Memories of Robin

My family and I moved to Taieri Mouth in 1990, one week after Robin started working at the school. He was my teacher for the 4 years that we lived there. During the years of living there my family got to know not only Robin but he introduced my parents to Laniet and she started to babysit us on a regular basis after our other babysitters were in high school and weren't always available.  She sat mostly on weekends and a few nights during the week as my parents used to work for a family business in Dunedin. After the shootings my mother ended up packing up the family and we moved to Australia in September 1994 as Taieri Mouth was a great place but had too many memories.

I went to the funeral. I was 11.  Those of us from school went with our families. I cried for long a time, as it was hard to adjust and its hard to come to terms with losing someone whom you see nearly every day of the week. Most people just have the same teacher for a year, but I was lucky to have mine for 4.

Robin was a good man, very kind and gentle, he didn't get cross very often, but if he needed to he did. He was very much into nature and we would often go on bush walks and he would explain to us about different trees and things and our school even adopted a bush walking track down near the wharf. We would go on school camps were we would go bush walking, canoeing, orienteering, abseiling and our parents would go along.  I have a very not so fond memory when we went panning for gold on a school camp and getting stuck up to our knees on the mud flats and Robin and my dad having to pull a few of us out.  After that they decided it wasn't such a good idea and we went to a stream for the rest of the afternoon.  Laniet also came on that school camp with us. It was our last one together.

Robin had a good rapport with St Mary's School and we would have sleep overs at their school and they would come and have sleep overs at ours.. We would also go on school camps with Berwick School as well. In fact I remember Robin was good friends with the principal of the school and after he passed away Mr Stone came and taught us for a few weeks.  Robin used to take us cross the paddock down to the beach and we would have lessons and PE down at the beach. I don't remember ever having to get permission slips for our parents, we would just up and leave the class and go.  Pretty much everything he taught us had some kind of hidden lesson. He taught us the importance of gardening.. We all planted our own swan trees in the school and worked in the school garden. He loved music and taught us girls how to play recorders and even how to read music, and taught the boys how to play guitar.  He would often have a singsong, and get out either his banjo or guitar and on the odd lesson would play my keyboard.  We were always singing or learning a song, he introduced us to classical music and I can remember him playing Peter and the Wolf and other music where he would play a section and he would stop and ask us to pick out what instruments we had heard like a oboe or violin, bass drums etc. In return a few of us girls introduced him to Ace of Base and he let us listen to the Shakespeare Sisters and Right Said Fred. During class time I can also recall one night our class went to see the symphony orchestra. Often class trips meant piling up in his van and in parents cars.

Robin taught us many things.  He would often time us doing things like maths to see how fast we could go at times tables. We had morning runs, in my case the morning walk and then jog 3 steps at the end. He taught us the importance of bettering our selves and it wasn't about who was the fastest or anything like that as long as we did our best there was always room to improve on something we have already done. He also taught us that it was ok to fail sometimes as long as we had a go. If you weren't so good at something give it your best and if you're stronger in other areas then if you are good excel at what you can!  He taught us how to be interested in the world around us and every week he would come out and he would assign each student with a topic and we learnt about earthquakes and tsunamis, heat waves, locus eating crops etc. He brought in many artefacts from PNG like carvings and magazines and we would all have a joke about seeing boobs in them. He would let us have a laugh then be all like, ok we have had a laugh, now back to learning. He introduced the school to having Japanese exchange students. Every family at the school hosted either 1 or 2 students for just over a week. He taught us some Maori traditions and songs. He had a friend that used to fix the school computers and things and this person ended up going to Iraq and when he came back Robin got him to speak to us about it and his time there and we learnt about the war.  We worked on science projects and went to science fairs.

Taieri Mouth School was one of the first schools in New Zealand to use k12 which was like an early form of the Internet. I also know for a fact that we got it even months before Collage Street School.  Robin taught us about technology and even showed us how to use a fax machine and would often let us students fax things for him. When I was 9 I taught my grandad how to use his fax machine because Robin had taught us months before hand.

I can also remember he would let us use the school phone in the class room to ring our parents. Even if it was just before the bell and if we were organising to go to friends houses just to let our parents know or get permission to go over to another friends house. I guess that was his way of making sure we were safe and not just going off on our own. There are many things and wonderful memories that I have.

All I can say is you get to know someone pretty well by sitting in a class room with him 5 days a week in a four year block. If he was such a dark horrible man, as alleged by the David Bain supporters, surely you would have thought it would have shown, and especially if he was working with children. I know there have been things said, let me tell you this, Robin pretty much taught us children the right to express whatever we wanted, and if things were going on in the class room you would have heard it long before the shooting.

We used to finish school at 3pm. At the end of the day we would put our chairs up and he would talk and tell us about things we would be doing the next day or things that where coming up. Sometimes he would talk just a bit too much and sometimes we wouldn't leave school until 3.15. He always had something to tell us or talk about, always gave our "noggins" as he would call them something to think about...