Elizabeth Koni has been appointed as the new Head of St Margaret’s College, commencing her role on 6 January 2023 upon the departure of the current Master, Dr Charles Tustin.
Mrs Koni has a wealth of experience in the education sector and a particular passion for ensuring young adults have the right environment and support to enable them to flourish in their academic endeavours and succeed in meeting life’s challenges, St Margaret’s College Council President Rachel Cardoza says.
She has been the principal of Waitaki Girls’ High School since 2020 but will be finishing at the end of this year for family reasons.
Previously, Mrs Koni was deputy principal at Queen’s High School in Dunedin (2017-2020) and assistant principal (2013-2016). She also taught at Kavanagh College in Dunedin, where her roles included being Dean of Māori.
Mrs Koni has worked with University of Otago staff to research the positive education movement, mindfulness, and the benefits of adolescents having a strong sense of personal and social identity, which culminated in a paper being published in the Journal of European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.
Mrs Koni also developed a structured programme for a school’s pastoral care teams, so they could explicitly teach skills to help young people build a strong sense of belonging, to improve relationships, participation, resilience, and their overall wellbeing.
A research paper she wrote about leading change to create a culture of high expectations also included introducing a successful professional development programme.
Other initiatives Mrs Koni has led at schools include a staff wellbeing programme, adding Positive Education to the curriculum to combine traditional education with research-backed ways of increasing happiness and wellbeing, and improving Māori and Pacific attendance and achievement, Ms Cardoza says.
Mrs Koni says while she had found deciding to resign from Waitaki Girls’ High School difficult, she is very excited about her new role and looking forward to getting to know the St Margaret’s community and becoming part of it.