We tracked down a few people from Rangitoto College and asked them to continue sharing their words of wisdom about books and life.

Who are you?

I am Amelia Davey. I am a Year 13 student and one of the two Head Girls at Rangitoto College this year.

When you’re not reading, what do you love doing?

When I am not reading I paint, journal, or work at my part-time job, I am a waitress at a local bar and restaurant. 

What’s a book you remember reading/having read to you when you were little? Tell us all about that memory.

I remember being an avid Enid Blyton fan when I was very young and was especially obsessed with the Amelia Jane series because my middle name is Jane and my grandma bought me my first book of the series. They were some of the first chapter books I ever read along with Rainbow Fairy Magic

What do you love about our library?

Our library is so great because we have so much content and always have new and popular books. Our librarians are also so lovely. 

What are you currently reading?

I have just finished reading It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover from the school library because I kept hearing people talking about it and it was also all over TikTok, so I wanted to see if it lived up to the expectations— it did.  

What’s a book you always recommend and why?

My favourite book of all time and also one I always recommend to friends is Are We All Lemmings & Snowflakes? by Holly Bourne. It’s a very honest book filled with characters who are all dealing with various mental health illnesses and explores the importance of being kind to each other but also to yourself.  It was full of plot twists and I got very attached to the characters.

Where do you seek relaxation?

My brain is constantly on the go and feels very noisy, but when I read I am unable to think about anything else around me and am completely focused. It is a great distraction which is much needed at times, and a way to give me some time to myself and unwind, especially when things get super busy and stressful. 

What are some of your hopes and dreams for the future?

I have been doing extras work for ads and a couple of TV shows for a few years now. I have loved acting ever since I was in primary school so I think that working in film and TV, either in front or behind the camera, is definitely something I would like to pursue once I leave school. There are so many options and I am very passionate about so many things: which is both daunting and very exciting!


Who are you?

I am Isaac Shin, one of the Head Boys at Rangitoto College in 2022. 

What do you love about our library?

As a student at Rangitoto College, I’ve always thought that the library is a fantastic place in which to research and discover new books. This helps me develop my strengths and allows me to be exposed to a variety of books. Also, the staff here in the library are very lovely and kind. They’re so driven to encourage students to read by supplying different types of books.

What do you do if you are not reading?

When I’m not reading, I usually spend my time studying for my subjects or playing the guitar. I also enjoy listening to music on my headphones while relaxing outside which helps me to relieve some stress!   

What book do you always recommend?

 I would like to recommend the book The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which has motivated me to change the way I see the world and the way I see myself. The messages the book conveys are:

  •  “Attitude is everything”
  •  “Your big dream should be aligned with what you truly want in life” and 
  • “Working on a big dream will change you.” 

These clear and concise messages, which are emphasised in the book and the film, have helped me to define myself and become who I am at this time.

Why do you think people should read?

I became more aware of how important reading comprehension is as I began preparing for university. Although some people might think that English is not necessary if you pursue a career in engineering or medicine, actually, reading is a skill that is crucial as it is used everywhere and reading fiction will actually make you a better engineer or medic! Therefore, I want to encourage students to start reading books regularly at a young age to help their future.

What advice are you grateful you’ve received?

I’m really grateful to my family for their advice, which included doing my best so there won’t be any regrets if I don’t perform as well as I had hoped. Regret after not doing your best is different from regret after trying your best. This is because you eventually experience a sense of achievement similar to achieving a milestone as you realise that you gave it your all and the outcome is what it is. Once you are aware of your weaknesses, you will prepare much better for the future.

Who are you?

My name is Julie Strang and I am one of the Deputy Principals who oversee the welfare of the Year 10 students at Rangitoto College. I grew up in Wellington and went to Christchurch for my Commerce degree and teacher training. I started my teaching career at Upper Hutt College where, through a friend, I met my husband. As his job got transferred to Sydney, we lived there for two years before coming back to New Zealand and relocating to the North Shore of Auckland. I have a brother who lives close to New York in the USA. When the borders were open, we would often travel to see him.

When you’re not reading, what do you love doing? 

I like being active and every day will either go for a walk or bike ride if it is fine or do a workout at the gym if it is wet. I also enjoy gardening. I have a lot of roses in my garden that need a lot of care to make sure that they flower continuously throughout the summer. I like knitting and often knit at night to relax. Sometimes I will knit for my friends and nieces. 

What was on the family bookshelf growing up? 

When I was younger there was no internet so we had a lot of encyclopaedias on our bookshelf that I would use to help me do my homework. We also had a lot of Dr Seuss books which I still love reading today.

Do you remember reading/loving any books at school? Tell us about them. 

My parents always encouraged us to read and when we were very little would read a book to us at night before we went to bed. I remember reading books to my brother when he was a small child.

