Dilworth’s Lockdown Heroes

As Auckland was plummeted into a Level 4 lockdown on the eve of Tuesday 17 August, staff, students and parents alike were forced to scramble to ensure boys were returned safely to their homes and prepared for online learning.

During this time and over the past seven weeks in lockdown, there have been a number of students and staff that have gone above and beyond in their learning and employment.

Dilworth Headmaster, Dan Reddiex has received regular feedback from staff about the number of students who are working really well. Over 86 students in total have been nominated, mostly for displays of resilience and determination under some really trying conditions. These students will be invited to join Mr Reddiex for a special lunch in recognition of their continued application and efforts once we are able to return to school.

There are also a few staff members who the Dilworth senior leadership team, students and parent community would like to highlight and sincerely thank for being true lockdown heroes. These staff members have displayed our school values of respect, compassion, integrity, service and personal excellence as well as a commitment to our students and school community.

Our first lockdown hero sprang into action after hearing the government announcement about the Alert Level change. Tainui Wharawhara, House Manager of Tyrone House (which is home to all of our stay back students at the Senior Campus who reside out of Auckland), drove a number of boys from the Northland area in a van on the eve of the lockdown to ensure that they got home safely. This act of service was greatly appreciated by the families of the young men.  

“This is what being a boarding house staff member is all about, reacting to the problem and putting your hand up to do what you can to help,” said Mr Ally Patterson, Assistant Principal – Boarding.


Tainui Wharawhara

An important part of our transition to online learning at Dilworth is ensuring all our students and staff are equipped with their devices and chargers. With over 500 boys and 200 staff, this is no easy feat on short notice. Simon Barrett from Dilworth’s IT department has been the go-to person for boys and staff when there have been issues with devices. He has reconfigured devices, sorted replacement devices and delivered those devices safely to staff and boys across Auckland. He has also provided support to ensure that the new devices are working properly.

Tonia Calverley, Assistant Principal – Teaching and Learning particularly commended Simon for his excellent work during the lockdown as he assisted her with a failing laptop and ensured that important files and project work were not lost and that she could continue working whilst a replacement was being sourced.

“He kept in contact via phone and text messaging to let me know how the process was going and when I would have a working device as I was scrambling to stick to work commitments and the interminable Zoom meetings using iPad and phones. He was reassuring and calm and he made what could have been a very stressful process seamless,” she said.

Over at the Junior Campus, the Junior Campus Matrons, Loretta Helleur, Kathleen Haar and Karen Sherriff have been ensuring the boarding houses are kept in immaculate condition both inside and outside for when the boys are able to return. With no grounds and/or maintenance staff onsite during the Level 4 lockdown, these three wonderful ladies have been weeding and water blasting the boarding house exterior, vacuuming, cleaning and polishing the inside of the houses, laundering all the boys’ uniforms (which would normally have been done at the Senior Campus laundry) and Loretta and Karen have even been making ceramic artwork to display in the boarding house.

Head of the Junior Campus, Peter Vos said that aside from safely dropping off some baking to him, the work the matrons have done has demonstrated their commitment to the boys at the Junior Campus.

“Every time I have walked past them, they have been toiling away, clearly taking pride in their respective boarding houses”, he said.


Junior Campus Matrons - Loretta Helleur, Kathleen Haar and Karen Sherriff 

Down at the Rural Campus, two staff members have worked exceptionally hard during the lockdown period to ensure that students succeed in their home-learning.

Maths Teacher Claire van Dam has maintained clear and high expectations for Rural Campus ākonga yet her compassion and advocacy for the boys has made her very successful in her work. 

“Claire is deeply respected by the learners and she has offered many of our boys a safe, structured and challenging home-learning maths programme where immediate feedback and a growth mindset has kept them engaged and learning,” said Head of the Rural Campus Asha Tupou-Vea.

A Year 9 student at Dilworth Rural Campus explains his success in maths due to having Claire van Dam as his teacher.

“I finally get maths because of Mrs Van Dam. She explains things really clearly in the frontloading and the work is challenging and is set out really clearly with a good variety of stuff to do. Nothing to improve, I love maths, it is fun now,” he said.

Another exceptional Rural Campus staff member who has been identified as a lockdown hero is Jen Meagher. Aside from keeping her teaching both engaging and exciting and holding regular zoom classes, Jen has been commended for adding to her own professional teaching kete to deeply involve the growth of the whole learner. Jen handmade a card for every single boy and co-ordinated the staff to write an affirmation or words of encouragement that were sent to boys’ homes last week.

Jen’s exceptional work is greatly appreciated by the students and their families.

“It is a bit stressful, but I'm so grateful that you guys are praying for us, Mum really appreciates that and is also really, really grateful. Thank you, Ms. Meagher and to all the other staff. I really appreciate you,” said a Rural Campus student going through some challenging times. 

“Jen’s leadership in the Personal and Social Growth home learning programme has motivated our boys to stay connected, active and learning. She has invested many hours to prepare cabin coaches with learning opportunities to meet the challenges of lockdown for our learners and often goes above and beyond,” said Asha Tupou-Vea.

Keeping the school community connected and positive in a pandemic is an exceptionally tough job, however School Chaplain Rev Greg Worboys and Service Coordinator Krista Mortensen have done just that. Their twice-weekly virtual Chapel via HeBrews has lifted the spirits of the Dilworth community and kept everyone connected with God and with one another. From Mr Ritchie’s viral TikTok through to learning te Reo and Tongan phrases, they have provided laughs, prayer, education, reflection on scripture and overall positivity.

After Head of the Senior Campus Neil Ritchie had his debut on HeBrews he said, “I think Greg Worboys and Krista Mortenson have done a great job with Soul Food and HeBrews. I didn’t realise how much editing was involved.”


Krista Mortensen (top left) and Rev Greg Worboys (top right) in an episode of "HeBrews"

Lastly, the Senior Campus Deans have been commended for their commitment to the wellbeing of Dilworth students during the lockdown. They have called each and every parent/caregiver to check-in and see how the boy is coping with lockdown learning and what can be done to ensure that he is supported in his learning and wellbeing. They have been advocates for the students through passing on any feedback to the senior leadership team and speaking to relevant staff to let them know how to support the student with their learning during this time. Their care and understanding of the exceptional circumstances that everyone is facing at the moment has been much-admired by the Dilworth community.

“The Senior Campus Deans have done a great job having options interviews online and fielding a variety of requests,” explains Neil Ritchie.

September 30, 2021