Absent principal resigns from St Peter’s

The principal who has been mysteriously absent from a prestigious private school in Cambridge has resigned. 

Dale Burden has not been present on campus as principal of St Peter’s College since the start of Term 2 and will not return to the school. School News was told parents and students were informed of the news on Thursday. 

St Peter’s Trust Board Chairman John Erkkila said, “Parents were informed by email after a staff briefing last Thursday morning that Dale Burden had resigned and would not be returning to St Peter’s. Students were told in an assembly after the staff briefing that Mr Burden would not be returning to St Peter’s.”

The school declined to comment on the employment status of deputy principal Yevette Williams, Burden’s wife, who has also been absent from the school since April. 

Worksafe was making enquiries following reports of alleged bullying at the leading Waikato school, which also recently experienced a bombscare on the final night of its school production. Erkkila told School News St Peter’s had engaged an independent investigator to look into the bullying allegations, with a report due next month.

He said, “The school’s independent investigation will continue and the investigator is expected to report back to the Board in June. He will be reviewing various policies and procedures and will provide recommendations for improvements or changes.

“Regarding WorkSafe, it is an inquiry at this stage, not an investigation.”

The process of replacing 54 year-old Burden has not yet begun, Erkkila confirmed. “The current management arrangement continues for now. Although early days, the board has considerations it needs to make before any hiring process gets underway.”

Burden took up the role of principal at the Cambridge private school in 2016, after moving from Mount Albert Grammar School in Auckland where he had been associate principal before taking over as headmaster in 2006. 

In a New Zealand Herald interview by journalist Michele Hewitson in 2013, Burden was dubbed an ‘occasionally controversial headmaster’ for the number of times he’d appeared in the media, including for suggesting random drug testing of pupils at MAGS and sending a letter home to parents regarding pupils’ body odour. 

St Peter’s College opened in 1936 and currently has over 1,100 pupils at its leafy Cambridge campus, including around 400 boarding students. Upcoming events at the school include an open day on 25 June and a parents’ seminar on ‘Courage, resilience and failing well’ on July 1, sponsored by St Peter’s Parents’ Association. 



Heather Barker Vermeer

Heather has worked as a journalist, writer and editor in England and Aotearoa New Zealand for over 20 years. She fell in love with words when she received a 'Speak & Spell' tech toy for Christmas in 1984.
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