Retirement beckons for school stalwart

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By Mick Jensen

She’s been the familiar, smiling face in the Netherby School office for 28 years, but retirement beckons for Annette Hunt.

Known as “Mrs Hunt” to the hundreds of children who have sought help and advice over the years, the school secretary started in her role soon after the Tomorrow’s Schools programme became the basis for reforming primary and secondary education in New Zealand.

Mrs Hunt’s role has included co-ordinating the school’s accounts and banking, copying, first aid and answering the telephone.

Over the last 28 years the school has gone from six classrooms to four and then back to six again.

Today’s roll is around 150 and there are 16 staff and support staff.

The classroom layout at the school today was similar to how it was 28 years ago, but a big fire in 1992 had meant the refurbishment and re-jig of a few areas,” Mrs Hunt said.

Remembering the names of all the pupils came with the job, she said, and pronouncing and spelling the names of the many Pasifika children who have passed through the school in more recent years, had been a challenge at first.

“I’ve loved dealing with the kids. You see them enter the school as five year olds and then go out as 11 year olds, and looking and acting much more grown up.”

“Being in the office means I don’t have to be the bad guy. I can give them a smile and advice and send them on their way.”

Mrs Hunt said both her sons had attended the school, as had a niece.

“In some ways the school has been an extension of my family and I am really going to miss the interaction with the staff and pupils.”

Mrs Hunt has served under six different principals.

Current principal Phil Wheeler says Mrs Hunt has been “a special staff member” and “one in a million”.

She has been “the rock of the school”, the go to person for historical knowledge and was a favourite with her colleagues and the children because of her professionalism, humour and kind nature.

“She will be greatly missed and hard to replace,” said Mr Wheeler.

Annette Hunt’s name will live on at the school with a trophy named the Tew-Hunt Trophy to be presented annually. The trophy also acknowledges fellow long serving staff member Lorraine Tew.

In retirement Annette Hunt will enjoy more travel, including trips to Australia where she has family, and also more time at her West Coast bach.