Shirley Hooper

1975 to 1979

From her first day at school this young lady was on a mission – that was to be successful in all fields of endeavour.  She looked the part, she spoke well, she had a presence (even as a Year 9 3rd Former) she participated in everything, she knew how to win people over – in fact it was obvious from year nine that she would end up Head Girl, gain an AFS exchange and then go on to higher things.    Many of her contemporaries would envy her as a total all-rounder. 


Shirley certainly has not disappointed in any way.  As the profile below indicates (written by Shirley herself) and endorsed wholeheartedly, this is a real success story. 


Shirley had great academic competition at school – Cleone Armstrong and Sarah-Jane Ayers (joint dux), Mark Davis (now Chief Financial Officer at the Radio Network) and David Feist.  And in the leadership stakes,  Alison Wills who took over as Head Girl when Shirley went on her AFS and Head Boy Kim Crawford who is one of NZ’s premier wine makers.  ’79 was a pretty good vintage!!



Academic Qualifications (School and Uni): 

  • Never finished 7th form! Left half way through the year and headed to America as an AFS exchange student
  • Graduated with a BMS (Hons) from Waikato University – majoring in Marketing and International Management. Travelled to Japan twice on scholarships during that time, to further both language and international studies.

Involvement in sports/cultural activities at school:

  • Always wanted to be great at sports, and take after my Dad. Sadly I think I missed those genes.  And so my sporting involvement took a different twist……. There were a couple of the 1st XV boys that I quite liked.  It used to frustrate me that one of my good friends Alison Wills, would always get to go away with them on school sports trips.  So in an effort to get to go to, I started umpiring netball.  Thanks to some excellent tuition and support from Matamata Netball Centre, I became one of the youngest umpires to get my NZ badge, and went on to umpire at several national tournaments.  And yes – I did get to go away on a few school trips as umpire for the team, and yes I did go out with someone from the 1st XV, so the plan worked!
  • As far as the Arts went, I was never that talented either. I do remember trying out for the school musical, Pirates of Penzance I think it was, and not even making the chorus.  I think you had to be pretty bad to not even get picked for that!
  • Just as well the academic side of school was what I was good at – we were blessed to have some great teachers in the years I was there, who encouraged, stretched and supported me and many others. Special memories for me were:
    • Mr Harris (Graham) – he brought English alive, and encouraged me to write – both creatively and in a structured way, as well as present my ideas clearly through speeches and presentations. All skills that have stood me in great stead in subsequent years.
    • Miss Lamb (Sheelah)-  I still think touch typing is one of the most under-rated skills around.  If every child was taught to touch type at school these days, we would increase the productivity of the country in a heartbeat.  Not to mention being able to take shorthand – a very useful skill that I still use in business meetings to take notes when I don’t want people to see what I’m writing.
    • Miss Thompson (Lynette Parish) – I think if I remember rightly that her first year as a teacher was as our form teacher in 3A3. She was brilliant – warm, approachable, not stuffy at all.  We had a great classroom that got the sun all the time – one of my vivid memories (not such a good one really) of those years was sitting on the benches outside the classroom, coating our legs in baby oil and working on our “leg tans”.  Dreadful really.
  • Miss Sanderson (Shirley) – she really was ahead of her time. She encouraged us to be leaders, to develop our skills and really fostered that whole perspective that there was nothing that you couldn’t do.
    • Mrs Summerville (Leonie) – always running around in those short skirts! She was a fun PE teacher, and always encouraged my netball umpiring along with Miss Sanderson, Mrs Bradley and Miss Lamb. Our paths have crossed again in recent years – where she is DP at Tauranga Girls College, where she keeps an eye on our two daughters who are students there.  Her skirts aren’t as short, but she still has the best shoes and the nicest legs of anyone on staff!
  • Still not quite sure really how I got to be Head Girl when I look back on it, I don’t recall that I did anything really amazing other than work hard academically. It was great to be able to share the role with Alison before I left to go to America as an AFS Student.  We have a lifelong friendship which I really treasure.


Standout memories of Matamata College:

  • The grounds – I still love to drive past the college and look at the huge palm trees at the front of the school.
  • The Common Room – a pretty rough worn out place in our year, but one us 7th formers loved to call our own. That is, until Ali and I got kicked out of it for a week one time for setting up a water bomb to drop on Nobby and Crawf from memory, only to drench a teacher instead.  The first time either of us had been in trouble at school and we were banished from the Common Room! Very public humiliation…..
  • The sports fields and my cousin Christine’s house on the corner of them. Christine and I both loved school – in completely different ways. She was always the life and soul of the party, and I remember many a day of heading to her house on the corner of the fields at lunchtime to eat lunch or catch up with friends.  Not sure we were supposed to go off school grounds in those days but…..


Working history:

  • Bendon – over the years I’ve worked for them three times, first as a graduate straight out of Uni. Then as Marketing Manager where I launched the Elle Macpherson Intimates brand into NZ and Australia.  And in recent years on the Board, as we expanded distribution into the US and Europe.
  • Tru-Test – as Marketing Manager, I travelled extensively – opening up their distribution network in South America, working closely with the US subsidiary, and establishing a joint venture with a French technology company.
  • TVNZ – as GM Marketing, among other things I launched Breakfast Television – and Mike Hosking onto the television world.
  • In an attempt to balance my life a little more, I moved out of the corporate world in 1998, and set up my own Marketing Strategy business, where I work with a mixture or retail and retirement village clients, as well as strategy input to our own business, Chemical Solutions. . I work from home in beachfront Papamoa – so I get the best of all worlds.
  • Netball continues to weave its way into my life, and after serving as Chair of the Mystics, and Auckland regional netball, I am now on the Netball New Zealand board.



I have a wonderful husband Terry, and two teenage girls – Isabella who is Head Girl this year at Tauranga Girls College, and very academically focused.  And Eva who is a competitive synchronised swimmer……… and dramatic and full of energy.  We love living at the Mount – we continue to travel regularly to Auckland where our business and many of my clients are based, but enjoy all that there is to offer here as well.  We always go SH27, I like to drive through Matamata and keep an eye on the changes.


A couple of  years after I left Matamata College, my brother Neil became Head Boy – combining it with a passion for golf, a sport in which he excelled.  He was a real character – I think op shops were his favourite place to shop – certainly for Xmas gifts.  He also went on to complete a BMS and established a career in farming.  Sadly, he passed away in 2003 at the age of 38.


My cousin Christine was also a Matamata College student – with a passion for art, and a real love of people.  She passed away in 1990 at the age of 27.


It will always have a very special place in my heart.  Matamata College, and more importantly the teachers within it, gave me the confidence to believe in myself, and the opportunities to develop skills I never knew I had.  People talk about life-long learning often, and I think Matamata College created the desire and enjoyment of life and learning that will always be a part of me.