Brian Sutcliffe

Attended Colenso High School from 1960 – 1964

 My name is Brian Sutcliffe and I attended Colenso High School from 1960 – 1964.

I was proud to leave with my University Entrance gripped in my hand. An opportunity I did not take leaving college in December 1964 but went on to study at the Ministry of Works Draughting School in wellington and complete an NZCD/E in civil engineering. 

The time I spent at CHS still remains for me as a place of opportunities and encouragement to find and be yourself. There are several teachers to this day I vividly remember fondly as having influenced my future. Mr Clark - woodwork [built my first racing dinghy at the age of 15], Mr Fitzgerald - technical drawing, Miss Orbell - science, Mr Pierce - geography, and Mr Findlay- physics.  Mr Findlay tasked me with assembling and commissioning the stage lighting system in the assembly hall. I love a new challenge or experience, having solved a problem, or set a new path in motion. In my working life I had four changes of direction!

In my second year I was experiencing many new interactions with classmates and friends, so schoolwork became secondary to my outside distractions, like sailing and the world. However, my tutors knew I could do better and encouraged me to aim higher, something I did after a wake-up call with my first attempt at “School Certificate” I achieved the qualification the following year and subsequently  passed University Entrance with great help from Alan Findlay and Neville Pierce. They gave  me another opportunity by making me a Pro-Prefect (student leader) in my final year something I realised was a chance to grow-up take responsibility seriously before I went into the world beyond.

I worked in both civil and mechanical engineering fields until 1989. In this period, I got to work on some noticeable buildings like the BNZ headquarters at No. 1 Willis St, Westpac head office on Lambton Quay, the Avalon Television studios, Grain and Seed complexes in both Islands, timber drying kilns in Rotorua, Australia, and Kinleith, large industrial air filtration systems for the dairy, meat processing and timber processing industries. During this time, I became a director of Windsor Engineering Limited. 

In 1989 I took an opportunity to buy 50% of an infrastructure contract service company and retained this position until 2003. In this period, I co-patented a product called WeedBall, plus Thermal Hot wet air methods of vegetation control in urban street and organic food production. As a part of the company operations, I designed and built several application methods for various contracts we won over the years.

Overlapping in this period I formed another company that provided all necessary administration functions for health regulatory bodies a company I sold to my clients in 2008. 

From this date onward I was offered various contracts working for a variety of companies which friends introduced me to and a different way of working, - for somebody else and once more a completely different field of expertise – systems management with health and safety thrown in. The field intrigued me as I had been the poacher for many years and now, I was the game keeper! My last contract involved the car industry, a company with 120 employees and I was tasked with implementing an electronic Health & Safety  management system for them, a task I finally completed in February 2021.

All through my working life I have loved a challenge in whatever field came along, learned to use the best people had to offer, encourage them, and promote them, something I took from my later experiences at Colenso, what have I learned in life, discover who you are and build on it, use your tutors as inspiration and guiding friends who want to impart their wisdom and experiences in you.  

The world is big and there are lots of opportunities for you to follow your dreams but use the skills and values Colenso can give to you.

Back to Alumni