HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

Maria Tanner spends 5mins with Dr Des Duthie

The bell peals marking interval and I pace the steps of Tereora College waiting for Dr Des, and to a lesser extent an onslaught of students relieved of their classroom confinements.
I had been waiting three weeks to snatch five minutes of Dr Des Duthies time, “you don’t mind waiting a tick, do you?” he asks rhetorically, pointing me in the direction of the staff room. I didn’t really have an option, so instead I paced the walls of the staff room, waiting to interview Tereora College’s new mad professor.
Maneuvering us through a sea of white shirts and blue shorts I’m relieved to be sitting in
the company, and lofty lab, of Dr Des. “ja I was very lucky,” Dr Des tells me, “I knew I wanted to be a teacher from when I left school, and what that did it allowed me to relax about doing a job one day that satisfied me.” Growing up Dr Des attended his schooling
in the South African city Bloemfontein, during his 20’s he then attended university near Cape Town and made the decision to join at Durban University to travel with them on their
Antarctica programme at the age of 23, “First of all I had to get money to travel ja, and one thing that afforded me the cash, while it was still a fantastic experience, was going to Antarctica for a year on the expedition as a physicist, ja,” the doc nods to me.
Killing two birds with one stone, while down there he collected data that he used to gain his Doctorate from, “actually I wasn’t intending to carry on doing research in physics but it
was such an opportunity,” he emphasizes, “I used it, it worked out brilliantly ja.” With a spring in his step, a new acquired PhD on his wall, and cash in the bank Dr Des bounced across the globe clocking up a stack of air mileage and crossing off the five remaining
continents spending a year in South America, rubbing shoulders with Vikings in Scandinavia and Norway for five weeks, spending three months taking tea in Turkey, tuning out in Thailand and tapping maple in Canada, only to return for a second time to Antarctica, this time as leader of the expedition.
“Oh it was very different from the first time ja, I now had to take care of a very expensive Antarctic base and 16 other men, but very exciting!” he assures me.
For the past 25 years Dr Des has been teaching science and mathematics to students across three different time zones, and also dabbled in computer studies during his initial
teaching years. In 1996 he took a teaching post in New Zealand and would spend the better half of 16 years schooling the boys of Nelson College. “Ahh a change,” Dr Des says cutting me off explaining his move to Rarotonga, “I had been at my last school (Nelson College) for far too long. It was a fantastic opportunity, there was this advert for teaching jobs in the Cook Islands, so I’m very fortunate to be here.”
Noticing a sizeable difference in lifestyle doesn’t seem to faze the optimistic opportunist, he’s stocked living in “paradise” with his “high school sweet heart.” “Ja the people are
amazingly welcoming, man I’ve never eaten more in my life and very rarely do I see a
student who isn’t smiling or laughing, but if I can help five or six students with their own personal development then ja,” he says nodding at me earnestly, “I’m very satisfied.”

Herald Issue 608 21 March
- Terms of one China Policy document should be reviewed
- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

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