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Hine Viskovich has inherited a raft of projects at Matatoki School, including the recent construction of a new car park to alleviate access concerns. Photo: KELLEY TANTAU

Principal finds new beginnings at Matatoki

Hine Viskovich has taken up her first post as principal at Matatoki School, after the Covid-19 pandemic put her priorities into perspective.
It was 1986 when Hine began teaching in Auckland at age 20. She had stints in Mangere, Henderson, and New Lynn before the opportunity came up to obtain her first principalship at the rural school south of Thames.
“One of the things I learned from Covid was about prioritising things, and nature became really important for my well-being,” she told The Profile. “We bought a bach in Te Puru about a year ago, and it got to the point when on Sundays when we had to go home, I hated going back to the hustle and bustle of Auckland.
“When I saw this position, it just felt right, so even though it was about a year ahead of our plan, I took the opportunity.”
Hine spent her childhood summers exploring the streams around Thames. Her parents were avid “rockhounds” while she and her siblings were “pebble puppies”, she said.
For the past two terms, she has been living along the Thames Coast. Her husband, Nino, will join her at the end of the year.
“I’m a beginning principal, and it sort of feels quite strange to be beginning something at 56… but it’s been really invigorating and refreshing and I’m on a whole new journey,” she said.
Hine has spent the past 36 years in the education field. She did try a different career once, but she found herself waiting for the chime of a bell to indicate the start of her lunch break.
She lasted “one term” in an office environment, and went back to teaching.
“I’m just really passionate about making a difference for children, and the biggest shift for me recently is actually thinking beyond the child and more about teachers, because they have the most impact out of any resource a child at school has access to,” she said.
“So, by supporting them and building them up and keeping their passion alive, your arms just get that much longer.”
Hine also made note of the “strong relationship” she has witnessed between Matatoki School and its community, a sense of involvement she said she hasn’t had at any of the other schools she has worked at.
“Some of our parents play really key and important roles in the daily running of the school,” she said.
“The next step is I want to formalise those parent helpers as friends of the school.”
Hine has inherited a raft of projects at the school on State Highway 26, including the recent construction of a new car park to alleviate concerns over the lack of safe access to the school.
Board of trustees chair Elliot Burton said safety had been a big focus for the school, and over the past number of years, its board and community had been working to get a new car park funded and approved.
The project cost $310,000 and was funded in part by the Ministry of Education, contributions from the school board of trustees, student fundraising, and funds from the sale of the Matatoki Hall in 2019.
Also in the works at the school is a new recreational court facility, which is nearing completion.
“Our school has seen a steady roll growth, so we are in the process of improving the school’s infrastructure, with construction aiming to start in late 2022 on our new admin building with a covered outdoor learning space for children,” Mr Burton said.
“All of these projects wouldn’t be possible without the great support from the community and local companies that have gone the extra mile to help us, so, we want to say thank you to everybody that has been involved.”