The new principal of Taranaki Diocesan School for Girls, Matt Coleman, has started his role - but he's been at the school for years.

Matt took over the position from Fiona Green on January 24. She has moved to Christchurch to be closer to family.

He is currently the Acting Principal.

"This gives the Board of Trustees time to assess their strategic direction before making a permanent appointment."


Matt says he is humbled to have the support of Fiona and both the Board of Trustees and Board of Proprietors.

"I feel very lucky that I've had great mentors. I feel as prepared as I can be. The ongoing support has helped me feel more ready. I hope to repay the faith the school community has shown me."

Matt has been working at the school since 2008. He started as the Head of Science and then, after structural changes, became Learning Area Head of Sciences, covering Science, Maths, Health, Physical Education and the Technologies.

Alongside the Head of Learning Area role Matt was Director of Staffing. He then became Assistant Principal and is now Acting Principal.

Matt says although he moved to Taranaki from Christchurch aged 12, he considers himself from Taranaki.

"All of my major developmental years happened in Taranaki so I feel like I am a Taranaki man."

Matt went to Devon Intermediate and then Spotswood College in New Plymouth.

"At school I really enjoyed Physical Education and Mathematics."


Matt went to the University of Canterbury for a double major of Geology and Physics. He then went on to do the one-year Secondary Teaching Diploma at Christchurch Teachers College.

"I had taken a break from my education and it was my wife, Katie who persuaded me to pursue University. I was 26 and she was 24 when we decided we wanted to further our education."

Before teaching at Taranaki Diocesan, Matt taught at Stratford High School for 7 years.

When he moved to Diocesan, he noticed the different teaching methods between co-education and same-sex schools.

"You can see a general difference but at the same time, each student has a different learning style and it's important to cater to it."

As well as being principal, Matt will be teaching Level 3 Physics. He says the students at the school have taken the change well.

"It helps that I was already in a lead management role so the transition for them wasn't as big. It has also helped that I've been involved with the school for 12 years as it makes the adjustment easier for the school community since they already know who I am."

Matt says he has set goals for his time in the role.

"I want a continuation of the high expectations Fiona has instilled in the school community."

He says he also wants to make the well-being of students a bigger priority.

"We started looking at student well-being two years ago and we will continue our learning journey over the coming year. It's going to be a journey of finding what is right. We want to keep the high academic expectations, but we can't sacrifice well-being for good grades.

"I have a great team I'm working with and everybody has been nothing but supportive of me. I'm very thankful for this support as this is not a job you can do in isolation."