When Tony McBride was announced as the new principal of Whanganui’s Cullinane College at Eucharist in St Mary’s Church on October 10, the congregation immediately applauded in congratulations.
The college’s fourth principal, he replaces Justin Harper who resigned at the end of term 2 to become the principal at John Paul College in Rotorua. Lida Penn will continue to be acting principal until Mr McBride takes up his appointment on January 1, 2023.
Mr McBride was born in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and his young widowed mother returned to her homeland in Scotland when he was 16, to raise the family after his father tragically died.
“The trauma and hardship taught me that you need to be resilient – do the mahi and leave the rest to God,” he recalls.
After graduating from Edinburgh University with a Bachelor of Education degree in physical education, he began his teaching career at St David’s Catholic High School in Dalkeith coaching basketball and rugby.
His qualification meant he could transfer from country to country.
“When I came to New Zealand to play rugby, I had teaching to back me up. Over time I realised I loved leading others, through being a department head, dean and then later deputy principal,” he said.
He was the physical education teacher and dean for five years at Whanganui High School 20 years ago.
Before joining Cullinane in 2021, he taught at Hastings Boys, Westlake Boys in Auckland and St John’s College in Hastings where he was deputy principal.
As a Catholic educator and leader, Mr McBride found that participating in Marist Young Leaders’ courses in Wellington and the Josephite colloquium in Auckland re-emphasised the importance of constantly thinking about how to keep the Catholic faith relevant for today’s youth. Cullinane College is founded on the charisms of the Society of Mary and the Josephite Sisters.
“I will aspire to develop young people who are loyal partners, loving parents and positive influences in society,” he said. “Strengthening the Catholic and college communities is also critical.”
Mr McBride is married to Margaret and they have four children: Logan 11, Hayley 9, Grace 6 and Callum 4. He is also a selector for the U18 Hurricanes team.