Alumni & Friends

Amy Stevens, Corran Alumni and Surf Gloria volunteer

Amy Stevens [Corran 1985-90] Choosing to Teach

Prior to going to Brazil I started a Fine Arts Degree (which I did not enjoy), worked in the Print Industry for 10 years, and then worked as a Fraud Investigator for Vodafone.

In 2009, I went to Brazil based on a gut feeling that there was more to life than corporate life.

This was probably the defining moment that shifted my career choice.  I really enjoyed working with the children who were between primary and secondary age on Ipanema Beach with a Volunteer Project called Surf Gloria, which was organised and run by a man by the name of Jean Carlos. Jean had grown up in the favelas and suffered drug and alcohol addiction during his Pro Surfing days. He sought rehabilitation and decided to give back to the community who raise children in the favelas where drugs and alcohol are rife and because of this influence many get sucked into this world never to return or go further in their education. During my work there a friend of mine and I (mostly my friend) made a film about Surf Gloria and what Jean is trying to achieve with these Kids. See the finished Surf Gloria film on youtube here.

During this time local drug addicts broke into the locker where the schools boards were stolen. This event led to me being profiled as a ChangeMaker in NEXT magazine. I sought donations of gear to raise money for the Surf Gloria project.  The donated gear raised enough money to buy the school new surfboards, rash shirts, a few boogie boards and a wetsuit for Jean, as being in the water all day can get a bit cold, especially in the winter time in Rio.

Not long after my second stint in Brazil where I returned to oversee the purchasing of the gear, my department at Vodafone went through a restructure and I opted for redundancy. I was rather burnt out and needed time to reassess. I felt like I really needed to take stock and work out where I was going. During these 6 months I volunteered at a few schools, and worked out that I wanted to be a teacher of Physical Education. I spent 3 years at Unitec getting my degree in Sport, majoring in Physical Education (where I obtained the Senior Scholar Award) and a further year doing my graduate diploma at the UOA Faculty of Education in Epsom.

At the moment I have chosen not to seek a permanent teaching position. I have opted to do relief teaching so I am able to go overseas when required. I am enjoying relief teaching : I am learning about schools and the people that make them the places they are, as well as honing my behaviour management skills. If you can’t manage a class, you can’t teach.  Although relieving has its drawbacks, I love working with teenagers and have chosen to relieve in schools that are lower decile as I much prefer the diverse nature of these schools over higher decile schools.
I do intend to travel back to Brazil (post Rio Olympics) to see how the graduating students are getting on. It will be interesting to see the impact of Surf Gloria schooling on their lives. I think the Surf Gloria experience was the catalyst for my decision to become a teacher.


Artistic Fellowship (showing five of the six), Left to Right: Pamela McInnes-Stine, Sonja Rosen, Cath Syme, Anne Kirker, Darien Takle Artistic Fellowship (showing five of the six), Left to Right: Pamela McInnes-Stine, Sonja Rosen, Cath Syme, Anne Kirker, Darien Takle[/caption]

Artistic-Fellowship (four of the six), Left to Right : Di-Boles, Sonja-Rosen, Darien-Takle, Cath-Syme Artistic-Fellowship (four of the six), Left to Right : Di-Boles, Sonja-Rosen, Darien-Takle, Cath-Syme[/caption]


(updated 6 October 2015)

Between 1953 and 1964 Corran School produced an extraordinary fellowship of six friends who have remained close for over 50 years, on and off, due to some moving to other schools for a few years and various demands of family and career, but they kept in touch and although one now lives in Australia, they still get together as often as possible, be it 3, 4, 5 or all 6.
They have all retained a keen active interest in fine music, art, theatre, film, writing, travel and living life to the full, all of which were nurtured and encouraged by the Corran School philosophy and led to their individual career-paths.

ANNE KIRKER [Corran 1955–59] ARTIST

completed her Diploma in Fine Arts (Hons) at Elam, University of Auckland in 1969, worked in a number of NZ art galleries, and attained a Master of Fine Arts degree at the Courtauld Institute (London) in 1979. She eventually settled in Brisbane in 1988 where she became a senior curator, mostly in charge of Prints, Drawings & Photographs at the Queensland Art Gallery. Anne published a definitive book entitled New Zealand Women Artists with an updated edition in 1993. In recent years she has taken her writing into the “creative” realm and is publishing poetry and short-stories, many of them with a New Zealand flavour. Retiring in 2006 Anne is now a freelance art historian, curator and writer, and is now “Dr Kirker” with a PhD from Queensland’s University of Technology. She is amazed that her friendship with Corran schoolmates has lasted so long and prizes this connection. Anne lives in Brisbane and has 4 step-grandchildren and an adored cat, Mitze. Anne often travels to NZ to assess postgrad university students and curate exhibitions.


