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Officially home . . . New Waitaki Girls' High School principal Liz Koni was officially welcomed to the school on Monday. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

Liz Koni says she felt like a “kid waiting for Christmas” before taking up her new role as principal of Waitaki Girls’ High School.

Mrs Koni, the former deputy principal of Queen’s High School in Dunedin, was officially welcomed to Waitaki Girls’ on Monday, and was joined by her parents, three sisters and four daughters for the occasion.

Pupils and staff from Queen’s and Waitaki Girls’ performed waiata to symbolise the transition between the schools.

It was a “heartwarming” experience, she said.

“It was really special having Queen’s hand me over.

“They played a big part in getting me to where I am and I will always hold them close to my heart.”

Mrs Koni (nee Laming), who grew up in Oamaru and went to St Kevin’s College, has replaced Tracy Walker, who left Waitaki Girls’ at the end of last year to take the reins at Palmerston North Girls’ College. Margaret Williams was acting principal for the first three terms of the school year.

Mrs Koni said the way the school community had embraced her already made her feel content about the job.

“I’m really excited to be here – I’ve been made to feel at home.

“My journey has seen me leave [Oamaru] for a number of years, and to return now feels momentous and incredible, really.

“For many of you young women here, [you] are thinking forward to leaving Oamaru’, but I can tell you now that it will forever hold a place in your heart.”

Her passion lay with single-sex education and value-based learning – and both were embedded at Waitaki Girls’, she said.

“One of the drawcards was that it was focused on value-based learning and values that are encaptured in the Waitaki way respect and responsibility.

“[They] are values that I believe are paramount for young women to have, if they want to be successful at school and after school.”

Waitaki Girls’ head girl Emma Borrie said having Mrs Koni return to Oamaru was the start of a new chapter.

“We welcome you with open arms and are excited to grow together as a school community,” Emma said.

Queen’s principal Barbara Agnew said it was with a “touch of sadness, but also a sense of pride” that they farewelled Mrs Koni.

She had been at Queen’s since 2013, and had been a hard worker who always had the pupils’ needs at the front of her mind, Mrs Agnew said.