-based Whetu Cormick.

Challenger Cherie Taylor-Patel, principal of Auckland's Fruitvale School, was voted in as the new vice-president in the elections, which also included voting for the 12-member national executive, returning 10 of the 11 who sought re-election.

Whetu Cormick, the outgoing president of the NZPF. Photo/ Supplied
Whetu Cormick, the outgoing president of the NZPF. Photo/ Supplied

Half of the 12 elected, with votes from about 900 members nationwide, are from Auckland schools, and three are from provincial centres.

Rush's role officially starts in January 2020 and he already has a slew of issues up his sleeve that he intends to focus on.

"Mental health and wellbeing for young people is an issue we will look at", especially the rate of youth suicide in Hawke's Bay, he said.

"The federation is totally aware that youth mental health and wellbeing is significantly challenged."

Rush also intends to focus on the use of te reo Māori in New Zealand schools.

"I want to look at the value of te reo Māori and its status in the New Zealand schooling system.

"I'll be also be looking at changes to the curriculum. The most significant shift has been the dissolution of national standards, and NZPF will provide important feedback and a professional lens on how we will look at measuring progress."

In the role of president his intention was to partner with the children's commissioner, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health to provide better outcomes for youth.


"It's very important to put health and wellbeing front and centre. The focus will be on quick gains and early momentum."

A self-described "Wellington boy", Rush grew up in Naenae and trained at the Wellington College of Education.

He was previously based at Island Bay School in Wellington, where he was principal for 12 years, and before that he was principal at Discovery 1 school in Christchurch.

Rush's move to Hawke's Bay was prompted by the appointment of his partner, Anne Speden, as the chief information officer at the Hawke's Bay District Health Board.

"I was very fortunate that Hastings Intermediate presented itself - it seemed like a natural fit."

He will be on leave from the school for the 2020 year and will be replaced by deputy principal Lesley Smith who will be principal for the year.

Rush said Smith was a "fantastic educator" and "outstanding" at her job. He expected her to bring her own flair to the role.

"I will have a wonderful time leading the NZPF", Rush said.

The NZPF represents more than 2000 principals from the education sector.

The federation, which was first established in 1982, provides support and a professional voice for members throughout New Zealand, also information and professional resources, as well as a number of publications and a helpline.

The 15-strong executive work on behalf of members in a number of areas including representation on reference groups pertaining to education as well as regular meetings with the Minister of Education, the Secretary for Education and the CEO of the Education Review Office and lobbying where appropriate.