Many Corran girls remember Di‘s unique fashion sketches at school, so it’s not surprising she became a fashion model. Attaining a Bachelor of Arts in History from Auckland University in 1968, Di began modelling with ElJay Fashions in Auckland and after her marriage in 1970, headed to Europe. There, she joined the House of Dior in London and Paris where she modelled the coveted “Bridal Gown” on more than one occasion. Returning to NZ in 1975, she settled in rural Ararimu, working part time in the modelling field and later running a business from home (Winfrith Cottage) supplying hand crafted items to Auckland gift shops. Di has two daughters, works full time as receptionist at Auckland University of Technology and lives in Parnell. With seven grandchildren (including twins) her spare time is taken up with family. In 2010 she published a children’s book Witchy Goes Shopping.

SONJA ROSEN [Corran 1955-1964] NURSE

Choosing a nursing career, working at Auckland Hospital and later as a district nurse, Sonja travelled through Africa to Johannesburg in the 1970s and on to Perth for award-winning postgraduate studies in Midwifery. Returning to New Zealand she worked in district nursing and public health, and was a pioneer in opening the first Independent Nursing Practice in which she was involved for 13 years. Now retired, Sonja is busier than ever with her garden, and successfully ran a Dog Agility Programme for some years. She lives in Mt Albert with her three beloved poodles.

PAMELA McINNES [Corran 1955-64] PILOT

First studying accounting at ATI, Pamela got bored with numbers, so became a librarian at the Auckland Institute & Museum until Italy called and she left NZ in 1969 to study Art & Italian at Perugia University. Pamela then worked at the BBC Library in London (meeting up with Cath at on her OE there) and also as a researcher for BBC TV and countless other job; met, married and divorced an American “spaghetti western” movie actor, remained living in the US, drove racing cars, learned to fly eventually teaching at a flying school and marrying again in 1979. Pamela has piloted a US Navy A7 plane and for over 10 years had a very exciting job, flying over the city of Los Angeles reporting traffic for a radio station. Always keen on learning something new, she completed a degree in Earth Science in 1993 and a Master Gardener course through University of California, Davis. Pamela’s daughter lives and works in downtown LA. After the death of her husband in 2011 Pamela returned to NZ and has a lovely home in Stanmore Bay with Alfie-the-cat.


Attaining an Honours degree in Fine Arts from Elam, Darien became a foundation graduate of the National Drama School under Nola Millar in 1970. Since then, she has had many successes at Mercury Theatre, Theatre Corporate, Amamus, Downstage and all other major NZ theatres. An Arts Council grant enable her to travel to London in 1975 with her young daughter where she toured for a year in Godspell, performed at other UK theatres and formed her own Centre Theatre Company, writing and directing her own shows. She did a season at Haymarket Theatre in Leicester and a few solo shows in London. Returning to NZ in 1980 she continued her acting career, notably as Edith Piaf in Piaf, as a singer/dancer in the NZTV series 12 Bar Rhythm ‘n Shoes, TV drama Both Sides of the Fence, married in 1984, honeymooned in Hawaii while playing Eva Peron in Evita and then spent a year in Sydney in TV drama series Possession. In 1997 she landed a role in the American TV series Xena, Warrior Princess as Xena’s mother Cyrene and later, was in the Australian production of Les Mis. She continued to write and perform one-woman shows and appeared regularly on TV and film in both Australia and NZ. Darien lives in Mt Eden has a daughter, son, and three grandchildren. Darien regularly appears on stage, film and TV throughout NZ.


Darien-and-Catherine were inseparable at Corran. They’re remembered for regularly entertaining classmates with ‘spur o the moment’ improvised plays and their ukulele duo The Woodbines. While they have both remained devoted to acting, Catherine’s onstage activity has been strictly amateur, appearing mainly in character and musical roles with Howick Little Theatre since 1975 – and other local theatres – where she is still active. Catherine wanted to travel, so obtained a ‘quick’ secretarial qualification, worked in shipping and travel for 25 years, lived/worked in London 1969-71, travelling extensively and eventually married a Berliner in 1983 and moved to Toronto, Canada. On returning to NZ (alone) in 1989, she worked for Radio NZ Concert FM briefly before marrying again in 1995, moving to Waiheke Island, and taking over the office at the University of Auckland School of Music where she was secretary and organiser of student concerts until 2009. Cath regularly attends concerts and theatre, writes poetry and memoirs and keeps in touch with a wide variety of friends worldwide – especially Corran alumni. Widowed in 2000, she now lives in Orakei with black cat Finzi. Since retiring in 2009 Cath has developed Fine Music on Tap entertaining & organising concerts at retirement villages, and also works casually for Heritage NZ at Alberton.
Cath was the recipient of the 2014 Corran Alumni Award.


