A word from Doug White, retired Clyde School principal


Grading the first year of retirement
A year ago I finished my association with learning institutions which began as a five-year-old in Christchurch in 1961 and ended in 2020 as the principal of Clyde School.

It was a nice journey.

I hope during my 42 years of working in schools that I made a small difference to the lives of a few young New Zealanders.

My new learning challenge for 2021 was to adjust to becoming one of the group of more than 700,000 or 15% of New Zealanders . . . a retiree.

Research and anecdotal evidence tells us that a good proportion of retirees struggle with this transition from the paid workforce.

They talk about the loss of structure in their lives, losing the status that may have been associated with their occupation and the social contacts associated with their work as well as the feeling that they are no longer making a contribution to society.

My new journey began on the first day of the 2021 school year.

My former colleagues were back at Clyde School and children poured through the school gates after the summer break.

Meanwhile, I set about learning to be a retiree.

These Five Ways to Wellbeing promoted by the Mental Health Foundation became my learning plan.

  • Connect
  • Give
  • Take Notice
  • Keep Learning
  • Be Active

After a year of learning to be a retiree it is now time for me to do a self assessment.
Connect: A busy work life often makes it hard to connect with friends and family. It has been a joy to have the time to spend with some old friends and elderly parents as well as a brand new grandson. It has helped having established connections with groups of people who have shared my life-long interest in outdoor adventures. Achieved.
Give: New Zealand is ranked sixth in the world for the proportion of our population who volunteer their time. Central Otago has an impressive number of retirees who do voluntary work, many of whom put me to shame. I have done a bit of gliding instructing and sit on the board of REAP. Achieved but could do better.
Take Notice: I find Central Otago’s weather, geography, natural world, arts, sport, local community and global news fascinating. Achieved with merit.
Keep Learning: I’ve done plenty of informal learning but a commitment to some formal learning is on my plan for 2022. Could do better.
Be Active: Having a largely administrative role in my last years of work meant squeezing outdoor adventures into a weekend, so it did require a juggle to remain physically active. It has been an absolute joy to have the flexibility to bike, go sailing, fly and ski when the day is right. My NZSki senior season pass had lots of use and I’ve done almost 3000km on my new ebike. Achieved with merit.

I’ve given myself an overall pass mark for Retirement 101 but have lots more to learn.

The secret seems to me to make sure each day has some structure and purpose and to make the most of the flexibility and wonderful opportunities retirement offers in our magnificent part of the world.