Log In

Reset Password

Building strong relationships and independent thinkers at Somersfield

First Prev 1 2 Next Last
New Somersfield Academy school principal Riki Teteina surrounded by students (Photograph supplied)

Riki Teteina has never been overly attached to an office in the traditional sense.

When he took over as Somersfield Academy principal six weeks ago, his first order of business was to get rid of his desk.

The office at the Middle Road, Devonshire school is now full of couches.

“I wanted the space to be a lot more relational,” the New Zealander said. “I wanted to be able to talk casually with people, or have meetings.”

The previous Somersfield principal, Peter Howe, left last June after just a year in the post.

Mr Teteina pledged that he is in it for the long haul.

“Being an effective change leader takes a minimal of three years and I am committed to much longer than that to continue to move the school to meeting its mission, vision and values,” he said. “To me that is at least five years.”

With the school almost at capacity, Somersfield has a goal over the next five years of deciding whether it should continue to grow, or improve its product.

“In particular, we will be focusing on building strong relationships between staff, parents and students to ensure our graduates are socially conscious, independent thinkers,” he added.

New principal Riki Teteina with Somersfield Academy students (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

Mr Teteina grew up in Auckland. His mother was born in New Zealand while his Maori father was born on Aitutaki, one of the Cook Islands.

He became a teacher because he “enjoyed working with children”.

“I enjoyed relating with colleagues and with students. Through my training I found I was quite good at it.”

After university he spent two years teaching in New Zealand before he and his wife, Lisa, began travelling the world. One of his first posts was in South London, England, in the early 1990s.

“It was in the area of Brixton,” he said. “I had to become very good at behaviour management. While I was used to that in New Zealand, it was at a whole different level in South London.”

After a few years he moved to the Hill House School in Knightsbridge.

“It was a private school that Prince Charles had attended,” he said. “It was a completely different environment there.”

He then bounced around the world — back to New Zealand, then to the Philippines and Bali.

His last job was principal of a primary school in Auckland, the Newton Central School.

“It was a leading Indigenous-based school which focused on the development of Maori culture, language and the acquisition of identity for Indigenous and local community blending as one organisation,” Mr Teteina said. “I was also the president of the Auckland Principals’ Association and was running a consortium of 13 schools looking at raising school achievement across multiple organisations.”

When he was growing up in Auckland, there was very little discussion or celebration of Indigenous culture in the school system.

“It was very much an evolving concept,” he said. “Racism and the lack of equity in opportunities was very entrenched in 1980s New Zealand culture. But that has changed rapidly over the last 40 years. I have enjoyed being part of that whole renaissance, where Indigenous culture and rights are very front and centre in New Zealand society.”

When the Somersfield board reached out to him, he had just completed six years at the Newton Central School. He was enjoying what he was doing but the Bermuda job appealed to him because the school served students between the ages of 3 and 18, had a strong foundation and vision and was an International Baccalaureate World School. He also looked forward to learning about a new culture.

He and his wife came with their 15-year-old daughter, Gaby. Mr Teteina, who has surfed all his life, brought his beloved shortboard. Twelve surfboards are back at home; two are on their way here.

So far, he has mostly been surfing off Southlands Beach in Warwick.

“I have always been fortunate to work in places where there is surf,” he said. “I have started to get to know the unique surf culture here in Bermuda.”

One of his goals is to create a surf club at the school so he can share his passion. At the moment, however, his focus is on his work rather than his hobby.

“I want to spend as much time as I can getting to know the community,” he said.

On Friday he shaved his head as part of a St Baldrick’s fundraiser at Docksiders. His target was $2,000 but he managed to raise $5,863 in memory of Eoghan Homan, a 16-year-old Somersfield student who lost his life to cancer this month.

“I think it is important that we do what we can to raise funding for cancer research, particularly for children,” Mr Teteina said.

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published March 21, 2023 at 7:48 am (Updated March 22, 2023 at 9:15 am)

Building strong relationships and independent thinkers at Somersfield

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon