Toe Pune appointed as Principal of the MIT Tertiary High School


Young people disengaged from conventional education have a new advocate, with the appointment of Toe Pune as Principal of the Manukau Institute of Technology Tertiary High School (MIT THS) in Ōtara, South Auckland.

MIT THS is designed for year 10 to 13 students identified as “at risk” of disengaging from schooling, and who are showing signs of leaving school or not succeeding in traditional classrooms. In 2015, 100% of students achieved NCEA Level 3, 88.2% achieved NCEA Level 2, and 81.1% achieved NCEA Level 1.

“These are kids who don’t fit into the normal square of classes, so we need to look at other ways of motivating them and engaging them in education,” says Toe. “I truly believe in the model MIT THS is developing.”

Toe will bring more than three decades of experience in Auckland schools to the role, along with energy to ensure young people succeed in education.

“Working in South Auckland is like coming home for me,” he says.

Born in Samoa and raised in South Auckland, Toe believes that partnerships between schools, whānau and community are essential to support children through education.

“My work is to engage with the community, particularly Māori and Pasifika families, to ensure they take an interest in their children’s learning. A lot of my work is done outside the school, out in the community; in people’s homes, supporting teams on the side-lines, in churches,” he says.

“The students at MIT THS have every potential to go on and achieve in the community and future careers. It’s a priority for us that every kid is looked after, and that they never walk alone.”

The MIT THS opened in 2010, and blends NCEA secondary school studies with MIT programmes for students to earn credit toward technical career qualifications.

“Because there are fewer students, we have more time to work with them on an individual level. The MIT THS has its own unique culture and strengths, which we use as tools to engage our students.”

For the past two years, Toe has been Deputy Principal at Mount Roskill Grammar, overseeing programmes to accelerate the learning of Māori and Pacific students.

“When I first arrived at Mount Roskill Grammar, I attended an NCEA excellence endorsement evening for top students. There was not one Māori or Pasifika name called out,” he says. “I put an initiative in place to support these students – tracking and monitoring their progress, engaging with their families and raising their expectations. This year we had three Māori and three Pasifika students up on stage.”

Toe spent 13 years at Otahuhu College, most recently as Deputy Principal, and implemented a similar programme using rugby as a tool to engage boys in education, applying principles of discipline, commitment and punctuality on and off the field, with great success.

Prior to this, he spent 11 years at Tamaki College at the Head of Physical Education. In 1998, he established the school’s successful sports academy.

Toe believes his own learning will never stop while he is Principal at MIT THS. “I will continue to learn, to offer the best opportunities for these kids – to teach them with the latest pedagogy, learning and technology,” he says.

For more information about the Manukau Institute of Technology Tertiary High School, click here.

Toe Pune