Chris and Ivan’s Summer Newsletter

Dec 27, 2020Newsletters1 comment

As another year comes to an end, with all its tumult and change, Ivan and I thought we’d take a leaf out of the books of some dear friends – Tor and Leslie being notable here – and start a Summer Newsletter tradition.
The year began as it did for most of us, with no real sense of what was to come. Ivan’s last remaining relative, his Great Aunt Tina, was becoming increasingly frail. He made the decision, just when this mysterious virus was starting to take its place in the headlines, to head to Italy, and he made it in time to see her last days. 


Needless to say, this was an emotional time for him. He had to settle her affairs and make too-fast decisions about things in time to catch an empty train to Rome, from where he boarded the last international flight which only had a handful of others on it, in order to return to New Zealand before the borders closed.

A Mid-Winter Mt Cook Escape

We emerged from lockdown to a New Zealand that was almost totally devoid of tourists. As a consequence, we took advantage of the empty roads and ready availability of accommodation and took ourselves off on a Mt Cook get-away.

It’s only a couple of hours from Wanaka, but it was a great experience. We went for a different walk every day, and the whole area is utterly spectacular.

We could see why it’s so popular with tourists!

Portentous skies in Wanaka

Lockdown for us

As Ivan largely works from home, New Zealand’s short lockdown in March and April didn’t affect his rhythms too greatly.

For me, however, this was a real adventure into the world of online learning. It is to the very great credit of my students that this turned out to be such a positive experience.

Without the usual distractions of the institution, I stuck to my usual timetable and was delighted to find that there was full attendance in English. Ivan had a good laugh at hearing them read from Shakespeare with me emotively encouraging them through the door to what had been his art studio.

We both enjoyed the lockdown and the autonomy it conferred upon us, but we remained acutely aware of the genuine challenges the Covid-19 pandemic was introducing to the lives of others.

Chris’ Takeover of Ivan’s Studio

Ivan’s 2020 MOTAT Performance


You can have a look at a film of Ivan’s recent performance, held at MOTAT in Auckland:

Behind any crisis there is always a truth that we must fully understand, intellectually and emotionally.

Intuition will guide us through and beyond our point of no return.

National Excellence in Education Award

Early in 2020 I travelled to Parliament House in order to receive a teaching award (I’m pretty sure Chris Hipkins, the Minister for Education at the time, is younger than me – I worked with his mum in 2019) 

This was a great honour, and while it went against the grain somewhat to be singled out like this in a profession full of unsung heroes, it still felt good to be part of an event that celebrated teaching at large.

We were also flown to Wellington, fed, and put up in a nice hotel.

Tri Club

In spite of the interruptions to the year, the strong start for the Tri Club (we won the national trophy for co-educational secondary schools) continued with plenty of hard work and good fun.


For the last couple of years I’ve been producing a podcast with some friends and colleagues from school that is designed to give an insight into school life – from the point of view of teachers, students and parents.

It’s gained a loyal following – feel free to have a listen!

A Year of Two Halves

One of the bigger challenges we’ve been facing over the past couple of years has been a real sense of disaffection with the management of my school here in Wanaka.

While we had thought to stick with it and hopefully see things through to more constructive times, in the end we decided life was too short… so we’ve made the decision to re-locate to Christchurch.

This hasn’t been an easy one, as there’s a lot to love about Wanaka – and after returning from London in 2016, we’d both considered that to be our final big move. As I write this, Ivan is packing up his studio here in Rata Street.

We’re planning to move into an apartment in central Christchurch and I’ve got a new job as HOD English at Christ’s College. 

A new adventure awaits us for 2021!

Happy New Year 

Whether this newsletter finds you still deep in Northern Hemishere winter – and the restrictions associated with the pandemic response, or comes to you while you re-experience your kiwi summers of the past, we wish you all the very best for the year to come.

Please always be invited to get in touch (our contact info is below) or even to comment on this missive. 


Chris and Ivan