Discretion, honesty and fearlessness
A Canterbury branch chair who has fought strenuously for members for decades has been recognised through a PPTA service award.
John Gaffaney joined PPTA in his first year of teaching, at Aranui High School in 1966 and remained a member until leaving for Canada in 1969.
On returning from overseas he rejoined for a five term stint at Lincoln High School before joining staff at St Thomas of Canterbury College in 1975.
Strenuously fighting for members’ interests
Despite not being eligible to be a member at the time, he was a leader in the staff response to the issues surrounding the Springbok Tour, where many PPTA members protested marched.
He rejoined in November 1981 through integration and has been a member continuously since.
More than 20 of his 36 years at the school were spent as branch chair, strenuously fighting for members’ interests, particularly during a very unpleasant period when bulk funding was introduced.
Integrity and professionalism in the face of attacks
While John says of himself that he is ‘nothing special’ in terms of PPTA, Canterbury regional chair Thomas Newton begs to differ.
“During the bulk funding period, when certain board members took the opportunity at every meeting to make either a personal or general attack on the association, he stood strong.
“At a board meeting just before the decision was made to take the school into bulk funding, several members present commented on the viciousness of the attacks on teachers’ integrity and professionalism that John had to deal with,” he said.
Representing the interests of the whole branch
“John has earned the trust of his colleagues for his discretion, honesty and fearlessness in his approach to senior management, often facing a large measure of unpleasantness,” he said.
John worked very closely as chairman with specialist classroom teacher Terry Bligh, dealing with a number of workplace issues. He also forged a close relationship with field officers Ian Hamill and Jo Martin, representing the interests of the whole branch as well as individual teachers.