When I was at primary school, we had books to read for homework each night. There were four levels of books. Each level was a different colour and I remember you had to practise reading these books to your parents at night so that you could read them out loud to the teacher at school and then advance to the next level when you had read all the books at that level. This started my passion for reading and I remember doing jobs around the home to earn pocket money to go up to the local bookshop on a Friday after school and buy a paperback book to read.  I remember buying all the C. S Lewis books of the Narnia series (there are seven of them) and the Little House on the Prairie series. Both are series of books I still have today!

What are you currently reading?

I like reading books that are thrillers or mystery and suspense. I am currently reading a book called Liberation Square by Gareth Rubin. This is a new author for me, and when I saw the book on display in the library I decided to give this author a try. 

What’s your favourite book? 

I really enjoyed reading a book called the Scrublands by an Australian author Chris Hammer. It is set in the rural outback of Australia and is about a town suffering severe drought where a priest shoots some of his parishioners and then himself. A year later a journalist goes back to the town to do an article on how the town has coped with this mass murder-suicide. What he uncovers is a very interesting story of deception in the town that goes back decades. It is a great read. Very similar to The Dry (by Jane Harper, also an Australian author) about which a movie has been made.

What are some mottos you live by?

When I was younger my parents encouraged me to join Brownies and then Girl Guides. One thing that I learnt very early on from Brownies was to do a good turn every day. So, I try to do something nice for someone every day. It could be as simple as opening a door for a stranger or helping a mum with a baby lift the buggy up some stairs. Every morning when I come into work in the winter, I always turn the heaters on for our two support staff who work in the SLT area.

Describe your perfect Saturday/Sunday?

At the weekend, I love to go for long walks, especially along the beaches. If it is fine, I really enjoy reading a book out in the sun. I also like watching a lot of sports on TV, in particular rugby league and tennis.

Who are you?

Hi. My name is Simon Gabion-Sheehan but many of you will know me as Mr G. I am an English and Media Studies teacher and I am also one of the Year 9 Deans.

What’s your claim to fame?

Apart from being privileged enough to be working amongst some of the best teachers, my other claim to fame is that I have four international rugby caps to my name as I have represented the Philippines at an international level. Don’t get too excited about seeing me play the All Blacks one day though as the Philippines are ranked 41st in the world while the All Blacks are currently 4th.

When you’re not reading, what do you love doing?

I enjoy exercise and I play rugby so that keeps me busy when I’m not reading. I truly believe that one must have both a strong body and mind to live a fulfilling life. I also enjoy a good RPG video game (role play game for those of you who don’t partake in video games) as they are pretty much playing out a novel in video game form. I love the Final Fantasy series, with Final Fantasy 8 being my favourite as it is one of the more dark and complex entries. I also like watching anime but not at the same level as some of our students. Unlike them, I have this thing called a full-time job. I do love a classic mecha or science-fiction anime.

What do you love about our library?

We are so fortunate to have our library at Rangitoto College. The selection of books and other resources is amazing and we have some very useful spaces. Also, we have beanbags. The best thing about our library by far is our librarians. They are an extremely dedicated team who always endeavour to share their knowledge and love of books with everybody. Our library would just be a building with books without our librarians.

Tell us a brilliant book memory?

I got a pretty bad school report when I was in Year 7 so my mum did what any good mother should do in such a situation: she banned me from playing PlayStation. Since I had a lot of time on my hands, I decided that I’d finally crack open a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone that an aunty gave me for Christmas. I was hooked and I forgot about my PlayStation while getting lost in the land of wizards and witches. It just goes to show that you can really take something positive out of a situation that initially seems negative.

What’s a book that’s changed your life/mind?

I’m partway through The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman and it has been a very enlightening read along with being a quite exciting one. The fantasy elements being so beautifully presented on the page have encouraged me to be more open to spirituality and thinking that there is possibly more out there in our universe. The Netflix series is a pretty loyal adaptation and I’m also enjoying watching that at the moment.

What’s your favourite book?

One of my favourite books is Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. It is a very interesting take on the Batman character as it’s about an aged Batman that comes out of retirement to clean up the streets of Gotham. Before The Dark Knight Returns was published, Batman was seen as an almost comedic character thanks to the 1960s Batman TV show. This graphic novel definitely put the dark back into Dark Knight. It was published in the middle of the 1980s and gives a great snapshot of the fears of the time as there is the underlying dread of nuclear annihilation throughout most of the book. Although I don’t agree with what the book’s political message can be interpreted to be, it is still a fascinating read that shows what can be accomplished when someone is driven to their absolute limits.

Describe your perfect Saturday/Sunday?

Wake up. Hit the gym. Eat. Read something. Watch some rugby. Play a video game. Eat again. Sleep. Repeat.

What advice do you have for teenagers today?

Get off your phones and experience more of the world around you. If you are going to get lost in something though, get lost in a book. It is much more beneficial than scrolling through Instagram or TikTok. Trust me, I have seen the research.