COGA_web BFEA 2014-Sharon Barton nee Richardson

Sharon Barton nee Richardson

Sharon graduated from Corran in the early 1980s. Since then Sharon has married husband Mike and has had two children – Emma and Gareth. In 2004 they bought a large piece of farming land in Taupo and named it after their children – Glen Emmreth Farm. They have been engaged in full time family farming from then on. The couple are proud to be the 2014 Waikato Supreme Award Winners, Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award Winners and the Massey University Innovation Award Winners.

It is wonderful that a Corran Old Girl is doing so well. It is particularly good to see that she and her husband have produced innovative ideas and have taken on environmental responsibility, they have built their own brand and tried to combat common issues facing farmers across New Zealand.

Check out the full write up on the awards here: Ballance Farm Environment Awards – Waikato 2014

The Award Winners were featured in the Waikato Times. A video of the family and their award-winning farm is also available online.



Sue Norman

Sue Norman attended Corran until she turned 15 in 1965. After moving to England the following year, Sue gradually developed an interest in Blue and White English 19th Century pottery. She now runs a successful antiques business trading in this particular type of pottery.  Her antiques business has been based in Chelsea since 1972 and exhibits at London antique fairs several times a year.

As Sue’s business flourished in the 1970s, so did her family. Her son Toby was born in 1980, followed by her daughter Sophie a few years later.  Sue’s husband Nick Alloway joined Sue in her well-established and specialised antiques trading business, when their first child (Toby) was born.  Together, Sue and Nick worked to grow their business, and to raise Toby (33) who now has his own firework display company, “Titanium”, and Sophie (30), a professional drummer.

Sue last made a brief trip to New Zealand in 1972 but has not managed to take time off to return since then.
She is looking to make contact with anyone from her happy years at Corran in the 1960s.
This is a photo she has been saving for all these years!

Can you name the girls in the photo? Or better yet are you a girl in the photo?

If you do recognise the girls, or if you wish to make contact with Sue, please email us directly at and we can put you in touch with her.

The website for her antiques business can be found here:





Musical Director (Teacher)

2003 – 2009

Chris Artley

Chris Artley is known for his passion for all things musical. He was born and raised in Leeds, England, and went on to study music at Bristol University before teaching. Chris Artley taught music at Corran 2003-2009, and while he was there, two of his students – Annalise Higgins and Tiffany Wood – were runners up in the NZCF Choral Composition competition. The achievements by these students appear to have foreshadowed the success that would come to him personally for his own composing triumphs.

After six years at Corran, Chris was ready for a change. In 2010, he took a year off to do a Grad Dip Music course at Auckland University. The experience proved to be the most wonderful opportunity to renew his interest in composing. Since then, Chris has won four international composing competitions, become a Fully Represented SOUNZ Composer, and signed a publishing deal for five choral works with publisher Helbling Verlag in Austria.

While at Auckland University, Chris wrote The Ashwell Carol for The Graduate Choir of NZ, who – under conductor Terence Maskell – successfully premiered the carol in December 2010. Then, in 2011, The Ashwell Carol won The Amadeus Choir of Toronto Seasonal Song Writing Competition (Amateur Adult SATB category). Chris has also written several sacred choral works, including settings of O Magnum Mysterium and Ave Maria. His Psalm 23 won The Lutheran Youth Choir of North America’s composing competition for 2013. On a lighter note, The Mock Turtle’s Song – a jazzy setting of Lewis Carroll’s poem for children’s choir – recently won a composing competition organised by the European Choral Association. Brian Kay, former member of The King’s Singers said, “It [Psalm 121] absolutely knocked me out – it was the most beautiful setting”. Ebbe Munk, Conductor of Copenhagen Royal Chapel Choir said, “O Magnum Mysterium is remarkable for its obvious charm and beauty. It creates a brilliant sound due to its well-balanced unity between the voices”.

In 2012, Chris asked Catherine Syme, an Old Girl of Corran (1952-1960), if she had any ideas about a poem he might set to music.  Cath’s ode “Ah! Waiheke” sounded ideal, and she even added a couple of verses at Chris’s request.  He entered it into two competitions: firstly a choral competition run by the Simon Carrington Chamber Singers (which was not placed), and secondly as an instrumental arrangement for 9 violas in the Australia and New Zealand Viola Society Composition Competition. It came first equal! and although it obviously had no words, he told the performers and audience the origin of the piece and why it was called Ah! Waiheke.

Chris now teaches music at King’s College in Auckland.
He welcomes ideas for commissions and can be contacted at

Chris’s SOUNZ composer profile (Photo from here)

Chris youtube video of I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes — Psalm 21

Most of article credited to Breve Magazine


Copyright © 2012 Corran Old Girls Association.