To sir with love: high school boys honour retiring teacher with haka


You all know I love a good haka. There is something about the fearful and impressive war dance that pleases me. It harkens to a time when a man’s worth is measured by his valour, and somehow, I still think there is a need for that even today. I don’t think valour can only be measured in a battle field though. When a (wo)man faces their fears and stands up to be counted, such a person is a mighty warrior. Students at a New Zealand high school saw this greatness in one of their retiring teachers and decided to send him off in the most noble way they could think of.


Guidance counsellor John Adams was a teacher at Palmerston North Boys’ High School for 30 years, starting out as a substitute teacher in science and agriculture studies in February 1986. From there, he dedicated his life to these boys, using skills learnt in a previous life to make a hands-on difference.

A note from the school’s rector, D M Bovey, accompanies the YouTube video. He said Adams had drawn on his experience as a dairy farmer, in forestry and as a possum trapper to “put his teaching into context for the young men in his classes.”

This haka is fearful as all good hakas should be. But it is something even deeper: it is respectful. It says thank you in a way that only boys could show a former teacher. And I am sure Mr Adams was just as proud as proud could be.

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