School mentor 'sadly missed'

LEIGHTON KEITH
Last updated 05:00 17/05/2012
Rev William Graeme Clark funeral
ROBERT CHARLES/FAIRFAX NZ
FITTING FAREWELL: Waitara High School's kapa haka group performed while the Rev William Graeme Clark's coffin was taken from Taranaki Cathedral.

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Classes at Waitara High School were cancelled yesterday to allow staff and students to pay tribute to the school's long-serving guidance counsellor.

The Rev William Graeme Clark died at his New Plymouth home on Monday and a service was held at the Taranaki Cathedral yesterday.

Mr Clark had been a Deacon with the Anglican church since 1990.

Principal Jenny Gellen said because so many students and staff wanted to attend Mr Clark's funeral, classes were not held yesterday afternoon.

Mr Clark had worked as a guidance counsellor at the school for 15 years and was someone who would be sadly missed, Ms Gellen said.

"He was awesome, just really awesome. He had a wicked sense of humour," she said.

"He had an amazing rapport with the students and called a spade a spade with them and used language and terminology that they understood."

Ms Gellen said Mr Clark would go the extra mile and worked with students' families if needed.

"He was just really a great all- round guy."

The high school's kapa haka group performed a haka as tribute to Mr Clark as his coffin was taken from the church.

Taranaki Bishop Philip Richardson said Mr Clark was exactly what you would look for in someone who served.

"He is a quiet and gentle man but was very clear about what he thought and he was able to express that without ever causing offence," he said.

Mr Clark was a drug and alcohol counsellor who had a deep passion for helping the young and used actions rather than words," Mr Richardson said.

"Particularly the most vulnerable and troubled young people.

"He was much more determined to show it by doing – not talking about it a lot," he said.

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