Update from Board Chair

John Macaskill-Smith


September 2021

Dear St Peter’s Community

On 30 June 2021, the St Peter’s Trust Board Annual General Meeting was held, and several key changes were made.  

After 14 years John Erkkila stepped down as the Chair and retired from the Board.  John has been instrumental in leading a range of key innovations and developments for St Peter’s during his time. On behalf of the Board and the broader St Peter’s community, I want to thank John for his passion and huge contribution. His vision and drive have seen the development of so many things that are key to who St Peter’s is today.  John will remain involved in a governance roll around the development of an endowment fund.   

I accepted the nomination to Chair the St Peter’s Trust Board, and am honoured to accept the role for this next period, alongside Monique Medley-Rush as Deputy Chair.     

My wife Kerry and I have three children at St Peter’s, our oldest graduating after seven years at St Peter’s two years ago, and the other two are in Years 8 and 10.    

I joined the St Peter’s Trust Board in January 2021, both as a parent, but also as a professional coming from a career in the public and private sectors, with a range of senior executive and governance roles across New Zealand and international settings. I based my decision to join the Board around wanting to be part of maintaining the great things that make St Peter’s so special, but also to influence and grow the opportunity for St Peter’s to provide even more opportunities in the independent school space for our children to grow to become amazing adults of tomorrow.   

To do that effectively we, the Board, need to ensure that we build and maintain a special relationship between parents, school staff, alumni, and our young people. We need to ensure that the physical environment functions and continues to grow, alongside building and protecting a culture within our community to provide a safe space to support exceptional experiences for all of our people.       

We also need to ensure that St Peter’s is effectively part of our broader communities, both close by, but also throughout New Zealand and the world. All of these areas need to be well connected to enable excellence in academics, arts, and sports as it makes sense for each individual young person.   

It has been a challenging year for the school with the WorkSafe investigation, a bomb threat, ongoing challenges with Covid disruptions, and the resignation of the Executive Principal.  

The Board has reflected carefully on these challenges but also on the opportunities and is committed to ensuring that St Peter’s is truly an exceptional environment. It is our intention to adopt a modern and transparent approach to governance. The focus of the Board over the next few months is to review what St Peter’s stands for in all areas of education, with a view to the future educational need and to determine what organisational structure is the best fit to support the achievement of that vision. In the meantime, the current structure with Julie Small as the Campus Principal and Rob Campbell as the Chief Operating Officer will continue to work with the Board in managing the operational and educational environment.  

The staff has appointed David Vesseur to join the Board as a staff representative to ensure that a staff perspective has a strong voice. The Board is also looking to work closely with the Parents' Association, Alumni, and Foundation Committees, through more active communication with all as we explore and plan for our future together.  

I look forward to having the opportunity to work with you, the Board, the staff, alumni, and the students to ensure St Peter’s continues to grow, learn and be the best place in New Zealand for all of our people - especially our young people - to grow.   

Ngā mihi nui.  

John Macaskill-Smith


St Peter’s Trust Board  



At the end of July Worksafe released a statement regarding their enquiry into workplace wellbeing at St Peter’s. This is their statement.  


“WorkSafe has completed its work with St Peter’s School Cambridge related to staff wellbeing. WorkSafe would like to commend the workers who raised concerns and acknowledge how their actions have led St Peter’s School Cambridge to recognise an issue and take positive steps to look after the health and safety of their staff.  


WorkSafe’s Kaimahi Hauora team, a team of specialist health inspectors, were involved with the school for six months after receiving an initial notification. This time included talking with current and former staff about their experiences, reviewing documents, policies and procedures, and direct involvement with the school’s Board of Trustees.  


St Peter’s School Cambridge was fully co-operative and involved in WorkSafe’s process. The school’s Board of Trustees has implemented a number of improvements including new policies and procedures relating to staff wellbeing. These improvements have satisfied WorkSafe that staff well-being will be looked after and no further action or involvement from WorkSafe is currently required. Thanks to all those staff who have been working to ensure we meet the recommendations provided.”    

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