There’s plenty in the news at the moment about city teachers fleeing Auckland and its astronomical house prices and gridlocked traffic. However, while PE and health and whānau class teacher Bruno Watkins comes to Nayland direct from a six year teaching stint in South Auckland, you’d hardly call him an Aucklander.
Mr Watkins (Te Rarawa, Ngā Puhi) grew up on a farm at Rangi Point at the mouth of the Hokianga harbour in the Far North. “We lived in our family homestead, right up in the bush with no power, no hot running water or anything like that,” he said. “We used to milk our milking cow in the mornings with Dad.”
Initially Mr Watkins didn’t rate himself much as a student. After attending a tiny, rural school with only 30 students, he got sent to boarding school in Whangarei from Year 9. “I was pretty behind with my literacy and numeracy. (…) I struggled with school at the beginning and then as I figured things out and had some really good teachers and (…) role models (…) I just really thrived,” he recalled.
“Then suddenly I got to senior school and I was doing subjects that I didn’t think I’d be doing, like English and biology and then teachers were pushing me to do more of those subjects and then suddenly it was Year 13 and they were like ‘have you you thought about going to university?’ and I was like ‘I don’t know what university is, where do you go, how do you get there?’
A sports lover and keen rugby player, Mr Watkins followed the direction his teachers were encouraging him in by pursuing a degree in physical education in Otago. After that he completed his teacher training in Christchurch during the year of the earthquakes.
He puts his decision to go into teaching down to the role models he had himself, as well as a desire to give back, to the Māori community in particular.
Despite being Northland born and bred, Bruno Watkins is not without whānau connections in the Nelson region. His partner is a former Nayland College student and the move south means that the couple gets to share their six month old son Manaaki with her family. “It’s been a nice shift of lifestyle,” he said. “It’s a privilege.”
By Sera King – Media & Publicity